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Fairport Convention

  • Fairport Convention
  • What We Did On Our
  • Holidays
  • Unhalfbricking
  • Liege And Lief
  • Full House
  • Angel Delight
  • Babbacombe Lee
  • Rosie
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  • Rising For The Moon
  • Gottle Of Geer
  • Bonny Bunch of Roses
  • Tipplers Tales
  • Glady's Leap
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  • Album Reviews |

    Fairport Convention

    Related Artists - Sandy Denny, Steeleye Span, Bellowhead
    Related Genres - Folk

    Fairport Convention 7 ( 1968 )
    Time Will Show The Wiser / I Don't Know Where I Stand / If / Decameron / Jack O'Diamonds / Portfolio / Chelsea Morning / Sun Shade / The Lobster / It's Alright Ma, It's Only Witchcraft / One Sure Thing / M1 Breakdown

    Quick breakdown of the band-members. Richard Thompson, lead guitar player, went onto become Richard Thompson. Vocalist Judy Dyble went onto join an early version of King Crimson. This debut-lp Fairport lineup was completed by Iain Matthews ( vocals ), Ashley Hutchings ( bass ), Simon Nicol ( guitars/vocals ) and Martin Lamble ( drums ). Formed in London Fairport quickly secured a reputation as an anglicised version of popular American acts such as The Byrds and Jefferson Airplane. Fairport Convention were accessible to gig-goers, whereas you'd have to wait a good while for a Byrds tour, for example. The Doors rarely ever appeared on British TV and those American acts just seemed so exotic. Substitute bands popped up in their place. The difference with Fairport Convention was they showed genuine promise. Richard Thompson ( such a young guy back in 1968! ) was an amazing guitar player and the twin vocal approach of Judy and Iain was effective. The bands rhythm section packed enough of a punch. Anyway, for this 1968 self-titled debut, Fairport Convention show hardly a hint of the style that made them famous. There's next to no British folk-influences at all. Richard Thompson was a fan of Gene Vincent, of Elvis Presley. The band picked up on Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and the booming American singer/songwriter trade. The LA flower-power scene was prevalent, of course. Thus, out pops 'Fairport Convention', the album. Stylistically, it's somewhat all over the place but we do have charms. Oh yes, charms!

    Two Joni Mitchell songs here, then an almost unknown singer/songwriter, especially to British audiences. Fairport prove themselves here, something that would clearly stand them in good stead, as great intepreters of others songs. 'Chelsea Morning' for example almost begins like a song by The Who. The vocals of Judy Dyble are very good here, they soften the sound and sit in the middle of a talented band grooving away. A talented band grooving away with terrible production values. Even recent re-issues do the band no justice, the mixing is erratic and the sound far from capturing the impressive live experience of Fairport at the time. Fairport also wrote their own original material. Popular revisionist history lends us to believe that Richard Thompson was the only talented band member. A simple glance at the writing credits sees that Thompson had 5 co-writing credits, Hutchings 4 and Nicol 1. The band seem to have no clear creative direction at this point in time, however. They verge from jazz-rock, country rock, LA rock parodies and never show their true selves. Iain Matthews contributes some good vocals, 'Sun Shade' is a gorgeous slow-moving song bathed in sunshine, whilst opener 'Time Will Show The Wiser' benefits from wonderful Thompson guitar fills. It's a good, very listenable album but does suffer from poor production and the fact that there isn't a single Fairport classic here. It's a set of competent, occasionally inspired, arrangements. They sound better at this stage as a covers act, a sign of where they had come from. We don't yet have too many obvious signs of where they were about to go.

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    What We Did On Our Holidays( 1969 )
    Fotheringay / Mr.Lacey / Book Song / The Lord Is In His Place / No Man’s Land / I’ll Keep It With Mine / Eastern Rain / Nottamun Town / Tale In Hard Time / She Moves Through The Fair / Meet On The Ledge / End Of A Holiday

    A quantum leap over the debut LP in every way. Sandy Denny ( vocals, acoustic & 12-string acoustic guitars, organ , piano, harpsichord ) joined the band to replace Judy Dyble. She brought with her years of singing old Scottish folk ballads. She was just that little bit older than the other band-members and had already recorded an album with 'The Strawbs'. She added instrumentally to the band, wrote her own material and inspired the others already in the band, primarily Richard Thompson. Thompson originals here, the driving accordian led 'No Mans Land', the west coast influenced pop of 'Tale In Hard Time' and the stunning 'Meet On The Ledge'. As much an improvement that 'What We Did On Our Holidays' is over the groups debut set, it still represents the sound of a band pulling in several directions. This would be the one and only Fairport studio album featuring the vocal talents of both Denny and Matthews, for example. Having said this, the tunes on which both Denny and Matthews appear on, Matthews really raises his game and they harmonize beautifully. 'The Book Song' is such an example, not much of a composition, yet the vocals blend so very well. Filler appears with the ( surprisingly? ) accomplished bluesy 'Mr Lacey', the sub two minute experimental 'The Lord Is In His Place' and the beautiful, closing instrumental 'End Of A Holiday'. Can a filler track be beautiful, then? Well, of course it can. 'The Lord Is In His Place' and 'End Of A Holiday' are inconsequential, yet both add to the atmosphere of the album as a whole. An atmosphere laid down right with the opening, classic Denny composition, 'Fotheringay'.

    Didn't we want our own modern classics to pass down? The lyrics are of prime importance, they need to sound right yet not rely on old, cliched uses of language. Sandy Denny cracked it with 'Fotheringay' and it becomes immediately apparent how much of a boost her presence in the band was. This is one of the most gorgeously delicate, wonderful tunes i've ever heard. Vocals so pure, clear and varying from utter soft carress through to more assured story-telling, always appropriately so. With her astonishing ethereal voice added to a perfect reading, accompanied by magically delicate playing from Richard, musical chemistry is seriously at large. A new song at the time, it sounds timeless, it sounds modern to this day yet also two hundred years old. Pure poetry and I can't speak enough of it. Second to last composition here, 'Meet On The Ledge' is now a perennial Fairport set-pleaser, hard to imagine Thompson was still in his teens when he wrote it. It's a clear signpost forwards to his later material, yet again, the band-chemistry is much in evidence. Matthews out-does himself matching Sandy's exquisite vocals. The band join in for the chorus and the song develops towards a sing-a-long ending with everybody clearly hugely enjoying themselves. An instant classic by a then little known group of musicians working in the shadows of far better known American artists. Speaking of which, the Dylan tune 'I'll Keep It With Mine' is stretched out over five minutes plus and given a beautiful vocal courtesy of Denny. The traditional 'She Moves Through The Fair' is a clear leap forwards for a song on the same album as 'Mr Lacey'. Richard plus band provide understated, liquid and flexible backing. Sandy provides a vocal of assurance and the arrangement is so good, this becomes a definitve reading of the song.

