Cover Story: (3) Our Town - Iris DeMent or Kate Rusby
Cover Story: (5) From Clare to Here. Ralph McTell, Bob Fox or Nanci Griffith?

Cover Story: (4) Long Lankin - Steeleye Span or Wainwright Sisters

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What a joy to come once again across Loudon Wainwright III's daughters Martha - her mum was the excellent but, sadly, departed Kate McGarrigle - and Lucy, whose mother is Suzzy Roche, one of the Irish-American Roche sisters whose music gave me such pleasure decades ago.

I may have seen one or both of them as kids playing in a park in Hounslow 30+ years ago when dad was appearing at a small festival beneath an oppressive stream of one-every-13-seconds planes landing at Heathrow.

The joy was all to do with the discovery of their version of Long Lankin, a darkly enchanting ballad of murder and retribution I have always associated with Steeleye Span. It is the subject of the fourth article in the new Salut! Live series, Cover Story, a brief look at differing versions of same songs.

The Wainwright women add the verses that provide important detail (well important to me, since I covered crime and court cases a lot as a reporter) to the story of absent head of household, vulnerable wife and baby, false and complicit nurse and vile killer. And those harmonies! In a context other than gruesome murder, I might have say they are to die for.

Steeleye Span, meanwhile, captured the sheer blood-curdling drama of the song in their own, English folk-rock way, Maddy Prior's soaring vocals and the band at their best with driving, dynamic instrumentation and arrangement.

Among many admiring comments at YouTube, I have never forgotten this, from one Anna Nunn:

This song is one of the most beautiful I have heard in a while, her voice is so different and eerie. I orginally came here thanks to a book i recently read based on the song - Long Lankin ~ Lindsey Barraclough - i probably wouldn't of heard the song otherwise (I'm 15!) Now i just can't stop visiting the song, its always in my head.

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Click on this caption to buy this Steeleye Span compilation containing Long Lankin from Salut! Live's Amazon record shelf

But am I any longer so sure no one could ever do the song more justice than Maddy and the lads? I am not ...

And Long Lankin appears on this Wainwright Sisters album, Songs in the Dark, which can be bought at Salut! Live's Amazon link by clicking on this caption


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