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LIEGE & LIEF

Fairport Convention

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Fairport Convention Liege & Lief album cover
3.65 | 82 ratings | 20 reviews | 37% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Come All Ye (4:55)
2. Reynardine (4:33)
3. Matty Groves (8:08)
4. Farewell, Farewell (2:38)
5. The deserter (4:10)
6. Medley : The Lark In The Morning/ Rakish Paddy/ Foxhunter's Jig/ Toss The Feathers (4:00)
7. Tam Lin (7:20)
8. Crazy Man Michael (4:35)

Total Time: 40:19

Bonus Tracks (2002 release)
9. Sir Patrick Spens (Sandy Denny vocal version) (4:00)
10. Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood (Take 1) (7:48)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Sandy Denny / vocals
- Richard Thompson / electric & acoustic guitars
- Simon Nicol / electric & acoustic guitars
- Ashley Hutchings / bass guitar
- Dave Mattacks / drums
- Dave Swarbrick / violin, viola

Releases information

LP Island ILPS 9115 (1969)
CD Island IMCD 60 (1986)
CD Island IMCD 291/586929-2(2002)

Thanks to alucard for the addition
and to easy livin for the last updates
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Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Universal Japan 2008
Audio CD$33.15
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CD who knows? 1975 ~ USD $15.01


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FAIRPORT CONVENTION Liege & Lief ratings distribution


3.65
(82 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(37%)
37%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(37%)
37%
Good, but non-essential (23%)
23%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Liege & Lief reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album begins another transition phase for the band's, as their influences drawn from 1960's popular folk music (Dylan & Cohen mainly) starts to flow deeper to spheres of more purist traditional folk music. After this album Sandy Denny also left for her solo career through a group Fotheringay, though would return for some live concerts and "Rising for The Moon" record in mid 1970's. My own focus was followed by her to the solo projects, and later Fairport Convention records still wait my interest's awakening. Own favorite tracks on this album are the ethereal "Reynardine", really fragile and beautiful "Farewell, Farewell" (to late Martin Lamble?) along with the jolly medley of four traditional tunes. I have not earlier been very keen to these traditional jigs & reels, but this performance has really good arrangements, and the songs of the medley switch really fluently and dynamically, making up an interesting song. Many other tracks have also good ancient and raw feeling, making this as a quite solid album, so if you liked the previous records done with Sandy, this is a worthy album to check out. But it has other merits on its focus than the previous "What We Did on Our Holidays" and "Unhalfbriocking", having little less romantic melancholy and fragileness present on them in my observation.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#119613) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "It will never be said in fair England I slew a naked man"

"Liege and Lief" was the third album released by Fairport Convention in 1969, coming just a few months after the excellent "Unhalfbricking". Tragically, between the albums drummer Martin Lamble was killed in a road accident, so Dave Mattacks makes his first appearance with the band. Also added to the permanent line-up is the multi-talented Dave Swarbrick, who had guested on three tracks on "Unhalfbricking".

In order to work on this album, the band rented a house in Hampshire, UK where they lived and worked together. As a result, Fairport finally found their true identity and recorded what is undoubtedly a defining album in the history of folk rock and indeed prog folk. The need to find a new direction was in part due to the effect the death of Lamble had on the other band members. They were now reluctant to play songs they associated with him, to the extent that they even considered breaking up altogether.

The music of "Leige and Lief" is rooted in traditional British folk. Gone are any residual American influences, although producer Joe Boyd suggests that the band were trying to parallel in Great Britain what The Band were doing in the US.

The opening "Come all ye" is a mid-paced anthem. Written by Sandy Denny and Ashley Hutchings. It was clearly intended to become a live favourite, offering the audience the opportunity to join in on the chorus. The following "Reynardine" is the first of no less than five (of eight) traditional numbers arranged by the band. The song is delivered in a sparse Celtic style focusing on Denny's pure voice, the results being atmospheric and emotional. The melody is similar to that of the folk favourite "She moved through the fair".

