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Fairport Convention

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Fairport Convention Unhalfbricking album cover
3.54 | 60 ratings | 13 reviews | 22% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Genesis Hall (3:35)
2. Si Tu Dois Partir (2:18)
3. Autopsy (4:20)
4. A Sailor's Life (11:08)
5. Cajun Woman (2:42)
6. Who Knows Where The Time Goes (5:08)
7. Percy's Song (6:46)
8. Million Dollar Bash (2:54)

Total Time: 39:01

Bonus tracks on Remastered CD
9. Dear landlord (4:06)
10. The ballad of easy rider (4:55)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Sandy Denny / vocals, harpsichord
- Richard Thompson / vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, electric dulcimer, piano, accordion, organ
- Simon Nicol / electric & acoustic guitars, electric dulcimer, backing vocals
- Ashley Hutchings / bass, vocals
- Martin Lamble / drums, stacked chair backs (2)

With :
- Ian Matthews / backing vocals (7)
- Marc Ellington / vocals (8)
- Trevor Lucas / triangle (2)
- Dave Swarbrick / fiddle (2, 4 & 5), mandolin (8)

Releases information

LP Island ILPS 9102 (1969)
CD Island IMCD 61 (1987)
Remastered CD Island Remasters IMCD 293 (2003)

Thanks to alucard for the addition
and to easy livin for the last updates
Edit this entry

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UnhalfbrickingUnhalfbricking
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Island UK 2003
Audio CD$5.25
$9.97 (used)
Liege & LiefLiege & Lief
A&M 1990
Audio CD$6.37
$2.99 (used)
History ofHistory of
Import
Island UK 1995
Audio CD$5.25
$4.32 (used)
Rising for the MoonRising for the Moon
Import
Universal Import 2013
Audio CD$15.46
$22.06 (used)
Fairport ConventionFairport Convention
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal UK 2003
Audio CD$5.25
$4.32 (used)
What We Did on Our HolidaysWhat We Did on Our Holidays
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Island UK 2003
Audio CD$5.25
$6.97 (used)
Liege & LiefLiege & Lief
Deluxe Edition · Import · Remastered
Universal I.S. 2007
Audio CD$64.82
$65.90 (used)
Full HouseFull House
Import · Remastered
Island UK 2001
Audio CD$4.99
$10.36 (used)
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FAIRPORT CONVENTION Unhalfbricking ratings distribution


3.54
(60 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(22%)
22%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(47%)
47%
Good, but non-essential (27%)
27%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Unhalfbricking reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The second album of this group with Sandy Denny is more unbalanced than the earlier masterpiece, in my consideration mostly due very different styled songs. "Genesis Hall" and "Autopsy" open the record with very sad and emotional moods, and late Martin Lamble's drumming drives these bluesy laments to powerful heights."A Sailor's Life" is the song showing Fairport Convention's progressive rock relations most clearly, as the over 11 minutes long psychedelic treatment brings a new viewpoint to the arrangements of traditional songs. The further developments of this style can be heard for example on the recordings of The Trees, but seldom such beautifulness and open euphoric freedom as on this track is encountered. Sandy's pretty folk number "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" was also recorded with the fellows of The Strawbs, and that version can be heard on their album "All of Our Own Work". The Bob Dylan's cover songs "Si Tu Dois Partir", "Percy's Song" and "Million Dollar Bash" aren't very interesting though, and they lower the overall experience for me. Interesting though that there is this huge concentration of his compostitions on the disc. "Cajun Woman" was also slighlty redneck-oriented folk strumming to my ears, but luckily the good parts outcome the poorer elements with time and quality still. The record cover showing the band locked inside a Brittish garden is really stunning also.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#84050) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Who knows where the time goes, indeed

Fairport's third album was one of three released in 1969 by the band. The title was coined by singer Sandy Denny during a Scrabble type game travelling to a gig. The album as a whole is dominated by the fine vocals of Denny and the invention of Richard Thompson. The line up is largely unchanged from the previous "What we did on our holidays", although Ian Matthews contribution consists only of vocals on one number ("Percy's song").

The centrepiece of the album is the prog folk epic "A sailor's life", an 11 minute interpretation of a traditional song. Dave Swarbrick makes his first appearance with the band here, as violinist in a session capacity on 3 tracks and playing mandolin on "Million dollar bash". Back to "A sailor's life" though, which stands proudly as one of the first true examples of a prog folk song. After a shanty type tale, the song moves into a lengthy building violin and guitar improvisation.

