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Steeleye Span

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Steeleye Span Please To See The King album cover
3.32 | 37 ratings | 6 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Blacksmith (4:45)
2. Cold, Haily, Windy Night (4:35)
3. Bryan O'Lynn/The Hag With The Money [Jigs (3:17)
4. Prince Charlie Stuart (4:14)
5. Boys Of Bedlam (4:19)
6. False Knight On The Road (2:44)
7. The Lark In The Morning (4:29)
8. Female Drummer Carthy, Hart, Hutchings ... (4:01)
9. The King (1:30)
10. Lovely On The Water (5:19)

Total time 39:13

Bonus track on 1991 CD release:
11. Rave On (1:24)

Bonus tracks on 2006 reissue:
- BBC "Top Gear" (June 23 1970)
11. The Blacksmith (4:23)
12. Female Drummer (3:15)
13. Rave On (1:22)
14. I Was A Young Man (3:51)
15. The Lark In The Morning (3:41)
- BBC "Stuart Henry Show" (July 23 1970)
16. The King (1:26)
17. Prince Charlie Stuart (4:10)
18. Bold Poachers (5:27)

Bonus CD from 2006 reissue:
- BBC "Folk on 1" (October 17 1970)
1. College Grove/Silver Spear (2:51)
2. Lay Down Your Weary Tune (4:20)
3. False Knight On The Road (3:22)
4. Hitler's Downfall/The Hag With The Money (1:58)
5. Female Drummer (Mk2) (3:50)
6. Wee Weaver (4:23)
7. Reel (2:36)
- BBC "Stuart Henry Show" (February 4 1971)
8. Female Drummer (Mk2) (4:12)
9. General Taylor (3:36)
10. Farther Along (3:10)
11. Two Reels (2:32)
- BBC "Top Gear" (March 27 1971)
12. Let's Dance (1:45)
13. Bring 'Em Down/A Hundred Years Ago (2:40)
14. Lark In The Morning (3:52)
- BBC TV (date unknown)
15. The King (1:24)
16. Bryan O'Lynn/The Hag With The Money (2:13)
17. The Blacksmith (3:49)

Total time 52:33

Line-up / Musicians

- Maddy Prior / vocals, spoons, tabor, tambourine, bells
- Tim Hart / vocals, guitar, dulcimer, bells
- Martin Carthy / vocals, guitar, banjo, organ, bells
- Peter Knight / violin, mandolin, organ, bass, bells, vocals
- Ashley Hutchings / bass, bells, vocals

Releases information

ArtWork: Keith Davis & Grahame Berney

LP B & C Records ‎- CAS 1029 (1971, UK)

CD Mooncrest ‎- CREST CD 005 (1991, UK) With a bonus track and new cover art
2xCD Castle Music ‎- CMQDD 1253 (2006, UK) Total of 25 bonus tracks expanding to extra CD

Thanks to zafreth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STEELEYE SPAN Please To See The King ratings distribution

(37 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

STEELEYE SPAN Please To See The King reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

As the Irish couple Gay & Terry Wood had left the group, the remaining trio set out to find suitable replacements, the first of which was rather evident with Martin Carthy, one of the most influential of the male singers with Davy Graham and Bert Jansch in the mid-65, before Donovan's rise to stardom. The second player came in later as obvious since Carthy was well acquainted and playing with the then-busy with Fairport Convention Dave Swarbrick, they headed for the second fiddle (figure of speech of course) Peter Knight, which only helped consolidate comparison with FC. BTW, no this is sophomore jinx y, not only is this almost as fine an album as Hark, but it's this line-up's first album, their second being the disastrous TMM.

Released on a subsidiary Charisma label B&C with a misleading medieval artwork on its sleeve, SS's second album is still a worthy folk and folk rock album, but it's hardly groundbreaking and certainly not musically medieval the way Malicorne, Ougenweide or Gryphon were in their respective cultures. There are some really good songs like the opening Blacksmiths (a fairly different version than on the debut album), the fun Boys of Bedlam (with its good banjo middle section), False Knight On The Road, Morning Lark etc. all of whom are little more than electrified folk, not even specifically folk rock, yet. Nothing groundbreaking, but pleasant, one step above what had been done in the 50's and 60's by the Collins sisters and Davey Graham. Of slightly more interest (prog-wise) are Cold, Hailey, Windy Nights (where Hutchings' excellent bass playing with Carthy's electric guitar - it sounds like a typically jangly Rickenbacker - are both awesome) and the album-closing Lovely On The Water that is probably the album's highlight. The absence of drums is not hindering the group's sound, but keeping them traditional.

Other songs, pulled from old catalogues and archives, are obviously chosen for discreet filling purpose, such as the Scot piece Prince Charlie Stuart (rather irritating fiddle trying to fill in for bagpipes) or the short The King (a capella). Unfortunately, one of the traps they can't avoid falling in now that they've got a violin player is these dumb jigs and here we get a medley of them, here the "Bryan And Money Hag" thingy and later on in the album Female Drummer; but worse was to come with the weak follow-up. So, with their second line-up (shall we say SS MarkII?), PTSTK is good folk album that's a worthy successor to Hark while failing to match its brilliance, it's also of limited interest in terms of progheads looking progressive folk, but it's much better than the downright weak Ten Man mop to come.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Steeleye Span´s second effort is probably their most traditional and less pleasant work. Terry and Gay Woods had left the band before they even toured and they brought in the celebrated folk guitarist Martin Carthy to the fold (he wouldn´t stay long, either). They also included a young fiddler player, Peter Knight, that would be one of the key figures in moulding the band´s future sound. But this time there would be no drummers to help giving the band a rocking beat.

