Salut! Live announces the return of something like a proper service..... reviews are important to a site like this, but remember always that the writer claims to be no more than a fan with a platform. First up is Maddy Prior. Coming soon: Chris Foster ....and something special, though not a review, relating to Sandy Denny...
And if you've strayed in here as a result of reading about the competition at Mudcat or Talkawhile, be assured that a comment posted here will count as an entry. For my non-Mudcat/Talkawhile readers, all you need to do is let me have your best, warmest, wittiest Maddy or Steeleye Span anecdote, reminiscence, thought (some great ones already appear at Mudcat, and another can be found here, in the comments). The three I judge to be the best will receive copies of Maddy's albums signed by her....
STOP PRESS: THE DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES, WHETHER POSTED HERE OR AT MUDCAT OR TALKAWHILE IS MIDNIGHT - UK TIME - on SATURDAY OCT 11
Maddy Prior* Seven For Old England (Park Records)
The folk club was not due to open for an hour or more. It was so early that I could not imagine anyone else being there before me.
As I wandered, pint in hand, into the small downstairs room of the Golden Cock in Darlington, a young woman was sitting there reading a book. She had a right to be feeling quite cross, but showed no trace of anger. Maddy Prior had been exiled to the snug because the main bar was still, in those far-off days, the preserve of men.
Tim Hart, with whom Maddy then performed as a pre-Steeleye Span duo (complete with bursts of Lancashire clog dancing), was in that bar, possibly playing darts.
Maddy's new solo album Seven For Old England somehow reminded me of that evening at the Darlington Folk Workshop. She has made a huge amount of music in the intervening years, but this seems to convey her back to a less cluttered musical age.
That may be due in some measure to the inclusion of such songs as North Country Lass and Trimdon Grange, neither of which I associate with Maddy but both resonant of the northern clubs I frequented or ran.
"This album is in many ways a return and revisiting of songs that first engaged me," she writes, as if sensing what impact it will have on a reviewer of a certain age. "I have always found the tradition of English lyrical and pastoral ballads an area of sweet melancholy...."
David: quite agree that this is an outstanding album, one that takes you back to an earlier folk age of which Maddy, of course, was also part
Anyone wanting to know more about it My own review of
reviewed it at Salut! Live I had a little compeitition
It is a deeply pleasing body of work, and a logical new step in the Maddy Prior story, distancing her some way from the effervescent folk-rock chick of years ago who would leap from the stage, leaving Steeleye in full flow on sets of jigs and reels, to dance around the aisles of theatres large and small.
And, as I half suspected, the 16 tracks are songs she has not previously sung or recorded, but the sort of music that was familiar to her from floor singers and fellow troubadours in her earliest days on the folk circuit.
The result is a thoroughly pleasing body of work. It is also a logical step in the Maddy Prior story, distancing her some way from the effervescent folk-rock chick who would leap from the stages of theatres large and small, leaving Steeleye in full flow on sets of jigs and reels, to dance around the aisles.
She has always been a fine singer, even if there are those who have found the nasal aspect to her voice a little jarring. And now, there is an unmistakable maturity, suggestive less of a woman showing her age than of a singer comfortable, leaving aside what I detected as a solitary wobble, with natural vocal changes.
The North, which has been her home for many years, is amply represented. Beyond the songs already mentioned, Maddy tackles Came Ye From Newcastle, Staines Morris and The Collier Lad. But do not suppose that the geographical reach is short.
There are also echoes of southern England and Scotland, while Bold General Wolfe celebrates a fallen hero of - whisper it - British imperialism who died leading the Siege of Quebec. The Left generally has all the best tunes, so its inclusion is quite delicious in its political incorrectness, whatever may be felt about the exploits and legacy of Empire.
From the opening lines of Dives and Lazarus, this is an album of immense charm and substance, one that I heartily recommend. And where does "delightfully rude" come into it? Listen to the lyrics of Trooper's Nag, taken from Thomas d'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy and you will see why Maddy gives it this description.
* The photograph is borrowed from Maddy Prior's website
Seven for Old England can be bought, along with other great folk albums, at knockdown prices from Salut! Live record shelf.
Dives And Lazarus; Trooper's Nag; Jock Of Hazeldean; The Collier Lad; Martinmass Time; Love Will Find Out The Way; In Sad And Ashy Weeds; Bold General Wolfe; The Cuckoo; I Heard The Banns; Came Ye From Newcastle; Trimdon Grange; Staines Morris; North Country Lass; Come Again; Magpie