Bloody Men is the 20th studio album by
British folk rock
British folk rock band Steeleye
This album represents a continuation of the band's recent surge of
activity. In 2002, the band was in a state of near collapse, since
three members of its line-up at the time, Tim Harries, Gay Woods, and
Bob Johnson, had all departed, leaving long-time member Peter Knight
and recently returned member
Rick Kemp as the only remaining members.
That same year, Knight persuaded former members
Maddy Prior and Liam
Genockey to return and coaxed Johnson out of retirement to record the
album Present--The Very Best of Steeleye Span. Ken Nicol came on board
to replace Johnson, and the band has been relatively active since
then, releasing two albums,
They Called Her Babylon
They Called Her Babylon and Winter, in
Bloody Men late in 2006, as well as touring extensively.
During its heyday in the 1970s, Steeleye almost exclusively recorded
their arrangements of traditional songs, with occasional forays into
versions of 20th century songs by other artists such as Buddy Holly
and Bertolt Brecht. But starting in the early 1980s, the band's albums
have increasingly focused on a mixture of traditional songs and their
own compositions, and 'Bloody Men' continues that trend, albeit with a
new twist. The album consists of 2 CDs, the first a mixture of
traditional and original pieces. The second CD is the 5-song "Ned
Ludd" cycle, written mostly by Kemp, about the 19th century Luddite
movement. The band has never attempted a multi-song cycle like this
The album opens with the bawdy "Bonny Black Hare", on which Prior
sings in a gravelly voice and Knight plays his violin rather like an
electric guitar, a successful experiment that goes unrepeated on the
album. Other highlights include a hard-rock cover of "Cold Haily Windy
Night", which the band first offered on Please to See the King, the
brisk "The 3 Sisters" and the cheerful "Lord Elgin". The notes for
"Lord Elgin" say that "this song is not what it seems on the face of
it," indicating that it is a riddle-song. A probable solution is at
the bottom of the page. The song "Whummil Bore" is about a servant
looking through a whummil bore (a hole bored with a gimlet-like tool)
and watching a lady getting dressed. The instrumental "First House in
Connaught" is a cover of a track from Tempted and Tried, the first
time the band has ever covered one of its own instrumental pieces.
The Ned Ludd cycle begins with a song about the enclosure movement in
Early Modern England, effectively a pastoral ode to pre-industrial
England, and then moves on to the plight of the workers who have been
displaced by industrialization. The third song is an appeal to the
mythical Ned Ludd to destroy the machines and lead the workers in a
rebellion. The fourth and fifth songs deal with the Peterloo Massacre
of 1819, in which the British cavalry charged into a peaceful crowd of
protesters supporting a repeal of the Corn Laws. Neither the Enclosure
Movement nor the
Corn Laws were directly related to the Luddite
Movement, but in the cycle these serve to explore the wider problems
of common workers.
Maddy Prior - vocals
Peter Knight - violin, vocals
Rick Kemp - bass, vocals
Ken Nicol - guitar, vocals
Liam Genockey - drums, percussion
"Bonny Black Hare"
"The Story of the Scullion King"
"The Dreamer & the Widow"
"The 3 Sisters"
"The 1st House in Connaught"
"Cold Haily Windy Night"
"Whummil Bore" (Child ballad 27)
"Demon of the Well"
"Lord Gregory" (Child ballad 76)
"Ned Ludd Part 1 (Inclosure)"
"Ned Ludd Part 2 (Rural Retreat)"
"Ned Ludd Part 3 (Ned Ludd)"
"Ned Ludd Part 4 (Prelude to Peterloo)"
"Ned Ludd Part 5 (Peterloo the Day)"
Jessie May Smart
Hark! The Village Wait
Hark! The Village Wait (1970)
Please to See the King
Please to See the King (1971)
Ten Man Mop, or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again
Ten Man Mop, or Mr. Reservoir Butler Rides Again (1971)
Below the Salt
Below the Salt (1972)
Parcel of Rogues (1973)
Now We Are Six (1974)
Commoners Crown (1975)
All Around My Hat (1975)
Rocket Cottage (1976)
Storm Force Ten
Storm Force Ten (1977)
Sails of Silver (1980)
Back in Line
Back in Line (1986)
Tempted and Tried (1989)
Horkstow Grange (1998)
Bedlam Born (2000)
Present--The Very Best of
Steeleye Span (2002)
They Called Her Babylon
They Called Her Babylon (2004)
Bloody Men (2006)
Cogs, Wheels & Lovers (2009)
Dodgy Bastards (2016)
Live at Last (1978)
Tonight's the Night...Live
Tonight's the Night...Live (1992)
The King of Elfland's Daughter (1977)