British folk rock group Steeleye Span have now been in business for 50 years - originally forming off the wave spearheaded by Fairport Convention in the late 60s/early 70s - indeed the group featured that groups Ashley Hutchings who left the band after their 1969 coach crash and wanted to pursue a more traditional sound. He teamed up with established duo Tim Hart & Maddy Prior. Hutchings had quit Steeleye Span by the time of their two hit singles in the mid-70s - the haunting vocal only track “Gaudete” and their best known song “All Around My Hat”.
When it comes to an album to mark Steeleye Span’s fiftieth anniversary, ‘Est’d 1969’ is exactly what you might have expected - a collection of songs that perfectly captures not only the band’s history but the spirit of the 2019 model. With all seven members contributing to the process, the album draws fresh inspiration from their template of traditional songs and consummate musicianship.
At turns emotional, raucous and upbeat, it reflects the personalities and experience of all involved. Unavoidably there are throwbacks to the past (Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull’s flute on ‘Old Matron’, the harmony vocals on Reclaimed, the characters who inhabit many of the songs), but this is undoubtedly a modern Steeleye Span record and one that is more than worthy of a place in their esteemed canon.