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Fairport Convention - Fame And Glory CD (album) cover

FAME AND GLORY

Fairport Convention

 

Prog Related

3.17 | 7 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Alan Simon featuring Fairport Convention (and others)

This album is very unlike any other Fairport Convention album. Indeed, in a way this is not even a proper Fairport Convention album at all. All the music was written or co-written by French songwriter Alan Simon and the members of Fairport Convention were (among many musicians) recruited by Simon to play for him on a long serious of concept albums he had written about the King Arthur legend, called Excalibur. Fame And Glory is, as far as I understand, a collection of material from several of these Excalibur projects spanning the years 1998- 2008.

Hence, Fame And Glory is, like Babbacombe Lee (according to the sleeve, Simon's personal introduction Fairport Convention), Tippler's Tales and Jewel In The Crown, a concept album. The theme of King Arthur and his knights of the round table lends itself perfectly to concept albums and the theme is indeed common among Prog bands and artists. Rick Wakeman's illustrious King Arthur album is probably the best example.

The sound of Fame And Glory is far more Celtic than on any other Fairport album. Unusually, for Fairport Convention, flute is a dominant instrument throughout the album. The flutes are apparently played by Alan Simon himself and he is indeed an excellent flautist as well as a very good song writer. Several other uncommon and interesting instruments show up in various places.

There are also a number of surprising guests like Supertramp's John Heliwell on saxophone and clarinet, Andreas Volenweider on harp and John Wetton on vocals. Perhaps less unlikely guests are Jethro Tull's Martin Barre on electric guitars and Jacqui McShee from Pentangle on vocals. Inside the very nice digipack sleeve there is a picture of further musicians apparently part of the project but not featured on this album, including Les Holroyd from Barclay James Harvest, Justin Hayward from The Moody Blues and Maddy Prior from Steeleye Span. An impressive cast of musicians!

The first couple of songs on this album are in a similar vein to the material on previous Fairport albums like the good Who Knows Where The Time Goes? and the excellent Jewel In The Crown. The album starts strongly with a great instrumental jig with a powerful electric rock sound. The second track, Pilgrims, is a very good melodic Folk rocker that would have fitted nicely on recent Fairport albums.

Celtic Dream is another instrumental with a Jethro Tull like sound due to the flutes. Or rather it could have come from an Ian Anderson solo album. This track is the first of several that was recorded live. The mix of live and studio tracks makes the album less coherent than it otherwise could have been.

Those songs with female vocals remind of Sandy Denny-era Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span. Simon is a very good song writer and all the material featured here is very melodic and memorable. There are several excellent moments and the whole album is very enjoyable. Fame And Glory is often strong and powerful, the sound is crystal clear and the production is flawless. But it is not at all glossy or overproduced.

The fact that some songs were recorded live and the rest in the studio, coupled with the fact that there are several different vocalists involved makes the album a bit less coherent than it otherwise might have been. Still, I am certain that this album will strongly appeal to fans of Prog Folk and Celtic rock and I highly recommend it to people of those interests.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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