"Matty Groves" is one of the true highlights, not only of this album, but of the band's career. The first half tells the story of a liaison between a lady of wealth and a commoner, and inevitable conclusion when her husband hears of the affair. Once the tale is told, the band, led by Dave Swarbrick and Richard Thompson, add a wonderful instrumental outing based on the air "Kate and the cow hide". As a whole, this is a truly magnificent piece which superbly blends a simple folk song with an ambitious arrangement.

Richard Thompson's "Farewell farewell" slows things down again for a short ballad of the type which features heavily on Denny's solo albums. "The deserter" tells the tale of someone who did just that, from the perspective of the offender himself. The song offers a striking contrast between the pure vocals of Denny and the surprisingly heavy instrumental arrangement. The following "Medley" takes in four traditional jigs and reels, Dave Swarbrick taking the chance to demonstrate the full versatility of his magnificent fiddling. Here we have the essence of Fairport Convention in 4 wonderful minutes.

Dave Swarbrick's arrangement of "Tam Lin" offers room for Richard Thompson to flex his fingers on guitar while Denny tells another traditional tale. The closing "Crazy man Michael" is for me quite exquisite. This Swarbrick/Thompson composition sounds like it has been around for hundreds of years. The song tells a story of a seemingly mad man who, as predicted, mistakenly kills his sweetheart. Sandy Denny delivers the song without great dramatics, but the emotion of the song is quite overwhelming.

In all, a magnificent folk rock album which finds Fairport doing what they were to discover they do best. The transformation of traditional songs into magnificent contemporary pieces is carried out with an assured confidence which will serve the band for the decades to follow.

The 2002 remastered version of the CD has two extra tracks from around the same time. The first of these "Sir Patrick Spens" is a rare version of this Fairport favourite sung by Denny, while "Quiet joys of brotherhood" combines the words of Richard Farina with a traditional tune. The latter, which runs to almost 8 minutes, is in the style of songs such as "A sailor's life" and "Sloth" with a sparse arrangement and maudlin atmosphere. As such, this is actually something of a lost gem.

Despite their major input to "Liege and Lief" throughout, Sandy Denny (to Fotheringay) and Ashley Hutchings (to Steeleye Span) would leave the band shortly after the release of this album. Sandy would later return for the "Rising for the moon" album.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#176441) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, July 10, 2008

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Often regarded as one of their finest studio releases Liege and Lief embarks on even more solid folk sounding themes. The late Sandy Denny delivers great vocals on the rallying opening track Come All Ye. Richard Thompson as usual commanding the set throughout the album. Check out other great tracks like ' Farewell Farewell and the lengthy Tam Lin. The bonus release in 2002 also offers to extra songs but for purists the original album will be the main point of reference. A solid and good release from FC.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#176581) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 12, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars I much prefer the all male line-up of Fairport Convention over this earlier Sandy Denny fronted band. Full House and Babbacombe Lee are the best Fairport albums in my opinion.

The sound quality of Liege & Lief is quite bad compared to Full House and the other 70's albums. Also, the only instruments involved here are guitars, drums, bass, vocals and fiddle. That means no mandolins, no dulcimers, no autoharps, no keyboards, etc. In that sense Liege & Lief is less folky and has a much less interesting overall sound. It is certainly not progressive and the arrangements are quite simple.

The best tracks here are the instrumental medley and Matty Groves.

I guess that this is essential if you want to know Fairport Convention and British Folk Rock in general. But for listening pleasure, Full House or the concept album Babbacombe Lee are much better places to start.

Only essential from the historical perspective.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#177533) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 21, 2008

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Rebounding quickly after the death on drummer Lamble, L&L appeared less than six months after Unhalfbricking. With Mattacks on the drum stool, the band added Swarbrick on violin (he had appeared on previous albums of theirs). L&L with its very traditional-type of artwork was an instant hits with the crowds pretty well everywhere the album was released. I must say that it's a great improvement on their Dylan/Cohen/Mitchell-esque previous albuus, as the group finally found their way, following Traffic's footsteps into renting out a cottage to write the album (remember Genesis and Zep Bron Y Aur things??) and it shows.

