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Fairport Convention Fairport Convention album cover
3.35 | 72 ratings | 11 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Time Will Show the Wiser (3:05)
2. I Don' t Know Where I Stand ( 3:45)
3. If (Stomp) (2:45)
4. Decameron (3:42)
5. Jack O' Diamonds (3:30)
6. Portfolio (2:00)
7. Chelsea Morning (3:05)
8. Sun Shade (3:50)
9. The Lobster (5:25)
10. It's Alright Ma, It's Only Witchcraft (3:12)
11. One Sure Thing (2:50)
12. M1 Breakdown (1:22)

Total Time 38:31

Bonus Tracks (2003 CD release)
13. Suzanne (Studio outtake) (5:45)
14. If I Had A Ribbon Bow (1968 Single) (2:40)
15. Morning Glory (Live *) (3:09)
16. Reno, Nevada (Live *) (7:43)

* Recorded for French TV, 27.04.1968

Total Time (2003 CD) 57:48

Line-up / Musicians

- Ian Matthew MacDonald / lead vocals, jews harp
- Judy Dyble / lead vocals, electric and acoustic autoharps, recorder, piano
- Richard Thompson / vocals, lead electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin
- Simon Nicol / 6- & 12-string electric & acoustic guitars, banjo, violin, vocals
- Ashley 'Tyger' Hutchings / bass guitar, Jug
- Martin Lamble / drums, violin

With :
- Clare Lowther / cello (7)
- Tristan Fry / vibraphone (14)

Releases information

Artwork: Osiris Visions with Donald Silverstein (photo)

LP Polydor 582035 (1968, UK) Mono & Stereo versions, same code

CD Polydor 835 230-2 (1990, UK)
CD Polydor/Universal 068 291-2 (2003, UK) Remastered by Paschal Byrne, with 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to alucard for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy FAIRPORT CONVENTION Fairport Convention Music

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Fairport Convention ratings distribution

(72 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Fairport Convention reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the kind of flat rhythmic folkier music that one would not necessarily enjoy 100% after an inattentive listen. However, a better listen reveals very good vocals and surprisingly refined guitar arrangements for 1968. The electric guitar is sometimes almost country. Due to the presence of varied string instruments, the acoustic sound is rich, but the compositions remain not very complex. The tracks are often catchy and they are rather short & not progressive. The strong point is really the female lead vocals, reminding a bit Annie Haslam: they also both have the same English accent. I can surprisingly associate some discrete electric guitars with Rush's Caress of Steel, especially on "I Don' t Know Where I Stand". The Beatles is the overall main influence.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The inaugural convention

A word of warning up-front here. Do not come to this album expecting to hear the folk roots of Fairport Convention, or to discover some long lost predecessor to "Liege and lief". For a start, while Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol are present in the line up, there's no Sandy Denny, Dave Swarbrick, or Dave Mattacks.

It is not though just the line up which differentiates this album from what was to follow. The music itself is not rooted in the folk of the British Isles, but crosses the Atlantic to indulge in the pioneering work of artists such us Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. As a result, this album does have a folk flavour, but it is that of North American folk.

Original singer Judy Dyble has a pleasant voice with passing similarities to that of the great Denny. At the same time, it sounds very much at home in songs such as Mitchell's "I don't know where I stand" and "Chelsea morning".

Some of the band members do turn their hand to song-writing, with Richard Thompson and Ian MacDonald (who soon became Iain Matthews, and should not be confused with other similarly named people) but the results are naïve and prosaic. And therein lies the problem with this album as a whole. It simply fails to distinguish itself, and thus the band, from the many other artists of the period (especially in the US) who were creating a similar style of music. The songs are adequate and competently performed, but the band do not impose their own character upon them. While their confidence would develop rapidly, at this stage of their career Fairport were first and foremost a straight covers band.

Occasionally, we will get glimpses of the magic which would follow, such as the echoed flute section on "Jack O'Diamonds", and the brief instrumental "Portfolio" which follows, but such occasions are all too rare.

In view of the tragic events which would follow resulting in the death of founder member Martin Lamble, the title of the final track "M1 breakdown" is hauntingly prophetic. The track itself is actually as close as we get to a jig, being a Cajun style romp.

