The biggest selling of all Steeleye Span
albums is also their hardest rocking record. They sound like would-be competitors to the Who
on the opening bars of "The Wife of Usher's Well," with Bob Johnson
's electric guitar grinding out power chords like nobody's business. The vocals have their usual elegance, the harmonies soaring exquisitely, but between the choruses the guitar puts out lots of wattage. The guitar competes with Maddy Prior
's voice for dominance on tracks like "Hard Times of Old England," "Bachelor's Hall," and "Dance with Me." There's some more traditional-sounding material here, including the lovely "Cadgwith Anthem" and "Gamble Gold (Robin Hood)," where the group returns to acoustic instruments. A single of the upbeat title track also made the charts in England, and the overall sound was the work of producer Mike Batt
, who gave the band a raw, stripped-down style, with only the smallest touching up and the very lightest of overdubbed strings.