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    Elsa B e_l_s_a-b@hotmail.co.uk
    heard sandy denny for the first time recently as one of our coursework questions for AS level dance is to choreograph a dance to Fotheringay by fairport convention. i went straight out and bought the cd after our teacher played it to us. Its fab!!!

    Ambientman Detroit
    I am learning the greatness of Sandy Denny and Fairport as I write this. I have known this band since 1975 but NEVER listened to them until this week....Richard Thompson, yes, Fairport, No. Well, I finally gave it a try. It's unbelievable to me that there is still music this beautiful that I haven't heard yet. Sandy's voice was truly heavenly...a gift of God! Everything I've heard over the last few days I've loved! I went out and purchased their first 5 recordings! For me, Fairport is doing for early English folk what Sunlight Ascending did for me for modernistic post-rock music...that is, totally introducing me to music I ignored, didn't know was out there, and now I want to immerse myself in as much of it as I can...a fascinating journey for me...but I digress...I am intrigued by the interesting cover song choices. Nothing against Sandy's version of "I'll Keep It With Mine" but I was first introduced to this song through Nico and I must say I prefer Nico's ver! sion of the song...but the point is...it is interpreted so differently...AMAZING!My introduction to Fairport Convention was when I heard their live BBC version of "Suzanne"...another song done by so many artists...all done exquisitely but, that said, Fairport's version was very compelling to me...the staccato guitar riff througout...the ethereal vocals...brilliant. To bring this to today...I just heard a band called 'Fleet Foxes' that recall the brilliance of folk rock and harmony and groups like Fairport and Crosby, Stills & Nash...there is hope out there...we just have to find it! I will now recommend Fairport Convention to all I know who love music and even those who don't!

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    Unhalfbricking 9 ( 1969 )
    Genesis Hall / Si Tu Dois Partir / Autopsy / A Sailor's Life / Cajun Woman / Who Knows Where The Time Goes / Percy's Song / Million Dollar Bash

    Ah, three Dylan tunes, two Denny tunes, two Thompson and one particular traditional number that heralded in a whole new era for the group. This was drummer Martin Lamble's last record with the band, 'M1 Breakdown'? Fairport's van crashed on the M1 motorway, Martin Lamble was killed along with Richard Thompson's then girlfriend. 'Unhalfbricking' was pieced together by producer Joe Boyd, Sandy's mum and dad are the cover stars and Dave Swarbrick guests on 'A Sailors Life'. Two of my favourite Sandy songs are here, two of the very best Sandy songs. 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes' i've already discussed twice elsewhere on the site, so don't really know what I can say about it here. 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes' is my very being and soul. Can you improve upon perfection? The switching between loving and delicate sections to strong, powerful held notes at the end of certain phrases and back to quiet again is a thing to behold. The lyrics are great, which is a feature of her other original tune here, 'Autopsy'. 'Autopsy' is sang equally as well as 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes', although 'Autopsy' switches in tempo several times, seamlessly so. It's a song to listen to all day long. Of the two Thompson originals, i've never cared very much for this albums only possible weak point, 'Cajun Woman' which sounds like it would have been at home far more on either of the previous two LPs. Why? Well, it's a fun, good time piece of Rock n Roll, yet the band had developed so very much, it sounds slightly out of place. Great, fun playing on the track, though. 'Genesis Hall' is the other Richard Thompson tune here, beautifully sang by Sandy, of course. Took me a good long time to develop a love for this three minute, four one second tune. It really is a stupendous tune though, a carefully considered lyric and tune that sinks into you through repeated listens. The kind of song likely to pop into your brain out of nowhere during the day at work, to enlighten and delight you.

    What else? Well, the small matter of three Dylan interpretations, including once sung in French plus two then little known Dylan tunes discovered on Dylan bootlegs. 'Si Tu Dois Partir' contains weird/funny instrumentation, it's a version of 'If You've Gotta Go' and sung in French loses none of its power to provide fun. As if Dylan was only ever about the words, I love the fact Fairport took Dylan a little less seriously than perhaps certain other Dylan performers did at the time. Having said that, 'Percy's Song' is given a serious reading and a very soulful performance vocally from Sandy. Everybody takes a turn to sing on 'Million Dollar Bash', which is another grin inducer on an album full of emotions. 'A Sailor's Life' is on another planet, a dreamy, stunning jam. Starts so softly and Sandy appears nervous and tentative, and reportedly was when she sang the vocal. The band ebb and tide behind her, perfectly evoking the movements of a sea as the sailor loves and loses. I've mentioned every single song on the LP then? Yes, and what exactly are you going to DO about it?? 'Unhalfbricking' doesn't sing or shout or come round to beat you up, though. It's an album that sinks in, then stays with you. It contains some all-time classic tunes, some wonderful covers and 'A Sailors Life'. The perfect entry point into the Fairport Convention world, although if you don't like it immediately, don't despair, just give it time.

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    Stephen stephendfall@yahoo.co.uk
    Sandy sings Dylan better than almost anyone else. Only Roger McGuinn really comes close. In fact, a 'Denny Does Dylan' compilation is long overdue. Unhalfbricking is a great album that everyone should try to hear. The songs are excellent and it just SOUNDS fantastic. This is a good record to play to those people who say they 'don't like folk music'.

