A complete guide to every recorded Steeleye Span song with details of all the variants/versions that have been recorded by the band, either in the studio for singles/albums, live or on Video/DVD, plus any interesting unofficial live variants. I will review how often each track has been included in the live set, where known of course.
key:Official Live version - Available as an officially released CD/Video/Record.
1. A Calling-On Song
(1.13, written by Hutchings) Prior/G Woods/T Woods/Hart - vocals. 'This is a calling on song for the group taken from a sword dance, Hutchings rewrote the lyrics which are sung in four part harmony.
The change in line up created an overall harsher and heavier sound than Hark! despite the absence of drums. It was also more progressive and experimental. Part of the new sound was Carthy playing the electric guitar for the first time in the same style he played acoustic.
All songs:: Hart-dulcimer or guitar; Carthy-guitar, banjo, organ; Hutchings-bass; Knight-fiddle,mandolin,organ,bass.
(4.49, trad. Sung by Prior. Slower tempo than original with some harmony singing and relatively simple guitar/dulcimer instrumentation)
-Unofficial BBC Session (4.56, 1986).
Prior;Johnson;Kemp;Knight;Pegrum. Basis for the live version below. Introduced by Maddy as the 'Mk3' version as this line up had never played or recorded it. Slower tempo in line with the Mk2 version which is why I have placed it here. Electric guitar dominates along with Peter's Pizzicato violin playing
-Official Live version (6.09, 1986) 'In Concert' CD (1994) As above but longer instrumental sections.
LIVE: Overall 'The Blacksmith', in either version, does not appear to have been played live very frequently across the decades. I suspect (no evidence though) it was heard around 1970/71 after being played in the early 1970 sessions, but after that it disappears until 1986/87 in this "Mk2/3" version. When it surfaces again it is back to its original temp and style. Firstly in 2008 (see Mk1 version above) and then in 2014/15, and finally during the Hark! tour in 2017.
2. Cold, Haily Windy Night
(4.37, Trad. Introduced and sung by Martin Carthy) For the Rick Kemp variant see 'Bloody Men' Album below.
-Official Live version (4.22, 1995) . The Journey CD (1999). Carthy-lead vocals & electric guitar; Knight; Tim Hart-dulcimer; Hutchings; Prior- vocals
. A close approximation to the original with Hart,Carthy & Knight replicating the unique, and at the time progressive combination of the electric guitar, dulcimer and fiddle.
LIVE: This version was played live during 1970/1 whilst this line up with Carthy was active. It was also played on two BBC Sessions in 70/71, neither of which appears in the 2006 Castle reissue CD of the album & sessions. It then disappeared completely, apart from the Journey concert, until revived by Rick Kemp in 2004 before then being recorded for the 2006 album 'Bloody Men' as a quite different version. See that album below for releases and variants of this version which was played off-and-on until Rick's retirement in 2016.
3. Jigs: Bryan O'Lynn / The Hag with the Money
(3.21 Trad. tunes introduced by Knight. Prior-Spoons; Carthy-electric guitar; Hart-dulcimer; Hutchings)
-Official Live version (3.10, 1995) . The Journey CD (1999). Carthy-electric guitar; Knight; Hutchings; Hart-dulcimer; Prior-spoons . Once again, with an identical line up and instrumentation a faithful reproduction.
-B side Single (1972) . Released on the b side of the 'Jigs and Reel's 1972 Pegasus single/EP. Same version as Album
LIVE: Bryan O'Lynn had a name change to 'Hitler's Downfall' when the tunes appeared in a 1970 BBC Session, as well as the ATV 'Music Room' programme. Playing with tunes names was a common theme for Peter Knight. These jigs were almost certainly played live during early 70's, but on most set lists tunes appear just as 'jigs' so identification of which tune is almost impossible unless retained on a bootleg.
4. Prince Charlie Stuart
( 4.17 Trad. Introduced by ?? Prior-lead vocal; Carthy; Knight; Hart; Hutchings)
-Official BBC session (4.10, July 1970). Please to See the King 2006 Castle CD. Same line up and a version faithful to the original.
-Official Live version (4.43, 1995) . The Journey CD (1999). Carthy-electric guitar; Knight; Hutchings; Hart-dulcimer; Prior-lead vocal . With an identical line up and instrumentation a faithful reproduction but all sung and played in a lower key/register, which is probably inevitable given the very 'high' original. The instrumental breaks are also longer in this version.
-Official live version (5.12, 2004) 'Folk Rock Pioneers in Concert' CD (2004). Prior-lead vocal; Knight; Kemp; Nicol; Genockey
-Official live video (4.54, 2004) '35th Anniversary World Tour' DVD (2004)
Versions from the same tour and a slightly slower tempo version than the original with longer instrumental breaks
-Official live version (6.00, 2011) 'Now We are Six Again' Live CD (2004). Prior-lead vocal; Knight; Littman; Kemp; Zorn; Genockey. Version very similar to above with even longer instrumental breaks.