The remastered CD version of the album includes four bonus tracks. These include a tasteful cover of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" where MacDonald (Matthews) presents a fine solo vocal performance. Also included is the band's first single from 1967, "If I had a ribbon bow". This beautiful melody dating from the 1930's suits Dyble's voice perfectly, this rendition being a hidden gem from the late 60's. The final track, "Reno Nevada" may be poorly recorded, but it is an exciting piece of early indulgence by the band, with a great guitar jam.

In all, an album which is primarily of historical interest, and even then in the context of the band rather than the genre they later defined.

Incidentally, the band's name comes from the name Simon Nicol's parent's house, where the band would rehearse.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars This debut album is not folky and much more conventional rock/pop than latter albums by this band. It is not as interesting to listen to as Lige & Lief or any of the latter albums and it is certainly not prog. Not the best place to start if you want to know what Fairport Convention is about.

This is merely an average pop/rock album with too many cover versions of other peoples songs. Should appeal to fans of 60's pop.

Only for fans this one and only for historical reasons.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Some people are a bit hard with FC's debut album, partly because it doesn't feature the classic line-up, but instead of the over-rated Sandy Denny, we have the delicate Judy Dyble (later GG&F and Trader Horne) and Iain McDonald/Matthews on vocals and it's just as good. Where the comparison may hurt a bit with future albums is that a good part of the album is looking at West Coast folk (that US WC, not Wales you wise arses ;o)) and only touches UK folk, but this will always be the case, just in reverse proportionality and the presence of many covers (Mitchell, Cohen, Dylan).

So this very psyched-out folk album with an intriguing lamp artwork is a still a very worthy album, no matter what purists say and is certainly no less challenging than Babacombe Lee or Nine Lives, or dare I say the highly-touted Full House. Part of its charm is that there are a few gutsy psychedelic folk rock tracks, like the opening Time Will Show (where the band shows their electric chops) or the dark It's Only Witchcraft. Other pure North American folk tracks like Mitchell' Where I Stand and Chelsea Morning & Dylan's Jack O Diamonds are electrified and drummed up (the later has a definite acid folk rock sound), and the least we can say is that the very cute Judy holds her own

The few FC originals like Stomp, Decameron, the instrumental Portfolio, the superb jazzy Sun Shade leading in the full-blown psych of The Lobster (maybe my fave on the album with Dyble's small recorder parts) and One Sure Thing are of correct quality, even holding up their own on the prestigious all-too- often-heard covers. On the weaker M1 Breakdown is below par, being a jug band thingie, but even then it's not bad, because it stays short and funny.

The remastered version of the album comes with a quartet of great bonus tracks (and a superb illustrated booklet), all covers (although who needs yet another version of Cohen's Suzanne, even if a bit different), including a version of Buckley's Morning Glory and a fantastic full-blown seven minutes rendition of US folk giant Farina, called Reno Nevada, where FC show they the longer tracks like sailor's life or Matty Groves were in their blood right from the start. All four tracks are of correct sound quality and just add more weight to the original album, which is easily as worthy as its four successors. Don't shy away from thi

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The debut album from british folk rock band Fairport Convention was released in 1968. On this album the folk leanings are not as obvious as they would become on subsequent albums ( at least thatīs what Iīve been told). Thereīs even a bit of psychadelic tendencies on some songs which makes this album a pretty varied and interesting experience IMO.

Sandy Denny had yet to become a member of Fairport Convention and the female vocals were done by Judy Dyble. Most vocals are done by Ian (Matthews) Mc Donald though. Judy Dyble can be heard on songs like the beautiful I Don' t Know Where I Stand, the excellent and psychadelic tinged Chelsea Morning and the sweet One Sure Thing. There are influences from lots of genres on the album from folk and rock to swing jazz ( just hints though in It's Alright Ma, It's Only Witchcraft). The psychadelic leanings are strong in songs like Sun Shade and especially in the progressive The Lobster. The Beatles are no strangers to Fairport Convention either. I think itīs great that the album is so musically diverse. It helps to keep my attention all the way through the album.

The musicianship is excellent. Itīs great to hear that the band are already capable musicians this early in their career.

The production is really good considering this was 1968. Really enjoyable.

I must say that I was a bit surprised that I enjoyed this album so much. Iīve been putting of listening to Fairport Convention for years because I had the wrong expectations to their sound ( maybe my expectations of traditional folk will be met on later albums?). I always thought they played more traditional folk/ rock but thatīs certainly not the case on this really good album. Iīm gonna have to give this one 4 stars and a recommendation. This is a really pleasant album with strong melodies and a few ( very few) mildy progressive leanings. I canīt wait to hear more from Fairport Convention.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Embarrassingly I had first little cautious feeling towards this album, as instead of the singer from the legendary line-up here is Ms. Judy Dyble singing. Luckily I got over this prejudgment, as her performance is fine and the album good, just different than their recordings with Sandy Denny.