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    Liege And Lief 9 ( 1969 )
    Come All Ye / Reynardine / Matty Groves / Farewell Farewell / The Deserter / The Lark In The Morning-Rakish Paddy-Fax Hunters Jig-Toss The Feathers / Tam Lin / Crazy Man Michael

    Most influential folk album of all-time? This can be argued of course, but there's no doubting 'Liege And Lief' re-awakened a huge interest in folk music upon and after its release. It's perhaps difficult to place yourself in the correct context if you're not British and if you weren't around at the time. Certainly, nothing had been heard like this before. A whole album ( even the self penned tracks had the same feel ) of electrified British folk music. A favourite quote of mine has always been the tagline that accompanied adverts for the album upon its release. The first (literally) British folk rock LP ever. It was! It can be argued ( that word again! ) that it actually did invent British folk rock. The Animals did 'House Of The Rising Son' after all. Er, hang on. That was a British electrified version of an American folk song! Well, the tune was a traditional English ballad and the lyrics were written by Georgia Turner and Bert Martin from Kentucky. Anyway, enough about The Animals already. Dave Swarbrick became a full-time Fairport member for this album and although the line-up only lasted this one LP, this can be seen as the classic Fairport line-up. A brief note about the original tunes here. Of the eight songs, three were credited to Fairport members. There's some debate concerning the tune for Thompson's 'Farewell, Farewell' and whether it was actually an adaption of a tradditional tune, but the lyrics were certainly Thompson's. Elsewhere, Denny and Hutchings get a co-write each for 'Come All Ye' and Thompson and Swarbrick get a co-write each for 'Crazy Man Michael'. One big plus surrounding 'Liege And Lief' for me is how perfectly rounded an album it is. Credit perhaps is due to producer Joe Boyd, yet the running order and the seamless nature of it all is persuasive. Influential? In terms of Fairport Convention themselves, fractures and splinters and downright disintegration of the 'Liege And Lief' line-up ensured they could never exactly repeat the feel and tone of this LP, yet the often overlooked instrumental medley here is clearly a signpost to Fairport's work on the immediate albums that followed. It's a fun piece that showcases the astonishing muscianship within the band at the time.

    The album opens of course with 'Come All Ye', a song before I knew better I assumed was a tradittional song. That's the beauty of the original compositions here, they really do fit in and are now truly modern folk classics. 'Come All Ye' is a rousing, perfect opener with lovely little fiddle parts from Swarbrick. Going back to my mention of the running order and the seamless nature of the LP. 'Reynardine' comes across almost like a b-side to 'A Sailors Life' if that makes any sense, yet it's a wonderful showcase for the vocals of Sandy Denny. So, 'Matty Groves' arrives, possibly the finest eight minutes eight seconds of Fairport Convention, full stop. 'Farewell, Farewell', the Thompson tune, always sounds to me like Sandy Denny owns this tune. The delicate little Thompson guitar patterns perfectly compliment the vocals of Sandy, yet her vocal here? It's absolutely beautiful, gorgeous, any other lovely words you can think of. Yeah, it's a pint of ale and fish and chips. It's that good. 'Tam Lin' follows the pattern set by 'A Sailors Life' and continued by 'Matty Groves' and bursts out delirious instrumentally half way through. Controlled delirious musicianship. 'Liege And Lief' is such a happy album. Solid work from new Fairport drummer Dave Mattacks, by the way. Just realised I hadn't mentioned him so far, and I really should mention him somewhere. Finally? 'Crazy Man Michael', a tune which quietens the fun and frivolity and closes the album absolutely perfectly. Seamless, well put together album? Too right it is. Too right it is. Now, where's that pint?

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    Philthy Phil philthyphil@ntlworld.com
    The only way you could improve this album would be to add A Sailor's Life and Who Knows Where the Time Goes from their previous album. Personally, I bought both (vinyl and CD). Sandy's voice never sounded better than on this album. Nobody ever came close to the perfect mixture of beauty and pain in her voice. You can hear the tears fall as she sings. Richard Thompson is the best guitarist ever. When he and Sandy left FC after this album the world lost something irreplacable. When I feel depressed, I listen to this and it cheers me without fail. When I don't feel depressed, I listen to it anyway. If I've gone a month without hearing this record since I first bought it in 1978 (aged 16), I don't know when it was. I once sat in a traffic jam in Athens (Greece, not Georgia!) and Matty Groves was playing on the cassette player in the car next to me. I called across to the other driver, "Hey, Fairport Convention!" He answered in Greek. ! At the time I spoke about 10 words in the language, 2 of which were Kala (good) and Poly (very). He spoke no English. Our conversation consisted of, "Sandy Denny, poly kala!" "Richard Thompson, poly kala!" "Dave Swarbrick, poly kala!" etc.... thankfully, the traffic jam kept us next to each other for the whole song and most of the way through Farewell Farewell. This deserves an 11, if not a 12. If this music doesn't grab your soul by it's sensitive bits, you have no soul.

    Baron Toronto
    Quite agree with your sentiments. It should be noted that the song "Farewell Farewell" has such a traditional feel to it partly because it uses a traditional tune. It is the tune that Andy Irvine used for the song "Willie O'Winsbury" when he recorded it with Sweeney's Men (who were a significant influence on FC). Curiously both the words and music are credited to Thompson/Swarbrick on L&L. While it is a pity that Denny left the band after only one "traditional" album, her departure did unleash the vocals of Swarb, Thompson and Nicol all of whom I love as singers!

    david ryan nor.cal
    A brilliant album. Have been listening to it daily for weeks now. serious 10! even with the relatively weak 'reynardine'. On my version I replaced reynardine with a sailor's tale and threw the outtake 'Quiet Joys of Brotherhood [take 4]' on after tam lin [highly recommended btw] and switched farewell, farewell with Crazy Man Michael. Despite being over 40 I missed out on Fairport and RT till a few years ago I started listening to RT. Loved it so much I got his box set and then finally dived into the early fairport catalog. To my ears= which grew up on prob rock - especially the british stuff - Fairport with Liege and Lief invented not just folk rock but also set the tone and stage for Tull [originally a blues outfit] Yes, Genesis [originally pop songwriters] and so on. Go ahead and listen to their respective pre 1970 [i.e. liege and lief] discs and then tell me Fairport did not rock their world? I should throw zep and their heavily acous! tic 3rd album of 1970 in as well. And as soon as that was done - who did they ask to sing??

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    Full House( 1970 )
    Walk Awhile / Doctor Of Physick / Dirty Linen / Sloth / Sir Patrick Spens / Flatback Caper / Poor Will & The Jolly Hangman / Flowers Of The Forest

    First of all, lineup changes. Founder member Ashley Hutchings left for Albion Band and 'Morris On' fame. Sandy Denny leaves for Fotheringay and an acclaimed solo career. Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol and Dave Swarbrick pick up the pieces and let's face it, following 'Liege and Lief' was never going to be easy at the best of times. They made a decision to handle the vocals themselves and have a lads band, Dave Pegg arriving to take up bass-guitar duties in place of Ashley. This particular incarnation of Fairport Convention were known for their superb live shows and the duelling between Swarbrick and Thompson in particular. This also translates well to the album, Swarbrick and Thompson are a joy to behold. The vocals also are surprisingly decent, they all come across as accomplished singers. Dave Swarbrick for example has a distinctive and memorable voice that suits the direction Fairport were moving in. Instrumentally, 'Full House' hits home hard, breath-taking performances all round, Dave Pegg more than able to keep up with the other guys as Thompson/Swarbrick try to outshine each other to thrilling effect. In fact, the only criticism of this wonderful album that I can think of is that it's almost too intense a listen at times. Even when 'Sloth' arrives to slow down the pace, it's just such an intense, emotion packed piece. Brilliant fiddle and guitar solo's arrive riding through the middle before the vocals swing back into place. Thompson's playing is particularly notable, alternating between stabbing, short bursts flowing seamlessly into lengthier fluid lines. 'Sloth' is such a special track that it's difficult to easily describe. One word will do in summary, 'wow'.

