Please to see the King

March 1971
B&C Records (CAS 1029)


Recorded at Sound Techniques, Chelsea, London/
Producer - Sandy Roberton
Engineers - Jerry Boys, Vic Gamm, Roger Mayer, Roger Quested 

Peak UK Chart Position - 45 (2 weeks on chart)

This second album introduced Martin Carthy and Peter Knight, creating what some called the first Folk 'Super Group'. These changes created a harsher, 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. He described his playing style as similar to how he played acoustic but that he found he needed to 'do less' to still create a full sound. Widely regarded as a defining album in English Electric Folk music.
The title comes from the 'Cutty Wren' ceremony where the Wren is treated like a King, hence also the track 'The King' on the album. The album was Melody Makers folk album of the year.

Instruments played:
Maddy Prior - Vocals,  Vocals, Spoons, Tabor, Tambourine;
Tim Hart - dulcimer or guitar; 
Martin Carthy - guitar, banjo, organ; 
Ashley Hutchings - bass; 
Peter Knight - fiddle, mandolin, organ, bass.

1. The Blacksmith

(4.49, trad. Slower tempo than original with some harmony singing and relatively simple guitar/dulcimer instrumentation)

Does not appear to have been played live very frequently across the decades. I suspect (no evidence though) it was heard around 1970/71 as it was played in BBC sessions/ATV but after that it disappears until 1986/87 as a "Mk3" version, based more on this Mk2 version, When it reappears in 2008 & 2014/15 it is back to the original tempo and style, as it is during the the Hark! tour in 2017 but gets a 'Mk 4' reworking in 2019. 

[1970] June BBC Session and July ATV 'Music Room'. Both on 'Please to see the King Castle CD Reissue' (2006).  Although performed by Steeleye MK2 this variant is actually close to this original version with more instrumental breaks. Recorded for the only time without drums it still however retains the Mandolin/Banjo driven tempo of the original. Better quality versions of the BBC Session are widely available.  
[1986/1987] BBC Session and 'Back In Line' World Tour including US in '87. Available on 'In Concert' CD 1994. A reworking of the song and more in line with this version although Maddy introduces it as the Mk.3 version as that line up had not yet attempted it.  
[1995] The Journey concert (available on The Journey CD ,1999). Hart-Acoustic Guitar; Carthy-Banjo; Hutchings; Prior; M Gregory-Drums. A close approximation to the original in timing and tempo with Martin Carthy stepping into Terry Wood's place but using a banjo rather than the similar sounding Mandola.
[2008] Spring Tour. Available on 'Live at Distance' CD (2009)'.  A Mandolin driven version in keeping with this original version but has more instrumental breaks.  
[2009] Spring 40th Anniversary Tour
[2013] Spring 2013 Tour. Peter on Mandolin but retains tempo of original Hark! version.  
[2014] Autumn 45th Anniv. Tour. Original Hark! tempo
[2017] Hark the Village Wait Tour. Original Hark! tempo
[2019] Dec 50th Anniversary Tour. A reworking of the song and is available to listen to here.

2. Cold, Haily Windy Night

(4.37, Trad. Introduced; arranged and sung by Martin Carthy) 

Was used as part of the 'Corunna' play.  This version was played live during 1970/1 while Carthy was active. It was also played on two BBC Sessions in 70/71, neither of which appear on the 2006 Castle reissue CD of the album & sessions. It then disappeared completely, apart from the Journey concert, until revived and newly arranged by Rick Kemp in 2004. It was then recorded in 2006 as a new Studio Version on the 'Bloody Men' album. 


