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Steeleye Span

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Steeleye Span Live at Last album cover
3.10 | 10 ratings | 2 reviews | 10% 5 stars

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Live, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Atholl Highlanders/Walter Bulwer's Polka (5:07)
2. Saucy Sailor/Black Freighter (9:50)
3. The Maid and the Palmer (6:37)
4. Hunting the Wren (3:08)
5. Montrose (15:16)
6. Bonnets So Blue (3:30)
7. The False Knight on the Road (6:06)


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Tim Hart / guitar, electric dulcimer, tabor, vocals
- Maddy Prior / vocals
- Rick Kemp / bass, vocals
- Martin Carthy / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
- Nigel Pegrum / drums, percussion, oboe
- John Kirkpatrick / accordion, vocals

Releases information

1997 CD BGO 342
1978 LP Chrysalis CHR-1199

Thanks to zafreth for the addition
and to Einsetumadur for the last updates
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Buy STEELEYE SPAN Live at Last Music

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Import · Remastered
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$9.45 (used)
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BGO Records
Audio CD$85.09
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STEELEYE SPAN Live at Last ratings distribution

(10 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (60%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STEELEYE SPAN Live at Last reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars By the end of the 70's Steeley Span was a singular group: they played mostly folk material, although with modern instrumentation, but with no concession to commercialism, which gave them a dedicated following and also endeared them to critics. They managed to be well liked by a very diverse audience (including proheads), thanks to their fantastic musicanship, fine, intricated arrangements and integrity. They even manage to have a couple of hit singles, without selling out. But it also cost them a price those guys were not prepared: the grinding schemes of touring/recording/touring again was something they were not ready for. So, after internal struggles, ego battles and sheer exhaustion they decided to call it quits. They did a farwell tour and Live At last was supposed to be their epitaph (fortunatly, later they patched up their differences and got back together).

A Steeleye Span live album was long awaited, but although very good, it did not show the band at their peak. In fact, it caught them in a troubled period and two of their key members had left (guitarrist Bob Johnson and violinist Peter Knight). Although celebrated guitarrist Martin Carthy was back and newcomer John Kirkpatrick (Accordion, vocals) was good, the overall sound lost some of its strong appeal (Knight's fiddle is sorely missing here). Still they did produce a fine collecton of tunes and showed everybody they were as precise and convincing live as in the studio (if not even more so).

The record starts slowly and the first three tracks are not their best stuff. But things go very upward from the four, Hunting Of The Wren. The fifth is their best, a 15 minute version of Montrose that is a showcase of their incredible talents, with fine performances of all band members. False Knight On The road is another highlight, while Bonnets So Blue is an interesting acoustic instrumental. The recording production is great, you can hear everything perfectly. A great job of prodution helped a lot.

All in all, a very good live album, even if a bit slow in the first tracks. It could be a four or even five stars CD if they managed to have more room to expand and show their strength on longer songs (it would make a fine double LP at the time). It would be nicer to have at least Peter Knight playing with then too. But they were an outstanding, talented band even at a confused period. 2,5 stars.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars Rating a live album is always difficult. Firstly, one is generally reviewing versions of songs that already appeared in at least one studio incarnation, and sometimes in other live renditions, so it has a lot of internal competition. Secondly, when bands have more turnovers than apples, they have to perform tunes to which they have little emotional attachment, that may have been popularized by previous members. Thirdly, they do not tend to be good places to start one's exploration of a group, but instead are oriented towards the existing fan base. Other reasons can be found but this, after all, a review of a rather unusual live album so let's begin.

Before the recording of Steeleye Span's 10th album, "Storm Force Ten", Bob Johnson and fiddler Peter Knight left, to be replaced by former member Martin Carthy and accordion player John Kirkpatrick. This altered their sound and affected their ability to play many of their classics in concert. When they sensed the end was near, they recorded this live album for posterity, never knowing that the split would be relatively short lived. They chose a combination of new and old songs, and stayed away from renditions of the most popular songs, although perhaps the full concert did contain some of these. As a result, "Live at Last" feels in some ways like an original album, which makes it a hybrid that is even harder to evaluate.

The weak points are the accordion dominated tunes that appear mostly in the first half, and "Rag Doll", another attempt at recouping the 1950s. In between we have the excellent "Black Freighter" from Threepenny Opera and the fun "Hunting the Wren". "False Knight on the Road" shows how Kirkpatrick's squeezebox can best be integrated into the new sound. But honestly, the only real reason to get this is the 15 minute "Montrose", which never appeared in studio form. It isn't just the longest and best song, but it really has many progressive elements, while the verse and chorus are both fully realized and developed. It is quite a shock for such an epic to appear at the 11th hour and be so convincing.

So "Live at Last" fails some aspects of ideal live albums and pummels the opponents in others. It all hinges on how much you want to hear a honking 15 minute behemoth from Steeleye. 3.5 stars rounded down, because in the end it is more of a disjointed collection of songs in a setting in which they don't fully support one another.

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