    A word of praise for the instrumental ‘Dirty Linen’ and the Thompson penned ‘Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman’. Every track is worthy of praise, these two will give you an idea what to expect from ‘Full House’. Following the dark ‘Doctor Of Physick’, ‘Dirty Linen’ begins in similarly dark and grimy fashion. Dirt under the fingernails, indeed. It’s a three or four part tune, though. It suddenly bursts into a deliriously exciting happy section, changes again and handclaps appear during the final section and this listeners grin is always wide. ‘Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman’ is a clear signpost towards the solo career of Thompson, a solid impressive tune with a very decent indeed guitar solo from Thompson in the final third. ‘St Patrick Spens’ is another wonderful listen, but I’m going to stop right now. ‘Full House’ took awhile to impress me and of course, the vocals of Sandy Denny are always going to be missed. It would have ended up a very different album with Sandy on board, however. As it is, ‘Full House’ is a very electrifying and muscular set of songs, always astonishingly well played. It’s a moving album and flies like a dream through it’s eight songs. There were seven on the original LP, recent CD editions restoring the album to how it was originally intended. It’s a brilliant album and it’s very, very nearly that rare beast, a perfect 10/10.

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    philthy Phil philthyphil@ntlworld.com
    It's strange, but I always thought that the album Angel Delight came between Liege and Lief and this one - I was going to correct you but I just checked on 2 sites and I am completely wrong! That probably explains why Richard Thompson left the band for 1 album then returned - ie. He didn't! He stayed for 1 more album and then left. Thanks for putting me straight. 2 points: First, Dirty Linen is actually a medley of 4 tunes - Last Night's Fun / Paddy On The Railroad / Drops Of Brandy / Poll Ha'penny - hence it's varied nature. And second, Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman was removed from the original vinyl pressing at the last minute at RT's request. I assume you reviewed a CD copy. (Thanks to the Expletive Delighted site for that info.)

    Colin Banks colinbanks@tesco.net
    Excellent though Full House is - certainly deserving to be in the best run of FC albums, I have to disagree with you that it rates above Liege and Lief. Certainly Unhalfbricking, L&L and Full House rate as an amazing sequence of recorded material, but without doubt L&L is the stand out, followed by Unhalfbricking and then 'House' - I would rate them 9.5, 10, 9. I have followed FC ever since Unhalfbricking but have always felt that they missed the female voice when Sandy left - I suppose, not just the female sound, but I suppose missed her voice specifically - what a joy it is. She did return for Rising for the Moon - another lovely piece of work by the band. One Cropredy - you know when FC share the stage with guests - they had Julianne Regan from 'All About Eve' perform with them and I immediately felt that they had captured their complete sound again. Unfortunately she never did it again, nor joined up, as I hoped she would, when 'Eve" broke up. Shame - it really did sound! (almost) perfect again. I'm surprised your reviews of FC stop so early in their career. Other albums I would really recommend a long listen to are 'Rising for the Moon', 'Nine', 'Glady's Leap', Red & Gold' and 'Jewel in the Crown'.

    Shirley Souter Maidenhead
    I recently saw Fairport play live, and went out and bought ‘Liege and lief’ and full house on cd. Played the former first off and was impressed especially by Sandy Denny’s singing. She fully deserves her reputation. When I played ‘Full house’ I wasn't expecting it to be as good but I have to say i've been totally blown away by it and prefer it to ‘Liege and lief‘. The 2 albums are very different, so difficult to compare really, but the plain but strong singing, superb playing and great tunes on ‘Full house’ have to get my vote. My copy of the cd includes the magnificent 'Now be Thankful' which is icing on the cake! How odd that it was only out as a single for all that time. Also, I can't understand why Richard Thompson wanted ‘Poor will and the Jolly Hangman’ to be left off the album, to me it's one of the best tracks.

    Thomas Shea autumnspan@aol.com
    Full House quickly became one of my favorite albums. Like many, I couldn't imagine the band without Denny, but I have to say this effort is remarkable. Swarbrick's vocals are perfect for the style, and his fiddle screams with passion. Thompson's guitar is spectacular.I regret that I had no knowledge of this band in its heyday. Even in 70,at the ripe age of ten when Full House was released, I'm sure I would have been a huge fan.

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    Angel Delight 8 ( 1971 )
    Lord Marlborough / Sir William Gower / Bridge Over the River Ash / Wizard of the Worldly Game / Journeyman's Grace / Angel Delight / Banks of the Sweet Primroses / Instrumental Medley: The Cuckoo's Nest-Hardiman the Fiddler-Papa Stoor / Bonny Black Hare / Sickness & Diseases

    Simon Nicol steps up to assume lead guitar duties following the departure of the mighty Richard Thompson. The loss of Thompson was always going to have an impact on the band and this occurs in a number of ways. There’s less instrumental dexterity on display throughout the album, Fairport very rarely reaching for the same duelling sound that so thrilled on the ‘Full House’ LP. Writing duties are shared between the band and trad arr, although Swarbrick takes the lions share when it comes to providing original compositions. Thank the lord Swarbrick didn’t leave at the same time as Richard or we may not have had a Fairport Convention to enjoy at all. I listen out for Swarb’s parts on the LP, I like Swarb. ‘The Journeyman’s Grace’ features a Thompson co-writing credit, obviously the tune worked on before he left the band. Coincidently ( although probably not ) it’s ‘Journeyman’s Grace’ that more resembles the style offered up on ‘Full House’ including ( yes! ) a little guitar/fiddle duelling instrumental break, too. Truth be told, Simon Nicol ably deputises in one sense, eg, the band sound much the same as they did before. It’s just the arrangements by and large seem less impressive, particularly the guitar parts. I guess this is no great surprise under the circumstances. Having said all of this and given the fact Fairport had indeed lost key members left right and centre, ‘Angel Delight’ remains a very strong work.

