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Fairport Convention - Full House CD (album) cover


Fairport Convention


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3.67 | 72 ratings

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5 stars Right after the release of the milestone Liege And Leif album, Fairport Convention saw the departure of vocalist Sandy Denny and bassist/band visionary Ashely Hutchings. But all was far lost at that juncture as guitarist Richard Thompson proved to be an able songwriter more then gifted to compose songs, in partnership with violin player Dave Swarbrick, that easily fit into Fairport's "British folk rock style". What is profoundly different from the revolutionary last album is that all of the lyrical songs on Full House, save one, are newly written as opposed to Liege And Leif's reliance on rocked up versions of British folk standards. Indeed, Thompson's macabre Poe-like lyrics combined Swarbrick's music sound more "old world" then the songs found on Liege and Leif. But its the new found musical interplay between Thompson, Swarbrick, rhythm guitarist Simon Nicol, drummer Dave Mattacks and new member Dave Pegg on bass that really sets this album on fire. As both Thompson and Swarbrick were new to front man vocal duties and sound a bit tentative at times, it was probably decided to blind their public with their musical prowess. And lucky are we musicians and music lovers for their efforts.

The songs that are most impressive as a result are "Sloth", "Doctor Of Physick", and "Poor Will and The Jolly Hangman" (now restored to the album on the 2001 remaster) which delves into almost metal like riffing in the song's wonderful coda. I've never found a satisfactory reason for why this excellent song was omitted from the original album's release, at writer Thompson's request, but that's probably not necessary now. The album sound's perfectly complete with it's inclusion. "Sloth", by the way, is probably Fairport's most progressive song with wonderful guitar and violin interplay between Thompson and Swarbrick in the song's extended instrumental middle section.

Other moments of musical achievement can found on the now prerequisite traditionally based jigs and reels of "Dirty Linen" and "Flatback Caper" which both showcase Pegg's impressive bass playing along with Swarbrick's virtuoso playing of both fiddle and mandolin. Both songs are absolutely breath taking. To even out the somber tone of Thompson's lyrics, the band reprise Denny's arrangement of the traditional "Sir Patrick Spens" and rock it up quite a bit and display some wonderful round robbin band vocals. The same can be said of the album's lead off track "Walk Awhile" which Fairport still open their live shows with today.

Simply put, on a musical level, Full House is a slight step ahead of the ground breaking Liege and Leif but I cannot imagine someone loving one and not the other. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 for this classic prog folk album.

SteveG | 5/5 |


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