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Salt

What a terrific book this is! It begins with an opening of mythic import where Guineau John, ancestor of black people, tucks two corncobs under his arms and flies home to Africa. His descendants, too heavy to fly because they have eaten salt, remain on the island of Trinidad, the novel’s setting. The book is peopled with memorable characters, such as Alford George, an awkward, ungainly boy who does not speak till he is 6, spends his days reading, and grows up to be a schoolteacher and then politician. One of Lovelace’s central concerns, expressed early in the first chapter, is how to deal with freedom after centuries of oppression. But this is no humorless polemic; it is a living, breathing novel, peopled with recognizable characters wrestling with all-too-human dilemmas.

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STEELEYE SPAN – BELOW THE SALT

STEELEYE SPAN - BELOW THE SALT
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Like Fleetwood Mac would five years later, Steeleye Span had lost its most celebrated members, Fairport Convention alumnus Ashley Hutchings and guitarist Martin Carthy, when they reconvened in a comparatively anonymous line-up that proved to be their most successful. This 1972 album found vocalist Maddy Prior and guitarist Tim Hart (who’d worked as a duo prior to joining Steeleye) taking the reins, with violinist Peter Knight providing an instrumental foil for the then-drummerless quintet’s electric and acoustic guitars. Prior’s regal alto and a carefully chosen program of traditional songs (including a medieval Christmas hymn, "Gaudete", that’s among the few rock songs extant boasting a Latin lyric) sustain the album’s decidedly pre-industrial mood. Below the Salt stands as a British folk-rock classic. –Sam Sutherland