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on 7 December 2013
One of Steeleye Spann's greatest. They have trappped the mood, myth and magic of the book and indeed of this early winter season. The Dark Morris in insidious and plays around your mind as you walk in the bitter wind and I love the Band of Teachers.
Maddy's voice is still pure and lovely, almost as though we were back in hte 1970's - weren't we young then??
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on 29 October 2013
A concept album in the 21st century? Yep, it can be done.

Several standout songs: "Dark Morris", "I Shall Wear Midnight" and "Ancient Eyes" are at the second listen already favourites. The core of Prior, Knight and Kemp make it obviously Steeleye with Zorn, Littman, Genockey adding a welcome dynamic that drives things along at a pace and adds a depth to the sound thats distinct from other Steeleye offerings.

It would have been nice to hear more of Knights playing - they tried out a few tracks on the last tour and the violin was higher up the mix and had a searing edge which was missing from the album, but it will make this Winter's tour worth waiting for.

Good stuff.
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on 19 March 2015
I saw Steeleye Span performing some of this album recently at Stafford (March 2015), and ordered the album immediately. It's up there with their best traditional material, with the added fresh inspiration of the Pratchett mythology.

The Dark Morris Song has been rocking round my head all day, with echoes of Thomas The Rhymer and Alison Gross.

'You' is beautiful, but with a creepy, obsessive Phantom-of-the-opera vibe.

Band of Teachers has a lovely jangly light touch, reminding me of Cam Ye O'er Frae France.

The Making Of A Man was Terry Pratchett's favourite, and I can see why. I'm fighting back tears (again) as this song goes through my head. Curious and geeky but so poignant.

The Summer Lady is a more traditional, turn-of-the-seasons folk song, but a vital resolution in the Wintersmith storyline.

Plus live versions of these, and more. Have a listen to the samples on Amazon for the MP3 version - highly recommended for Steeleye and Pratchett fans alike.
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on 14 November 2013
I bought this because of my lifelong (well, nearly) love of TP's books and the characters he created; I've heard of Steeleye Span and knew they were some sort of folk band, having as a child come across them in my dad's record collection, but was not really familiar with their music.
I've played the album a few times now whilst pottering about the house and it has really grown on me - I wasn't too sure about it on first listen, but always like to give new music a fair chance before deciding I don't like it. And this is why. "Wintersmith" is a grower; the melodies work themselves into your consciousness, and elements that jarred at first soften.
Stand-out tracks for me are "The Dark Morris", evoking perfectly one of TP's most memorable ideas in a sinister stomp redolent of ancient forests and primal magic; "You", a beguiling and melodic song which persuaded me (via Youtube) to buy the album when I was dithering over it; "The Summer Lady", ethereal and sweet; "Crown & Ice", which I feel has an almost campy element to it, somehow - it made me think of David Bowie as the Goblin King! - and, of course, the final track, "I Shall Wear Midnight", which is drenched in beauty, poignancy, regret, hope and love, and is alone well worth the purchase price.

An excellent buy, and I'd recommend it!
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VINE VOICEon 28 October 2013
I've enjoyed most of Steeleye Span's post 1970s output (Including their Maddy-less period) but always felt it was a bit too 'light'.

