One of the grand dames of the English folk revival, singer Maddy Prior has pioneered many styles of folk and folk-fusion. As a founding member of the rock-oriented Steeleye Span, Prior upped the ante on the historically-minded ultratraditionalism of the booming '60s Britfolk scene. Then, along with her Steeleye compatriots, she helped invent the ludicrous, audaciously proggy folk-rock fusions of the 1970s. These days Prior is largely a member emeritus of the Steeleye clan, mostly recording solo material on her own Park Records label. Here's a quick look at her catalog...
Maddy Prior & Tim Hart "Folk Songs of Old England" (B&C/Mooncrest, 1968)
Hart and Prior started their professional career as a folk-club duet in 1966. On this, their first recording, their banjo-guitar-vocals sound is a bit plain, and nowhere near the melodic resonance of their later work with Steeleye Span. The songs, however, are thoroughly enchanting, and it's nice to hear Prior's voice at its most youthful... Also, the understated delivery is charming and effective. Definitely a few notches above similar folkie-purists of the time, and you can tell Maddy Prior is just waiting to bust loose...
Maddy Prior & Tim Hart "Folk Songs Of Old England, v.2" (B&C/Mooncrest, 1971)
Of a piece with the first volume, although with perhaps a touch more maturity. Another great collection of odd olde English ballads, and a nice glimpse of greater things to come. Recommended!
Maddy Prior & Tim Hart "Summer Solstice" (B&C/Mooncrest, 1971)
Quite lovely. This was the first Hart-Prior "solo" album made after the formation of Steeleye Span, and it makes good use of both the available talent and their increased skill as studio producers. There are several glorious songs on here, including the playful, bawdy "Three Drunken Maidens" and "Bring Us In Good Ale." Prior's vocals on "I Live Not Where I Love" are every bit as haunting as the song itself, and the rest of this album is quite fine as well. One of her best.
Maddy Prior & June Tabor "Silly Sisters" (Shanachie, 1976)
What a wonderful record. One of the great '70s trad albums... Maddy Prior and June Tabor's voices and musical sensibilities are a perfect match, and the material they chose is also a delight. The elusive English traditionalist Nic Jones plays fiddle or guitar on most of these tracks. (Followed up by the 1988 album, No More To The Dance)... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Maddy Prior "Woman In The Wings" (Chrysalis/Takoma, 1978)
Admittedly, this pop-oriented album has some of Prior's more embarassing moments on it (at least as seen through a traditionalist filter...) Many of the instrumental flourishes go way overboard, ranging from Spinal Tappish electric guitars to an overly-eager flute (all courtesy of the lads from Jethro Tull), and ne'er has Maddy sounded more like Judy Collins. Still, there are some lovely tunes on here, such as "Gutter Geese," and if you are willing to forgive Prior and producer Ian Anderson their various pretentions and synth-proggy foibles, this disc certainly has its charms.
Maddy Prior "Changing Winds" (Chrysalis/Takoma, 1978)
Maddy Prior/Various Artists "Lovely In The Dances: The Songs Of Sydney Carter" (1981)
Maddy Prior "Hooked On Winning" (Interfusion, 1982)
Maddy Prior "Going For Glory" (Spindrift, 1983)
Maddy Prior "Hooked On Glory" (Park, 2010)
A 2-CD set that reissues a pair of early-'80s albums, Hooked On Winning, from 1982, and 1983's Going For Glory.
Maddy Prior And The Carnival Band "A Tapestry Of Carols" (Saydisc, 1987)
Silly Sisters "No More To The Dance" (Shanachie, 1988)
A nice follow-up to Prior and Tabor's first legendary pairing from 1976, although this time around the music is a bit glossier and less strictly trad. A couple of songs go over the line for my personal sensibilities, but these tunes are definitely the exception. On the whole, a lovely album. Includes a nice version of Colm Sands' delightful cautionary tale, "Almost Every Circumstance"... Worth checking out.
Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band "Sing Lustily And With Good Courage" (Saydisc, 1990)
Maddy Prior & Rick Kemp "Happy Families" (Park, 1990)
Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band "Carols And Capers" (Park, 1991)
Maddy Prior "Year" (Park, 1993)
Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band "Hang Up Sorrow And Care" (Park, 1996)
Maddy Prior "Flesh & Blood" (Park, 1997)
Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band "Carols At Christmas" (Park, 1998)
Maddy Prior "Ravenchild" (Park, 1999)
The more acoustic and traditional-sounding opening numbers, such as "Bold Poachers" and "Twankydillo,"are quite nice, and Prior's voice is remarkably undiminished and powerful. Inevitably, however, some more questionable and ornate pop/art song arrangements creep in and by the end of the album I was left a little cold. About half the songs are cool, though... Prior is quite the force of nature!
Maddy Prior "Ballads And Candles" (Park, 2000)
Maddy Prior "Arthur The King" (Park, 2001)
Maddy Prior "Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh" (2001)
Maddy Prior & The Girls "Bib And Tuck" (Park, 2002)
Maddy Prior "Lionhearts" (2003)
Maddy Prior & The Girls "Under The Covers" (Park, 2005)
Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band "An Evening Of Carols And Capers" (Park, 2007)
Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band "Paradise Found" (Park, 2007)
A collection of songs by 18th Century composer Charles Wesley...
Maddy Prior "Quest" (Park, 2007)
Maddy Prior & The Carnival Band "Ringing The Changes" (Park, 2007)
Maddy Prior "Seven For Old England" (Park, 2008)
Maddy Prior "Hooked On Glory" (Park, 2010)
A 2-CD set that reissues a pair of early-'80s solo records from English folkie Maddy Prior (best known for her work in the Steeleye Span band). This includes the albums Hooked On Winning, from 1982, and 1983's Going For Glory, which have been out of print for ages.
Maddy Prior "Memento: The Best Of Maddy Prior" (Park, 1995)
Maddy Prior "Collections" (Park, 2005)
A 2-CD set...
Main Celt/Brit Index
International Music Index