There is a tour poster of a potential 'Musical Nomads Tour' in 1998 with no dates. As Liam is on the picture then it may be a tour that fell through because Liam left quite suddenly? (see 1997) Or, as it was promoted by Adrian Hopkins it may have tied into his departure.
The first Steeleye Span album not to feature Maddy Prior which turns out to be the most acoustic album since the early days. Bob Johnson plays the acoustic guitar on a number of tracks. As usual the arrangements/melodies are mostly by the band Span based on mainly traditional songs. One track was written by Johnny Patterson in the 1920's (I Nish I Was Never Wed). The song 'Horkstow Grange' is where the name John 'Steeleye' Span originates from (Melody by Peter) Peter described it as a transitional album. Initially it was recorded with no drums but Peter said the band were so used to having drums that the album sounded like they had been lifted off! Dave Mattacks was brought in to add the 'missing' drums!
Per Tim: "We lost our drummer, our management and between 50 -60% of our audience in that first year. 'Horkstow Grange' was made in a kind of daze, like starting again with nothing to lose."
Per Peter: "When we recorded 'Horkstow Grange' we had to proceed without a drummer and without Maddy. It was just an organic development and really a contingency move at the time."
19 dates in October. 1st UK tour by the band since Maddy Left. Dave Mattacks on Drums (Dave was not a full time member). Long Lankin returns to the set for the first time since '94 and 8 new songs from the new album are introduced making a total of 8 from it as Erin was played in '97. The rest of the set is drawn from songs played in the last few years.
Simon Jones in his Froots review (Warrington) said 'If you came thinking too much of the previous Steeleye, then this was a different evening, but if you came with an open mind and no fixed ideas about what you were likely to hear or see then chances are you'd have left well chuffed..Peter confessed that they were never in doubt about Steeleye continuing and you have to credit with them for sticking with it when you can check just how effective Gay Woods operates centre stage. her vocal, wispish and willowy one moment, strident and evocative the next, handling both The Water is Wide and I Wish I Was never Wed on exactly those terms. Span left us tails up and raised more questions that they'd answers for. " We are just taking things one step at a time," Knight whispered after the gig. "it may take a while for us to bring the punters round, but we're determined to do it." Life in the old dog yet.
Long Lankin; The Prickly Bush; Erin Grá Mo Chroí (Bob on acoustic guitar) The Tricks of London (Bob on acoustic); One True Love (Bob on acoustic); The Dark-Eyed Sailor (Bob on acoustic); Horkstow Grange; [Interval] The Old Turf Fire; Seagull; Black Jack Davy (sung by Bob); Bonny Birdy; The Water Is Wide; Lord Randall; I Wish That I Never Was Wed; Thomas the Rhymer; The Old Maid in the Garrett; All Around My Hat; Jigs; Gaudete
2nd Oct Trinity Arts Centre, Tunbridge Wells
3rd Strode Theatre, Street
5th Millfield Theatre, Edmonston
6th Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe
7th Assembly Rooms, Derby
8th Municiple Hall, Colne
9th Parr Hall, Warrington
10th Corn Exchange, King's Lynn
11th Grand Opera House, York
14th The stables, Milton Keynes
15th Ferenham Hall, Fareham
16th Roses Theatre, Tewksbury
17th Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds
19th Salisbury City Hall
21st Customs House, South Shields
22nd Beverley Picture House, Burton Pidsea
25th Corn Exchange, Cambridge
27th Woodville Halls, Gravesend
28th The Harlequin, Redhill
Below is a unique picture of the this line up backstage at Nettlebed '99. This particular line up (with Dave Mattacks & Bob Johnson) only toured in 1998 & early '99. They did record the two albums (Horkstow Grange and Bedlam Born). Thanks so much to Nick Clarke for permission to use this photo
Meanwhile in 1998 Maddy Prior had a 21 date Spring tour; a 19 date North American tour and 16 dates on a 'Spirit of the Tradition' tour with Jacqui McShee and Kathryn Tickell. Maddy's band - Maddy Prior & Friends' at the time was Nick Holland and Troy Donockey. Along with Terl Bryant they released the Album 'Flesh and Blood'. Click on image for more details.
