Hark! The Village Wait

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Hark! The Village Wait
Studio album by Steeleye Span
Released June 1970
Recorded March 1970
Sound Techniques, London
Genre Electric folk
Length 38:55
Label RCA, United Artists, Mooncrest, Chrysalis
Producer Sandy Roberton and Steeleye Span
Steeleye Span chronology
Hark! The Village Wait
(1970)
Please to See the King
(1971)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link

Hark! The Village Wait was the 1970 debut album by the electric folk band Steeleye Span. The album is the only one to feature the original lineup of the band, as they broke up and reformed with a slightly altered membership immediately after its release, without having ever performed live. Hence it is one of only two Steeleye Span studio albums to feature two female vocalists (Maddy Prior and Gay Woods), the other being Time (1996). A similar sound was exhibited years later when Prior teamed up with June Tabor to form Silly Sisters. Overall, the album's sound is essentially folk music with rock drumming and bass guitar added to some of the songs. The banjo features prominently on several tracks, including "The Blackleg Miner", "Lowlands of Holland" and "One Night as I Lay on My Bed".

The album's title refers to not the act of waiting, but to a "Wait". Waits were a small body of wind instrumentalists employed by a town at public charge from Tudor times until the early 19th century. A village, however, would likely be too small to employ such a troupe, so the Wait referred to here was more probably the later Christmas Waits, as mentioned in the novels of Thomas Hardy.

Over the years, the band has returned to the material on this album a number of times. On its second album, Please to See the King, they offered a new version of "The Blacksmith". On Back in Line they offered a new live version of "Blackleg Miner", and they offered a third variation on Present--The Very Best of Steeleye Span. On Time they reprised "Twa Corbies". "Copshawholme Fair" was previously recorded by Hart and Prior on their album "Folk Songs of Olde England Vol. 2" two years earlier. Copshaw Holm, otherwise known as Newcastleton, has been the site of a folk festival since 1970. Maddy Prior has lived nearby, just over the border in Cumbria, at "Stones Barn" for several years.

Among the songs on the album include the a capella "A Calling-On Song" (the first of many a capella pieces the band recorded), "Blackleg Miner", "Dark-Eyed Sailor", and "The Lowlands of Holland", which used variant lyrics from the most common version of the song.

The album was originally issued in the UK on RCA with the cover shown (above right). It was a one-off, and was not issued in the US. The cover for the reissue was changed to a silhouette of a town and was issued on UK Chrysalis and made its debut in the US on US Chrysalis in 1975.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "A Calling-on Song" (Hutchings)
    • Maddy Prior - vocals
    • Tim Hart - vocals
    • Gay Woods - vocals
    • Terry Woods - vocals
  2. "The Blacksmith" (Traditional)
    • Maddy Prior - lead vocals
    • Gay Woods - vocals
    • Terry Woods - mandola
    • Tim Hart - electric guitar
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
  3. "Fisherman's Wife" (MacColl)
    • Gay Woods - lead vocals, autoharp
    • Maddy Prior - vocals
    • Terry Woods - mandola
    • Tim Hart - 5-string banjo
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
  4. "Blackleg Miner" (Traditional)
    • Tim Hart - lead vocals, electric guitar
    • Maddy Prior - vocals
    • Terry Woods - vocals, 5 string banjo, guitar
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Dave Mattacks - drums
  5. "Dark-Eyed Sailor" (Traditional)
    • Gay Woods - lead vocals, concertina
    • Maddy Prior - vocals
    • Terry Woods - electric guitar
    • Tim Hart - electric dulcimer
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Dave Mattacks - drums
  6. "Copshawholme Fair" (Traditional)
    • Maddy Prior - vocals
    • Tim Hart - electric dulcimer
    • Terry Woods - concertina, mandolin
    • Gay Woods - bodhran
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
    • Gay and Maddy - step dancing
  7. "All Things Are Quite Silent" (Traditional)
    • Maddy Prior - lead vocals
    • Gay Woods - vocals
    • Terry Woods - electric guitar
    • Tim Hart - electric guitar
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
  8. "The Hills of Greenmore" (Traditional)
    • Terry Woods - electric guitar, vocals
    • Gay Woods - concertina
    • Tim Hart - electric guitar
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
  9. "My Johnny Was A Shoemaker" (Traditional)
    • Gay Woods - vocals
    • Maddy Prior - vocals
  10. "Lowlands of Holland" (Traditional)
    • Gay Woods - vocals
    • Terry Woods - electric guitar
    • Tim Hart - fiddle
    • Maddy Prior - 5 string banjo
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Dave Mattacks - drums
  11. "Twa Corbies" (Traditional)
    • Maddy Prior - vocals
    • Gay Woods - vocals
    • Tim Hart - vocals, harmonium
    • Terry Woods - electric guitar
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Dave Mattacks - drums
  12. "One Night as I Lay on My Bed" (Traditional)
    • Maddy Prior - lead vocals
    • Gay Woods - vocals
    • Terry Woods - 5 string banjo
    • Tim Hart - electric dulcimer
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Dave Mattacks - drums

Personnel[edit]

Guest musicians