Sat, 14 Mar 2015 15:58:27 +1300
Album review by Barry Curtis.
Copyright Â© 2005.
All Rights Reserved.
Released in 2000, this was the second Steeleye album without Maddy Prior. The first, âHorkstow Grangeâ, I found slightly unimpressive and was therefore skeptical about the continuation of this line-up. However, my fears were unfounded. On the whole, Bedlam Born is an entertaining listen, even if âWho Told the Butcher?â and âPoor Old Soldierâ are rather tame.
By far the best song is âJohn of Ditchfordâ. Written and sung by bassist Tim Harries, the lyrics intelligently relate the tale of a murder and subsequent justice over a heavy rock backdrop. The music here is outstanding and one wonders if drummer Dave Mattacks brought along some inspiration from the rockiest aspects of Fairport Convention. How folk-rock should be, âJohn of Ditchfordâ is in my top five Steeleye tracks ever recorded.
The instrumental âBlack Swanâ has a regal feel and is reminiscent of âA Cannon By Telemannâ from the âBack in Lineâ album.
Gay Woods is in her element in tracks such as âI See His Blood upon the Roseâ, âThe Connemara Cradle Songâ (a song about the West Wind!), âBeyond the Dreaming Placeâ, and a Pink Floyd-esque take on Vera Lynnâs âThe White Cliffs of Doverâ. Her general tendency is towards soft vocals in contrast to Maddyâs domineering tones, and in âArbourâ she narrates the lyrics allowing her wondrous Irish accent to shine through.
This was Bob Johnsonâs final album of original material (excluding 2002âs âPresentâ) and he does a fine service setting the rocky agenda with âWell Done Liar!â, âThe Beggarâ, and a version of âWe Poor Labouring Menâ that is much enhanced over the live incarnations I heard in the 1990s. âThere Was a Wealthy Merchantâ and âStephenâ are slightly weaker but still merit a listen.
Overall I rate this album 8/10, a high rating indebted to the clearly large amount of research undertaken by the band and their talent in bringing the project together. Two of these points I owe to âJohn of Ditchfordâ. Check it out.
Barry Curtis, February 2005, UK.