Album review: STEELEYE SPAN – The Essential Steeleye Span: Catch Up

STEELEYE SPAN - The Essential Steeleye Span: Catch Up

Park Records [Release date  11.12.15]

Steeleye Span released their 1996 record ‘Time’, their first album with Park Records, an association that has been maintained for nearly twenty years. Since signing with the label the band have released eight studio albums for the label, the latest being 2013’s excellent ‘Wintersmith’ collaboration with the late Sir Terry Pratchett (which made the UK album charts peaking at number 77) .

The pick of these have now been brought together in this new collection and the music features members past and present including Maddy Prior, Bob Johnson, Peter Knight, Rick Kemp and Liam Gennocky.

There are some new recordings of a number of their most famous songs including their two most well known songs ‘All Around My Hat’ and ‘Gaudete’. Of the re-recorded classics ‘Thomas The Rhymer’ really takes on a new lease of life – less rocking, more folk. Maddy Prior is still in fine vocal form and the older songs sit well against the newer material.

Fans will like ‘The Golden Vanity’ that was recorded the same time as the ‘Time’ album, yet never released apart from on a box set.  But the real find is a truly stunning unreleased a capella version of  ‘Somewhere Along The Road’, which the band have been performing on their recent live shows.

The band are still recording and touring, with the most recent line-up seeing stalwarts Maddy Prior, Rick Kemp and Liam Gennocky joined by Julian Littman, Jessie May Smart and most recent recruit, Spud Sinclair.

Absolutely essential for new fans, casual listeners and those lapsed fans who may wonder what the band have been up to the past few years. ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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