Although L&L is considered by many the ultimate British folk rock album, it's typically the type of album that I don't think should be regarded as progressive as in prog. Sure the electrified usual folk became folk rock, which was a progression in itself, and the band had excellent interplay skill, it simple was not "prog" in the manner this site makes it out to be, because the group mostly modernized standard by electrifying them. Even in the longer tracks Matty Groves or Tam Lin, where the band develops excellent interplay and lengthy solos, the group settles into a groove and maintains steadily (tam is in 5). Outside that, we have a delicious rendition of the trad Reynardine (the arrangements are brilliant but have been heard before), a much less interesting sing-along Come Ye' All and the 4-)jigs medley (not really what I call useful, it can even be seen as a filler) and a good Deserter version. Getting back to Groves and Lin, both tracks are the clear highlights of this album showing FC's brilliance both virtuoso and in intra-group tightness. On the other hand the band's few original songs are rather few and not exactly shining, with the afore mentioned Come Yea All, Thompson's Farewell (heard somewhere before, or since) and Crazy Man Michael lacks the touch to become real pouignant tune, partly because of conservative songwriting.

The remastered version boasts two bonus tracks, the second of which makes the price of upgrading worth it. Indeed after an average Sir Patrick (a preview of the FH next album), we are offered a cover of Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood, which is to rank with the groups' series of mini-epic life Sloth, Groves or Sailor. It's easy to see why L&L is generally picked out by fans as their best album, and there are indeed plenty of arguments in its favour, but even FC's best album pale in comparison to any of Pentangle's early albums. IMHO, of course.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#178846) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Liege & Lief is the fourth studio album from UK folk/ rock act Fairport Convention and itīs the third album the band would release in 1969. Itīs also the third and last album with Sandy Denny ( She would return a couple of years later, but thatīs another story). The first being What We Did On Our Holidays and the second being Unhalfbricking. Liege & Lief was written and recorded during the summer of 1969. Producer Joe Boyd has installed the band in a large English country house and the band had set up their rehearsal gear in one of the large downstairs livingrooms. In the spring of 1969 the band had been struck by tragedy when drummer Martin Lamble and Richard Thompsonīs girlfriend Jeannie Taylor were killed in a car crash and the band was at that time unsure if they wished to continue. After a while the band got the pieces together and set out to record their next album. A new drummer Dave Mattacks and Violinist Dave Swarbrick ( who had guested on Unhalfbricking) were added to the lineup.

It was decided that they would start from scratch to prevent them from being reminded about the dead too often. This means that many of the songs on Liege & Lief are traditional british folk songs which has been re-arranged by the band. In fact only three out of the eight songs on the original release were written by members of the band and thatīs come All Ye, Farewell, Farewell and Crazy Man Michael. That doesnīt mean that the music has changed that much since Unhalfbricking IMO. Unhalfbricking was also pretty folky if you ask me.

The difference is the mood on Liege & Lief which I think reflects the sad mood the members must have been in at the time. There are some truly beautiful songs on the album and Iīll mention the powerful Matty Groves as my favorite, but also songs like The Deserter, Tam Lin and Raynardine are excellent. Only Medley : The Lark In The Morning/ Rakish Paddy/ Foxhunter's Jig/ Toss The Feathers is below standard and thatīs just because it doesnīt suit my taste. I just canīt stand the dirtkickin`, leather jiggin` violin led piece.

The two bonus tracks which has been added to the CD re-release are also great songs. I especially enjoy Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood. Fairport Conventionīs version of The End.

The musicianship is excellent. Sandy Denny is a strong female vocalist. She really gave Fairport Convention their identity in that period. I also enjoy the great interplay between the two guitarists.