Sandy Denny contributes two similar songs. The first of these, "Autopsy" has a delicate vocal line and some fine guitar, while "Who knows where the time goes" will forever stand as one of the highlights of here entire career. Denny had previously used the song as one of her contributions to the work of the early Strawbs, but the version included here is the definitive rendition of this achingly beautiful composition.

Apart from the traditional "A sailor's life", the non-band compositions on the album are all written by Bob Dylan. The first of these, "Si tu dois partir" is based on his "If you've gotta go". The songs is a piece of light-hearted fun, with future member (and partner for Denny) Trevor Lucas popping by to play triangle. Released as a single, it did actually make the lower reaches of the UK chart, leading to a coveted appearance on the BBC's "Top of the pops" show. The next time the band would appear would be in the album slot promoting "Angel delight". Of the other Dylan songs, "Percy's song" has the familiar "Turn turn.." anthem refrain (but not one from the similar "Turn, turn, turn" made famous by The Byrds). "Million dollar bash" is another fun number, bizarrely taken into the UK singles charts by Jonathan King.

While Richard Thompson's influences can be found from start to finish here, his actual compositions are restricted the traditional sounding and slightly downbeat "Genesis hall" and the brief stomper "Cajun woman".

The remastered version of the CD has 2 bonus tracks. "Dear landlord" is another Dylan cover. The song was recorded during the sessions for this album, but was never finished due to an early decision not to include it. The song is a rather dull dirge. "The ballad of Easy Rider" is a cover of the Byrds song written by Roger McGuinn. It was actually recorded during the sessions for "Liege and lief" and thus features Dave Mattacks on drums. The rendition gives Denny another chance to demonstrate the full beauty and clarity of her voice.

In all, a superb folk rock album which features a true prog folk classic. The band were clearly inspired in 1969 and working their socks off. There is still a residual American influence to be found here, but the west coast sounds of the first album are now largely suppressed, with even the Dylan numbers sounding Anglicised. The album was released with different cover illustrations in various parts of the world, but the photo of Sandy Denny's parent standing outside their garden (with the band lounging in the background) is one most strongly associated with the release. Even by now, the band had the confidence to omit their name and the album's title from the front cover (well before Led Zeppelin IV !).

This would be drummer Martin Lamble's last album with the band before he was tragically killed when the band's van crashed on the way home from a gig. He was just 19 years old.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#175440) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, June 27, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars I was disappointed when I heard this album and surprised that it got such high ratings here are prog archives. Even if I prefer the all male line up of Fairport Convention who made Full House, Angel Delight and Babbacombe Lee (the three best Fairport albums in my opinion) to the earlier Sandy Denny fronted band, I still much prefer Liege & Lief to this one.

Unhalfbricking is less folky and more conventional. It is not as interesting to listen to as Lige & Lief or any of the latter ones I mentioned and it is certainly not prog. Not the best place to start if you want to know what Fairport Convention is about.

Only for fans this one.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#177534) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 21, 2008

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars Third album from FC, this one taking from where the predecessor left it at, except that Iain Matthews left to found his more US-inclined folk rock group Southern Comfort, where he will continue to cover Dylan and Mitchell even scoring on her Woodstock song a giant hit. But his departure certainly didn't mean an end to Dylan reverence, quite the opposite as the band will cover a catastrophic version of Dylan's If You Must Go, sung in French....(Hey, guys: thoughtful, certainly, but no thanks!!!), plus another two tracks including percy's Song where Matthews comes back to help. Other than that this album is a bit of a schizo with qsome very boring track and some more enthralling (for progheads) ones that put the emphasis on the music. you'll guess the longer tracks.

Starting on the average Genesis Hall, then on that French version of Dylan's classic, the album has a tough time getting wound up as Autopsy is another over-rated ednny composition, although it features Thompson's good guitar works. We have to wait for the 12-mins monster A Sailor's Life, the first mammoth track from FC, one that would almost earn its name as a prog epic, if it was not simply on 4/4 and while constantly building on it, it remains steady 4, but there is some magnificent interplay, soloing and jamming on the heart of the track, including guest (and future member) Dave Swarbrick (although I believe he did some violin work on the previous album Holidays as well), this very track leading into the future Matty Groves and Tam Lin.