[1970] July BBC Session, and so almost certainly played live at the time
[1971] Jethro Tull Support UK Tour; Corunna Tour; Sept BBC Session; Oct 1st headline UK Tour
[1995] . The Journey concert. Carthy-lead vocals & electric guitar; Knight; Tim Hart-dulcimer; Hutchings; Prior- vocals . A close approximation to the original, replicating the unique, and at the time progressive combination of the electric guitar, dulcimer and fiddle. Available on The Journey CD (1999) and to view Here
[2004-2015] See 'Bloody Men' for live appearances of reworked version

3. Jigs: Bryan O'Lynn / The Hag with the Money

(3.21 Trad. tunes introduced by Knight. Prior-Spoons; Carthy-electric guitar; Hart-dulcimer;)
 Bryan O'Lynn had a name change to 'Hitler's Downfall' when the tunes appeared in a 1970 BBC Session. 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.


[1970] ATV 'Music Room'; Sept BBC Session. Appears on the 'Please to See the King' CD Reissue (2006)
[1972]  B side Single. Released on the b side of the 'Jigs and Reel's 1972 Pegasus single/EP. Same version as Album
[1995] Played at the big 25 year reunion concert. The Journey CD (1999). Carthy-electric guitar; Knight; Hutchings; Hart-dulcimer; Prior-spoons . A faithful reproduction with the same line up and instrumentation. 

4. Prince Charlie Stuart

( 4.17 Trad. Introduced by Maddy). Faithful to the Brigid Tunney version sung in 1953. 

Although appearing in the ATV 'Music Room' show in early 1970 and in BBC sessions we can't find examples of it being played live during this line up's existence - although set lists are hard to come by at that time so it is hard to believe it wasn't played at all. It makes a brief re-appearance in early 80's and returns for the 35th Anniversary tour in 2004, and infrequently up to 2016. The coincidental timing of the re appearances has meant a frequent appearance in official live recordings.


[1970] ATV 'Music Room'; July BBC Session - Appears on 'Please to see the King' CD Reissue (2006)
[1971] March BBC Session
[1981] Autumn UK Tour
[1995] The Journey concert. A close approximation to the original, replicating the line up and instrumentation. Sung in a lower register which is inevitable given the very high register it was originally sung in, slightly longer instrumentation. Available on The Journey CD (1999) and to view Here
[2004] 35th Anniv. Tour. Appears on 'Folk Rock Pioneers in Concert' CD (2004). Prior-lead vocal and in addition the '35th Anniversary World Tour' DVD (2004)
[2007] Spanfest
[2011] Spring and Autumn UK Tours. Spring tour version appears on 'Now We are Six Again' Live CD (2011). Prior-lead vocal; Knight; Littman; Kemp; Zorn; Genockey. Faithful version but with even longer instrumental breaks.
[2015] Holland/UK Autumn 'Catch Up' Tour. 
[2016] Appeared at Cropedy Festival

5. Boys Of Bedlam 

(4.22 Based on traditional lyrics. Also known as Tom Of Bedlam. Words, tune by Nic Jones/Dave Moran. Probably introduced by Martin Carthy who sang lead vocal).
Note that Martin and Maddy both sing into the back of a banjo head in the first two verses;  
Although listed as Trad.Arr on the album the tune was in fact written by Dave Moran with Nic Jones having 'minimal input' according to his wife. At the time the band were not aware who wrote the tune (no one did at the time) but always credited to them once they found out. 

Original Sleeve notes:  The Priory of St. Mary of Bethlehem at Bishopsgate founded in 1247 became the male lunatic asylum known as Bethlehem Hospital or Bedlam in 1547. In 1815 it was moved to Lambeth in the buildings now housing the Imperial War Museum and in 1931 was moved to Beckenham in Kent. The hospital of St. Mary Magdalen [pronounced Maudlin] was its female counterpart. During the 16th and 17th centuries the man in the moon was depicted as a bent old man with a staff, leading a dog, carrying a thorn bush and lantern.

Surprisingly there is no mention of any live or session playing of this song in the 70's/80's/90's. It could have appeared in the early 70's due to the lack of setlists available in that time, but we have enough to think it unlikely. Possibly because it was banjo led and Carthy probably didn't tour with his banjo. It also did not appear at 'The Journey' concert. The first live playing appears to be an 'experimental' 2008 version by Peter and Maddy. The song returns reworked by Julian Littman in 2014. in a 'rockier' version, inevitably with Drums, Electric and a Jessie's violin through an effects pedal. It even has a Julian rap and extra verse. 


