Hark! The Village Wait

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Hark! The Village Wait
Hark the village wait.jpg
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 is the debut album by the electric folk band Steeleye Span, first released in 1970. It is the only album to feature the original lineup of the band, for they broke up and reformed with an 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 "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". A Wait was 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 have returned to the material on this album several times. On their 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" had two years earlier been recorded by Prior and Tim Hart on their album Folk Songs of Olde England Vol. 2. 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 other songs on the album are the a capella "A Calling-On Song" (the first of many a capella pieces the band recorded), "The Hills of Greenmore" and "Dark-Eyed Sailor". The version of "The Lowlands of Holland" here uses 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 not issued in the US at that time. The cover for the reissue was changed to a sepia-toned image of The Leather Bottle Pub in Cobham; it 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, based on the tune of the Earsdon Sword Dance Song (Roud 610)[1]) (1:13)
    • Maddy Prior - vocals
    • Tim Hart - vocals
    • Gay Woods - vocals
    • Terry Woods - vocals
  2. "The Blacksmith" (Traditional) (3:41)
    • Maddy Prior - lead vocals
    • Gay Woods - backing vocals
    • Terry Woods - mandola
    • Tim Hart - electric guitar
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
    • uncredited - harmonium
  3. "Fisherman's Wife" (MacColl) (3:12)
    • Gay Woods - lead vocals, autoharp
    • Maddy Prior - backing vocals
    • Terry Woods - mandola
    • Tim Hart - 5-string banjo
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
  4. "Blackleg Miner" (Traditional) (2:46)
    • Tim Hart - lead vocals, electric guitar
    • Maddy Prior - backing vocals
    • Terry Woods - 5-string banjo, backing vocals, guitar
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Dave Mattacks - drums
  5. "Dark-Eyed Sailor" (Traditional) (5:59)
    • Gay Woods - lead vocals, concertina
    • Maddy Prior - backing vocals
    • Terry Woods - electric guitar
    • Tim Hart - electric dulcimer
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
  6. "Copshawholme Fair" (Traditional) (2:35)
    • Maddy Prior - lead 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) (2:38)
    • Maddy Prior - lead vocals
    • Gay Woods - backing vocals
    • Terry Woods - electric guitar
    • Tim Hart - electric guitar
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
  8. "The Hills of Greenmore" (Traditional) (4:02)
    • Terry Woods - electric guitar, lead vocals
    • Gay Woods - concertina
    • Tim Hart - electric guitar
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Gerry Conway - drums
  9. "My Johnny Was A Shoemaker" (Traditional) (1:11)
    • Gay Woods - vocals
    • Maddy Prior - vocals
  10. "Lowlands of Holland" (Traditional) (6:00)
    • Gay Woods - lead vocals
    • Terry Woods - electric guitar
    • Tim Hart - fiddle
    • Maddy Prior - 5-string banjo
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Dave Mattacks - drums
  11. "Twa Corbies" (Traditional) (2:06)
    • 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) (3:30)
    • Maddy Prior - lead vocals
    • Gay Woods - backing vocals
    • Terry Woods - 5-string banjo
    • Tim Hart - electric dulcimer
    • Ashley Hutchings - electric bass
    • Dave Mattacks - drums

Personnel[edit]

Guest musicians

References[edit]