What an awesome week of posting records with multiple posts on this site. Here is another, my fourth post from Steeleye Span. This was a dollar. Steeleye Span is one of my favorite groups. Search the site for past posts if you want to learn more.
This was the bands fourth album and their first for Chrysalis Records. With this label and with the start of a classic lineup (Maddy Prior, Tim Hart, Peter Knight, Bob Johnson, and Rick Kemp), the band would achieve a successful run of records through the 70’s, hitting their peak. This album was also the start of their electric folk sound which would be more defined on upcoming records. This came out in 1972. The title comes from the medieval practice of setting the salt at the middle of the table. Whereas the servants and dependents were at the bottom end, the family and intimates would sit above the salt. The album cover depicts the band on both sides of the table.
As stated above, this album was the start of the mixture electric sound and medieval influences that would perminate future releases. That being said, it was a bit of a surprise that the top hit from the album was the a capella piece from the renaissance “Gaudete” which was sung entirely in Latin. The song was released around Christmas and was the band’s commercial breakthrough. It also landed them a spot on Top Of The Pops.
The rest of the album is more in line with the Steeleye sound which was developing with this album. Good songs include “Spotted Cow”, “Royal Forester”, “John Barleycorn”, and “Saucy Sailor”. As a side note, Nigel Pegrum would join the band on drums a year later to cement their sound as well as the classic lineup.
For a sample, in the past, I have went with songs that showcase Maddy Prior’s voice. However, for this sample, “King Henry”(Child ballad 32, Roud 3867), I chose something in which Prior has a backup role. I believe the lead vocals are handled by Bob Johnson. The song features the Loathly Lady motif which has been used in English, Scottish, Irish, and Norse storytelling. Basically, it is Beauty and the Beast in reverse with the female being the beast.
Excellent record which shows the evolutionary trajectory the band was headed towards. Satisfactory.