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Steeleye Span - Spanning the Years CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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2.17 | 4 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Thomas is cut off again

This double CD collection is without doubt the most comprehensive overview of Steeleye Span complied thus far. It covers all their studio albums, with at least two tracks from each (except "Ten man mop" which has just one), plus a handful of live tracks. With no less than thirteen studio album released in the period from 1970 to 1989 though, even two CDs cannot hope to offer more than a fleeting glimpse of the band's music over that period.

From a prog folk perspective, it is disappointing to find so few of the band's longer tracks here, "Long Lankin" being one of the few to be included. As such, and together with the presence of the obvious singles and indulgences (such as the covers of "Rave on" and "To know him is to love him"), it is hard to recommend this set as quick way to appreciate the band's credentials in that field. There is no doubting the quality of the music or the performances, and the collection does give a good indication of how their style developed and altered over the period. I do find myself frustrated though as much by what is not here as by what is.

The main interest therefore is probably in the rarer live tracks, including a full 10+ minutes of "Tam lin", a song that had previously been included on the landmark Fairport Convention album "Liege and Leif". The other live tracks are versions of songs from studio albums, and as such will really only appeal to devotees of the band. In any event, while these tracks might be considered rarities, all are available on other live albums by Steeleye Span. The live version of "Blackleg miner", taken from the otherwise studio album "Back in line" is of historical interest, as it was performed during the infamous UK miner's strike of the mid 1980's.

One final note, beware once again here that the version of "Thomas the rhymer" is the inferior edited one.

In all, a decent compilation of songs from all the Steeleye Span albums, but inevitably only a very potted history of a band who deserve far deeper investigation than that offered here.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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