© Folk Roots No.141
The last of theirs I bought was 'Below The Salt' and that's lain untouched for nigh on 20 years. Once they signed with Chrysalis they started getting too elaborate for my tastes - the likes of 'Thomas The Rhymer' put me right off. Happily the two versions of the band featured here (from '86 and '94: Prior, Knight, Johnson stay put, the rhythm sections change) had sharpened up no end.
'Blacksmith', 'The Weaver' and 'Jack Hall' have tight arrangements that aren't mired in past glories and 'All Around My Hat' (on which an obviously delighted crowd sing along with great aplomb) is far less crass than I remember the- single being. 'Misty Moisty Morning' and 'Spotted Cow' are as lightweight (and disposable) as ever; 'King Henry' has been simplified, but there's still a lot of scope for melodrama reduction there; 'Two Butchers' and Peter Knight's fiddle showcase are pretty much folk-rock as was. The ensemble vocals are used effectively and some leads (by Johnson I presume) lend variety to a set which Maddy Prior's distinctive tones could otherwise easily have dominated.
The crowd went wild and I, from the vantage point of a portable CD player in the spare room, quite enjoyed myself as well.
Park Records, prkcd 2
*Click here to see the cover & track listing.