Album starts with "Time Will Show The Wiser", which is a nice beat rock tune sounding very much The Byrds, with similar ringing guitar and male vocal melodies. There's also a nice film of this song existing. There are two Joni Mitchell's songs in this album, second track "I don't Know Where I Stand" is a really fine interpretation, full of pretty euphoric waving. Maybe the version from the upcoming BBC sessions "Hey Day" is little better, but this is very good too. The other Joni's song coming later is "Chelsea Morning", a fast rhythm section in behind brings much motion to the song fronted by Judy in fine manner. "If (Stomp)" is The Beatles styled light and little boring rocker in my opinion, but "Decameron" is then a quiet and slow, beautiful acoustic tune for both male and lady singers. Minor chord progressions with effect treated guitar introduce then "Jack O'Diamonds", a decent rocker. "Portfolio" is a piano driven hypnotic short tune gathering support from violins and other instruments. Middle section's slow jazzy rhythm and distant vocals create a funny surreal feeling to this very fine performance. "Sun Shade" is a relaxed and calm slow jazzy song for both singers and nice guitar solo. "The Lobster" runs through some changes in slightly experimental way. It starts with instrumental jazzy piece, morphing then to more mystical and oppressing tune, leading to trashy sequence, finally ending to fine shadowy ambience. "It's Allright Ma, It's only Witchcraft" stars as quite pure easy jazz, and rock drive punching in heavily as the song opens. "One Sure Thing" delivers minor traditional sounding ballad for Judy, with bluesy end sequence. The album closes with "M.1 Breakdown", a weird short end for the album, maybe some kind of "Going to the country" joke? I did not have the bonus tracks on my version, so can't say much about them.

Though the next incarnation of the band is my favorite, there are no reasons to neglect this record either, especially if you like 1960's American oriented folk rock music. As an anecdote, you can hear Judy sing with King Crimson on the compilation double-LP "Young Person's Guide to King Crimson", the song is "I Talk to The wind". As an album the record contains many kind of songs, not focusing totally to one style, but having many kind of ideas by the group. That is not every time a bad approach... Some songs here are quite of my favorites, "I don't Know Where I stand", "Decameron", "Sun Shade" and "One Sure Thing" are easy moody choices for a romantic, and tracks like "The Lobster" brings in interesting slightly avant-gardist sides of this fine group. I found later Judy's vocal art from the Trader Horne album, which is also quite nice to verify for the proggy folk tones.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Fairport Convention's first album is a far cry from the electrified traditional folk that they made their name with, though there are some hints of it here and there on tracks like Decameron. Instead, it's a band very much beholden to the American folk rock tradition - especially the West Coast scene like the Byrds before they went country, Buffalo Springfield, and Jefferson Airplane - and who haven't yet worked out how to perform a similar transformation that those artists had performed on contemporary US folk in the context of traditional British folk.

As a result, it's a very interesting artifact, but like many debut albums from significant 1960s British folk pioneers - think Donovan, think The Incredible String Band - it doesn't really reflect the rest of their work and is interesting perhaps more for that contrast than it is in its own right.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars One of the most famous English folk bands of the 20th century, FAIRPORT CONVENTION got its start in the London area in 1967 formed by guitarists Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol along with bassist Ashley Hutchings and drummer Shaun Frater but like many bands of the era experienced a serious of lineup and stylistic changes before latching onto a sound that would propel them into the limelight. The band spent its first year primarily existing as a folk band inspired by the American folk rock scene with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell as the primary influences as well as finding a lineup that would suit them.

After settling on the new drummer Martin Lamble who also played violin along with lead vocalists Ian Mathew MacDonald and Judy Dyble (who played autoharps, recorder and piano), the first rendition of FAIRPORT CONVENTION was born and the band recorded its first self-titled album in late 1968 and released in the summer of 1968. At this stage the band was also extremely influenced by Jefferson Airplane and delivered a debut album that is sort of the anomaly in its large canon that would follow the very next year with the arrival of Sandy Denny on vocals and amazing trilogy of albums that dominated the year 1969. Like many 60s debuts, FAIRPORT CONVENTION released an album that featured 12 tracks with just less than half being covers of artists like Joni Mitchell, Emitt Rhodes, Bob Dylan and Jean Glover.