[2008] Peter and Maddy 'experimental' version in the same style as they sing 'Betsy Bell'. Can be heard from a bootleg on the Timeline under 2008
[2011] One off appearance at the December Barbican Concert that featured Martin Carthy who sung it. No recording exists

Re-recorded on the 'Dodgy Bastards' 2016 album. This Julian reworked version did appear frequently and is listed in full under that album. This version was a 'rockier' version, inevitably with Drums, Electric and a Jessie's violin through an effects pedal. It even has Julian singing an Alex Kemp composed rap and an extra verse

6. False Knight on the Road

(2.45, Trad. Child Ballad 3. Introduced by Carthy) Carthy-Lead vocal & electric guitar.

A song that has actually had 3 quite distinct treatments by Steeleye. This album version was sung live by Carthy during his time with the band in 1970/1. The 1972 session version by Tim and Maddy, which is closer to the version they sang together on their 1971 Summer Solstice' album, was also sung live during 1972., but only available as a bootleg.
It then returns live in the 3rd variant in 1977/78 with Carthy's return to the band (see below). This version gets a final run out at the 'Journey' reunion concert in 1995 all sung by Carthy but is not included on the CD. Unusually for songs from this period it has not been heard of since 1995.  

[1970] Sept BBC Session Available on 'Please to see the King' 2006 CD re-issue. Sung by Martin staying faithful to the studio recorded version 
[1971]  Sept John Peel Sunday Concert. Features on the  'Ten Man Mop' Castle Music CD Re-issue (2006) but available in much better quality as a Bootleg  
[1972]  July BBC Session of Tim and Maddy singing a different variant (alternative melody) of the song, which they originally sang on 'Summer Solstice' in 1971. This version is even simpler than that studio recording with subtle backing from the band.
[1977/78] Various appearances & 1978 Farewell Tour. A third distinct variant. The introduction of drums creates a more 'Rock' feel to the version although the mid song accordion instrumental break ('The Monk's March') is in 2/3 dance time at which point Maddy comes on to the stage, before finally the Rock rhythm returns and Maddy takes over the vocals from Carthy who led off the song. This song was the opening to the live set at the time, despite its placement on this album. Features on 'Live at Last' album.

7. The Lark in the Morning

(4.33, Trad. introduced by Prior) Prior-lead vocal; Carthy-vocal & electric guitar; Hart-Dulcimer; Knight; Hutchings.

Maddy (who frequently referred to the fact that she first heard it as School):  "This deceptively simple song has been in my repertoire longer than any other folk song. It has that total Arcadian sweep that puts it in the style of tune that Vaughan Williams loved and used in his own writing, and is a delight to sing" 

 A very popular song in the set throughout Mk2 line up, occasionally in the Mk3 line up in '73 but then (probably) disappears. One mention in the 80's - on the Australian tour in '86 and again in 1996/7. This latter version was driven by a rhythmical drum beat and again emphasized the harmonies (with Gay as well of course), also featured a stronger lead guitar. Appearances in 2008/09/11 all at one off concerts with special guests. In 2014/15 it finally appeared regularly in a touring set but all these appearances have not coincided with official Live albums.  

