RIP Mike Waterson: solid man, great voice, proper soul
Song of the Day: Luke Kelly ... The Town I Loved So Well

Song of the Day: Steeleye Span ... Bonnie Prince Charlie


The road between Le Lavandou and La Seyne-sur-Mer is straightforward. Finding the campsite where inlaws were staying in La Forêt de Janas was a little more complicated, enough to confuse my out-of-date SatNav on more than one occasion.

But the twists and turns, and even the traffic jam coming back through Toulon (west-east, so no tunnel), were made all the more bearable by reacquaintance with a few pearls from my vast garage collection of old CDs.

There was Martin Simpson live, ditto Nic Jones, a June Tabor compilation and some smooth blues from Josh White.

Nothing, however, quite matched a reissue of Steeleye Span's second album, Please To See The King, and nothing on it made me purr as loudly as did Bonnie Prince Charlie, a big, wonderfully melodic Scottish ballad given ultimate folk-rock treatment.

This is the album I first heard - and bought, unless memory is up to old tricks - in the record shop at Cecil Sharp House; it was a stunning, even life-changing experience for one accustomed to unaccompanied or sparsely accompanied traditional songs in northern folk clubs.

Of course, I had come across Maddy Prior and Tim Hart in such conventional acoustic settings, but their new band's fusion of English folk and amplified instruments had an instant impact that has endured for 40 years. It

Please To See The King even made the 1971 album Top 50, briefly and low as far as the official listings went but as high as seventh in the choosier Melody Maker chart.

I wanted to add one of the bonus tracks of the re-issued album as a bonus of my own: the band's chaotic but irresistible cover, during a BBC studio session in 1971, of Chris Montez's 1962 hit Let's Dance.

This sort of thing was an early Steeleye specialty: remember their versions of Rag Doll, To Know Him Is To Love Him and Rave On?

Sadly, I couldn't locate a clip of them doing Let's Dance. But see if you share my total adoration of Maddy's Bonnie Prince Charlie.

* I have added Please to See the King to my Amazon record shelf. Scroll down the list of album shown in the right-hand sidebar column or click here.

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