A few Summer dates and one large Autumn tour for the 30th Anniversary
The 'Classic' line up (except Nigel) all record interviews for a Dutch TV series called 'Single Luck' (focusing on one hit wonders). The focus is of course Steeleye's hit single! The series was eventually broadcast in March 2001. I have uploaded the episode onto Youtube opposite.
Finally a recording of the 1995 concert made is way onto a double CD. Gay Woods commented later that rework was needed on many of the tracks to make it good enough for release. Gay mentioned Maddy's vocals needed some overdubbing, which of course would have been understandable given the vocal problems she was having at the time. Click on the image for full details including who played on each song.
Maddy Prior CD and DVD. A seasonal live recording from Maddy's 1999 Christmas tour. Interesting release as it features both Rick Kemp and Peter Knight, along with five Steeleye songs. (Plus other guests such as June Tabor and Rose Kemp). You can see the 'Hind Horn' on Youtube. This led to Rick and Peter also joining Maddy on a short tour in Feb 2000, see below.
In addition to this release; Maddy also had a huge 30 date solo Spring Tour with Nick Holland and Troy Donockley supporting the new solo album 'Ravenchild' as well as a 20 date Carinival Band tour in September.
A return to the US, a new album but Bob leaves to be replaced by another 'classic' line up member
Rick was announced as replacement for Bob for the next tour at the same time as Bob leaving. Tim Harries would move across to guitar. Rick did not actually become a full member of the band until the reunion in 2002.
Rick was invited in by Manager John Dagnell: "John Dagnell of Park Records called me on behalf of the band saying that Bob had left and that Tim was going to move ‘sideways ’ as it were, to play guitar. It was a surprise for many reasons, mainly I suppose, as I imagined that they would want a newer, younger person to replace Bob.".
He did also say he enjoyed being back - "If they decide that I’m the man for the job, I’ll be very, very happy – I think that I have a lot to offer for the future, most of which didn’t have time to show itself in the six weeks of touring. I have some radical ideas, to be adopted or not, about the future of my favourite band."
Dave Mattacks on Drums, Rick on Bass for the first time since 1987. Back in the US three years after touring with Maddy but a shorter tour tour this time, albeit at similar venues. 'John Of Ditchford' and 'Who told the Butcher' both from the upcoming album are introduced but the rest of the set sees no real changes.
Two Act Set List: (Rams Head): The Prickly Bush; Dark-Eyed Sailor; Who Told the Butcher; Erin; Staring Robin; Horkstow Grange; The Stuttering Lovers; The Connemara Cradle Song; [Interval] The Old Turf Fire; John of Ditchford; Bonny Birdy; Poem; The Water is Wide; I Wish That I Never Was Wed; Thomas the Rhymer; Old Maid in the Garrett. Encore: All Around My Hat; Jigs
One Act Set List: (Bottom Line): Prickly Bush; Old Turf Fire; Who told the Butcher or One True Love; Dark Eyed Sailor; John of Ditchford; Horkkstow Grange; Erin; [Interval]; Staring Robin; Bonny Birdy; The Water Is Wide; Wish That I Never Was Wed; Thomas The Rhymer; Old Maid In The Garrett; All Around my Hat; Jigs and Reels.