[1970] June BBC Session. On 'Please to see the King Castle CD Reissue' (2006); ATV 'Music Room' available on Youtube. Sessions have less emphasis on the Dulcimer and includes Maddy's tambourine, as does ATV version.  
[1971] Jethro Tull Support tour; Part of the 'Corunna' Play; March BBC Session 'Please to see the King Castle CD Reissue' (2006); Sept John Peel Sunday Concert which features on the 'Ten Man Mop CD reissue; Featured on the Ainsdale Beach concert (available here); October UK Tour.
[1973] Albert Hall Concert.
[1978] Farewell Tour. Only a few dates towards the end of the tour. 
[1986] US and Australian Tours so probably appeared in UK as well around this time
[1989] UK Spring 20th Anniversary Tour
[1995] The Journey Concert Mk2 line up. Features on 'The Journey CD' (1999). Faithful to the original with Tim on the Dulcimer and Martin sharing vocals.
[1996] Australia Tour and Status Quo Support Tour - appears on the Sails of Silver Reissue CD as a live bonus track. Once again the same tempo and melody with with guitar filling in for the Dulcimer. More harmonies from all the band on the 'chorus' giving it a more dynamic feel with additional percussion that previously.
[1997] US Tour and festivals.
[2008] Spanfest. Features John Kirkpatrick
[2009] 40th Anniversary concert at The Barbican. Features Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick.
[2011] The Barbican. Only on this date and features Martin Carthy and John Spiers.
[2014] Autumn 45th Anniversary UK Tour. Acoustic Guitar instead of Dulcimer but still very much the original tempo and dynamics.
[2015] Winter UK Tour; Summer US Tour  

8. Female Drummer

(4.05, Trad. introduced by Hutchings). Ashley used the Watersones 'The Pretty Drummer Boy' as the basis for the Steeleye version. (alternative name). Uses the old theme of girls dressing up as boys/men to join the Army. Driven by Ashley's crashing, rock-style bass. Best seen HERE on Ainsdale beach by this line up. 

 Another regular live song during the Mk2 line up but then is dropped completely. All faithful playing of the song with either a dulcimer or violin/guitar intro and over time a longer instrumental outro. As far as i can tell it has tragically only appeared once since 1971 which was during 1987. This would be a great song to see back in the set.

[1970] June 1970 BBC Session; Oct BBC Session. Both on 'Please to see the King Castle CD Reissue' (2006); Various live appearences
[1971] Various Live appearances; Feb BBC Session; Sept John Peel Sunday Concert' (On 'Ten Man Mop CD' Reissue); Ainsdale Beach, Southport - Granada TV. Same line up as original and a faithful version, a more lively vocal performance from Maddy. On Youtube
[1987] UK Autumn Tour. (opened the set). (Probably played on US tour). Belgium. Faithful to the original with more emphasis on the drums/percussion, which is as expected as the first time it was played with a drummer in the line up.

9. The King

(1.31, Trad. Introduced by Martin Carthy)
The bands first attempt at unaccompanied harmony singing.

On 'Music Room' (1970) Marin says it is from Pembrokeshire where an old lady sang it to Andy Nisbett from Swansea University.

Original Sleeve notes:  The wren traditionally symbolised winter and the robin summer. On St Stephen's Day in Pembrokeshire, where the song was collected, a wren was hunted and killed to symbolise the death of winter and then placed in a garlanded box and taken from door to door. At each house this song was sung and the occupants asked to pay to see the dead wren with the words “Please to see the King.”

 Appeared live during the Mk2 line up but then is dropped until the 1980 reunion tour. It was sung again in 2001 at the Cromer gig and also by the reformed Maddy Prior line up 2002-2004, including a TV spot in Australia. There is a one-off singing along with Carthy and John Kirkpatrick at the 45th Anniversary concert in 2009 and further occasional run outs.  
[1970] July BBC Session; ATV 'Music Room'. Both on 'Please to see the King Castle CD Reissue' (2006).
[1971] UK Dates Mch-May
[1980] UK Autumn Comeback Tour
[1981] UK Autumn Tour
[1982] Winter Australian Tour; UK Winter Tour (probably). features on the 'On Tour Live' Album (1984) & 'A Rare Collection 1972-1996 (1999). Recorded in the Soundcheck before the concert that was recorded for Australian Radio broadcast
[1995] It featured again at the 'Journey' concert but due to a lot of feedback when sung it was not included in the CD release.
[2001] 'Folk on the Pier' Concert. Re Introduced by Rick
[2002] UK Reunion Tour; Autralisian Tour. Opening song on tour and sung a-capella 'led' by Rick. Features on the 'Official Bootleg' CD (2004). and was sung on Australian TV. Here.
[2004] Winter '35th' Anniv. tour
[2009] One off 40th Anniversary Barbican concert. Featured guests Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick
[2013] Spring UK Tour; Festivals. Once again the opening song.
[2016] Dodgy Bastards UK Tour. Opening song  accompanied by drum/keyboard and a guitar solo outro.  