After getting rid of the self explanatory Cajun Dance, we find the second indisputable gem of this album, the Denny-penned "Who Knows Where The Time Goes?", which is building up impressively , a bit like if it was Sailor's life's little brother. Splendid stuff and now Denny has finally contributed worthily to the band's repertoire (IMHO, of course). Pasrt this track, it's hard to get a real enthusiasm for the two Dylan covers of Percy's Song (but the song is smooth and glides effortlessly) and the closing Million Dollar Bash, a complete bore)

In its remastered version, the album has two bonus track, the first being yet another Dylan cover, this one unfinished and a Byrds' cover Easy Rider, neither really adding value to the original album. While there are definitely (maybe even three) tracks that are unavoidable, I wouldn't call Unhalfbrickin even close to being essential, because there are a few duds that ruin the unity of the album.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#177767) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Unhalfbricking is the third full length studio album from folk/ rock act Fairport Convention. I was very fond of the debut album from Fairport Convention which in addition to the folk/ rock elements also had psychadelic leanings while I wasn´t too pleased with the development towards more traditional folk/ rock that the band took with their second album What We Did On Our Holidays. The music is still well crafted and well played on that album but it doesn´t fit my personal taste much. The same can be said about Unhalfbricking.

The music has turned even more towards traditional british folk but still with a rock approach. There are some great tracks on the album like Genesis Hall, Autopsy and the 11:08 minute long A Sailor´s Life ( we´re I am actually treated with a bit of the psychadelic tendencies I miss so much from the debut. It´s only hinted at though). The signature Sandy Denny tune Who Knows Where The Time Goes is not my cup of Tea, but I do acknowledge that it is a memorable and well crafted song. The inclusion of fiddle and mandolin from guest musician Dave Swarbrick on some songs also means that the folk leanings are even more clear than before.

The musicianship is good. Nothing challenging is played but Fairport Convention´s music is not about playing challenging music it´s about creating atmospheres which they are very good at. I can almost smell the tobacco and the stale beer while listening to a song like Cajun Woman.

The production is well done and organic which suits the music perfectly.

Unhalfbricking is a step in a more folky direction and allthough I think it´s an overall better album than What We Did On Our Holidays I still miss the psychadelic approach which made the debut such an enjoyable experience. Don´t get me wrong though I think Unhalfbricking is a good album and I think it deserves a 3 star rating.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#188207) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 07, 2008

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars The album art doesn't leave much room for doubt. Folk rock alert!

It is quite a tour de force though and the first of two excellent Fairport Convention releases that fully developed their unique blend of epic folk tracks, electrical rock instruments and Sandy Denny's divine chants.

Most songs are really captivating here, apart from a few questionable filler tracks like Si Tu Dois Partir, Cajun Woman and Percy's Song (Am I singling out all Dylan tracks now?). Those songs set off all my 'campfire sentimentalism!' alarms. Genesis Hall and Autopsy are moving ballads though. The music isn't really flashy but more then adequate. The vocals however, they are simply godly, so fragile and melancholic. Sandy Denny's voice must be the main reason Fairport Convention got so successful. The epic Sailor's Life and Who Knows Where the Time Goes also deliver ample proof of that.

Overall 25 minutes of excellent music. That's almost a full-length PFM album :) 3 smouldering campfires!

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#252774) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 26, 2009

Review by EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of the most important albums of all time. Fairport Convention is a famous folk band with some progressive bends, so the inclusion of this band in this site is fair. Although I rather see this masterpiece more as a folk album than a prog one. It is indeed a classic, that influenced a lot of albums later on.

Even though this is a folk album, guitarist Richard Thompson gives his rock influences here and there, thanks to brilliant electric guitar passages. To some "Unhalfbricking" might not sound very serious, since it has some very cheerful songs, ( one was sung in French): "Cajun Woman", the Bob Dylan cover "Million Dollar Bash", "Is Tu Dois Partir", and even "Percy's song". But these songs are brilliant, perfect to brighten the mood. "A Sailor's Life" is the song with most prog tendencies, (eleven minutes of an increasing climax that would make all progressive fans drool), "Autopsy" and "Genesis Hall" have a more dramatic touch to them, "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" is a beautiful, touching ballad, one of the best ballads of folk music.

An unquestionable masterpiece, if you ask me, one of those albums that you couldn't deny their importance and influence over a lot of music.

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Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Review by Einsetumadur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 10/15P.: The ultimate Bob Dylan recycling album depicting Fairport Convention on an interim course of covering predominantly American music with a British kind of eccentricity. In spite of some inessential moments this album still keeps a sufficient level of meaning, but the folk rock longtrack surely can't hold a candle to the group's later efforts in that genre.