The production is really well done. It suits the music perfectly. Warm and pleasant.

Liege & Lief is a notch better than Unhalfbricking IMO and deserves a 4 star rating. I canīt claim that this is music I listen to very often but this exact album ( and the debut) has something special that canīt be taught or practised. Itīs got real emotions. Out of the three Sandy Denny led albums this is by far my favorite from Fairport Convention. Sadly Sandy and bassist Ashley Hutchings would leave the band shortly after the recording of the album.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#189368) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 15, 2008

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Released at the end of 1969, Liege and Lief is the third Fairport Convention album to come out in that almost legendary year for rock music. It is also the last album for some time to feature singer Sandy Denny (known to most rock fans as the other voice in Led Zeppelin's The Battle of Evermore), as well as their first recorded with new drummer, Dave Mattacks, after the tour bus crash that had killed drummer Martin Lamble and guitarist Richard Thompson's girlfriend, Jeannie Franklyn, in the month of May. After that tragedy, it seemed things had already come to an end for the young, promising band that - together with the likes of The Strawbs, Steeleye Span and The Incredible String Band - had spearheaded the British folk-rock movement of the late Sixties.

However, after the remaining members had recovered from their physical and emotional injuries, Fairport Convention got back in the studio, and produced what is commonly hailed as the highpoint of their career, and one of the most representative albums of that era. Much more accomplished than their earlier recordings, melancholy and subdued in mood (in spite of the occasional flares of upbeat energy), "Liege and Lief" presents a stylish image right from its cover, depicting purple-hued, cameo-like portraits of the six band members. Five out of eight tracks are reinterpretations of traditional British folk songs, while their earlier albums had been more biased towards American folk music.

With the sole exception of the instrumental "Medley : The Lark In The Morning/ Rakish Paddy/ Foxhunter's Jig/ Toss The Feathers", a series of lively, string-driven tunes meant for dancing, the songs feature Sandy Denny's pure vocal tones, allowing them to shine throughout. Sandy's sad fate is well-known in the music world, and the wistfulness underlying her singing sounds like a foreboding of her early demise (she died at 31 after a fall from the stairs, whose causes are still unclear). The anthemic opener "Come All Ye" (one of the three original band compositions) is sounds definitely more upbeat, both musically and lyrically, than most of the album; while "Reynardine" is delicate and atmospheric, with Denny's voice emoting over a somewhat sparse instrumental arrangement. While all band members, in spite of their young age, offer remarkably accomplished performances, Sandy Denny is the real star of this disc. Her crystal-clear voice is not as melodic as Jacqui McShee's, and not as earthy as Maddy Prior's, making her delivery somehow less sentimental in spite of the subject matter of many of the songs.

For the purposes of this site, as good as this album undeniably is, it should also be said that it is only very vaguely related to prog, as most of Fairport Convention's output. Those who are looking for authentically progressive folk should look elsewhere - starting with their contemporaries Pentangle, whose music is certainly more complex, even if they share most of their source material with FC. However, "Liege and Lief" makes essential listening for anyone interested in folk-rock (progressive or otherwise), and can definitely be enjoyed by most prog fans, unless they have an allergy to female vocals. Four solid stars for an excellent album.

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Send comments to Raff (BETA) | Report this review (#206322) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars Liege and Lief is Fairport Convention's most acclaimed album. That is no surprise, the musical maturity of the musicians had grown considerably and Sandy Denny delivers some of her most divine vocals ever. Unfortunately it was the last album with her in the band and Fairport Convention had a hard time reaching an audience ever since.

The album opens with the rather pedestrian tune Come All Ye, classic blues-rock with a tiny fiddle that doesn't appeal much to me. The eerie folk hymn of Reynardine is an entirely different matter, so much delicate emotion and dreamy atmosphere here. Matty Groves is also a more satisfying song, in style it's similar to the opener but the unrelenting folk chant keeps building up all the way through. Farwell and The Deserter are fairly unremarkable but ok ballads. A big disappointment comes with Medley, a very badly aged medley of folk dance clichés.

