Let’s All Listen to Seasick Steve’s 1970s Disco Group

A Guardian piece yesterday brought the truth behind bearded blues singer Seasick Steve’s back story back to people’s attention. The article follows a biography by music critic Matthew Wright entitled Seasick Steve: Ramblin’ Man, which traces Steven Gene Wold’s life from birth to his emergence in the music industry with 2004 album ‘Cheap’ and up to the present day.

Previously, Steve alleged that he’d been a drifter, working odd jobs from cowboy to paramedic to keep above the breadline. The hardscrabble backstory endeared him to blues lovers everywhere, especially here in the UK where three of his albums have charted in the Top 10, most recently last album ‘Sonic Soul Surfer’ in 2015.

However, the new book suggests that several parts of the story is a fiction and that, actually, Steve is a music industry veteran and not the “rugged outsider” he portrays himself to be. It claims that Steve had worked as a session musician in the ’70s and ’80s, in particular with The Beach Boys’ Mike Love on his project Celebration, and even had a hand in producing Modest Mouse’s debut album.

Most interestingly, though, was the revelation that Steve (then known as Steve Leach) had made a full album with disco group Crystal Grass in the ‘70s. So naturally, we had to give it a listen.

Tracks from ‘Dance Up A Storm’ aren’t overly easy to find on the web, but a few have managed to make it’s way onto YouTube, including the sleazy, hypnotic ‘Dream On’, which you can hear above. You can also listen to their high-tempo banger ‘Fio Maravilha – Taj Mahal’, though the finest moment is reserved for ‘You Can Be What You Dream’ – a bombastic, piano-led dancefloor filler. And if that’s all whetting your appetite for a bit more Disco Steve, you’re in luck. You can cop the vinyl edition of the whole album on Discogs for a mere £10.

So Seasick Steve, perhaps let’s not forget your past so quickly? There’s plenty to be proud of back there. Though your work with pop group Clean Athletic and Talented – specifically the Google-unfriendly track ‘I Love To Touch Young Girls’ – is probably best left in the past.