Steeleye Span

Please to See the King

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The debut of Steeleye Span (Mark II), with Peter Knight on fiddle and Martin Carthy on guitar, is more solid in almost every area from repertory to production. The group still had its feet in both modern and traditional sounds simultaneously, so Please to See the King mixes very beautiful, distinctly archaic sounding songs such as "Boys of Bedlam" with amplified, electric numbers like the rousing, ironic "Female Drummer" (which was a highlight of their concerts). Although a second female voice would've been nice, the singing and harmonizing (with help from some careful overdubbing) is still impressive and the performances are tighter, the group's overall sound reflecting the quintet's status as a working band and their experience performing these songs on-stage. The use of electric guitars was also unique, and quite different from rivals such as Fairport Convention, occasionally mimicking the sound of bagpipes here. Songs including the haunting "The Blacksmith," the fine guitar workout on "Cold, Haily, Windy Night," the dour "Prince Charlie Stuart," the bittersweet "Lovely on the Water," and the playful, cautionary "False Knight on the Road." They would get better on later albums -- especially in their approach to the jigs and reels represented here -- but this represents a solid second beginning for the band.

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