    I don’t know if this is true and I can’t check now because I lost fifteen years worth of music magazines last time I moved house, but I swear I read a quote from Swarb to the effect the record company wanted a single and they ended up with an album of potential singles. If this is true it may help explain the strong quality of ‘Angel Delight’ overall. The title track would have made for a fine single in any case, an original composition detailing ‘little adventures’ in the lives of various band members and associates. A effervescent tune with entertaining lyrics and a ‘la, la, lalalala’ section in the chorus. Elsewhere, strong compositions and performances arrive in the guise of ‘Lord Malborough’, ‘Bonny Black Hare’ and ‘Sickness And Diseases’. The instrumental medley on side 2 is nice and the three aforementioned songs are all strong, particularly the latter two. ‘Bonny Black Hare’ is dark and very effectively performed, ‘Sickness And Diseases’ ( also a Thompson co-write ) is a strong original composition. The remaining material is always interesting, yet ‘Angel Delight’ simply lacks the true highpoints of previous LPs and also lacks the flow ‘Full House’, ‘Liege And Lief’ or even ‘Unhalfbricking’ displayed.

    Still, if it even needs reiterating again, take talents as big as Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson out of any band and they’re gonna struggle. Lead vocalist and lead guitar player? Let’s see how well U2 manage without Bono or The Edge! Doesn’t even bear thinking about, does it? I like U2, but I’d rather listen to ‘Angel Delight’ than half of U2s back-catalogue. It’s called strength in depth, something Fairport certainly had, otherwise the enjoyable ‘Angel Delight’ may never have been. It’s quite remarkable when you think about it all.

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    Joe Moss
    For me one of the weaker of the early Fairport offerings. I believe Swarb's comment may have related to "Rosie" rather than this one, but stand to be corrected!

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    Babbacombe Lee 8 ( 1971 )
    Johns reflections on his boyhood, his introduction to Miss Keyes and The Glen, his restlessness and his struggles with his family, finally successful, to join the navy / This was the happiest period in his life. All looked set fair for a career until he was stricken with sickness and invalidated out of his chosen niche in life. Reluctantly and unhappily he turned to a number of menial occupations and finally returned to the services of Miss Keyes / Tragedy now strikes hard. The World's imagination is caught by the brutal senselessness of the apparent crinimal who slays his kind old mistress / John was hardly more than a bewildered observer at his own trial, not being allowed to say more than a few words. The tides of fate wash him to the condemned cell where he waits three sad weeks for his last night on earth / When it comes, he cannot sleep, but when he does, a strange prophetic dream comes to him, and helps him to bear the strain of his next day's ordeal as scaffold and its crew try in vain three times to take his life

    John 'Babbacombe' Lee survived three attempted hangings after serving in the navy then being convicted of the murder of his employer Emma Keyse in Babbacombe Bay near Torquay. The evidence was circumstantial yet he was indeed sentenced to hang. Three attempts were made and failed, the trap door of the scaffold failing. After release from Jail, he told his story, Dave Swarbrick subsequently discovering a series of old newspaper articles about him. Oh, in case you were wondering, what's above in the smaller print is indeed the LP/CD tracklisting, although recent remasters have given the individual parts of each of the five sections 'proper' song titles instead. A few words, 'Babbacombe Lee' was very much Swarbrick's baby and almost all of the pieces are self-composed, original compositions. The albums commercial failure put pay to both this line-up and the groups future as a creatively explorative, imaginative ongoing group. Island Records apparently lost interest, although the album was received very well by the critics. It's going to be fairly difficult for me to go into detail about the individual sections presented here, but let's give it a try. The first part 'Johns reflections', after a brief intro concerned with John Lee's sentencing, moves us into great ensemble playing, considered and with superb arrangements. Swarb sings the lead, the band harmonise very nicely behind him and it appears, after the transitional 'Angel Delight', that the post Thompson Fairport have found their place. Nicol also takes some of the lead vocal parts during the latter half of 'Johns Reflections', suddenly we forget all about Richard Thompson as this opening six minute sequence flows beautifully between it's varying segments. Virtuoso playing, the arrangements, the lovely harmonies and the emotional swings. The second, ten minute segment of the album, 'This was the happiest period' has a proper, swaying and obviously, utterly appropriate folk 'merrily, merrily' indeed as John gets into the navy. Seven minutes into 'This Was The Happiest Period...', we get the bouncy 'John Lee' anthem, three minutes of folk rock pop and Swarbrick at his composing finest. Had only the album sold at all, the future of the band was safe in his hands, no question. Subsequent commercial failure and further line-up changes obviously would muddy the waters and Fairport, as I’ve said, were no longer any kind of priority for their record label. Changing of tides, and all of that ugly business.

    Parts three and four of the album generally slow down proceedings slightly, beautiful singing and captivating lyrics flowing from all quarters. Moving onto the final, thirteen minute closing sequence, we get more slow-tempo as John dreams, this particular part at close to eight minutes does tend to drag whereas the majority of the album has no problems flying past most enjoyably. The remaining five minutes or so close the album satisfyingly enough, yet after such a bright beginning there's no doubt in my mind that 'Babbacombe Lee' does indeed run out of steam as it progresses. The concept of the album is a very nice idea, yet not always executed as seamlessly as it may have been, the problem there lies in the transitions between the various songs within songs. Yet, within 'John Was Hardly More Than...', for example, which I’ve glossed over by saying the album 'slows down', there's some terrific moments, some wonderful playing involved. Ultimately, 'Babbacombe Lee' is a laudable album more than it's a repeat playably enjoyably album, yet with the improvements this line-up ( stability being one of them ) had made over 'Angel Delight', the same grade of '8' seems fair enough. Two strong LPs by a line-up of the band many commentators in the glossier commercial ends of the music press tend to overlook or too easily dismiss. Fans of folk and folk-rock in general will find much to admire and also enjoy within the grooves of both 'Angel Delight' and 'Babbacombe Lee'.