The result was a good, intense and quite dense sound. To my taste, it was a bit too traditional and the band lost some of the charm they had showed with the first album. And I still can´t see why they opened the record with the same first song they did on their debut. Ok, the arrangement is quite different, but the same opener as before? What´s the point really? Anyway, Please see The King apparently did not satisfy anyone involved, even leader and founding member Ashley Hutchings, who left the band suddenly, along with Carthy. Still, the CD shows the band doing some great guitar work and cemented their popularity (a talk of an american tour was rumoured, but they had to cancelled it after Hutchings and Carthy decided to quit).

Although not quite as melodic and accessible as their first (and latter) work, it is still a good display of their talents, specially Carthy´s outstanding technique.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars The sophomore jinx seemed to strike Steeleye Span on "Please to see the King". Without even a session drummer, the music adopts a eerily slowed down tone, almost dependent on the slowly strummed electric guitars for what little meter is present. That unique aspect almost merits an additional star for verve, but the sense of a band floundering to reinvent itself after losing several founding members topples any potential gains. To even begin their second album with another version of the same song which essentially began the first was a poor choice, even if this new rendition is very different. We're talking about a virtually limitless repertoire of traditional music from which to draw, hence zero duplication justification.

Luckily, the group shows some skill in song selection and haunting if stiff delivery, especially in "Cold, Haily, Windy Night", and more so in the outstanding "Bedlam Boys", a superb rendition of a wrenching tune. It is only disappointing that the song is about an insane asylum rather than about minions of the devil, which is how I had interpreted so long ago. "False Knight on the Road" and "Lark in the Morning" suffer from a seeming lack of spirit and, although the album closes strongly with "The King" and "Lovely on the Water", it remains an unconvincing effort especially given the promise of "Hark the Village Wait".

Notwithstanding some interesting elements, "Please to See the King" is one of the peasants of the Steeleye Span discography.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Violinist turns fiddler

Even before Steeleye Span's first album "Hark, the village wait" was released, the band had suffered its first line up change with the departure of husband and wife Terry and Gay Woods. The remaining trio quickly called up the (now) legendary Martin Carthy and violin (as opposed to "fiddle" as he was classically trained and played in an orchestra!) player Peter Knight as replacements, and began work on "Please to see the king". The revised line up still did not boast a drummer or percussionist, and this time, no guests were brought in to fill that department.

On the other hand, the band started to move away from the acoustic atmosphere of their debut towards a more electric sound, an interesting development given "Tyger" Hutchings reported reasons for leaving Fairport (although it has been suggested in more recent times that his leaving Fairport was primarily due to the death of Martin Lamble).

"Please to see the king" contains ten tracks, all of which are interpretations of traditional folk songs. The choice of opening track, "The Blacksmith" may seem rather odd, given that the song had appeared on the band's debut. This version though is much harder, with Martin Carthy taking on electric guitar for the first time in his career. The song gives a good indication of the way the album will pan out, the band being far more willing to step out of their comfort zone this time around.

Peter Knight first comes to the fore on "Cold haily windy night", where the combination of electric guitar, violin and harmonised male/female vocals together with a captivating melody create some electric folk magic. The band's first instrumental track is the fiddle led jig "Bran O'Lynn/The hag with the money", a piece which mirrors the work of Carthy's long term musical partner Dave Swarbrick with Fairport and as a solo performer.

"The lark in the morning" here is not the traditional Irish song, but one collected by the noted English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. The a-cappella "The king" is effectively the title track, the song emanating from a Welsh tradition observed at the end of winter. The album closes with a delightful vocal performance by Maddy Prior on "Lovely on the water".

While the songs remain true to their origins in terms of melody and structure, the instrumental arrangements were at the time of the albums released seen as pioneering and progressive. In this respect, Steeleye Span were every bit as instrumental as Fairport Convention in the creation of prog folk. Sadly, the revisionists of today will sometimes try to diminish the significance of that influence.

In all, a highly enjoyable folk rock album which sees Steeleye Span rapidly developing their trademark sound and style. The absence of drums is unfortunate, especially in view of the generally harder nature of the instrumentation, but is should not be allowed to detract from a well put together set.

The 2006 Castle Music/Sanctuary CD release has a second disc and no less than 25 bonus tracks. These are all taken from sessions played by the band for BBC radio in 1970 and 1971. The quality of the recordings is poor, and some of the tracks appear twice or more. There is little of real (as opposed to historical) interest, but band obsessive will be pleased to hear versions of songs such as the odd single "Rave on" and the handful of other songs which did not make it on to studio albums.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Please To See the King finds Steeleye Span undertaking a stylistic shift from their first album best illustrated by The Blacksmith, a song also recorded on the debut. Part of the point of the folk revivalist groups of the 1970s wanted to make was how much potential the old standards had for reinterpretation, and Steeleye Span have gone in for that in a major way; rather than recording a song once and having done with it, they have no qualms about rerecording pieces of their repertoire if they think they can tease out something different from it.

Thus, whilst the version of The Blacksmith on Hark! The Village Wait has a jauntiness that belies the essential betrayal and heartbreak at the core of the song, the version here is stunningly stark and minimalist. This sets the tone for much of the rest of the album, which explored just how stripped-down and raw electric folk could get whilst exploring a broad range of subject matter. There's a darkness underlying things - even something jaunty-sounding like Boys of Bedlam or Female Drummer has a manic glint to the eye (as in the former case) or is singing about something being unfairly denied the narrator (in the latter case), whilst Lovely On the Water is absolutely haunting. If this doesn't justify the electric folk revival of the 1970s, nothing does.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Please to see the King is the folk rockers Steeleye Span's second record and in my opinion their first really great one. And yes I think this is progressive rock. Steeleye Span combined ancient folk songs with rock music in a unique way. That is progressive. Fairport Convention were also great but t ... (read more)

Report this review (#889067) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, January 7, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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