I'm not a fan of Mr Pratchett, so I wasn't overly excited about a concept album based on his work. However, this is probably the best Steeleye Span album for years, possibly since the 1970s. The general sound is much more like the epic 1970s material (Thomas the Rhymer, Long Lankin, etc) on tracks like "Fire & Ice". The playing is good, the band is tight, and the vocals are excellent. Peter Knight is stunning throughout, and there's an energy that's been missing in Steeleye Span for some time. The 'concept' doesn't get in the way, so don't let that put you off! This album most certainly puts the rock back into folk!
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on 6 December 2013
Being given a strong story line from which to develop their musical ideas has been a brilliant move for Steeleye Span. Pratchett's obvious fondness for their work means he & they have a strong affinity, and the band's style is a perfect match for the atmosphere Pratchett generates in his books. The tracks are consistency excellent both in lyrical and melodic terms, and I am not at all surprised that it has been driven into the Top 100 purely by word of mouth or viral spread of the news about the excellence of this album. If you like folk music and you quite like fantasy you will love this! The whole album is going onto my playlists for use in the car, and that is no mean tribute as I am quite selective and usually pick 2 or 3 tracks per album.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 June 2016
Lovely concept album, I thoroughly enjoyed it - and I found it quite emotional to hear dear old Terry Pratchett on The Good Witch track, as well as having fun trying to spot the many Discworld references scattered throughout the album. There are lots of good tracks, but Dark Morris is one of my favourites, and a great foot-stomper too! We Shall Wear Midnight is a real heart-wrenching tearjerker of a song, but beautiful too. The Making of a Man is very catchy and has clever lyrics - probably my favourite track, but there is much to like throughout the album. Maddy Prior is on top form and I loved her vocals on the To Be Human and Ancient Eyes tracks. Wonderful!
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on 19 December 2013
Very slow off the mark here and preceded by 47 reviews, I decided to live with the new album for a while and see the band performing some of it during Peter Knight's final tour with them.
"Wintersmith" works well and you don't need to be familiar with Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" books to appreciate it.
I felt that for a while, Steeleye albums (excluding the excellent " Cogs Wheels and Lovers"), became less homogenous than in former days, but this is a " band album" and the songs really fit together well as they relate the story of the Winter smith's attempts to conquer and rule. Lots of dark and shade contrasting with warmth and light and happily the good wins...because no matter what we're made of, if we don't have "strength enough to build a home, time enough to hold a child or love enough to break a heart"(The Making of a Man") we will be forever dancing " The Dark Morris".
Peter Knight's songs are gentle and poignant,with "We shall wear Midnight"surely a fitting epitaph to his 40 and further years with Steeleye. Else where, Maddy provides the fabulous (and funny) "Band of Teachers"which gives way to Bob Johnson's first of two songs. Although just a "guest writer", his vocals can be heard on "Wee Free Men", a great song which includes a lively burst of " The flowers of Edinburgh". As ever, Rick Kemp delivers the dark and threatening, here to be found in the title track and "Crown of Ice" (performed on the Nov/Dec 2013 tour) while latest band member Julian Littman, who has a very interesting and varied background, offers two excellent songs: "You" and the uplifting "Summer lady" demonstrating what a fine singer and lead guitarist he is.
The album seems to be selling better than any Steeleye album since 1976's " Rocket cottage" which for a band at this stage in their career is quite special.
It is sad that Peter has chosen to leave the band at such a successful time, but as he has more freedom to develop his own projects including the wonderful "Gigspanner", we would hope that rather than call it a day, the band will regroup and capitalise on their current strengths.
Of course, we all want that " bus" to keep on travelling, but whatever Steeleye Span should decide to do, their efforts with "Wintersmith" have paid off and they should be justly proud.
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on 18 January 2014
This is an album that is CRYING out to be made into a stage show a la "Riverdance"!
I heard "Dark Morris" one dark and stormy night at 2am coming back from Southampton.... It fitted perfectly!
I then dropped a (not so) subtle hint that I would love this for Xmas. The wait was exquisite torture!
I have now almost worn out the CD from listening to it. On my "Big System" it is AWESOME! Turn up to a comfortable level and listen from the start to the end for your first hearing. Don't be tempted to drop in and out of the tracks, just sit down and LISTEN to it from "needle drop" (that dates me...!) to "run out".
Some tracks will bring a huge lump into your throat with their lyrics, "You" being a case in point, it's a fabulous love song and you can imagine The Wintersmith courting Tiffany with this song.
My personal favourites are "Dark Morris" "Crown Of Ice" "You" and "The Summer Lady", if I had to pick just one track, it would be "The Summer Lady" as I'm a Summer person of the highest order. But that is not to say the others are rubbish... Far from it! The whole album is utterly superb.
Now as to Steeleye... I can remember seeing them live at Cambridge Folk Festival back in the '70's and being blown away by them as a "Folk Virgin" as I was at that time. It's lovely to hear Maddie is still in top form and her voice has, if anything, got better... The range is still there, but richer. The band is tighter than I can recall at any time since the late '80's, long may they continue!
So, as to my recommendations... This is going to be a "Must Have" album like "Rumours", "Dark Side Of The Moon", "American Pie" and a few others that I've got...

Buy it!

BTW. It's lovely to hear young (!) Mr. Pratchett telling us how to be a "... Good Witch..." More power to his imagination!

Respect to all involved in this project, let's have another!
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on 22 March 2014
Who knew, it's 2014 and the concept album is alive and well. In fact on the basis of this album it's very well. It's been a long time since I heard any new material from Steeleye but on the basis of this superb album that's my loss. Very clearly Steeleye have still got it. Just take a listen to "The Dark Morris Tune", it's a great tune superbly played with a drive and energy that are amazing and would do credit to a band half Steeleye's age. I'd love to hear this live. In fact the only flaw on the album is it needs more Maddy.
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