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Steeleye Span

Please to See the King

Review by Gary Hill

This is Steeleye Span's second disc, released in 1971. As much as I enjoy the first album, I'd say that this one elevates things a bit. It's also more proggy than that first one, while still maintaining the traditional elements. I have landed this, along with the others from SS that I've done, under prog mainly because this band is often included there, and their sound has a lot in common with proto prog. It should be noted that I've used this same review in the box-set review also included in this issue. I really recommend getting this that way, as it's a great way to get three albums at once.

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Track by Track Review
The Blacksmith
I love the proggy vibe that the electric guitar sound brings to this cut. The vocals ground it in on the old-world textures. There is an acapella break further down the road. Then we get more of a rock approach before it shifts back to the earlier modes of the number.
Cold, Haily, Windy Night

The opening modes here do a great job of combining Celtic rock with psychedelia. This is a solid number, and quite an interesting one.

Jigs: Bryan O'Lynn/The Hag with the Money
An instrumental, the prog, psychedelia and Celtic textures blend well.
Prince Charlie Stuart
The rock and Celtic textures are mixed properly here. There is a definite proto-prog element at play, too.
Boys of Bedlam
Opening nearly acapella, the male and female vocals blend well. After the minute-and-ten-seconds mark the cut shifts to a new movement that has plenty of instrumentation. It's still quite traditional in sound and delivery. The more rocking section later definitely makes me think of something Tempest (the Celtic prog band from California) would do.
False Knight on the Road
I really like some of the electric guitar fills on this thing a lot. The cut has a bouncing kind of Celtic rock meets folk vibe to it. The vocals are male on this one.
The Lark in the Morning
Deftly merging the more folk prog stylings with the traditional Celtic sounds, this is another classy cut.
Female Drummer
More traditional in nature, somehow this feels not far removed from the kind of thing that Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night do these days in Blackmore's Night.
The King
A rich acapella arrangement brings this into being. It's about a minute-and-a-half long and purely without instrumentation.
Lovely on the Water
They saved the proggiest piece for last. There is plenty of psychedelia built into this thing, too. I love the intricate instrumentation. The vocals layer the icing over the top. I dig the cool echoey psychedelic jam mid-track. It almost seems to predict shoegaze music in some ways. They take that movement through some cool changes before returning to the song proper.
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