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    Rosie 7 ( 1973 )
    Rosie / Matthew Mark Luke And John / Knights Of The Road / Peggy’s Pub / The Plainsman / Hungarian Rhapsody / My Girl / Me With You / The Hens March Through The Midden / Furs And Feathers

    If ever there was an album where the first three songs are the best, this is it. Fairport were not the band they once were to be fair, no original members were left by now. Dave Swarbrick was very much leading the band although Trevor Lucas ( an Australian folk singer! ), ex of eclection, also has a heavy presence in the writing and performing. The result of such changes is a slightly strange mix that doesn’t even resemble Fairport of a mere year before. Perhaps stung by criticism that the Swarbrick led Fairport played really fast to the detriment of the material, ‘Rosie’ is a far more relaxed affair. The playing is all still decent, though. Lucas proves himself to be an accomplished singer and guitar player. His main vocal vehicle is ‘Knights Of The Roads’ which highlights his voice well and isa nice driving, country-tinged rocker. Hang on a minute, what am I doing? Ah, searching for folk-music! Is there any here? Arguably the first two songs are. Definitely the two-instrumentals. ‘Peggy’s Pub’ is a jaunty little number with a whiff of sea-shanty. ‘The Hens March Through The Midden’ is the kind of track Fairport do in their sleep.

    To call ‘Rosie’ a transitional album is to do disservice to the term, but lovely moments do still abound, especially those first three songs. I’ve mentioned the enjoyable ‘Knights Of The Road’. ‘Matthew Mark Luke And John’ is deliciously weary sounding. The title tune with backing vocals not only from Linda Thompson but Sandy Denny as well, is the pick of the entire bunch. The finest Swarbrick composition I can immediately think of, it’s a gorgeous song plain and simple. His voice is sleepy and when the backing vocals chime in a kind of magic happens that occurs really nowhere else on the LP. It’s enough magic though. It’s enough magic to raise the entire LP to a respectable level. Other than ‘Rosie’ though the similar Swarbrick led ‘My Girl’ at least retains a sense of romance. Elsewhere, we’ve quirky throwaway material to make up the remainder of the LP and it’s been a strange LP. For all its easy-going laid-back nature, for all its lack of importance and for all its faults, this remains an extremely enjoyable listen. I do love the feel of the Swarbrick led numbers, a kind of loved-up lonely weariness that’s very affecting and charming.

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    Nine 8 ( 1974 )
    The Hexhamshire Lass / Polly on the Shore / The Brilliancy Medley & Cherokee Shuffle / To Althea from Prison / Tokyo / Bring 'Em Down / Big William / Pleasure & Pain / Possibly Parsons Green

    What did Trevor Lucas bring to Fairport Convention? Well, it gave Dave Swarbrick a creative sparring partner, which he needed to be fair. Swarb is the kind of musician that always works best in a group or a duo, although that’s not to take anything away from his virtuosity as a player. The problem ( if it can be considered as such ) with the Lucas/Swarbrick era of Fairport is that their respective styles simply don’t meld together well. Trevor Lucas plays and writes songs that fail to resemble folk music very much at all, whilst Swarb is rooted in the stuff. There’s little meeting in the middle and even singing together seems to prove a problem. Having said this, ‘Nine’ is arguably their best effort with Fairport. Like ‘Rosie’ it’s not an ambitious record, but it’s charm lies in this very lack of artful ambition. At least Swarb gets his speed back on ‘Hexamshire Lass’, a see-sawing delight that Monty Python surely ripped off for their ‘Knights Of The Round Table’ song in the ‘Holy Grail’ movie. A delightful instrumental follows Lucas singing ‘Polly On The Shore’, ‘Brilliancy’ with a bit of Cherokee thrown in for good measure. A great segue, The Good, The Bad And The Queen’s ‘History Song’ right into ‘Brilliancy’ by Fairport. New and Old versions of Britain, from cold, windswept echoes of The Specials right through to the past. Try it and see for yourself, both songs make sense of each other.

    Anyway, back to the matter at hand! Swarb also gets to sing ‘To Althea >From Prison’. This slow moving ballad has a few touches of utter class that raise it above mediocrity and point it towards heavenly bliss. ‘To Althea From Prison’ as well as being beautifully and sensitively sung by Swarb ( one of his finest ever vocals ) features a wonderful guitar coda. A guitar sound that replicates the early guitar sound of big faves in our house, Felt. This solitary guitar picking out notes, echoing loud and clear, like a church bell chiming in slow motion. The entire song has a very hymnal quality anyway which is only enhanced by Swarb and this gloriously slow chiming guitar that enlivens my very soul. It does. Music should be able to do this and I didn’t expect such a moment of bliss in one of Fairport’s less regarded LPs. Other highlights arrive. The sterling ‘Tokyo’ instrumental, the Trevor Lucas led ‘Pleasures And Pain’, wonderful vocalisations. I won’t go on all day. Suffice to say that without as many shining moments as the Sandy era Fairport, Swarb, Lucas and co have still managed to turn in an excellent, quality LP. It’s not an obvious, shouting and screaming for attention LP. It’s not mired in English ( british ) folk to the exclusion of contemporary trends. It doesn’t even embrace a listener, rather it warmingly welcomes them in for a cup of tea and conversation in front of a winter fireplace. The streets may have a sprinkle of white ice and snow, not enough to build a snowman you understand, but like ‘Nine’, some things are worth preserving with and being patient for.

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    Rising For The Moon( 1975 )
    Rising For The Moon / Restless / White Dress / Let It Go / Stranger To Himself / What Is True? / Iron Lion / Dawn / After Halloween / Night Time Girl / One More Chance

    The producer of The Who, Eric Clapton and The Eagles was brought in to mark Sandy Denny's much heralded return to the band. Somehow the result fails to soar as it might. Perhaps it's because she doesn't sing all the tunes. Perhaps it's because the band didn't have Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson, etc? Perhaps they just didn't have the tunes? Dave Swarbrick was the only member of the band that might have brought a little fire into proceedings, but with the Denny/Lucas axis present, he was somewhat sidelined here, bar his own couple of leads. Still, Sandy penned some absolutely beautiful tunes here that shouldn't be missed. Any Sandy Denny fans need to hear this album. 'One More Chance' may well be one of her finest compositions. I'd have loved for the full seven minute version to have been released as a single. It could have been done and might have brought some sales to the album, if not a charting single. Island Records lost interest in the band it's fair to say when 'Rising For The Moon' failed to restore Fairport to commercial favour. 'One More Chance' has playing that sounds like a folk/rock Pink Floyd. The piano and Sandy vocal both are absolutely wonderful. Her voice is more mature than the earlier Fairport days, she doesn't reach such high notes, but the slight huskiness adds a whole other quality instead. Thirty seconds in and shivers are sent right through me. The extended guitar work through the end of the track is possibly the best guitar work heard on a Fairport tune since the Richard Thompson days. With songs of this quality, 'Rising For The Moon' would be nothing but a success. Sadly, there are songs of rather differing quality here.

