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Fairport Convention - The History Of Fairport Convention CD (album) cover

THE HISTORY OF FAIRPORT CONVENTION

Fairport Convention

 

Prog Related

3.90 | 18 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Who knows where the time goes

For many people, including myself, this double LP was an excellent introduction to the music of Fairport Convention. It has clearly been put together with a great deal of thought and passion, and the fact that it was originally sold at a discounted price made it irresistible.

Beginning with the sleeve, which originally bore a now long lost rosette, the family tree which adorns the outside shows the numerous line ups of the band over the period covered from 1969 to 1973. (Although this album was released in 1972, it includes a track from the then forthcoming album "Rosie".) This period was the most inventive and productive in the entire history of the band, resulting in legendary albums such as "Liege and life" and "Unhalfbricking".

As this compilation is an Island records release, the brief Judy Dibble period is omitted, the story starting here with "Meet on the ledge" from "What we did on out holidays". Thus we are immediately presented with the wonderful voice of the late Sandy Denny, ironically singing a eulogy to another band member tragically killed in a motorway crash. The reflective mood continues with the stunning "Fotheringay", a song about the castle where Mary Queen of Scots was executed, and which later became the name of Denny's short lived band.

From a prog perspective, there are three tracks of particular significance here. "A sailor's life" is a loose, meandering piece which runs to over 11 minutes, allowing Richard Thomson considerable space to demonstrate his unique skills. "Matty Groves" sets out as a traditional folk tale, before Dave Swarbrick sets off on a wonderful violin outing. "Sloth" returns to the more maudlin sound for a haunting nine minute piece.

The many remaining tracks cover an amazingly diverse range of sounds, moods, and indeed genres. We have Sandy Denny's heartbreaking ballad, "Who knows where the time goes", a song she originally recorded with the very early Strawbs. Then there's the raucous bar room sing along of Dylan's "Si tu dois partir". From a folk perspective, we have a couple of jigs and reels collections, plus more traditional sounding songs such as "Walk awhile" and "Bonnie black hare", the latter having an extremely dubious lyric!

The most beautiful songs is arguably "Crazy man Michael", a tear-jerking tale of love which was unforgivably left off the CD version of this collection in order to release the collection as a single CD.

During the period covered by the album Sandy Denny left, the band moved in together in a disused pub (The Angel), and Richard Thompson went solo (but remained in the Angel). The band also released their only concept album "Babbacombe Lee". What did not change however was the quality of the music. Every track here is worthy of its place on the compilation, this is one of the finest overviews of any band. Yes, the source material available was of an astonishingly high standard, but the compilers have excelled themselves when it came to both selecting the tracks, and in presenting them in a format which creates a superb continuity.

If you only ever buy one Fairport Convention album, this is the one to go for.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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