LIVE: Although appearing in the ATV 'Music Room' show in early 1970 and in BBC sessions it actually does not seem to have been played live during this line up's existence - although set lists are hard to come by at that time so it is possible. It makes a brief re-appearance in 1981 and 1982. The song then returns for the 35th Anniversary tour in 2004, again in 2007 at SpanFest, in 2011 for the Now We are Six again tours and finally in 2015 (audience video) & '16 (Cropedy). The timing of the re appearances has meant a frequent appearance in official live recordings.
The Mark 2 swansong album and probably the most live underplayed album of them all. Very few were played live as Carthy/Hutchings left soon after, only those that were already in the live set before the album was recorded were played live. When the band returned in '72 it was with a new set of songs.Maddy Prior, vocals, spoons, tabor;
1. Gower Wassail
(5.28, Trad. Introduced by Hart) Hart- lead vocals & dulcimer; Carthy; Hutchings; Knight-timpani & maybe mandolin; Prior-tabor. A Tim Hart tour-de-force.
General Taylor (Studio Out-take)
(3.31 trad.) Sang A Capella by the band with Tim on lead. Hart; Carthy; Hutchings; Prior; Knight
An outtake from the Ten Man Mop recording sessions.
-Official Studio version appears on: 'Individually and Collectively' LP/CD (1972); Time Span LP (197?); 'Lark in the Morning' 2CD collection (2003); Castle Music Ten Man Mop 2006 CD.
-Official BBC sessions (3.36, Feb 1971) & John Peel concert (4.04 1971). First one on 'Please to see the King Castle CD Reissue' (2006), latter on the Ten Man Mop 2006 reissue. Faithful versions , the latter's extra time is just from audience/John Peel.
-Unofficial BBC Session (, Oct 1972). Hart-lead vocal. Prior;Kemp;Knight;Johnston - vocals. Only time recorded sung by this line up.
With little time to prepare for a new album most of the songs were introduced by Tim and Maddy and often ones they had been working on for a while either as a duo or in anticipation of recording with Steeleye, It was then usually left to Peter to work through the arrangements to get enough songs together for the new group to play. Hence the overall feel of the album is not too far from the original trio. The two Bob Johnson contributions King Henry and Gaudete were a bigger clue of things to come.
1. Spotted Cow
(3.06 Trad. Introduced by Maddy & Tim, arranged by Peter). Prior-lead vocal & morrisette; Hart-tabor & lead vocal, Johnson-electric guitar; Kemp-bass; Knight-mandolin
Tim and Maddy swapping lead vocals and sharing harmonies as Bob's crunching guitar counterpoints the sweet melody carried by Peter's mandolin.
-Official Live version (4.54, 1984) 'Gone to Australia' Live CD (2001). Prior-Lead vocal; Knight-violin; Johnson; Kemp; Pegrum. A first chance to hear a recording of an uptempo Spotted Cow being paired with a 'Sailor's Bonnet'.
-Official Live version (4.32, 1986) 'Back In Line' CD Reissue (1991) & 'In Concert' Live CD (1994). Prior-lead vocal; Kemp; Knight; Johnson; Pegrum. Two releases of the same recording of Spotted Cow still with 'Sailor's Bonnet' as the tune in the second half of the song. Includes Maddy on Spoons.-Unofficial Live Version (1975). A slower tempo 'Reggae' version of Spotted Cow from 2nd series of Electric Folk. No recording officially available sadly.
1. One Misty Moisty Morning
Three Drunken Maidens
-Official BBC Session (2.46, Oct 1972). The Harvest of Gold CD Collection (2003)
Let Her Go Down
Peter: I wrote this song after a spell of commercial fishing off the coast of Hastings. It was meant to reflect the dangers of the sea and create a sense of mystery. There is no significant meaning. Sound over sense. but also: There are various meanings to this song if 'meaning' is the right word. 'Feelings' would be closer. I left Steeleye at one point and bought a small fishing boat and fished off the coast of Hastings. Although we would always check the weather forecast before going to sea, there were times when we were caught in unexpected bad weather. At these times the consequences can be uncomfortable or lives can be lost, and decisions have to be made quickly. This song came from that time and is about human nature. It may be that the captain was a coward. Perhaps his decision to tell the crew to abandon ship was wrong. Maybe all hands could have saved her. The captain had his reasons. What they were I don't know.
When the late Gus Dudgeon who produced the 'Sails Of Silver' album heard this song, he thought that it could be a 'single'. The thinking from the record company was that Maddy should be included as she was the lead singer with the band. I was asked to re-write the last verse for Maddy to sing. The original verse read as follows:
Then I wondered if my shipmates had been lost in that rolling sea
So I called their names out one by one but there was no one else around but me
And as the ship went down in that fading light I knew we could have saved her
The captain lied when the captain cried 'There's none of us here can save her'
TAM LIN(Winick) Having read that the legend of Tam Lin was known in eastern Europe, Johnson decided to use Bulgarian melodies instead of English ones. He found three completely separate traditional tunes from Bulgaria and crafted a long and haunting arrangement for the song, more ambitious than anything since Commoners Crown, and more inspiring as well.