In 2022 Steeleye Span finally had a box set released with rare live concerts and various unreleased tracks and studio outtakes. But it only covered the Chrysalis years up to 1982. As we know
there is so much more to the Steeleye Span story beyond the Chrysalis years. So
where do we go for material since then and what could be released........
Please note that this is just a bit of fun! Obviously I have no
connection at all to Park Records, but, if I was in charge of compiling a box set or a series of archive releases, this is what I would do….!
Just for clarity - none of the below 'made up' CD's exist sadly, not even as bootlegs
Steeleye Span have been signed up to Park Records for nearly 30 years, since 1994. It has been a long and successful partnership covering an impressive 11 studio albums and 11 live CD’s/DVD sets.
Park Records, owned by John Dagnell, and his team have also managed the band since 1997. John took over from Adrian Hopkins who left at the same time Maddy in 1997.
Since then they have been on 27 UK tours, 2 in the US, 2 in Australia, 6 trips to Europe and 44 festival appearances. A total of over 700 gigs. John Dagnell has worked hard to help ensure the longevity of the band, bringing back old members when needed as well as bringing in new talent. Without the hard work of John it is unlikely they would be a working band today. He was instrumental in keeping the band going during the major issues they had around 2001/2002 when Peter Knight was the only full time member of the band.
The close relationship between the Band and Park Records has clearly been an important part of the longevity of Steeleye Span. The focus has always been looking forward and this approach has resulted in a very fertile period of new material. We have a lot to thank Park Records for!
However, there is one area that Park Records has received some criticism - the release of archive material. Whilst similar bands, (Fairport Convention are usually cited), have managed to release both archive and new material alongside each other. (Although it should be noted that this was not always their choice and not always wanted by FC).
Whilst it was always going to be hard for Park Records to license music from Chrysalis, they have now been the bands record company for long enough to have their own extensive back catalog of rare material. Park also has access to some 80’s material through its close relationship with Adrian Hopkins, this could include the 'Back In Line' album (1986) released on their own label (with Adrian Hopkins).
It is worth noting that this article excludes music that the BBC has access to, via Radio 70's Sessions, The TV Series 'Electric Folk' and other TV/Radio appearances. It is well known that the BBC make it very expensive to license music and so the assumption that it is just not currently commercially viable to release. This remains the most frustratingly and tantalizing element to the Steeleye story that will remain, for now, unobtainable.
One thing that we can be sure of is that there is a big demand for archive material. In my view it could be released in a way likely be commercially viable. It could be timed to not interfere with new releases and could be delivered through the different mediums available. There are various ways of delivering the product and making it available to buy. That could be be paid-for streams, downloads or live CDs/DVDs/Box sets etc. It does not of course have to be one box set, it could be a series of online archive downloads.
Basically there is a market! Although the core audience
is getting older so if I was Park Records I would not hang around..!
We do have to however recognize the practical, commercial and licensing difficulties of making available archive material. The archive material involves many ex band members. The reasons why Park Records have not released archive material themselves will be varied and complicated. The point of this blog is not to dissect them, or claim they are good or bad reasons. We just don’t have the full picture. Their focus has always been on the new material and recently this has been very very productive.
So here is the fun bit, What archive material do Park have access to?!
The focus for this article is music that is, in theory, more readily available for Park Records to release from their own period of managing the band. This is ultimately a wish list and a bit of fun. As fans we just want to hear as much of Steeleye as we can. So below is my personal take on what I would love to see released from nearly 30 of Steeleye at Park Records.
It only includes ‘known
knowns’, In reality there would be some great unknown
tracks/versions/outtakes that we are not aware of!!. ……
Maddy Prior; Peter Knight; Bob Johnson; Nigel Pegrum; Rick Kemp/Chris Staines
Although the 80s post Chrysalis (1982) and pre Park Records (1994) was a time of uncertainty and a mainly part time existence for the band, we are actually very fortunate that a lot of live material has been released, or is fairly readily available on good quality bootlegs (Various radio appearances; the 1982 On Tour CD and the 1989 20th Anniversary concert CD/DVD). There is however material that Park does have access to which could fill a few gaps.
21st Nov 1985 Concert: We know that a concert was recorded as this is the source of the live track ‘Blackleg Miner’ from Back In Line album. As yet no other tracks have been made available. Although this album was not on Park Records, they did release the CD reissue in 1991 and the album was released by the Adrian Hopkins/Steeleye owned label ‘Flutterby’ so licencing should be straightforward. If the full set does still exist it would be great release. We can peace together some of the tracks that would feature.
1986 Concert. Once again we know a full set live should be available as this would be the full concert from which currently 6 songs are available on the Park Records ‘In Concert’ CD. We don’t know the full set but there will easily be another 7 or 8 at least and it had been noted that most of Back In Line was played live. We also suspect that the set list of the tour in question (May 1986) was the same as on the US Tour in June.
A combination of the 2 sets above would make a great live collection. Sadly we don't have full set lists from either concert so it is hard make up a detailed 'fantasy' CD release for these, but I have had a go!
Potential 80’s rarities/Bonus Tracks
1987 'Green Man' single: during '86/87 Bob Johnson was working on a potential concept album called ‘Green Man’. A single had been slated for release in 1987 by Steeleye by Flutterby Records. This is now being released in 2023 on the 'Green Man Collection'
1987 Charity single 'Water Aid'. Maddy and Rick wrote this song for release as a charity single for exclusive release at a charity event. It is not the whole band but an interesting track nevertheless
1988 Studio Outtakes: When Bass Player Chris Staines was in the band Steeleye undertook some recording sessions at Chris's studio. But these were not used as Chris subsequently left. Although they were 'probably' mainly songs that ended up on Tempted and Tried, any demos/alternative takes available from these sessions would be great to hear. There may be some outtakes from the 'Back In Line' album as well.
