1977-1979

1977

Carthy returns

January - May
 Band had a pre-planned "6 months off" after years of constant touring and recording. Tim went to Norway, Nigel worked on his record label, Maddy 'disappeared' to the Lake District whilst Peter and Bob worked on their new concept album.

Bob Johnston (Guitar) Leaves the Band

 Peter Knight (Fiddle) Leaves the Band


There are different reports as to why Bob and Peter left, the most popular, official, and oft repeated since was that they wanted to go off record an album together ("The King of Elflands Daughter"). Tim Hart in his 'Complete Steeleye Span' booklet says that when they got back together after 6 months off, Peter and Bob announced they were leaving. Although it was also later said that they were annoyed that Chrysalis had initially pulled out of releasing their concept album which had been promised before Rocket Cottage. (It was released in June this year in the end, meaning it was recorded before it was announced they were leaving the band so it is possible this was part of the reason). It would appear however, that the PR ,as usual, was not quite in line with the reality..... In Peter's words (around 1999):

"For the record, Bob and I didn’t leave Steeleye to record ‘Elfland’. In the true nature of band behaviour, Maddy announced that she was leaving, and Rick said that he would leave too. Bob and I thought that we might as well go in that case, and so we did, but Rick and Maddy didn’t. That sort of thing is typical of how things work in bands. It’s all normal stuff. Publicly different reasons were given, because the truth can work against bums on seats. But the truth is always more interesting than false declarations. By that time I had had enough anyway. With hits and success came TV cameras, vanity and everything that has nothing to do with music."

In a recently heard interview from 1982 Bob and Peter said that when the band met after 6 months off Rick was not even at the meeting - he had left - and Maddy was saying she would leave at the end of the year, hence why after the meeting Bob and Peter then left. 
Also in 1982 Nigel indicated that Bob had had enough of touring as well at that point. This theme would return later in Bob's Steeleye career.
Tim Hart said the band were surprised that Peter and Bob didn't come back as it was at short notice and they had tours and studio time all booked. Interestingly Tim said that Bob had three songs ready (4 if needed) for a new album (and Peter said he had 3 as well) which is why they needed to bring someone in who could contribute material and be a strong personality - hence why they asked Martin to come back...

Steeleye Murals

28th May. Steeleye Span Murals appear, painted in Shephards Bush and Opposite Kensington Hilton, To promote the 2 new upcoming Chrysalis releases. These were arranged, without any permission, by Tony Secunda who got the artist to paint them at night. They stayed up for a month!

Click on image for details

'King of Elflands Daughter'

Release of 'The King Of Elflands Daughter' by Peter Knight and Bob Johnson (Chrysalis).
Based on an original Lord Dunsay novel. The Album features guest appearances by Mary Hopkin, Frankie Miller and Alexis Korner, as well as Christopher Lee narrating. See Bob Johnson page for more info and click on the image for full track details on Discogs.com

click on image for full details

Collection - 'Original Masters'

A notable release mainly because it used up another (possibly two!) of the '10 album contract' that the band had signed up to with Chrysalis, an indication that the new line up was not a long term plan (see below). The album contained the first release of 'Bonny Moorhen' from 'Parcel of Rogues' sessions and a live version of 'The Wife Of Usher's Well' from 1974 (the only track released from that concert), both of which probably ticked the contractual box (not purely a 'best of') for it to be included in the 10.

Martin Carthy rejoins

Martin rejoins Steeleye on what he always considered a temporary basis to help see out the bands contractual commitments. He joked later that he was attracted to working in a band that was a 'money making machine'!  

John Kirpatrick joins (accordion)

Seven years on from originally suggesting John should join, Martin gets his way and the most famous folk accordion player in the country finally joins Steeleye having worked with most of the members of the band over the years. John's background was in Morris Dance Bands from an early age. 

