Rocket Cottage

1976 Chrysalis (CHR 1123)
 Recorded in June '76 at Frans Peters Studio Hilversum, Holland


Producer - Mike Batt

Peak UK Chart Position - 41 (3 weeks on chart)

Recorded in Hilversum, Holland (for Tax reasons) and once again produced by Mike Batt. It was recorded in just over a week with the band in the studio 12-14 hours a day. The pictures on the reverse were taken at 'Hank's Bar' just outside the studio. 
Although quite well received critically at the time it was not a commercial success and on reflection this follow up to 'Hat' was the sign of a tired band, which broke up after a very hard world tour promoting the album. It was a release that also got caught in the rise of Punk/New Wave which saw trends move away from Prog/Folk Rock. 

With only one full UK tour and a US Tour in 1976 to promote the album many of the tracks have not been heard live since and the ones that have are still not played frequently. 'London' is the exception to this. 

1. London

(4.14. Written by Rick Kemp using traditional words from a broadside ballad)

Maddy: 'The words were from a song book called 'New Academy of Compliments'. It is a slightly satirical view of London, as seen from the equivalent of the West End, rather the in-fashion side of London, the austere eccentricities of clothes, powdered wigs and all that sort of thing'

Sept 1976 Lead Single from Album. (b. side Sligo Maid)
A return to the successful 6/8 rhythm of 'Hat' for the albums lead single. Failed to chart despite good reviews and a promo video.  

[1976] UK & US 'Rocket Cottage' Tour.  Featured on the 'Mike Douglas TV Show' but sadly not been seen since.  The live arrangement had a short instrumental intro and additional outro rather than fading away on the chorus on the album. On the 'Good Times of Old England' Box set (2022) from the 15th Oct Berklee Performance Centre (USA) Concert.
[2004] UK Winter '45th Anniversary Tour. Sung by Rick as per the original. 'Folk Rock Pioneers In Concert' CD (2006)
[2006] Cropedy
[2007] SpanFest
[2008] UK Spring Tour; SpanFest. 
[2017] Hark! The Village Wait tour (sung by Julian).  Hark! The Village Wait Live CD (2021)
[2018] UK Spring Tour & Festivals - including Shrewsbury which is on YouTube
[2021] UK Autumn Tour. A 'rockier' version with additional short guitar solos
[2022] UK Spring Tour; UK Autumn Tour

2. The Bosnian Hornpipes

(0.58 Steeleye Span/Mike Batt)

Peter: (from the 'Recollections' Australian only LP) -  The next song isn't a song at all. It's a song, but it hasn't got any words, because we all made the words up as we went along which was tremendously exciting. This song is a sort of mathematical bit of musical nonsense. It's quite good fun, it's a hornpipe. Well it's a hornpipe rhythm anyway. It's not a traditional tune, it's one that's been written. It was written by a music stand actually that was fed into a computer, that links to the music stand. And this is how it turned out. It passes through several of the normal cadences, utilising all the obvious harmonies that tadpoles can think of... Well I rather like tadpoles, they're rather nice. It's called The Bosnian Hornpipes, nothing at all to do with the joke about bees, they're very very big, much bigger than the ordinary bee. It's called The Bosnian Hornpipes or The Bosnian Hornpipes.”
Peter has also mentioned that 'We came into the studio one day and Mike Batt had written a little song for us called 'Bosnia'

[1976] US and UK 'Rocket Cottage' Tours. Featured on the 'Mike Douglas TV Show (along with London) but sadly not been seen since. 

3. Orfeo / Nathan's Reel

(Orfeo - 6.01 Child Ballad 19 Traditional words. 'Nathan's Reel' - Peter Knight)
Maddy introduced it as the 'normal' King and the Faerie King battling over a woman (with a fiddle!). Orfeo is a Gaelic ballad of which there are many versions but which I don't think had any specific tune associated with it apart from a fragment which Archie Fisher used from the singing of John Stickle. The Steeleye version seems to use a unique melody, so I assume an original but happy to be corrected.
'Nathan's Reel' was written by Peter Knight for his son, Nathan.

[1976] US and UK Rocket Cottage Tours. The Orfeo chorus is repeated at the end of Nathan's Reel.  On the 'Good Times of Old England' Box set (2022) from the 15th Oct Berklee Performance Centre (USA) Concert.

4. The Twelve Witches

(4.32 Steeleye Span)
Introduced by Bob but sung by Rick. As far as I can ascertain this is an original song with no references other than to Steeleye found. It is supposed the lyrics will have some basis in the tradition but as it is rarely played we can't be sure.  

[1976] US and UK Rocket Cottage Tours.  On the 'Good Times of Old England' Box set (2022) from the 15th Oct Berklee Performance Centre (USA) Concert.

5. The Brown Girl

(5.06 Child Ballad, tune by Peter Knight)
The brown can refer to either hair or eye colour or possibly even a tanned farm worker who were often described as brown compared to the 'fair' middle/upper class girls who prided themselves of being very pale as proof that they didn't need to work. 

