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Fairport Convention - Gladys' Leap CD (album) cover


Fairport Convention


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3.16 | 15 ratings

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4 stars Glady's Leap, the first album of the reunited Fairport Convention is quite a good but not complete outing by guitarist Simon Nicol, bassist Dave Pegg and drummer Dave Mattacks, with only fiddler Dave Swarbrick not returning. Between the group disbanding in 1979 and this reunion album in 1985, Pegg picked up a lucrative job recording and touring with Jethro Tull but never gave up on the idea that Fairport's business as music makers was unfinished. And this album proves him right. With outside songwriting contributions from former member Richard Thompson and British folk stalwart Ralph McTell, the group sound absolutely reanimated on the songs recorded here.

Starting off with a catchy rocker from Thompson called "How Many Times" Nicol now assumes strong lead vocal duties in place of they departed Swarbrick, while Pegg and Mattacks remind us that they are one of rock's strongest if unheralded rhythm sections. The following song, McTell's "Bird From the Mountain" gives Pegg a rare and convincing lead vocal on this beautiful folky ballad before the group breaks into one of their majestic sea epics with "Honour And Praise". The acoustic guitar driven ballad "The Hiring Fair" is another classic Fairport time traveler of young love back in the age before steam. These four songs are stupendous and are followed by a classic Fairport violin instrumental featuring future member Ric Sanders on fiddle duty while Pegg and Mattacks lay down heavy grooves with fretless bass and heavy drums respectively on "Instrumental Memory '85".

And here's where the fun stops as the next song to follow is a strange club/dance song written and sung by a women named Cathy LeSurf that features synths, sampled drums and a funky R&B styled bass . I can only assume that the song is by a lady friend of one of the band mates. At least I hope so. Another excellent period McTell song follows called "Wat Tyler" before the band fall flat with an album concluding generic rocker titled " Head In A Sack". Even guest guitar playing by the great Richard Thompson fails to invigorate this song.

In conclusion, this album has many high points before it runs out of steam. A slew of impressive albums would soon follow in the 1990s, but "Gladys' Leap" is a fine starting point for this unique band's recording renaissance. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

SteveG | 4/5 |


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