It was clear, at least internally, that this line up would be temporary and mainly to finish commitments regarding Albums and Tours. With Maddy having released a solo album, Bob and Peter leaving and the other members finding new interests, it meant the band had probably come to its natural end. Maddy had had enough, she said they were 'worn out'. Martin and John were invited in with a clear intention to just finish commitments, they had no plans to be in any band long. Externally it was hoped the Band would continue to conquer America with a more traditional based approach. As Martin said: 
"I think it's going to be more folkie, closer to Ashley Hutchings' original vision of the band. I mean, if they'd wanted to continue as a rock band, they wouldn't have asked John and I to join. We both speak a folkie language and we'll be doing the sort of stuff John and I know best." 
This approach however effectively meant the end of US Tours and any chance of renewed commercial success. It was envisaged as a fitting 'folkie' end to what was originally an Electric Folk band.
There were however concerns within the band (Expressed by Nigel) that this new line would be commercially successful with this new lineup. Nigel said they needed to stay a Rock band playing folk music rather than the other way round.  

Steeleye Span Mk V

Tim Hart/ John Kirkpatrick /Martin Carthy/Nigel Pegrum/ Rick Kemp/Maddy Prior

Nigel Pegrum interview. (exact date/source unknown). 

Long and fascinating Radio interview with Nigel which covers his introduction to the band, how the band worked up new material for albums, the 'new' collection Original Masters, whether the band plays too loud (!) and what to expect from the line up. 

The band changes meant a cancelled Irish tour (July 14th - 18th) in addition to planned Australian and American tours all being cancelled. It showed that this line up really was only going to fulfil its commitments to the record company. An RM article at the time said the cancelling of the tours was due to making time for Band Rehearsals.

Aug: 'Original Masters' Tour

UK warm up tour at smaller Venues not initially planned but added after the above tours were cancelled. 'Love's a Plum Pudding' was played, a Morris tune by John Kirkpatrick. The reception was not great and reviews very mixed. They did not seem like a tight band ,with members coming and going from the stage depending on the song. Partial set list from NME review:

Jigs and Reels, Saucy Sailor, Love's A Plum Pudding (Kirkpatrick Morris Dance with just Martin on stage with him), Some Rival (Rick acoustic guitar, Tim on Banjo), Treadmill Song, Sword Dance, Awake Awake, Cam Ye O'er Frae France, Encore: Rave On

9th Taunton Odeon
10th Portsmouth Guildhall
11th Oxford New Theatre
12th Ipswich (£2.5, up from £1.50 in '76)
13th Peterborough
14th Great Yarmouth
15th Hull New Theatre
16th Wolverhampton
17th Swansea Brangwyn Hall
19th Harrogate Royal Hall
20th Stockport Davenport Theatre
21st Blackpool
23rd Harrogate
24th Torquay, Town Hall
25th Truro Plaza

Sword Dance / Morris Tunes


John doing a sword dance became a feature in the set for the duration of this line up. It came about when the band were discussing how to bring some 'theatre' back into their stage act - as they had in the early/mid 70's and it was John who suggested bringing in the traditional Sword Dancing into the set.

European Tour

Major European tour, the bands biggest to date. 6 countries in 4 weeks across September and October

Storm Force 10 recorded in Holland in the run up to the European tour that they were embarking on. The Album was recorded in a matter of weeks. The Board Head Carol single, which does not appear on the Album was recorded in Holland during the tour. Note that the tour poster still had the old line up advertised

27th Sept Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany
28th Neue Welt, Berlin, Germany
29th Stadthalle , Bremen, Germany
30th Schloss Kiel, Kiel, Germany
2nd Oct Stadthalle, Heidelberg, Germany
3rd Philippshalle, Dusseldorf, Germany
4th Sartorisaal, Cologne, Germany
5th Kurfurstl Schloss, Mainz-Finthen
6th Kongresshalle, Boblingen, Germany

The Holland leg of the tour was not seen as a huge success with it being poorly advertised and badly attended ('Folk News'). The first night had a decent 900 (90% capacity) but the following night had 500-600 (out of 2,200) and the third night 250 and the final night about 500 out of 1,100.
8th Oct Philipshalle POC, Eindhoven, Holland. Concert Recorded for use in a 'Live Album'
9th Doulen, Rotterdam, Holland. Live recording of Concert
10th Twentseschouwburg, Enschede. Live recording of Concert
11th Tivoli, Utrecht

13th Oct Zaal Vooruit Theatre, Ghent, Belgium
14th Ancien Belgigue, Brussells. Encore of 'Down in the Valley to Pray'
16th Ivraettens Haus, Vejle
18th Chateau Neurf, Oslo (University of Guelph)
19th Concert Haus, Gothenberg
20th Olympen, Lund
21st Stakladen Uni, Arhus
22nd Tivoli, Copenhagen
24th Goetalejon, Stockholm

rare live photo of 1977/78 line up, taken in Belgium

'Down in the Valley'

This became one of the main encore songs for this line up but sadly has never appeared on an official release. In fact until recently it had not been heard on any recording at all. So here for the first time is a clip of Steeleye singing this American folk song.

