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

Rod Stewart: Don't Come Around Here (2001)

Rod Stewart: Don't Come Around Here (2001)

In his candid autobiography, Rod Stewart humorously dismisses or is highly critical of some of his albums. In 2000 after a skirmish with cancer, he returned with the album Human, which included... > Read more

Pine Top Smith: Pine Top Boogie (1928)

Pine Top Smith: Pine Top Boogie (1928)

Aside from this being considered one of the first, if not the first, reference to "boogie woogie", there are a number of other interesting things about this recording by the pianist... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Dover, England: History in the rear view mirror

Dover, England: History in the rear view mirror

Deep in the dark belly of Dover Castle – from which on a clear day you can see France just 35kms away – there is a place forever on the cusp of war. Down here is where the voice... > Read more

10 SOMEWHAT RARE REGGAE ALBUMS I'M PROUD TO OWN (2107): Some ire feelings from iStory

10 SOMEWHAT RARE REGGAE ALBUMS I'M PROUD TO OWN (2107): Some ire feelings from iStory

Strange as it may seem, reggae albums – and some pretty rare ones – were not that difficult to find in New Zealand from the late Seventies and throughout the Eighties. British... > Read more