MADDY PRIOR - PETER KNIGHT - BOB JOHNSON - TIM HARRIES - GAY WOODS - LIAM GENOCKEY
Produced by John Etchells & Steeleye Span
Recorded at Element Recording Studios London
Engineer - John Etchells
The first studio album for 7 years and the first under Park Records, a small independent record company run by John Dagnell who had previously worked for Band Manager Adrian Hopkins and had been looking after Maddy Prior's solo releases.
The album also marked the return to the band of Gay Woods, who was in the original Hark! The Village Wait line up. Gay was invited back into the band in 1994 to help ease Maddy Prior's vocal work load after Maddy had some vocal problems. It had gone well so Gay had remained in the band for this studio album.
As is often the case with the later Steeleye albums, the songs do not tend to last in the live set much beyond the the next album. There is usually one or two exceptions to this on each album and from Time so far it has been 'The Elf Knight' which has returned to the set in 2019, and the 'Song will Remain' which was not played live at the time but did feature 2006-09. We are also missing the set list from the 1st tour after the release of the album so will be missing some live appearances.
The “prickly bush” is familiar in English and Scottish ballads as the symbol of unhappy love. The real question is—do we remember the lessons learned whilst in the prickly bush?
The wren is known as the King of the Birds, because there is a fable in which a competition takes place to decide which bird is supreme. It is decided that he that flies highest is the monarch. The wren craftily hitches a ride on the back of the eagle and wins.
Also the wren was sacred to the Druids and the custom of catching and killing wrens at Christmas time would not be incompatible with this history of reverence. It would be protected all year and then ritually slain as a sacrifice at the appropriate time. As with all possible remnants of ancient religions, their meaning becomes obscured and their enactment trivialized, and so this song until recently was attached to the Christmas tradition of wassailing and the demanding of monies.
(5.44 Traditional. Child 286. Introduced and arranged by Bob)
2015 liner notes: 'An extremely widespread and well known ballad with many versions, some of which cite the hero as being Sir Walter Raleigh. Fundamentally, it is a story of betrayal. The black bear-skin was the cabin boy's covering at night and he wished to wear it as a disguise in the water.'
Appears on the Steeleye 2015 collection 'Catch Up' as well as a couple of Park Records collections ('Best of British Folk' and 'A Stroll through the Park'). Not played live but there are set lists missing from this period.