Click on image for details

10th Album: Storm Force Ten

With contractual arrangements to fill and with Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick in the band, along with Mike Batt moving on, then this, the 10th album inevitably takes a turn towards the more traditional 'Electric Folk / Dance' feel. But this was against the tide of both popular music and a move away from the sound that went down so well in America. It was recorded quickly with very little post production or over dubbing based on songs worked through on the last tour. With only 8 tracks its unlikely there any outtakes that will surface. It failed to chart, the first since Ten Man Mop.

Series of 3 Storm Force 10 adverts
November: Recorded 'Boars Head Carol' in Amsterdam
  14th Nov Liverpool Docks

Irish Tour (The bands debut in Northern Ireland)


 15th Nov Rialto Cinema, Londonderry. 16th Grosvenor Hall, Belfast. 
Encore was Rave On and a 2nd encore was needed and they did 'Down in the Valley' with just a tambourine for
accompaniment.

 17th Grosvenor Hall, Belfast
 18th November Dublin. 1,700 fans. 
Reviewed in NME: False Knight on the Road; Awake Awake; Black Freighter; Cam Ye O'er Frae France; Boards Head Carol; The Treadmill Song; The Victory; Athol Highlander/Blue Bonnets; The Maid and the Palmer; 17 Come Sunday; Encore: Rave On.
 19th LeisureLand, Galway

Dec: Single - 'Boars Head Carol'

b-side Gaudete/Some Rival. An attempt at another Christmas hit, under more pressure from Chrysalis. A secular Carol, in this case arranged by John Kirkpatrick. It has continued to be sung by Maddy with the Carnival Band and solo. Recorded in Holland in November whilst on tour. Does not appear on 'Storm Force 10' or Live at Last but now appears on various collections. (was was sung live on tour)

10th Dec: Amnesty International Rally, London, Played at end of rally starting at 4:40 following inter-denominational Carol singing.

12th Dec: Passage 44, Brussels, Belgium. (Broadcast on BRT2 Radio)


Support act 'Paul van Suetendael'. 'Down in the Valley' played as encore and set included the new single, 'The Boar's Head Carol' (Thanks Johan for all information on this concert!!) as well as the previously unheard song 'Sweet Swansea' as part of a 'Prison' Medley with 'The Treadmill Song'. It was a special one off concert organised by the above Radio Station for their 10th Birthday. It was a late decision to organise and they Radio went through a lot of trouble to get it organised in time. Steeleye was probably chosen because the Station's folk programme had the 'Mooncoin Jig' as their opening tune. Luckily they did as it provides a very rare opportunity to hear this line up live. Interestingly, as has been reported in the press around this time, the audience once again called for 'All Around My Hat' at the encore and Maddy has to explain that 'the Band don't know that one'!
The False Knight on the Road; The Wife of the Soldier; Awake Awake; Saucy Sailor/The Black Freighter; Hunt The Wren; Sweep Chimney Sweep;The Galtee Farmer; The Maid and The Palmer; Sweet Swansea/The Treadmill song; The Victory (not broadcast so not sure of position) ;The Atholl Highlanders / Walter Bulwer's Polka; Cam Ye All O'er Frae France ; The Boar's Head Carol ; Seventeen Come Sunday; Encore - Rave On/ 2 Tunes/Down in the Valley


 15th Dec Bath Pavillion, Warm up to xmas concert at Hammersmith

 17th Dec Hammersmith Odeon, London debut for new band. Originally meant to be 1st UK dates for new line up.
Opener: False Knight, Awake Awake, Saucy Sailor, Black Freighter, Morris Dance, Sweep Chimney Sweep, Wife Of The Soldier, Victory, Cam Ye, Closer: Seventeen Come Sunday, 3 encores (NME)

  24th Dec Appear on 'Wally Whyton' BBC Radio Show. No further details known.

