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The King - The Best of Steeleye Span

Steeleye Span: The King - The Best of Steeleye Span (Mooncrest CRESTCD 022)

The King - The Best of Steeleye Span
Steeleye Span

Mooncrest CRESTCD 022 (CD, UK, September 1996)

Note: Even if the cover shows a picture of the 1973-77 Mk 5 line up, the CD contains tracks from the 1970-71 period of their first three records plus two Tim Hart & Maddy Prior solo recordings, all of which were reissued since 1974 by Mooncrest.


  1. A Calling-On Song (1.15)
  2. Fisherman’s Wife (3.14)
  3. Copshawholme Fair (Roud 9139) (2.36)
  4. All Things Are Quite Silent (Roud 2532) (2.36)
  5. My Johnny Was a Shoemaker (Roud 1388; G/D 8:1848) (1.11)
  6. Fly Up My Cock (Roud 179; Child 248; Henry H699) (1.42)
  7. Twa Corbies (Roud 5; Child 26) (2.06)
  8. One Night As I Lay on My Bed (Roud 672) (3.30)
  9. Cold, Haily, Windy Night (Roud 672) (4.36)
  10. Prince Charlie Stuart (Roud 3099; Henry H533) (4.15)
  11. The Lark in the Morning (Roud 151) (4.31)
  12. The King (Roud 19109) (1.29)
  13. Rave On (1.25)
  14. The Ploughboy and the Cockney (Roud 1688) (3.36)
  15. Gower Wassail (Roud 209) (5.24)
  16. Jigs: Paddy Clancy’s Jig / Willie Clancy’s Fancy (3.09)
  17. Skewball (Roud 456; Laws Q22) (3.31)

#1-5, 7 and 8 were originally released on Hark! The Village Wait
#9-12 were originally released on Please to See the King
#13 was originally released as a single
#15-17 were originally released on Ten Man Mop or Mr Reservoir Butler Rides Again
#6 and 14 were originally released on Tim Hart and Maddy Prior: Summer Solstice

Note: On the CD cover, the track Prince Charlie Stuart is misspelled as Prince Charlie Stewart.

Sleeve Notes

Steeleye Span formed in December ’69 after Ashley Hutchings left Fairport Convention of whom he’d been a founding member in ’67 in order to get back to traditional British Folk music, which he believed the Fairports had been to quick do desert. However, Hutchings’ vision was not merely to go back to rustic, neo-morris dancing, but to update Folk via electric Rock-oriented musical instrumentation. He immediately teamed up with two established ‘teams’, Tim Hart (guitar / vocals) and Maddy Prior (vocals)—who’d rather outgrown the London & Home Counties Folk Club circuit—and a married couple, Gay (vocals / accordion) and Terry Woods (guitar / vocals), late of Irish Folk-Rockers Sweeney’s Men.

Taking their name—at Hart’s suggestion—from a character in Horkstow Grange, a traditional Lincolnshire Folk song, they rehearsed avidly for three months, wrote and recorded an album, Hark! The Village Wait, and then promptly split two months prior to its release after it transpired that the Woods were far from happy with their colleagues’ musical direction. Their replacements Martin Carthy (guitar / vocals) and Peter Knight (fiddle) were another pair of highly respected Folkies, Carthy having already recorded five albums with Fairport’s fiddler Dave Swarbrick and Knight having himself established on the London club scene.

This second line-up lasted around 18 months and established Steeleye Span as a major frontline band, touring regularly and recording two further albums, Please to See the King and Ten Man Mop or Mr Reservoir Butler Rides Again, the former charting briefly at No. 45 in April ’71. They also cut the famed a cappella version of Buddy Holly’s Rave On for inclusion on the Rave On compilation (it was also released as a single) which would later inspire glam/bubble-rockers Mud to similarly update Holly’s Oh Boy, which then took to No. 1. Shortly after the release of Ten Man Mop, Tim and Maddy’s own fine Summer Solstice was issued to excellent reviews.

Thus established, Steeleye Span went on to rival Fairport Convention in terms of both popularity and commercial success—and if anything they had the edge, with no less than seven chart albums between 1971-76, to the Fairport’s two during the same period. They registered a Top 20 single in 1973 with Gaudete, their first Top 20 album Now We Are Six in ’74, while their biggest album All Around My Hat made No. 7 in 1975, spinning the title track off as a Top 5 single. They underwent several personnel changes during this period, Hutchings leaving at the end of ’71 to form the Albion Country Band and Carthy going solo around the same time (although he’d rejoin some five years later). Other members included Rick Kemp (bass), Bob Johnson (guitar / vocals), Nigel Pegrum (drums) and John Kirkpatrick (accordion). They quit “for six months” to pursue outside interests in 1978 whilst at the peak of their popularity, and broke up “for good” in 1980—but they have continued to reform intermittently throughout the 80’s and 90’s.

This compilation is drawn from Steeleye Span’s first three albums Hark! The Village Wait, Please to See the King and Ten Man Mop, and also includes the perennial Rave On plus a couple of tracks from Tim Hart & Maddy Prior’s Summer Solstice. It could rightly be subtitled “Steeleye Span: Best of The Early Years”.