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Fairport Convention - Liege & Lief CD (album) cover


Fairport Convention


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3.78 | 132 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
2 stars Even on FAIRPORT CONVENTION's so-called classic, the legend precedes and outshines the actual quality. Perhaps it was the group's not insignificant pluckiness in re-tooling themselves in the face of tragedy and releasing their 3rd album in a year. Perhaps, in retrospect a Sandy Denny who departed as fast as she had swooped in from STRAWBS (who with her recorded the first UK folk rock album a year before) just solidified the agglomeration's status as an ever shifting reluctant cooperative of sorts.

While Denny remains the icon, Ashley Hutchings had more to do with this electrified folk phase, a style advanced by his next two formations STEELEYE SPAN and ALBION BAND. While Fairport remained utterly committed to musical promiscuity, those bands, particularly STEELEYE, would quickly usurp the sub genre with more inspired reworkings of traditional tunes and a few equally hair-raising originals.

On "Tam Lin" and "Matty Groves", Fairport hint at the sea change occurring in the UK around folk rock. The two epics are really just multi-verse extravaganzas with a bit of loud but spiritless ensemble jamming marred by production pitfalls that were preventable even at that time, but remain significant historically. Only "Crazy Man Michael" stands out in and of itself, a moving original song that points to the road sadly not taken. "Come all ye" proposes dreadful fiddle rock while "Reynardine" saw far better versions in the following years. The rest is equally mundane and muddled.

If you are approaching the history of UK prog folk from a chronological angle, please don't stop here, but make sure to have a look at PENTANGLE and move on to STEELEYE SPAN's discography which began to emerge a short year after this well intentioned and courageous but unconvincing production.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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