1978

The year that Steeleye formally split up for the first and only time

21st January (ish) :

Officially announced that Band would break up after the Tour. 

By this time it was not really a surprise as most of the members had various solo commitments planned and the band had completed the 10 album contract they had with Chrysalis. In January Maddy Prior started working with Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) on her first solo album which would be released by Chrysalis.

4th Feb: BBC TV: Jim'll Fix It

Jim fixes it for Rebecca Dunham and Celia Millett to have a Medieval Banquet with Steeleye Span.
Features the Band 'singing' 'Board Head Carol' in the studio (overdubbed).

UK Farewell Tour (31 dates)

Across Feb/Mch. Officially the 'Storm Force Ten' Tour. Support: Tannahil Weavers (part of the tour). In the programme Tim Hart remarks that "the problem with Steeleye is that we've done it all". The tour had mixed reviews due to uncertainty, apprehension and different expectations amongst fans about what this line up of the band would sound like. The Brecht songs made the most impact generally on crowds with the 'Black Freighter' going down well, whilst the Morris dances had a more mixed response. The frequent chopping and changing of who was on stage at any one time also affected the flow of the concerts.   

SET LIST: False Knight on the Road; Galtee Farmer; Awake Awake; The Victory; Montrose; The Atholl Highlanders / Walter Bulwer's Polka; Saucy Sailor/Black Freighter; Sweet Swansea/Treadmill Song; Hunting the Wren; Bonnets So Blue; Sweep Chimney Sweep; Seventeen Come Sunday; Boars Head Carol; The Maid and the Palmer (or 'As I Roved Out'); Encore: Cam Ye O'er Frae France: Rave On / Jigs / Down in the Valley (5 part harmony gospel song)  

4th Feb: Harrogate Royal Hall
5th Liverpool Philharmonic
6th Chester ABC. 
Included the Sweet Swansea (sung by John)/Treadmill song medley. Included 'As I roved Out' - only mention of this song so assume it's the alternative name for 17 Come Sunday. The reviewer was not happy with the volume of the drums..! ('Folk News' article)
7th Free Trade Hall, Manchester
8th Sheffield City Hall
9th Birmingham Odeon
11th Leicester De Montford Hall ( Recorded for a Radio Broadcast)
 (Not known if ever broadcast?) and now available as Live CD, released by Angel Air Records in September 2019. Set List released on CD - 1. Galtee Farmer; 2. Awake Awake; 3. The Saucy Sailor; 4. The Black Freighter; 5. Hunting The Wren; 6. Sweep, Chimney Sweep; 7. The Duke Of Athols Highlanders; 8. Walter Bulwer’s Polka; 9. Cam Ye O’er Frae France; 10. The Boar’s Head; 11. Seventeen Come Sunday; 12. Rave On
12th Oxford New Theatre
13th Bristol Colston Hall
14th Cardiff Uni Late addition
15th Swansea Brangwyn Hall
17th Hammersmith Odeon
18th Hammersmith Odeon
19th Coventry Theatre
20th Kent Uni
21st Portsmouth Guildhall
22nd Brighton Dome
23rd Hull Uni
24th Newcastle City Hall
25th Edingburgh Usher Hall
26th Glasgow Apollo. £1.50. No change from '75.
27th Aberdeen 'Capital'
1st March: Middlesborugh Town Hall
2nd Bradfors ST Georges Hall
4th Peterbrough ABC
5th Painton Festival Theatre late addition
6th Southampton Gaumont
7th Bournemouth Winter Gardens Live At Last recorded
9th Wolverhampton City Hall
10th Stockport Davenport Theatre
12th Ipswich Gaumont

 
 

'The Complete Steeleye Span' Book

(February 1978 first published). Written by Robin Denselow and compiled by Tim Hart

This magazine style book is a great written and pictorial history of the Band, mainly in Tim's words. It has lots of interesting information and unique pictures and but sadly the print quality was not great.
Tim says that Steeleye had got through 724 gigs, 3 managers, 3 record companies, 1 gold, 4 silver albums. Tours of Europe, Australia & America at the point of writing. I have not quite found 724 gigs yet in this period but I'm getting close!
The best place to read a transcript of it is on the Chris Kellett archive website HERE. It is also available occasionally on Ebay.

