Steeleye Span: Cam Ye Oer Frae France (1973)

 |   |  1 min read

Steeleye Span: Cam Ye Oer Frae France (1973)

As with Fairport Convention (which included Richard Thompson), Steeleye Span were in the vanguard of the British folk-rock movement of the late Sixties. Unlike Fairport however, Steeleye Span didn't move as often and as far from the roots of folk and frequently drew on Francis Child's text The English and Scottish Ballads for inspiration and source material -- a book which has more recently influenced Fleet Foxes.

But Steeleye Span rocked these lyrics up.

This impenetrable Scottish song -- full of arcane allusions, satirical metaphors and symbols, odd dialect and witty or grossly offensive aspersions -- is a Jacobite attack on the Hanoverian king George I in London and his entourage (whores, hangers-on) . . . and of course advances the cause of the exiled James III.

To fully decipher it you will probably need help (try here) -- but maybe you don't need to.

What makes this work as a bruising attack are the brittle stabbing guitars, and the throbbing, menacing bass and martial drums. It just sounds threatening.Parcel_of_rogues

Some may find the octave leap by Maddy Prior a little unusual at first, but repeat plays reveal this to be a frighteningly good adaptation of song which is 300 years old and -- for Scottish ears only perhaps? -- a still relevant attack on the army of cultural occupation in the homeland.

Cam Ye O'er Frae France (folk) rocks. 

This comes from Steelye Span's fine Parcel of Rogues album.

For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

Dee - Apr 10, 2013

That is gorgeous, I have never heard of this band but can't wait to hear more. Music (and poetry) have a long tradition of conveying metaphorical political meaning amongst other messages, and this is no less important now when literacy levels are so much higher. Music circumvents the brain and reaches directly into the soul!

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: The Intro and the Outro (1967)

Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: The Intro and the Outro (1967)

Few indie.rock followers would perhaps know the band Death Cab for Cutie took their name from a song by this group of musical surrealists, the song of that name appearing in the Beatles' Magical... > Read more

Cliff Richard: Schoolboy Crush (1958)

Cliff Richard: Schoolboy Crush (1958)

Although there is still some debate about which was the first rock'n'roll record, the critical consensus appears to have decided on Rocket 88 written by Ike Turner at the famous Riverside Hotel in... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

HATE MAIL RECEIVED, ACKNOWLEDGED AND IGNORED: And The Horse You Rode Into Town On

HATE MAIL RECEIVED, ACKNOWLEDGED AND IGNORED: And The Horse You Rode Into Town On

It has been some time since I had hate mail, and while I can't say I miss it I always used to read the letters with interest and thought about what the people had to say. Then I chucked them away.... > Read more

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2014): Three days of love, peace and percussion

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2014): Three days of love, peace and percussion

The glee-cum-concern with which weather forecasters last week announced the impending tropical cyclone doubtless accounted for “calm before the storm” being heard as often on Friday,... > Read more