    Of the other Sandy Denny tunes, 'White Dress' sports a fine vocal as you might expect, 'Stranger To Himself' is a mostly solo Denny piece with small additional instrumentation. It's also a rather fine tune. Her other lead here, 'Dawn' doesn't really match her finest work. No sign of folk, it's rather middle of the road AOR Glyn Johns influenced rock music. Only the fiddle of Swarbrick sailing majestically through the middle of the track wins through. Trevor Lucas provides us with the great 'Restless', easily one of his finest songs. Johns production here suits Trevor and brings out the instrumentation present. His railroad tune 'Iron Lion' fares less well but at least it's no worse than 'Night Time Girl', an unusually poor Swarbrick offering that's only notable for being unusually country influenced. His 'Let It Go' is a decent song but it sounds like it belongs on a different album altogether. That's 'Rising For The Moon', title track apart, a superb Denny composition, a rather dour, mid-tempo affair that fails to sparkle. The band fail to sound like a band and most people have blamed Glyn Johns but i'd be interested to know other possible reasons. I guess it wasn't going to be easy to reintegrate Sandy when her style had changed so much. It's still a good album, don't get me wrong. The Denny tunes and 'Restless' in particular make it so.

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    Gottle Of Geer( 1976 )
    When First Into This Country / Our Band / Lay Me Down Easy / Cropredy Capers / Frog Up The Pump / Don't Be Late / Sandy's Song / Friendship Song / Limeys Lament

    By now, Fairport were down to a basic trio of Dave Swarbrick plus a rhythm section of Dave Pegg and Bruce Rowland. Numerous guests appear for what was originally designed to be a Dave Swarbrick solo record. Thus, Simon Nicol and Martin Carthy both add guitar to one track each, Bob Brady and Roger Burridge add backing vocals, etc, etc. In an extensive interview on www.innerviews.org, Swarb notes of Island Records decision to turn 'Gottle O Geer' into a Fairport release as follows Chris Blackwell, who to my mind is the richest, clueless, most unscrupulous pillock it was ever my misfortune to meet, had other ideas. Indeed. I do believe, although i'm sure Fairport fans will disagree, that 'Gottle O Geer' has received an unfair panning throughout the years because of the history that the word 'Fairport' has attached to it. Even the present-day line-up can't escape the past, so embrace it whilst also doing their own thing. It's something that it's forever tempting to do, compare one Fairport line-up to another. 'Gottle O Geer' is, in essence, a Swarbrick solo record in all but name. It simply doesn't fit in their catalogue comfortably, being a complete turn around from 'Rising For The Moon' or even 'Nine', for instance.

    There are two songs on this LP in particular that deserved a better fate than to sit on this unloved little LP. 'Limeys Lament' and 'Cropredy Capers' both are quite remarkable things. Both feature a prominent bass-led sound, that still comes across as surprisingly modern, almost disco bass lines sat in a folk/rock band. Both tunes sound superbly bendy and I like songs that bend. The instrumental 'Cropredy Caperts' sounds like a dance/folk crossover and seagues wonderfully into the traditional jig that is 'The Frog Up The Pump'. Now, this is perhaps the most satisfiying track on the LP, Swarb was never likely to let you know with a traditional jig, after all. 'Limeys Lament' is a deeply strange enjoyable offering that sounds like it would sit alongside Ian Dury material better than standard Fairport Convention fare. 'Sandy's Song' is a typically classy Sandy Denny composition and the opening tune 'When First Into This Country' rounds out the highlights, a decent excursion into country music, aka the Lucas era Fairport. So, 'Gottle O Geer'? For me, it's consistently listenable and contains no real stinkers, just a clutch of mediocre tunes sat around the highlights. It does however need something of real depth in addition to the pleasant yet ultimately transient highlights that already appear. By no means the stinker you've been led to believe, though!

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    Bonny Bunch Of Roses( 1977 )
    Jams O'Donnells Jig / The Eynsham Poacher / Adieu Adieu / The Bonny Bunch Of Roses / The Poor Ditching Boy / General Taylor / Run Johnny Run / The Last Waltz / Royal Selection No 13

    A good mixture of impeccably chosen trad folk tunes combined with a few originals. Founder member Simon Nicol returns to the fray, adding guitars and a few lead vocals. Not a big fan of his lead vocals myself, but it all adds to the mixture. Swarbrick remains in fine voice, determined to keep Fairport as a vital force, even though it seems very few people were listening at the time. They seem, judging by this album, to be strangely out of time, despite the few touches at modernizing these old folk tunes. The closing song is a jiggery poke of a fiddle folk-dance and most enjoyable, too. 'The Last Waltz' is joyous and anthemic, 'it's time, to...... GO' sings Swarb. Should have been the last song on the album, really. Continuing this looking at the album backwards theme ( maybe they should have reversed the running order? ) arrives the jumpy and melodic 'Run Johnny Run', which without doing any research i'm assuming is a Swarb original. Most good, too. It's great to have the underrated ( even by me sometimes ) Simon Nicol back, he adds great guitar and additional vocals to the tune. What else does the second half of the album have to offer us? Well, a so-so track called 'General Taylor', although ably sung by Swarb, falls slightly flat. 'The Poor Ditching Boy' could have done with a better lead vocal, and that's that.

    The first half opens with a jig before moving into a couple of folk/rock versions of ancient old folk tunes, 'Adieu Adieu' being the clear highlight. I might only being saying that because I love the Eliza Carthy version, but Swarb does well here with it too. Lots of clicks and speedy goings on. This leaves a monstrous twelve minute title track to fill out the album. Now, with Fairport, we had 'A Sailors Life', 'Tam Lin', etc, etc. We've had such great extended workouts. How does this fare? Well, to be fair as Heidi Evans at work says all the time, they try. They do try. Takes many minutes to get going. Tries to hold you in suspense. To be honest, it drags on! All we needed was one, really special track. The album lacks that, but does have more than enough other solid moments but to recommended to be added to any kind of comprehensive fairport collection.