Despite the cited influences, the album also featured a West Coast sound that involved some of the pop musical styles that spanned the late 1950s and early 1960s. In fact the debut album showcased an array of styles as the band tried to latch onto various genres which makes it a bit eclectic sounding as well as sounding a tad unfocused but no matter how you slice it, the performances are actually quite brilliantly performed even if the album sounds more like a collection of various tracks strewn together in a compilation format rather than an album proper. The album begins the the guitar-dominated "Time Will Show The Wiser" and showcases Richard Thompson's significance as the guitarist-in-chief who would lead the band into the big time. "I Don't Know Where I Stand" finally sees Dyble taking the role of lead vocalist and provides a more standard 60s pop tune formate. "If (Stomp)" takes on a more country rock vibe with a touch of bluegrass.

As the album skips around stylistically, "Decameron" features Dyble in a classic vulnerable female soft voice narrating a classic love reject theme although it takes on a bit of a Renaissance musical vibe. "Jack O' Diamonds" adopts a US West Coast psychedelic pop sound that warrants the Jefferson Airplane comparisons quite well. The super short "Portfolio" showcases Dyble on the piano and one of two lyric-free tracks on the album. "Chelsea Morning," the Joni Mitchell cover jumps back into the folk rock with a catchy melody and a confident Dyble delivering her classic vocal style with a greater sense of bravado than her softer timid tracks. "Sun Shade" delivers yet another stylistic approach sounding more like a pop jazz affair from a nice coffee house somewhere in NYC. Shapeshifting once again "The Lobster" enters Grateful Dead territory with trippy guitar parts only kept a bit Medieval sounding with Dyble's recorder.

"It's Alright Ma, It's Only Witchcraft" takes on a swanky club jazz style only with the feistiest rock guitar on the album. "One Sure Thing" showcases Dyble lamenting her lost love in fine melodic form while the closer "M1 Breakdown" offered a bizarre mix of mandolin, acoustic guitars and a jew's harp in a style that reminds me of some of the antics from Led Zeppelin III only years before it was released. Sort of that "Bon-Y-Aur-Stomp" vibe only truncated into a 1 1/2 minute hoedown. Later editions feature bonus tracks which are just as worthy to the album with an equal calibre. Initially the album wasn't released in the US so the following "What We Did On Our Holidays" was released in the USA as a self-titled album thus creating modern day confusion. Why did record labels do this nonsense back then? After this album both Judy Dyble and Iain Matthews would leave the band and FAIRPORT CONVENTION would regroup and form their classic lineup.

While many write this debut off as a mere curiosity, for my personal tastes i actually quite adore it. Even though many of the tracks are covers, the band made them all their very own and were wise enough to choose more obscure songs that weren't widely known from the artists they did cover. Dyble's unique vocal style was actually quite pleasant as she showcased a wide variety of moods and singing styles that suited the music quite well. In fact i wish she would've been the vocalist on all the tracks. Dyble was also famous for knitting dishrags in concert when Ian MacDonald took over the vocal duties. The album is eclectic but everything flows together quite well and the musicians are already at the top of their game at this stage. This is actually album i don't ignore at all as it is as easily revisited as the other classic albums that are much more revered from this point on. All the aspects that made the band great were already present and although not all members would stick around, they added their unique stamp on a brief period of the band's origins. To me this is an excellent album.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Fairport Convention's debut is a pretty decent one. I agree it is not essential from the band. Sure they were strongly influenced by early Jefferson Airplane and other American folk and this album is made up of half group compositions, half covers. But throughout the songs are played well. It doesn' ... (read more)

Report this review (#797434) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Unnecessary British folk rock, straight out of the post-summer of love syndrome Fairport Convention - Fairport Convention (1968) Overall Rating: 9 Best Song: THE LOBSTER It was 1968, the musical landscape was drastically changing, and being forced into miraculous revolutions, spurred ... (read more)

Report this review (#293073) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, August 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This albums sounds like Jefferson Airplane!!!! Fairport newcomers will not find the band's classic sound here. This is a blend of San Francisco psychedelia, late Sixties Brittish rock with a very few touches of folk. Judy Dyble is a good singer, but Sandy Denny, who replaced her shortly after ... (read more)

Report this review (#60556) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Saturday, December 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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