Unhalfbricking is sad, it's funny, it's colorful, it's British and American at the same time, it's partly innovative, it's authentic and it's a tough listen. It is, perhaps, anything you may associate with how a folk rock band might be, but what it doubtlessly isn't is a consistently satisfactory album. Actually, it was pretty obvious that - after the warmly glowing What We Did on Our Holidays - something was going to change. Lead singer Iain Matthews left the band, and this shifted the lead vocal duties to Sandy Denny who, in her prime, sang folk songs with The Strawbs in the minor venues of Great Britain.

Maybe it's partly because of a helplessness which course to take with the band, but maybe also because Bob Dylan had shocked the world of pop music with another, - actually the third - 'new sound' he had worked on (i.e., the Americana genre): this album is schizophrenic in the combination of its eight songs which are radically different from each other, but it makes the very best out of the fairly adverse conditions.

On the definite plus side there is the excellent track Genesis Hall and the good, but slightly inefficient version of Sandy Denny's stellar Who Knows Where The Time Goes. The latter is widely (and, in my opinion, also correctly) viewed as her signature song, but there's a demo version she recorded in 1967 in which she accompanied herself on the acoustic guitar, and I like that version better than the full band version which feels to quick and straight to let her voice really flourish. A timid guitar solo and Simon Nicol's soulful rhythm guitar, however, are really good, and these minor points of criticism cannot change the fact that it's the song of Unhalfbricking which I listen to most frequently.

There's really nothing you can criticise about Genesis Hall - the dulcimer scratches, Ashley Hutchings' bass guitar walks along in its own special way, Richard Thompson provides his first upfront backing vocals to accompany Sandy Denny's haunting singing and the whole band does every possible thing to convey the chilly and husky atmosphere which so many of Richard Thompson's later songs should offer. What a perfect way to begin an album! But then comes the pretty whimsical Si Tu Dois Partir, which is delightful as the song of the group which is most originally linked to Cajun music, but it does smell a lot of smoke-filled evenings and a certain musical aimlessness. The song itself is a French translation - aided by a French-speaking audience member - of Bob Dylan's early song If You Gotta Go, Go Now, filled with reedy accordions, loose backing vocals and the hectic rattling and scratching of some percussion instruments. However, the song is notable for being - going along the track listing order of the songs - the first song of the band in which Dave Swarbrick can be heard playing the fiddle.

Autopsy is a faintly jazz-influenced and relaxed pop song written by Sandy Denny, consisting of two parts, the first and more folk-inflected one being in 5/4 time and the second one going into a pretty sharp 4/4 measure with enough space for a lovely little guitar solo by Richard Thompson. Listenably, the two parts were composed at a different time and stuck together later, but this doesn't hurt at all - especially regarding the beautiful vocals and the quiet but effective dulcimer melody in the background.

Cajun Woman picks up Richard Thompson's cajun influences again, but implants them into a spicy rock'n'roll with an unleashed Thompson on electric slide guitar, duelling a wee bit with Dave Swarbrick on violin. Drummer Martin Lamble is in fine form in this track as well, propelling the song further on with some accurate kick drum eights.

A Sailor's Life surely wasn't the first time that traditional folk and rock music were fused (according to my research this award goes to The Byrds' He Was A Friend of Mine and The Beach Boys' Sloop John B), but it was the first time that an extended jam of thorny and rootsy psychedelic rock was built around an old folk melody. At 12 minutes length with one mere chord stretching through the whole track, the whole effect it makes is rather 'static'. Violinist Dave Swarbrick and guitarist Richard Thompson throw tiny licks and scalic fragments at each other rather than working around melodies, which makes this track a nearly jazzy affair. A comparison of the rhythmically vague vocal melody and the (similarly vague) melody of Reynardine, a track on the band's next record, however, shows why the latter sounds better to my ears: in Reynardine the melody isn't cast into a steady rhythmic frame and it is gilded a lot more with atmospheric sounds. I marvel a lot at Thompson's and Swarbrick's eccentric interplay and also at the doubtless historical importance of this recording, but listening through the whole track is a pretty tiring thing.

Interestingly, there is even more Dylan material on this CD, apart from Si Tu Dois Partir. At first, there is a rendition of Dylan's lengthy 1963 outtake Percy's Song and the Basement Tapes relic Million Dollar Bash. Not used for the original album, but tried in the studio were the already widely known Dear Landlord from Dylan's 1967 album John Wesley Harding and, shortly after the album sessions, Ballad of Easy Rider, the collaboration of Dylan and Roger McGuinn (of The Byrds) for the film of the same title. But the question which puzzles me is why the band chose these particular Dylan tracks. The British Dylan management outpost allowed the band to listen through nearly the whole Basement Tapes which Dylan recorded with The Band in late 1967. But instead of covering Too Much Of Nothing or another one of the meatier Basement tracks they rather stuck to older Dylan songs - the only Basement choice being the pretty empty Million Dollar Bash, a country throwaway without a discernible melody, apart from the catchy chorus. Nonetheless, the other Dylan songs are good - if strange - choices. Percy's Song itself is a perfect song, perfectly arranged by the band and succeeding extremely well in wrapping the listener in the ever-returning 'turn, turn, turn again/turn, turn, to the rain and the wind' chorus. But, compared with the wonderful BBC version, the harmony vocals - especially of Iain Matthews who left the band during the sessions - get lost in the mix, just like the dulcimer which doesn't feel completely in line with the full-on rock band line-up. A very good song it is nevertheless.

