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Steeleye Span - Portfolio CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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2.61 | 4 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Skimming the years

At the time of its release in 1988, it was probably assumed that "Portfolio" covered the entire extent of Steeleye Span's life-span. Founder Tim Hart had left some years earlier, and although the band had gone on to record "Back in line", it looked as if their time as an active project would come to a conclusion sooner rather than later. History shows that this was not to be the case, and the name Steeleye Span carries on as an active unit even today.

This collection gives us a very superficial overview of all the band's albums (with the strange exception of "Ten man mop") from "Hark, the village wait" right through to the above mentioned 1986 album "Back in line". The LP version, which ran to two discs, has four more tracks but the same albums contribute tracks to each.

I cannot say that had I been compiling the album, I would have chosen the same tracks by any means, but when most albums submit only one or two tracks, that is perhaps to be expected. Nevertheless, the omission of landmark songs such as "King Henry", "Drink down the moon", "Seven hundred elves" etc. does suggest to me at least that there is an element of randomness to the selections.

The band's best know singles, "All around my hat", Gaudete" and "Fighting for strangers" are all present, but only the last of these might be considered worthy by fans of the band. The version of "Thomas the rhymer" is the inferior abbreviated one found on later prints of "Now we are six". On the other hand, it is good to see the 8 minute "The Victory" being squeezed in, in full.

Of the tracks on the LP but not the CD, the operatic "The black freighter" from "Storm force ten" is ambitious but disposable, but "Long Lankin" could have justified its place on the CD with ease.

From a personal point of view, it is good to hear the three tracks from "Back in line", as I have yet to get hold of that album. Of these, "Edward" is the most striking, although it does confirm that the band are intent on continuing in the direction started on "Sails of silver". "White man" is even less like the folk band we know and love, the mood here being distinctly that of world music.

In all, this collection does its best to summarise 16 years and a dozen albums, but the challenge really is too great to expect anything other than the merest glimpse of the band. Anyone dipping a toe in the water with this collection will probably wonder what all the fuss is about. While it offers a small indication of the type of music Steeleye Span were experts at, it is probably more misleading that it is worthwhile.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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