May: Maddy Prior Solo Album: 'Woman in the Wings' (Chrysalis).

Maddy's first proper solo album has most of Jethro Tull playing on it on various songs (see pic below), although not all at the same time. Ian Anderson produced the album, a relationship that goes back to when Steeleye supported Tull in America and he helped mix 'Now We are Six'. Jo Lustig was the manager of Jethro Tull and promoter for Maddy at this time which was another reason for working with Ian/Jethro Tull. This was Maddy's first proper 'solo' album and was material that she wrote herself. Recording started in January 1978. This ties in with the apparant '6 month commitment' she gave to the band back in May 1977 when the classic line up returned from their 6 month sabbatical. 

May/June: Woman in the Wings Tour

An 18 date tour at major venues across May/June- as big as any venues Steeleye played, including Wembley Conference Centre, Colston Hall Bristol and the Manchester Apollo, however, the tour was described as a 'disastrous' both by others and Maddy herself, which must refer to ticket sales. Interestingly promoted by Jo Lustig who had stopped working with Steeleye back in late '74

The touring band, from left to right: Kevin Savigar (Synths); Ray Flacke (Guitar); Chris Stainton (piano, organ); John Lingwood (Drums); Pat Donaldson (Bass). (Photo by Tim Hart!)

Oct: Steeleye Span single: Rag Doll (Saucy Sailor)

Released October 16th. 'Rag Doll' was recorded in 1972 while the Band was touring the US (Mk3 line up with Johnson and Kemp). It included Session drummer 'Hal Blaine'. It was released as a single in August '78 in the UK and has appeared on a few collections since.

Click on image for details

11th Album: Live At Last

Recorded on the 7th March on the Farewell Tour and released in October after the band had split up. With so many new tracks it is only fair to include this in any main Steeleye Discography. The US release dropped the very English Morris Dance, 'Bonnets So Blue' and replaced it with a studio recording of 'Rag Doll' which would have been a more familiar song to US fans who saw them live in 73-76. Further songs from the tour have now been included in the 2019 release Live From De MontFord Hall'.

2nd July Maddy Prior Solo Album: 'Changing Winds' (Chrysalis)

Recorded with a different set of musicians to the first solo album, but again featuring original compositions. Heavily featuring new husband Rick Kemp. This second Album, hot on the heels of the last was clearly not a success in commercial terms and was much less promoted. Off the back of this, and an unsuccessful tour Chrysalis dropped Maddy as a solo artist in 1979. Maybe they had agreed a two album deal initially. This bad news can have only helped sow the seeds for the 1980 Reunion of Steeleye Span. Although Maddy continued to tour and record as a solo artist, initially as the 'Maddy Prior Band' in the early 80's, there is probably no doubt that if these first two albums had been successful, and had Tim's album also been successful, then the chances of a Steeleye return would have been lower.

1979

No Steeleye Span!!

1st April Tim Hart Solo Album 'Tim Hart' (Chrysalis)

Accompanying Single: 'Overseas / Hillman Avenger'

Tim's first solo album was all original songs apart from 'Come to My Window'. A song which Tim had envisaged for Steeleye but he had an argument with Martin over the arrangement so it wasn't used! The album featured Nigel Pegrum on drums, plus Rick Kemp on a couple of tracks and Maddy Backing Vocals. How serious an attempt at a solo career this was is not clear but Tim said the Chrysalis wanted him to do it, so he did. He said he had most of the songs written (or half written) over the years - ones which just wouldn't have fitted in with Steeleye. It is hard to measure whether it was 'successful' but in pure sales terms, probably unlikely given the music tastes of the time. 

August: Maddy Prior appears at the Cambridge Folk Festival

 2nd Oct: Maddy Prior 'In Concert' BBC Radio 2.

 1974-76  /  HOME   /  1980-1988