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    Tipplers Tales 7 ( 1978 )
    Ye Mariners All / Three Drunken Maidens / Jack O'Rion / Reynard the Fox / Lady of Pleasure / Bankruptured / The Widow of Westmorland / The Hair of the Dogma / As Bitme / John Barleycorn

    This is Dave Swarbricks Fairport hurrah and the last album they would make before splitting up, seemingly for good. The lineup here is Simon Nicol (Electric Dulcimer, Guitars, Piano, Vocals), Dave Pegg (Bass, Composer, Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals), Bruce Rowland (Composer, Drums, Percussion, Piano) and Dave Swarbrick (Fiddle, Mandocello, Mandolin, Violin, Vocals). Fairport were at this stage contracted to Vertigo Records on a six album deal of which 'Tipplers Tales' was the 2nd and last. Vertigo by all accounts ended up paying them not to make records, something of a novelty for a record company you would have thought. The money ultimately enabled Fairport to split, the money each band member received likely the most profit any of them had made out of recording music. 'Tipplers Tales' itself sounds like a fully committed and viable band to me, the first half of the album traditional with the 2nd half featuring some homegrown Fairport compositions. The first half culminates with the eleven minute long Swarbrick tour-de-force 'Jack O'Rion' and let's not forget, Swarb had been with the band since 'Liege And Lief' - his hearing was going however and the 1985 Fairport reunion could still have featured Swarb yet he was busy with other projects and ultimately didn't like the material Fairport had concocted for that release. That is another story and shall be told another time.

    It's striking how modern much of 'Tipplers Tales' sounds, sorry, how contemporary. They may have been perceived as dinosaurs by 1978 yet the bass playing throughout the record is particularly impressive and flexible, Swarb is his usual brilliant self and the returning Simon Nicol helped the whole thing become cohesive. Fairport were truly back, which makes it something of a shame they promptly split up. Swarbrick and Pegg are the instrumental stars of the LP, showcased particularly well during the closing medley 'Hair Of The Dogma/John Barleycorn'. The whole album is enjoyable yet the reliance of traditional material with the new compositions being slightly less memorable doesn't place this record right up there. Still a shame they went, even though they ended up coming back. End of an era, Swarb - you were magnificent.

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    Glady's Leap 6 ( 1985 )
    How Many Times / Bird From the Mountain / Honour and Praise / The Hiring Fair / Instrumental Medley / My Feet Are Set for Dancing / Wat Tyler / Head in a Sack

    The comeback album, featuring Nicol, Pegg and Mattacks and soon-to-be member Ric Sanders who had the unenviable task of replacing the irreplacable on fiddle/violin. Swarbrick's voice as well as playing is missed, he had such a distinctive vocal and had after all led Fairport throughout the entire previous decade. The credits are interesting seeing as Fairport were essentially a three-piece. Simon Nicol - Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitars. Dave Pegg - Bass Guitar, Mandolin, Bouzouki, Double Bass, Vocals. Dave Mattacks - Drums, Drum Machine, Keyboards, Percussion. Guests included Ric Saunders on tracks 2, 4 and 5, Richard Thompson on track eight and a vocal from Cathy Lesurf (?) on track 6. The sound of the album is a tad eighties, but only a tad. Really, apart from Swarbrick being entirely absent this is very much as if Fairport had never stopped back in 1979 or so. Very weird, really. Mostly reliant on external compositions, Fairport did start a tradition of having highly thought of British folk singer-songwriters guesting songs to them. Here, it's Ralf McTell who donates 'Bird From The Mountain' and co-writes 'Wat Tyler' with Simon Nicol. 'The Hiring Fair' was also a Fairport/McTell co-write. Oh, album opener 'How Many Times' was penned by Richard Thompson! Yet, were Fairport really back or a charity institution other folk performers could stop by and admire for a while, dropping in for an ale then popping out again?

    'Honour And Praise' is a dull five minutes after a reasonably good opening brace of tracks reminiscent of Fairport gone by. 'The Hiring Fair' is another matter, a serious folk composition ranking alongside classic Fairport songs of times gone by, if lacking the same fire. It's still beautifully performed mind you, the keyboard/piano lines a really nice touch marrying well with the acoustic guitar. The first noticeable fiddle arrives during the instrumental medley, a mostly self-penned trio of tunes that are well constructed yet hardly rank alongside the old Fairport efforts at doing the same. Again, Swarbrick is missed however well his replacement does at times. 'My Feet Are Set For Dancing' is like something from 'Flasback' and the sound of an entirely different band. Cathy Lesurf has a decent voice yet this clearly wasn't the direction Fairport should ever have pursued and thankfully they never did again. Synth sounds permeate the otherwise acceptable folk of 'Mat Tyler' leaving Thompson to enrich 'Head In A Sack' with his typically distinctive sound. A lot had changed since he last played on a Fairport album, it's fair to say.

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    Expletive Delighted! 7 ( 1986 )
    The Rutland Reel-Sack the Juggler / The Cat on the Mixer-Three Left Feet / Bankruptured / Portmeirion / Jams O'Donnell's Jig / Expletive Delighted / Sigh Beg Sigh Mor / Innstuck / The Gas Almost Works / Hanks for the Memory

    Despite the artwork/cover stating 'lyric sheet enclosed', this second album from the reformed and reconstituted Fairport remains to this date their only wholly instrumental affair. Ric Saunders continues in the place of Dave Swarbrick and Dave Pegg and Saunders write at least half of the album. The closing medley features the return of Richard Thompson, guesting only guitar yet overall this isn't a very fiery album set - the up-tempo tunes generally are the more impressive, although the Ric Saunders instrumental 'Portmeirion' is certainly a worthy addition to the Fairport song catalogue. The closing medley is interesting in that it sees Fairport take on a number of classic guitar instruments such as 'Apache' etc, although really doesn't fit with anything else on the LP. At least 'Hanks For The Memory' is interestingly different kind of material for Fairport to tackle, much of the LP can be criticized for playing it safe, bordering on tasteful new-wave at times.

    Ric Saunders and his fiddle make an impressive entry to the LP however, 'The Rutland Reel-Sack The Juggler' almost enough to make you forget you are not listening to the mighty Dave Swarbrick any longer. It's a speedy and impressive opener is this and Fairport's habit of joining together different songs or melodies in mini-suites continues with the second track on the LP, 'The Cat On The Mixer-Three Left Feet'. It's at this point you wonder about the mixing and sound of the LP. The bass registers are almost non-existent, which is a shame, as it robs the album of much natural feeling it may otherwise have enjoyed. You can't hear the air in the room, a pity particularly with the atmospherics of 'Portmeirion' which really does have a lovely melody - this is a tune that literally floats through the room when you listen to it.

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    this page last updated 29/02/16

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