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Fairport Convention - Fairport Convention CD (album) cover

FAIRPORT CONVENTION

Fairport Convention

 

Prog Related

3.27 | 39 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The inaugural convention

A word of warning up-front here. Do not come to this album expecting to hear the folk roots of Fairport Convention, or to discover some long lost predecessor to Liege and lief. For a start, while Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol are present in the line up, there's no Sandy Denny, Dave Swarbrick, or Dave Mattacks.

It is not though just the line up which differentiates this album from what was to follow. The music itself is not rooted in the folk of the British Isles, but crosses the Atlantic to indulge in the pioneering work of artists such us Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. As a result, this album does have a folk flavour, but it is that of North American folk.

Original singer Judy Dyble has a pleasant voice with passing similarities to that of the great Denny. At the same time, it sounds very much at home in songs such as Mitchell's I don't know where I stand and Chelsea morning.

Some of the band members do turn their hand to song-writing, with Richard Thompson and Ian MacDonald (who soon became Iain Matthews, and should not be confused with other similarly named people) but the results are na´ve and prosaic. And therein lies the problem with this album as a whole. It simply fails to distinguish itself, and thus the band, from the many other artists of the period (especially in the US) who were creating a similar style of music. The songs are adequate and competently performed, but the band do not impose their own character upon them. While their confidence would develop rapidly, at this stage of their career Fairport were first and foremost a straight covers band.

Occasionally, we will get glimpses of the magic which would follow, such as the echoed flute section on Jack O'Diamonds, and the brief instrumental Portfolio which follows, but such occasions are all too rare.

In view of the tragic events which would follow resulting in the death of founder member Martin Lamble, the title of the final track M1 breakdown is hauntingly prophetic. The track itself is actually as close as we get to a jig, being a Cajun style romp.

The remastered CD version of the album includes four bonus tracks. These include a tasteful cover of Leonard Cohen's Suzanne where MacDonald (Matthews) presents a fine solo vocal performance. Also included is the band's first single from 1967, If I had a ribbon bow. This beautiful melody dating from the 1930's suits Dyble's voice perfectly, this rendition being a hidden gem from the late 60's. The final track, Reno Nevada may be poorly recorded, but it is an exciting piece of early indulgence by the band, with a great guitar jam.

In all, an album which is primarily of historical interest, and even then in the context of the band rather than the genre they later defined.

Incidentally, the band's name comes from the name Simon Nicol's parent's house, where the band would rehearse.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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