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Steeleye Span

Hark! The Village Wait

Review by Gary Hill

The first album from Steeleye Span, this was released in 1970. It's perhaps more acoustic and traditionally driven than the discs that followed it. I have landed this 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.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Calling-On Song
A rich chorale vocal arrangement, sans instrumentation, bring this in with a real old-world sound. This is a purely acapella tune.
The Blacksmith
Folk rock with both psychedelia and proto prog in the mix bring this into being. The vocals create more of a folk sound. This is a classy tune that works very well. It has some intriguing musical passages. The chorus vocal arrangements with the multiple layers of non-lyrical vocals really make it stand out, though.
Fisherman's Wife
I dig the roots music concept at play on this number. It has a lot of old school folk sound to it.
Blackleg Miner
Coming in acapella with a great balance of male and female vocals, this is very old-world, Celtic sounding piece. Instrumentation rises up from there bringing plenty of roots music along with folk prog textures. The male vocals dominate this tune, standing out in contrast to the numbers that preceded it.
Dark-Eyed Sailor

The balance between rock and old-world music on this is quite good. This is a classy cut, but not a huge change.

Copshawholme Fair
I'd say that this is perhaps more prog oriented than a lot of the rest here. It has plenty of that folk rock vibe, along with some definite psychedelia, too.
All Things Are Quite Silent
Very much an old-school folk based number, this is quite potent.
The Hills of Greenmore
Now, this is a change. It's more electrified. While it still has plenty of the Celtic and folk elements at play, this is distinctly prog rock based.
My Johnny Was a Shoemaker
With multiple female voices, this is an acapella piece. It is old-world based and quite Celtic in feel.
Lowlands of Holland
Folk rock based, there are both proggy and psychedelic leanings built into this cut.
Twa Corbies
I like the interplay of male and female vocals on this cut. It has plenty of folk music and old-time texture built into it.
One Night As I Lay in My Bed

Now, here we have more of a full folk prog rocker. This is the most dynamic and complex number on this first disc. It's also one of the highlights. This has some great movements and musical textures. I love the instrumental interplay on the track.

 
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