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'Hark! the Village Wait'

By Jeremy Gilbert

İMelody Maker

25 April 1970

Fairport Convention were the first group to bring traditional folk music to the general public, and Steeleye Span will be the second but in a slightly less refined way. This may seem a bold statement to make because the group are NOT a guaranteed success before they start despite the names
involved. But Tim Hart seemed to come up with the right prediction when he decided, "The public won't think of it in terms of traditional folk music, so much as regarding the music as that played by Steeleye Span. In the same way they associate the Fairport Convention with a particular kind of music."

The man responsible for the reconciliation is Ashley 'Tyger' Hutchings, formerly bassist with the Fairport Convention, who left the band under the 'Liege And Lief Project'. In search of an all-English sounding group. He and Tim visited the MM offices this week along with another great revivalist Martin Carthy, who picked the name for the group.

Steeleye Span was a waggoner in the Percy Granger song 'Horkstow Grange', and Martin suggested that this would be an ideal name for the band. Later this week It was announced that Martin, who used to play with Dave Swarbrick, would be joining the band permanently.Terry and Gay Woods will now be quitting. It took a while for Tyger to get the band together owing to ill-health, but he eventually chose Tim Hart and Maddy Prior and Gay and Terry Woods. Both Tim and Maddy and Terry and Gay will continue to work as separate duos outside the group and the only missing link at the moment is a percussionist explained Tyger, The main problem is getting hold of someone who's sensitive to our music.

On the album we've used Dave Mattacks from Fairport Convention and Gerry Conway of Fotheringay. Tim and Tyler described the songs which appear on the album which is released at the end or May.

'A Calling-On Song' is a calling on song for the group taken from a sword dance, Tyger has rewritten the lyrics which are sung in four part harmony. 'The Blacksmith' is a heavier version of the song which was collated by Maddy. Maddy is the vocalist and the group use the most common tune which is also being released as a single. Ewan McColl wrote the words to 'Fisheman's Wife' although the tune is traditional it features Gay and Maddy duetting. The Blackleg Miner is an industrial song collected in 1949. The first two verses are unaccompanied, and the vocalist is Tim. Gay sings a fairly straight version of 'The Black Eyed Sailor' and 'Copshawholme Fair' is in 3/4 time going into 6/8 jig time towards the end.

Gay and Maddy's dancing to the tune is actually recorded. 'All Things Are Quite Silent,' Tim describes as the most 'poppy' song on the album. It is the only track which features the conventional line up of guitars, bass and drums. 'The Hills Of Greenmore' is an Irish hunting song featuring Terry and 'My Johnny Was A Shoemaker' features Gay and Maddy singing unaccompanied. Maddy plays banjo on 'Low Lands Of Holland' and Gay, Maddy and Tim share a three part harmony on 'Twa Corbles' to a heavy, very simple backing. The final track is one of the most Interesting - 'One Night As I Lay On My Bed' is a Southern English song which features all the musicians playing around the melody. Drums, dulcimer, banjo and bass are all engaged in playing around the tune on what Steeleye Span describe as the most successful track says Tyger, I'm glad I made the break as things have worked out quite well and we're certainly not a carbon copy of Fairport Convention.

Seven or eight years ago I used to go to folk clubs a lot but then started playing with an electric band, so I suppose you could say this its a second wave of interest. It was purely an impulsive move forming the group, and we want to continue in the same vein not necessarily all traditional music but producing a good English sound in the traditional idiom.

Other than 'Copshawholme Fair' - which Tim and Maddy feature in their repertoire, all the material has been freshly collected. Tim explained that he and Maddy would continue to do separate gigs, and will be recording together again. On the album we've used electric guitars, banjo and bass, and the only reason we didn't amplify the mandola is because the pick up tails through the sound hole. After working twelve to fourteen hours a day on the record, we are still recovering and recoiling under the thought of having to work. Maddy and I still want to do folk club gigs as our music is geared very much towards folk clubs, but as a group we'll be doing mainly concert work.

*Click here to see the cover & track listing.

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