The two bonus tracks are welcome additions to the original album. Dear Landlord, always reminding me of Dylan's earlier composition Ballad of a Thin Man, is an incredibly haunting and dark piece of country-inflicted American music, and this rendition showcases Sandy Denny's ability of augmenting songs with a low and brooding piano backing - she would later add to Richard Thompson's debut solo album in the same way. The sophisticated melody is completely in Denny's vocal range and bassist Ashley Hutchings, - as usual - never playing a note if it's not doubtlessly essential for the song, is actually more in the foreground than the two guitars.

Ballad of Easy Rider actually doesn't belong to this CD since it was one of the earliest recordings for the Liege and Lief sessions, already tracked with Dave Mattacks on the drums. I wholeheartedly agree that the song would be tout a fait deplaced in the context of Liege and Lief, so I am quite content with it being added to this release. Originally, it was written in a fast 2/4 country signature, but Fairport Convention transformed it into a weary and forworn 3/4 measure, stretching the whole running time to twice the length, including a really moody guitar solo by Richard Thompson. The summer of 1969 was the time when the whole band hit rock bottom after an accident in which Richard Thompson's girlfriend and drummer Martin Lamble were killed. I'm sure that the depressive state which the band was in is the reason why this song is possibly the saddest and most disheartened recording I know from this band. Dave Mattacks, later a most wanted studio drummer with an unbelievable punch and sense for spectacular fills, plays quite unobstrusively, too. The diffidence with which the band covers this pastoral anthem of freedom makes this song an essential listen for every friend of folk rock.

Taken together, Unhalfbricking is by no means an dissatisfying album, but it's also not among the best ones which this prolific band achieved to record. People who think they might enjoy a fairly eccentric and often whimsical take on folk rock with a fair amount of great and more reflective songs will surely like this album. In its totality it's not an essential listen, but there are enough numbers on this album which totally prove why this band is considered one of the greatest on the borderline between folk and rock music.

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Send comments to Einsetumadur (BETA) | Report this review (#826950) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Fairport Convention's Unhalfbricking is another great 1969 release from a band that had a bumper crop that year. There may be a somewhat larger emphasis on more modern cover versions than the more traditional Liege and Lief, but then again the extended guitar explorations that are unleashed when Richard Thompson and Simon Nichol let loose result in radical transformations of the songs anyway. Yes, they still owe a debt to Dylan, but there's not a trace of Dylan's distinctive sound here even when they do cover some of his material: the conventions of the Fairport sound are clearly set out at this stage of their career.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#960552) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 17, 2013

Latest members reviews

5 stars This is my favourite Fairport album. What Fairport were trying to do (especially Sandy Denny) was to write modern material, but in a folk influenced style; a very difficult task. The strains would show when she left the band after Liege and Lief. Unhalfbricking is halfway between the folk pop of t ... (read more)

Report this review (#240800) | Posted by fant0mas | Monday, September 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8.5/10 Great This album, in my opinion, is a far stray from What We Did On Our Holidays. That is not to say it isn't really great, and has a few incredible tracks. Unhalfbricking, though, doesn't live up to that album for me and thus it is not in the league of it. Who Knows Where the Time ... (read more)

Report this review (#165981) | Posted by The Lost Chord | Monday, April 07, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Another good Fairport "transitional" album. This band was, by this time, miles away from the sound of their first album, but didn't developed their "definitive" folk-rock signature sound. This was Martin Lamble's swan song (he died shortly after this release in a car accident - he was only 19) ... (read more)

Report this review (#62121) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Thursday, December 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Without a doubt this is progressive! Take "A Sailor's Life" for example, a long epic that gives a nice mix of folk and progressive rock. It starts really soft and rises to a climax with astonishing "jamming" violin and guitar, before slowing down again for the ending. The electric and acoustic ... (read more)

Report this review (#61272) | Posted by 1971 | Thursday, December 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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