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Fairport Convention - The Bonny Bunch Of Roses CD (album) cover


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3 stars After the failure of Gottle O'Geer, a poor, unfocussed album, some core members of Fairport arranged a new record deal and decided to have some fun, having accepted their place in the musical world. Let by fiddler Dave Swarbrick and guitarist Simon Nicol, they made a couple of fun, unpretentious and surprisingly rocking electric folk albums in this and Tippler's Tales. The album features a couple of sets of vigorous jigs and reels, as always, but also some great choices of vocal material, particularly the title track, a 12.5 minute tale of the Napoleonic wars. They also do a great Richard Thompson cover in The Poor Ditching Boy and a fine, almost a capella version of General Taylor, which was also performed by Steeleye Span. This is Fairport at their most traditional-sounding, which will appeal to those who love Liege and Lief and Full House. Nicol acquits himself quite well in the lead guitar role, and Swarbrick leads the affair on his fiddle with rousing ablomb. I can only give it three stars as a prog record, but four as a folk rock album.
Report this review (#92117)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Step we gaily

Having released 'Gottle O' Geer' in 1976 under the abbreviated name Fairport, the band reverted to their full name in 1977 for this album. In the interim, Simon Nicol returned to the line up and they signed up with Vertigo records under a four album deal (which was terminated early).

The four man line up returned to a more traditional folk approach, with a number of the tracks being adaptations of traditional folk songs. Also included is a (former band member) Richard Thomson track, one by Ralph McTell, and two written by current band members.

The album is mix of upbeat jigs and reels, and dirges. On the dirge side, the 12 minute title track is naturally the centrepiece of the album. The song has similarities with the early epics 'A sailor's life' and "Sloth', Dave Swarbrick's dulcet vocals suiting the mood of the piece admirably. The song is thought to be of Irish origin, but tells the tale of Napoleon's son's wish to avenge the death of his father.

Of the jigs and reels, the closing "Royal Seleccion No 13" medley, named after a cigar brand, is full of fun and frivolity, rounding off with a spirited rendition of the familiar 'Dashing white sergeant' (aka 'Marie's wedding'). Elsewhere, 'Adieu Adieu" bears an interesting dedication to the members of the Who although the track itself is decidedly un-Who like. The song is an adaptation of another traditional Irish song called "The Newry Highwayman".

While it is reassuring to find Fairport reverting to their electric folk roots, and indeed at times to the prog folk which was scattered across early releases, this album is not particularly inspiring overall. The feature track is overlong and rather dull, while several of the shorter tracks seem prosaic.

Incidentally, all the images of Napoleon on the cover sleeve are actually of Dave Swarbrick.

Report this review (#419311)
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars A royal selection for Napoleon

The career of Fairport Convention has been a turbulent one and their output diverse both in style and quality. I would like to divide their early career into different eras; the first one being the 60's and the first four albums. This era is not very interesting for me personally and, in my opinion, not very relevant for progressive Rock. For me the "classic" era of Fairport Convention is the one that covers the band's next three albums; Full House, Angel Delight and Babbacombe Lee. These are also the first of their many albums that make the band relevant for this website, especially Full House and the conceptual Babbacombe Lee. Then there was a weak period when the band was not sure of their direction and consisting of a revolving set of people; some joining, leaving and re-joining the band. This era produced four quite different albums that have one thing in common - they are all rather weak. The present album was the first sign of breaking that downward trend. While not as strong as its follow-up, the weakly conceptual Tippler's Tales, The Bonny Bunch Of Roses was a return to form for the band and their best effort since Babbacombe Lee from six years earlier. The style of the music, though, goes back even a bit further and reminds more of Full House with a strong base in the jigs of the British Folk tradition and none of those American influences that plagued some earlier releases are present. This is once more the kind of music that makes Fairport Convention unique.

However, even so, they made this kind of music better elsewhere, both before and after the present album. The centrepiece of the album is arguably the 12 and a half minute title track which is a slow, minimalistic and rather hypnotic piece. If this track is remarkably long for the band, the rest of this album's tracks are remarkably short. Several are under three minutes in length.

The Bonny Bunch Of Roses is a fun and pleasant listen and it was a return to form, but it is not very impressive on its own merits. I would recommend to start with other albums. After this one they would make one more album before they split the band (to reform it some years later and make more great music).

Report this review (#443909)
Posted Saturday, May 7, 2011 | Review Permalink

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