Teamed with Rick Kemp, Prior turns in her best non-Steeleye Span folk-rock performance, with heavy amplification, crisp electric guitars, and accordion for support. Her airy vocals and the heavy electric sound make this a superb adjunct to the best rock sides by Steeleye (Commoner's Crown, etc.), although this stuff has more of a contemporary feel, relating to Prior's Steeleye Span work roughly the way Dylan's best '70s and '80s stuff relates to his '60s folk and folk-rock sides, with a definite rock beat and pop music feel. There's also a strong social consciousness at work, with topical songs dealing with unemployment and privation amid love songs and a very playful cover of "Who's Sorry Now". (Bruce Eder, AMG)
Woman in the Wings is a 1978 debut solo album by Maddy Prior. It was produced by Ian Anderson, David Palmer and Robin Black. All the songs were written by Maddy Prior.
The first time June Tabor and Maddy Prior made a duo recording, it was released under their names and was entitled Silly Sisters. On this, their second album, Silly Sisters is the name of the group. Officially, it still consists of just Tabor and Prior, but most tracks also feature Breton guitarist Dan Ar Braz, Welsh harpist and keyboardist Huw Warren, and various other guests. As with their first album, the program is a winning mix of traditional and modern British folk music. An eerie and haunting arrangement of Andy Irvine's "Blood and Gold" is followed immediately by an almost African-sounding instrumental by Ar Braz; Tabor and Prior perform a brief a cappella "catch" by Henry Purcell entitled "Cakes and Ale"; and the traditional "Hedger and Ditcher" shows up in an arrangement that features both bagpipes and soprano saxophone. But interesting as things get instrumentally, Tabor and Prior's almost telepathic musicality and sharp, reedy voices are always at center stage, and the songs are always well served by the arrangements.
This was a match made in heaven: Maddy Prior, the sweet-voiced singer for Steeleye Span, and June Tabor, a darker-toned solo performer who was already making a significant name for herself on the British folk scene. The collaboration was blessed by the presence of most of that scene's aristocracy, including guitarists Nic Jones and Martin Carthy, bassist Danny Thompson, and mandolinist Andy Irvine. But the album's most transcendent moments come when Prior and Tabor sing together a cappella, as they do at the beginning of the gentle "Seven Joys of Mary" and the more astringent "Burning of Auchindoon," not to mention the hair-raising "Four Loom Weaver." A few of these songs require a couple of listens before they reveal all of their charms, but all of them are worth the effort.