19th Sept: Rams Head Annapolis
20th Sept: Birchmire Alexandria
21st Sept: New York The Bottom Line. 2 Shows
22nd Sept: Philadelphia Tin Angel
23rd Sept: Boston Folk Festival
24th Sept: Iron Horse, Northampton. Massachusetts
Boston Globe review: Celtic folk rockers Steeleye Span ended the festival on an upbeat note. Combining lush harmonies with guitar, violin, and a traditional rock beat, the British quartet played an innovative combination of 100-year-old songs, and others that span the group's 30-year history. Spirited Irish-flavored songs such as "The Prickly Bush" had the audience on its feet and helped dispel the stereotype that folk is just a quiet sit-down form of music. (Pictures from Archived Boston Globe Website)
During the recording sessions for Bedlam Born the band recorded a Tim Harries song called 'Staring Robin' which had been popular live. Park Records recommended that the track was not included as it was closer to 'Punk Folk' and would detract from the rest of the album. Peter Knight has since said he felt that this was an incorrect decision (by the band to follow the recommendation). I have have a poor quality bootleg that I recorded myself (video below, audio only) and is interesting to listen to purely from an historical perspective. It is also thought that 'Stuttering Lovers' was recorded and an additional Tim Harries one as well that was not used - that may have been 'Through Moorfields' (see Cromer gig in 2001 below) but it is not known for sure.
Peter at the time: "Park Records are a good company who care about Steeleye and its music. I think they felt that 'Staring Robin' might in some way become the focus of attention and detract from some of the other songs. The band didn't share that view but we are not in the business of selling records. I'm sure that 'Staring Robin' will be released at some future date."
And a little later Peter said: " Park did not forbid it. They suggested that maybe it wasn't suitable material for that album. We had the choice. Either we could make a stand in which case it would have been included, or we could trust Park's judgement. We chose the latter. In hindsight I feel it was the wrong decision. Not because of a matter of principle, but because the song is a great song and perfectly suitable for Steeleye. Performing it on gigs proved that"
Across the next year Tim Harries; Gay Woods would both leave the band leaving Peter Knight as last man standing as the band came close to finishing....
February 2001. Gay made the announcement before she had told the other members of the band, and news first appeared in an article. Her statement on her website was: "I will say that after the tour I'm afraid my dealings with the whole situation were not very nice so I decided it would be, for health reasons,....better just to leave it. So I'm just myself now "
No specific reasons have been given, but an article at the time said it was in part due to financial problems around publishing issues and royalties that Gay thought she was being excluded from. The strains of touring and being away from her family was also mentioned as reasons at the time by Gay.
Gay also made this amusing comment (To Nick Clarke) about when she joined Dr Strangely Strange:
"In a way it was like joining Steeleye Span..... I rejoin and they break up or people leave. It seems to be a pattern in my life. Don't let Gay Woods join your band !"
This initiated a very tricky time for Band, and Peter in particular as at various points over the next year it was entirely possible that Steeleye would have finished at this point. As Peter later reflected (in a Richard Hollis Interview):"As the last man standing, the future of Steeleye did rest with me and for a long time I wasn’t really sure what to do about it. The Band had been around for over thirty years and to be honest, that seemed as though it should be enough and time to call it a day anyway. So no, at that point I wasn’t confident about its survival and there were moments when I really didn’t want the Band to reform."
Seagull (Pete); Wee Weaver (Tamsyn) ; Through Moorfields (Tim); Who Told the Butcher (Pete); Eb English (Peter and Tim only); The King; The Prickly Bush(Tim); Alison Gross(Tim); Streets of Derry (Tamsyn); John Of Ditchford (Tim); I see His Blood Upon the Rose (Tamsyn); Bonny Birdy (Pete); Staring Robin (Tim); All Around my Hat (Tamsyn).
Thanks to Nick Clark for all these great photos, full set list details and more besides!
Peter Knight indicated on his website that he was in discussions with Park Records/John Dagnell about the future of the band, and that it was looking promising.
Peter Knight confirms that the band will continue, with a new line up in the new year. No news until then.
Dec 2001: 'Keltic Fusion' (Maddy Prior, Troy Donockley, Nick Holland, Rose Kemp, Jacqui McShee) release a single: Gaudete/Greenwood Side' (Park Records). This single release nearly derailed the proposed Steeleye Span reunion ........
"On a personal note I would like to say that I am delighted that this has all come together at last, and I am looking forward to playing with, and hearing this great line-up. I will keep you informed of all developments.
A huge thanks to all of you for your wonderful support, patience and optimism."