MADDY PRIOR - RICK KEMP - JULLIAN LITTMAN - JESSIE MAY SMART - ANDREW 'SPUD' SINCLAIR - LIAM GENOCKEY
John Spiers - Melodeon
Hattie Webb - Harp
Produced by Steeleye Span
Recorded at Broadoak Studios, Hastings. Stones Barn, Cumbria. Draycott Studios , London
Engineered by Harvey Summers and Julian Littman
Mixed by Bob Prowse
The departure of Peter Knight was a big change for the band and in came Jessie May Smart. Pete Zorn had also left, and sadly passed away, so Spud Sinclair joined on lead guitar leaving Julian to fulfil more of the multi-instrumentalist role.
Following on from the purely traditional 'Cogs' album and the original concept Wintersmith album, Dodgy Bastards is a return to the 'normal' structure of a mixture of original compositions and heavily adapted traditional songs, often with original melodies/tunes. The album is marked for it's more 'epic' songs with a continuing of some prog rock elements of Wintersmith.
"We have trawled Francis James Child's magnificent collection of English and Scottish popular Ballads for this album. An American professor, he created the five volume collection is 1880-90s in an an attempt to gather together all the available versions of the ballads. It stands as an impressive piece of research, followed by Betrand Harris Bronson who strove to find the tunes to the ballads, whereas Child largely only collected the words.
Other have followed in the footsteps of Child and Bronson (and even their work is based on those who went before) and it is thanks to all of these that we are able to rethink and dwell on these powerful stories and themes, and recast them to amplify their meaning for us."
Of the 12 tracks only 'Two Sisters' has not been played to date live but in 2019 most had dropped out of the live set apart from 'Dodgy Bastards' which is now the go-to tune played after All Around My Hat.
Album notes - [Johnnie Armstrong] was a reiver on the Scottish borders raiding and plundering ever more frequently on the English side of the Anglo/Scottish border. King James was becoming increasingly vexed by the situation and invited Johnnie Armstrong to meet him. Johnnie was fooled into thinking that the King would grant him a pardon for his activities but on arrival, when Johnnie asked for the pardon, the King refused. A battle ensued and Johnnie and his men were eventually hanged at Caerlanrig. Rick found a book with the traditional tune for this ballad which we developed and we also wrote a new refrain for the King's repost to Armstrong's entreaty for a pardon.
Album notes - A celebrated Steeleye favourite. It has had many incarnations over the years by many other artists as well. This version has a spoken word interlude actually written as a rap by Maddy and Rick's son, Alex Kemp. The original libretto was full-on rap with the requisite and opposite profanities that are integrated to that genre. However, not being a ‘proper’ rapper, Julian felt that maybe he wouldn't carry off the cussing as well as Alex so he made more of a spoken word piece without it and thanks to Alex's imagery and turn of phrase it feels just as powerful.
The words are traditional but Nic Jones and Dave Moran wrote the tune.
Julian has added a further verse (over the Steeleye original) for this version:
So drink to Tom of Bedlam,
He'll fill the sea with barrels,
I'll drink 'em all, all brewed with gall,
And Mad Maudlin I will travel.