Top critical review
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Original edition not worth buying
on 14 November 2014
Do Not buy this edition of the album, It is the orignial release but instead of buying this edition buy the deluxe edition which contains this same album disc and a second bonus disc for a similar price.
The 22nd album from Steeleye Span is Wintersmith. It is a concept album based on the book Wintersmith and other writings by Terry Pratchett.
This is a really great album with a load of originality. The songs are on top form and the atmosphere is brilliant. There is the line up of Maddy Prior, Peter Knight, Rick Kemp, Julian Littman, Pete Zorn and Liam Genockey. Then there are guest musicians Kathryn Tickell on Northumbrian pipes and John Spiers on melodeon. Also Bob Johnson joins in along with vocals by Terry Pratchett himself.
The Writer Terrry Pratchett is a big fan of Steeleye Span and asked the band to create an album based on one of his books Wintersmith. Effectively the book is aimed at children as its main audience.
The original story from the book concerns a girl who is being trained by a witch. The witch takes her to see a dark morris, or morris dance. The morris dancers wear black and welcome in the winter. The girl joins in the dance and meets the personification of Winter, the Wintersmith who mistakes her for the lady of summer. There is a lot more to the story and a clever ending (which I won't give away here). But the book does have a strong mythical folk and pagan theme connected to the seasons.
Steeleye together with Pratchett take these elements and create a great folk album with strong melodies and lyrics. It really is a great concept album. It also stands out amongst the previous albums by Steeleye Span.
The album was released at the end of 2013 and it was a welcome addition for any fan of Steeleye. The album was very successful with a lot of media attention and radio play on BBC Radio Two. The album was the first album by the group in years to chart. It only made 77 but it is a sign of how this was a good period for the group.
At the end of 2013 Peter Knight left the band and so this album is the last Steeleye Span album to feature him.
However the album has been re released here in 2014. Only twelve months after its first releae and there are four new tracks and some live recordings added. So do not buy this edition. Get the deluxe edition with more on it. Anyone who is a big fan and bought it the first time now has to buy it again to get the bonus tracks which are on a separate disc. Its annoying because if we had known twelve months ago that you could get this album and a bonus disc for the price of one album we could have waited. I even wonder if it was always the intention all along to get more money out of fans since there was room for at least three of the bonus tracks to go on the original release and they are part of the story.
Anyway if you didn't buy the album first time around buy the deluxe edition. Do not buy this edition.