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.

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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