10. Lovely on the Water

(5.20, Trad. introduced by Maddy)
Song dominated by Maddy's mesmeric singing and Peter's multi tracked mandolin dominating the melody creating a dreamy sound.  Another song collected by Vaughn Williams

Occasionally performed initially when recorded, including Sept 1970 in a BBC session (not included in 2006 Castle CD re-issue) but then dropped. It finally re appeared in 2008/09 where it was recorded for 'Live at a Distance' and once again in 2016 where Julian played mandolin and so the song had violin for the 1st time. Another chronically underplayed song but a very hard one to sing. 

[1970] Sept BBC Session. (Not included in 2006 Castle CD re-issue)
[1971] occasional live appearances
[2008] Spanfest; Spring UK Tour. Peter on Mandolin in a relatively faithful reproduction. Guitar plays a bigger role in the extended instrumental breaks, which along with the drums gives a powerful drive to the song. Features on  'Live at a Distance' CD (2009). 
[2009] Spring '40th Anniversary' tour.
[2016] UK Autumn Dodgy Bastards Tour. Once again a faithful reproduction of the song with a marginally faster tempo and Julian playing the mandolin and so features a violin for the first time. 

2006 Castle Music CD Reissue - Bonus Tracks

The 2006 Castle Music CD re-issue had the following additional tracks from various BBC Session. Please see the BBC Sessions page for a more accurate view of where these versions come from as it was not always correct on the official CD listing. The first session listed below has been played frequently by the BBC over the years in pristine condition (the copy on this CD is quite poor in comparison)

       Top Gear Radio Session 27/6/70
1-11The Blacksmith4:23
1-12Female Drummer3:15
1-13Rave On1:22
1-14I Was A Young Man3:51
1-15The Lark In The Morning3:41
Stuart Henry Show Radio Session 23/7/70
1-16The King1:26
1-17Prince Charlie Stuart4:10
1-18Bold Poachers5:27
Folk On One Radio Session 17/10/70
2-1College Grove/Silver Spear2:51
2-2Lay Down Your Weary Tune4:20
2-3False Knight On The Road3:22
2-4Hitler's Downfall/The Hag With The Money1:58
2-5Female Drummer (Mk2)3:50
2-6Wee Weaver4:23
Stuart Henry Show Radio Session 4/2/71
2-8Female Drummer (Mk2)4:12
2-9General Taylor3:36
2-10Farther Along3:10
2-11Two Reels2:32
Top Gear Radio Session 27/3/71
2-12Let's Dance1:45
2-13Bring 'Em Down/A Hundred Years Ago2:40
2-14Lark In The Morning3:52
BBC TV Performance (Date Unk.)
2-15The King1:24
2-16Bryan O'Lynn/The Hag With The Money2:13
2-17The Blacksmith3:49

LP/CD issues/covers

1971 LP - Original Sleeve

Released by B&C Records (CAS 1029) in 1971 with a textured/hessian sleeve cover. Issued by Big Tree Records (BTS 2004) the same year in the US with a non textured sleeve.

United Artists Records LP (1971) 

A second UK LP pressing by United Artists later in 1971. Cover also used in international releases including Japan and NZ. 

Mooncrest LP (1976)

A second Mooncrest 1976 UK LP reissue. The first had the original cover with a small picture of the band added.

Shanachie US CD (1990)

First CD of the album issued was in the US by Shanachie

Mooncrest CD & LP UK (1991)

A CD and LP Reissue by Mooncrest in the UK 

Later CD Reissues 

The original cover has been used on various CD reissues:
Big Tree Records UK (2005)
Castle Music 2xCD (2006) (Extra tracks, see above)
Talking Elephant CD (2016). Triple pack of 1st three albums. 

Preceded by..

Followed by..