1989 20th Anniversary Concert : Unreleased tracks from the 20th Anniversary concert CD/DVD. 4 songs were played but not released. Harder to license potentially as would need to access the original tapes.
Note that we don't have the full set lists of the two concerts that were recorded.
I now suspect the remaining tracks that could feature from the 1986 live concert are: Lark in the Morning; Lady Diamond; Peace on the Border; Lanercost; Take My Heart; White Man; Edward; One Misty Moisty Morning; Hard Time of Old England; Masons Apron. (and Hat + Gaudete)
Maddy Prior; Gay Woods; Peter Knight; Bob Johnson; Tim Harries; Liam Genocky
The 90's generally is an under-served period of the band for live and rare releases, certainly of good quality. But we know there are concerts that were recorded. With 89-92 covered for live releases ('20th Anniversary Concert', 'Tonight's the Night' and second half of 'In Concert' Live collection) the focus here is first on 1994-1997 when we know several full concerts were recorded.
1994 25th Anniversary Video: A concert that would be great to hear remastered on CD. This is the 1994 25th Anniversary concert which was released on VHS video (On Youtube here). The audio quality of the Video is pretty bad and the mix poor, the drums virtually inaudible. This is crying out for a new release/remastering, even if it was just the audio.
1996 Supporting Status Quo: We know one concert recorded as two tracks have been made available ('On Sails of Silver' CD reissue. There are several remaining unreleased and on my 'fantasy CD below I have listed two that would be great to hear as they have never been released as live versions.
1997 Concert: - We know a concert from the 1997 tour was recorded as 'Thomas the Rhymer' from this tour was released on the Sails of Silver CD reissue. This gives the opportunity to make available two songs played on this tour that have never been released – 'Brigg Fair' and 'Room for Company'. They were destined for a new album that never happened due to Maddy leaving.
Maddy Prior; Gay Woods; Bob Johnson; Peter Knight; Tim Harries; Liam Genocky
This covers the 1994 concert plus additional unreleased songs, but as we can see above there will be a wide choice available.
In addition to the songs below I also have to add 'My Singing Bird' sung by Gay in 1995 on the UK Autumn and has never been released
A time of uncertainty after Maddy left but a period of two studio albums and zero live releases. This line up was brilliant live and they deserve to be heard!
The potential releases here is quite straightforward as we know the 1999 tour was filmed/Recorded – so could be a live DVD/CD/Download etc. We also know that the Bedlam Born recording sessions have at least two outtakes: Firstly the infamous 'Starring Robin' written by Tim Harries, referred to as Punk Folk! was recorded (click here to hear a poor quality bootleg). I don’t think 'Stuttering Lovers' (played live) was recorded in the studio but we know at least one more was – possibly ‘Through Moorfield’ (played live in 2001) as I think it was a Tim Harries song that was recorded.
The Band live during this period sounded great and quite different from album – especially Horkstow Grange. There are great live versions of Bonny Birdy; Old Maid in The Garret; Staring Robin; Stuttering Lovers (Never released); All Around My Hat (sung by Gay) that are all ripe for release.
Filmed/Recorded 7th Nov in Croydon
Note it is Black Jack Davy, not Dark Eyed Sailor that is sung by Bob.
With Maddy, Rick and Liam all returning to the line up this period is very well served with live CDs/DVDs etc. (Folk Rock Pioneers/ Live at a Distance and ‘Official Bootleg’). There are a couple of gaps songs wise, but nothing major.
We know that the 2002 tour was filmed and recorded and whilst 5 songs made their way onto live albums there has been no video see yet. From this tour 'John Barleycorn' and 'Thomas the Rhymer' have not been released by this line up and would be welcome additions to any new collection.
We also know that a 2006 concert was recorded from which only ‘London’ is on YouTube. But even the release of both would cover some of the same ground as the concerts that were released.
Of more interest therefore, is potentially 2009 as is untouched by releases. In that year there were two tours and it was the 40th anniversary. So a full concert DVD or Live CD would be great, especially if it included the concerts with Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick. They joined for two nights – a warm up gig that was filmed (One song on You Tube – Hard Times) at Chichester and the Barbican anniversary concert (probably not filmed). From the Spring tour 'Thomas the Rhymer', 'Lady Diamond' & 'Madam Will you Walk' are the unreleased live songs by this line up.
A release could include a studio recorded version of 'Hard Time of Old England' , recorded for a single (2008) that was never officially released.
Finally it could include a couple not released from 2008 - 'Boys of Bedlam' (A Maddy and Peter improv duo) and Cam Ye O'er Frae France (a different, slower arrangement).
There may also be studio outtakes we don’t know about from the 4 albums recorded in the decade.
I have excluded songs released live already during this time.
Normal pattern is to record at least one concert on a tour so I have assumed live recordings are available for each tour in 2014-2016 to come up with this set list. They are tracks that are either unreleased or have interesting arrangements and/or rarely played live.
And for the record, this is feels more realistic than the older ones and one I would love to hear, so c'mon Park Records.. ;)
I assume here that soundboard recordings were taken for each tour as seemed to the normal practice by now for the band.