Maddy Prior / Steeleye Span

A Rare Collection 1972-1996

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By rights, this 20-song CD should only interest the most hardcore fans of Steeleye Span or Maddy Prior -- who else would possibly be interested enough in hearing the original B-side version of "Lanercost," the unedited version of "Thomas the Rhymer," or the undubbed version of the group's one major chart hit, "Gaudette"? The reality, however, is that this is an intrinsically strong album -- if not a best-of collection, then a "best of the rest of" -- that ought to attract more general and casual fans of English folk-rock. It turns out that this is a fascinating collection, coming from a band that one wouldn't naturally assume had 20 tracks' worth of lost album cuts, rare B-sides,and odd soundcheck and rehearsal recordings. The CD opens with a luscious live rendtion of "The King," done a cappella on the group's 1982 Australian tour. The original single version of "Gaudette" is a very compelling reason to own this disc -- the single featured only the group's voices, with none of the overdubbed Cathedral voices added to the LP version. The producers of this album have even rescued "Like the Wind," Maddy Prior's extraordinary contribution to the Mandalaband album Eye of the Wendor; the group's delightful rendition of the Four Seasons' "Rag Doll" has also been rescued. The 15 Steeleye Span tracks featured are augmented by six more cuts featuring Maddy Prior in various solo settings and in collaboration with Rick Kemp, and with June Tabor as part of the Silly Sisters II album sessions. The sound quality is generally good to excellent, and it's hard to imagine a better compilation to fill out and enhance the various best-ofs on this group that already exist. The notes by drummer Nigel Pegrum also present an interesting personal perspective on the group's songs, repertory, and history.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:15
2 6:48
3 2:56
4 2:25
5 3:40
6 4:36
7 3:34
8 3:58
9 3:32
10 2:38
11 3:12
12 3:17
feat: Mandalaband
feat: Rick Kemp
15 3:31
16 8:33
17 4:24
feat: Rick Kemp
19 5:13
feat: Status Quo
blue highlight denotes track pick