Spiral Staircase

Ralph McTell

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Spiral Staircase Review

by Richie Unterberger

McTell's second album remains most remembered for the first version of "Streets of London," although this acoustic version is different from the mid-'70s re-recording that made it to number two in the British charts. It's a low-key and wistful record, no surprise there, as McTell has never been an in-your-face kind of performer. The tone is predominantly acoustic, with some appropriately soft, graceful orchestral arrangements by Mike Vickers. A few of the songs, like "England 1914" and "The Fairground," have nicely sad, ethereal melodies and forceful observational lyrics. Others are merely OK, and the straight blues songs, like the cover of Robert Johnson's "Kind Hearted Woman Blues," are the least memorable.

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