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Steeleye Span

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Steeleye Span Sails Of Silver album cover
2.23 | 11 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sails Of Silver (3:27)
2. My Love (2:53)
3. Barnet Fair (4:34)
4. Senior Service (3:31)
5. Gone To America (4:21)
6. Where Are They Now (4:11)
7. Let Her Go Down (3:36)
8. Longbone (3:58)
9. Marigold / Harvest Home (3:05)
10. Tell Me Why (3:56)

Total time 37:32

Bonus Tracks on 1998 CD release:
11. Thomas The Rhymer (Live In March 1997) (6:50)
12. My Johnny (Live In December 1996) (1:39)
13. The Lark In The Morning (Live In December 1996) (4:03)

Line-up / Musicians

- Maddy Prior / vocals
- Tim Hart / vocals & guitar (1-10)
- Bob Johnson / guitar, vocals
- Peter Knight / keyboards, violin, vocals
- Rick Kemp / bass & vocals (1-10)
- Nigel Pegrum / drums, percussion & woodwind (1-10)

- Gay Woods / vocals (11-13)
- Tim Harries / bass, keyboards & vocals (11-13)
- Liam Genockey / drums (11-13)

Releases information

Artwork: Adrian Chesterman

LP Chrysalis - CHR 1304 (1980, UK)

CD Park Records ‎- PRKCD40 (1998, UK) With 3 bonus Live tracks

Thanks to zafreth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STEELEYE SPAN Sails Of Silver ratings distribution

(11 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(10%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (30%)
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)

STEELEYE SPAN Sails Of Silver reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Classic line up sails close to Love Beach

After the release of "Storm force ten" in 1977, Steeleye Span effectively disbanded. The band was however contractually obliged to come up with one more album to fullfil their deal with Chrysalis. When a reunion to meet this obligation was mooted a couple of years later, Martin Carthy and John Kilpatrick had long since decided that their departure was to be permanent, so the possibly of reconvening the classic line up was examined. So it was that fiddle player Peter Knight and guitarist Bob Johnson returned to the fold, and work was started on what would become "Sails of silver".

Although "Sails of silver" was performed by the line up which recorded some of the band's most admired albums, the approach to recording was radically different to what fans were used to. Noted producer Gus Dudgeon was brought in to make the album more commercially appealing, but it is the presence for the first time of a number of songs written by band members which sets the album apart from what had gone before.

Admittedly, the opening title track offers promise, with all six band members receiving a writing credit. The song is a sort of sophisticated "All around my hat", with a catchy refrain on the chorus. I have to confess to liking the song immensely although I also have to clarify that it is pop folk rather than prog folk. The following "My love" reverts to the tried and tested policy of interpreting traditional songs, the arrangement here being simple and highly accessible. So it is with "Barnet fair", where Rick Kemp takes the bones of a traditional number and transforms it into a pop song.

"Senior service" was co-written by Kemp with Maddy Prior. Without wishing to be too unkind, it is quite the worst song the band had recorded up to this point, devoid not only of folk but of any redeeming features at all; so bad is it, it could have been a Eurovision song contest entry! "Gone to America" which closes side one is based once again on a traditional song, this time adapted by Peter Knight. Maddy's performance here sounds rather like that of the great Judy Collins, the song being a fine ballad rounded off by some good lead guitar sounds. It is not really Steeleye Span as such, but it is at least well done.

"Where are they now" has echoes of Renaissance's later works, where that band too tried to move into the cluttered pop market. Peter Knight's violin work on the track is superb, but sadly it is ruthlessly curtailed. There then follows a couple of songs where the band's main vocalists take a back seat. This exercise in democracy is flawed in terms of making the fatal error of not exploiting your strengths but Peter Knight at least tries to write something with folk overtones. "Let her go down" is a reasonably pleasant diversion with a passable vocal arrangement. The band composed "Longbone" on the other hand is uninspired pop rock, pure and simple.

The two part " Marigold/Harvest Home" is the final band written song, the latter part being a traditional hymn. As such, this piece at least reminds us of what the band were all about, offering a tantalising glimpse of what went before. "Tell me why" is a final variant on a traditional song, where Maddy gives another fine delivery of a haunting ballad. The powerful refrain contrasts well with the soft verses, and the song at least strays towards prog territories.

"Sails of silver" clearly sets out to be an accessible album with an overtly pop flavour. The ten tracks are all of a radio friendly length, with simple melodies and easy on the ears arrangements. The rear sleeve image is not quite as unpalatable as that of "Love beach", but its heading that way. To the extent that this was an album with a specific remit, it succeeds in its objective. Unfortunately, it did not succeed commercially, and only served to alienate a significant number of fans of the band who despaired at the band's new direction. As an album of pop songs with the occasional folk tinge it works reasonably well. On any other level this is a poor entry in the wonderful discography of a great band.

This would be Steeleye Span's last album for some six years. Co-founder Tim Hart left the band and music for good, and the rest of the band pursued other interests, both music related and in other fields.

Latest members reviews

2 stars The best known Steeleye Span lineup reformed in 1980 to record Sails of Silver after a 4 year gap since Rocket Cottage. This album was unusual as all bar one of the tracks were penned by the band rather than being new arrangements of old folk songs. The most noticeable difference to their p ... (read more)

Report this review (#193895) | Posted by Tonbridge Man | Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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