I must admit that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this gem of a recording from Steeleye Span’s virtuosic violin player Peter Knight and his henchmen Roger Flack (guitar) and Vincent Salzfas (percussion). Now, and without the merest hint of partiality…I used to play with Roger in The Tabs…I can let you know that this is one of those albums that once you put it on, you can’t stop playing. Considering he hardly reads a note of music Flack’s dextrous and decorative chord work within the band adds so much colour that you’d think he’d been sponsored by Dulux whilst Knight and Salzfas feel-good factor with their perfectly balanced sound means you’d be forgiven for thinking that the audience appreciation at the end of each track was possibly an overdub. The answer to that one is a resounding “No”.
With the addition of Joe Cauldwell’s didgeridoo on “Sharpe Goes Walkabout” or Hugh Crabtree’s Gauloises saturated melodeon on “Dave Robert’s French Waltz” complete with “La Vie En Rose” as a cheeky appendage this album pleases not only their spectators but also the listener with the merest hint of unabashed cliché. Finally, did you know that “The Water Is Wide” is one of the most covered songs in the traditional canon? I’ve personally got 35 versions…and still counting but to carry the tune off as a purely 7:05 minute instrumental shows you the quality of musicianship on display here and we in the ‘folk’ world should be justifiably proud to count this artful cartel as one of our own.
Artist Web link: www.gigspanner.com