[1976] US and UK Rocket Cottage Tours.  On the 'Good Times of Old England' Box set (2022) from the 15th Oct Berklee Performance Centre (USA) Concert.
[1982] UK Autumn Tour (probably)
[1984] Australian Tour
[1986]  US 'Reunion Tour' Played with a keyboard intro and backing by Peter and the overall feel of the song would have fitted well on Sails Of Silver. 

6. Fighting for Strangers

(4.26 Arranged and partly written by Tim Hart with the chorus coming from 'Our Captain Cried all Hands')

Robin Denselow - 'A tragic military montage of three songs segued together against layers of percussive over-dubbing'
The melody is known from the Hymn 'He who would valiantly be', but 'Our Captain Cried All Hands' is actually the original home of the melody. The lyrics, put together and are written by Tim except the chorus which is from 'Our Captain Cried All Hands' and the second half of the the last verse is from 'Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya'. The melody was also used in 'The Blacksmith' from Steeleye's first two albums. 
Mike Batt - 'Rhythm went down first- loads of percussion toys - shakers, finger cymbals and bongos. Maddy sang over it before going to pub. Came back and she sang it in a different key, starting in a different place, so when it came to mixing it they just used both, fading them in and out against each other.'

Nov 1976 - 2nd Single from the Album.
Small scale release with little promo

[1976] US and (we assume) UK Tours.
[1990] UK Autumn Tour -  Played as a medley with Gentlemen Soldier and a Peter/Tim instrumental.
[1991] UK Autumn Tour - Played as a medley with Gentlemen Soldier and a Peter/Tim instrumental. Released on 'Tonight's the Night Live' CD (1992) but sadly parted from Gentlemen Soldier with the instrumental cut. 
[1992] UK Autumn Tour. With Gentlemen Soldier
[1994] UK 25th Anniversary Tour. Back with Gentlemen Soldier and released on '25 Live - 25th Anniversary Tour' Video  

7. Sligo Maid

(3.44 Traditional)
The only track on the album to have been heard prior to its release when it was played live in 1975 with the tune 'Black Joke'. When asked Peter could not recall where the tune originates from but said that 'there are a few tunes that sound quite similar in that area and I did tend to jumble them up a bit'

[1975] UK All Around My Hat Tour; Festivals. Paired with the tune 'Black Joke' .
[1976] US and UK Rocket Cottage Tours.  On the 'Good Times of Old England' Box set (2022) from the 15th Oct Berklee Performance Centre (USA) Concert.
[1980] UK Comeback Tour
[1981] Spring and Autumn Tours
[1982] Australian Tour - Was missed from the 1982 Australian LP 'On Tour' but made it to the reissue- 'Gone to Australia (On Tour) Live CD (2001)

8. Sir James the Rose

(6.16, Child Ballad; adapted by Bob Johnson)
Bob: 'I was attracted to this song by the feeling of 'action' that it gave me. It was as though I had just walked into a cinema after the film had started but just in time to catch all the action and the ending. I leave the cinema, still not knowing what the film was all about. ('Present' CD notes)
Whenever played live has been a faithful version close to the original recording. 

Re-recorded on 'Present' CD (2002)

[1976] US Tour. On the 'Good Times of Old England' Box set (2022) from the 15th Oct Berklee Performance Centre (USA) Concert.
[1981] Cambridge Folk Festival; UK Nov tour?  (No setlist)
[1981] UK Autumn Tour
[1987] US Summer Tour; UK Tour? (no setlist but appears likely)
[2002] UK Reunion Tour. Sung By Ken
[2004] Throughout European; US and UK 35th Anniversary World Tour (dropped for 'Winter' UK Tour) sung by Ken and Included on the 'Official Bootleg' (2004); 'The 35th Anniversary Tour live DVD (2004) & 'Folk Rock Pioneers in Concert' Live CD (2006) 
[2015] UK 'Catch Up' Tour sung by Julian
[2016] Cropedy Festival; UK 'Dodgy Bastards' Tour. 
[2018] UK Autumn Tour. '50th Anniversary Tour DVD' (not on the CD) 
[2019] Jan Irish Tour
[2022] UK Autumn Tour
[2023] UK 'Green Man' Tour

9. [Camptown Races] / The Drunkard 

(2.11, 5.44)
The inclusion of the informal session recording of 'Camptown Races' (which is not credited on the LP) has often been cited as symptomatic of the band getting complacent, tired and releasing a rushed follow up to 'Hat'. Maddy has said 'I can't think what we were doing with that'.
Maddy noted in an interview that the tune for the Drunkard came from "somewhere else" and is not the tune originally found with the words. 
Not listed as being sung live at the time of the albums release but we don't have a full set list for the UK tour so can't be sure

[1984] UK Spring Tour. Sung by Maddy acapella. Included on a BBC Radio 2 'Folk On Two' In Concert show and fortunately can be heard on good quality Bootlegs. 

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