Commoners Crown

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Commoners Crown
Music commoners crown.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 1975
RecordedSeptember and October, 1974 at Morgan Studios, London
GenreBritish folk rock
ProducerSteeleye Span and Robin Black
Steeleye Span chronology
Now We Are Six
Commoners Crown
All Around My Hat
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars link

Commoners Crown is an album by British folk rock band Steeleye Span, their seventh release overall and the second album with the band's most commercially successful line-up. It reached number 21 in the UK album charts.

The album's title refers to a sculpture produced by Shirtsleeves Studio. The sculpture is composed of hundreds of tiny human figures assembled to form a crown. The tiny figures also decorate the liner notes.


By this point, the band had evolved into a full-fledged rock sound, comparable to Jethro Tull during its folk rock phase[citation needed]. Several of the tracks feature strong rock drumming and heavy guitar riffs, but the material remains almost entirely traditional folk music, with the exception of 'Bach Goes to Limerick', a surprising[citation needed] attempt to interweave a classical Bach violin piece with a traditional Irish fiddle piece.

The lead track, 'Little Sir Hugh' is based on a medieval song about Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, a 13th-century boy supposedly murdered by Jews. The original song's lyrics are sharply anti-Semitic,[citation needed] but the band deleted the anti-Semitic elements.

In addition to 'Little Sir Hugh', the album's highlights[citation needed] include 'Long Lankin', the band's longest song to date and something of a fan favourite,[citation needed] and 'Demon Lover'.

'New York Girls'[edit]

The band continued the whimsical streak demonstrated on Now We Are Six by inviting comedian and actor Peter Sellers to play the ukulele on the closing track, 'New York Girls'. The band decided that it wanted a ukulele on the song,[citation needed]but no one in the band knew anyone who played the instrument. Finally someone remarked that Sellers was known to play it,[citation needed] and they decided to ask him, even though none of them knew him at all.[citation needed] To their surprise, he agreed, and the song became one of only two recordings he made with a rock band. The other was 'After the Fox', recorded with The Hollies in 1966 for the film of the same title.[citation needed]

Sellers also contributed some vocals spoken in character as Henry Crun and Minnie Bannister (originally portrayed by Sellers and Spike Milligan in the BBC radio comedy programme, The Goon Show). Many fans of the band found this distracting.[citation needed] On the original vinyl release, the song ended with Sellers saying "I say, are you a matelot? Careful what you say, sir – we're on board ship here." Subsequent CD releases omitted the quip, until 2009 when the 3-disc EMI box set A Parcel of Steeleye Span reinstated it.[citation needed]

The song is also unusual in that all the male band members (except Nigel Pegrum) take lead vocals on two verses each (Rick Kemp singing verses 1 and 5, Tim Hart 2 and 6, Peter Knight 3 and 7 and Bob Johnson 4 and 8). Maddy Prior sings the chorus. Despite this odd note, 'Commoner's Crown' is often cited[citation needed] as one of the band's best efforts.[citation needed]


Guest musician

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Little Sir Hugh" (Traditional) – 4:44
  2. "Bach Goes To Limerick" (Hart, Johnson, Kemp, Knight, Pegrum, Prior) – 3:41
  3. "Long Lankin" (Traditional) – 8:40
  4. "Dogs and Ferrets" (Traditional) – 2:43
  5. "Galtee Farmer" (Traditional) – 3:47
  6. "Demon Lover" (Traditional) – 5:54
  7. "Elf Call" (Traditional) – 3:54
  8. "Weary Cutters" (Traditional) – 2:04
  9. "New York Girls" (Traditional) – 3:12