I have been a fan of Steeleye Span since 1971, when I obtained their second album `Please To See The King'. Now, in 2011, the band has been producing great Folk Rock music for an impressive period of 42 years.
When I heard that Steeleye Span were going to do a series of concerts where they `revisited' the complete album "Now We Are Six", I had my doubts. Not that the original album wasn't good. On the contrary. It was (and still is) a great album and was a milestone for Steeleye Span in 1974. But the band's personell has changed a lot since then, and besides that, there were a few tracks on the album that - to say the least - not all fans were happy with. I am referring to the two children songs `Now We Are Six' and `Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and the cover of the Phil Spector song `To Know Him Is To Love Him', which did not fit into the Folk Rock concept at all.
But being a long-time Steeleye Span fan, I bought the album and I was very pleasantly surprised to hear this live registration of the classic album. In my opinion, most of the numbers sound even better than on the original studio album. Maddy Prior's voice has gained warmth an strength over the years. The arrangements of the original recordings are treated with much respect, and `Now We Are Six', and `Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' are appoached in a more serious way and sound far better than the original versions. Especially `Twinkle Little Star'. Maddy is singing not just one verse, like on the studio album, but several other verses as well. Combined with some beautiful violin improvisations by Peter Knight, this has turned into a real `Steeleye' number!
My favourite tracks are `Seven Hunderd Elves', `Drink Down The Moon' and `Long-A-Growing', sung by Maddy with much more power and emotion than on the original studio album.
Peter Zorn and Julian Littman, the `newcomers' to the band, are doing a great job and they 'fit in' amazingly well, as you can hear on the instumental `The Mooncoin Jig'. This almost sounds like a studio recording, but it is live!
I do hope that this `new' Steeleye Span will produce some studio albums soon.
The second CD contains a number of live recordings of long-time Steeleye favorites, but in my personal opinion, we could do without numbers like `All Around My Hat' and `Gaudete'. As good as they are, they are to be found on (almost) every live recording of Steeleye concerts and the band has so much more good material to offer...
All together a great album, and an absolutely marvellous live recording of the classic album `Now We Are Six.' The sound quality is of a high level too! So, go out and buy this. You won't be disappointed!