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Steeleye Span

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The Hallmark of a great band

This self titled compilation was released on the budget Hallmark label in 1980. As such, it offered a wonderful opportunity for the uninitiated to discover some of the finest material by the classic Steeleye Span line up. The tracks are taken from five different albums released between 1972 and 1976 (but none from the 1975 album Commoner's Crown), the selections admirably omitting obvious choices such as the singles "All around my hat" and "Gaudete".

Instead we have some of the more progressive pieces from the period like the wonderful "Drink down the moon", "Thomas the rhymer" and "Seven hundred elves" (all from "Now we are six"). The version of "Thomas the rhymer" is the rarer but superior full length one which appeared on the original album, but not on subsequent releases. "Blackjack Davy" from the "All around my hat" album shows that album was not in fact without value, and the highly original "Fighting for strangers" shows that Steeleye Span could release a fine single too.

"Below the salt" contributes three fine songs, while the pair from "Parcel of rogues" are among the strongest on that album.

With a running time of around 50 minutes, for a budget label release this offers excellent value. The fact that the tracks chosen are among the cream of the band's work made this a superb investment in its day. Unfortunately, a CD release of this particular set looks unlikely, but if you come across it in LP format, ignore that rather nondescript cover and pick it up without delay.

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Posted Monday, March 16, 2009 | Review Permalink

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