Up goes the level with the next one. Tam Lin is a mandatory listen, an epic folk tale with a good bluesy rocking arrangement. Crazy Man Michael ends the original album with a beautiful ballad. Considering all the ups and downs, you must make sure to get the 2002 reissue. The 8 minute Quiet Joys of Brotherhood is a must-have, recalling the sad and sinister atmosphere of Reynardine and A Sailor's Life, the highlight of the previous album.

Generally, I'm not to keen about folk music and certainly not folk-rock. On top, I haven't heard much rock bands with convincing female vocals. But somehow Fairport Convention makes it work here. There's a layer of thick woolly blankets to bite through, but once you're in, it will be a cosy and warm stay with Sandy and the guys around the campfire. 3.5 stars

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#282066) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#289017) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 03, 2010

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Fairport Convention - Liege & Lief (1969)

As my search for pleasant or progressive folk rock continues and can't help stumbling apon Fairport Convention's Liege and Lief. This particular album of the band is been referred to as a starting point for a lot of conventional folk influenced folk-rock. Even in my home- country one can it's influence in the wave of Dutch folk that came to being after '75 with bands like the Frisian Irolt (recommended to folk collectors!).

Though folk-rock already existed, it had largely been focussed on the song-writing styled folk-song like Donovan or Pearls Before swine (among many others) would make in the second part of the sexties. Fairport Convention has build a bridge between the authentical folky compositions with recognisable guitar patterns, flutes and violins and the still blues influenced rock music of the time (we're talking about '69 here). The strong use of folky rhythmical patterns and 'church'-scales really help to create a soothing, warm, non- threathning atmosphere that might even attract some of your non-prog and female friends. Furthermore, the female vocals of Sandy Denny prove to be a daring but successful addition to the atmospheres the band creates. As Bonnek states, it's not that easy to find rock-styled bands with convincing female vocals.

It is noteworthy the production of this record is kind of brilliant for it's time of release. Though the violins could have been recorded a bit more directly for my tastes, I must admit the album has a full and acceptable polished sound. The sound hasn't dated that much and I was kind of suprised when just read this album was from '69, I would have put money on saying it was released during the '73-'74 period.

The album has ten tracks that all fit in nicely. The instrumental piece Medley stands out as a bit too conventional with it's pint-bar instrumental atmosphere. The ballads with long rests in the instrumenal department really show the vocal capabilities of Sandy Denny, whilst some of the instrumental parts during other tracks remind us of the prog-folk that was soon to come in the beginning of the seventes progressive period. Some rock-guitars with gentle distortion are a welcome distraction, though in most songs the musical accents are made with a powerfull rock worthy sound.

Conclusion. Ground-braking, yet non-bombastic folk rock with an traditional approach to composition and song-writing. A great album for '69 and still a soothing folk record today. The progressive part of folk-prog isn't the focus here, but one can hear other prog-folk bands are inspired by this release. Three and a halve stars, but I think I'll extend them to the upper end. Recommended to fans of folk-rock, those interested in the development of the genre and people searching for relaxing, soothing music.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#427699) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Quite honestly, these are folk tunes plugged in. But in these electrically adapted folk tunes are some lively performances from the instrumentalists who seem to be having fun with the material.

As for the tunes themselves, the dynamic range varies from full throttle, foot-stomping rock to near quietude. It is quite interesting how the album opens with the lively ''Come All Ye'' followed directly by ''Reynardine'' with more sparse instrumentation; the two songs sound like they are meant to be connected.

The two tracks near the epic length are lengthy by lyrical content which is usually a huge turnoff for me, but the crescendo of sorts in ''Matty Groves'' and the groove of ''Tam Lin'' (watch the time sig counter) have a solid enough backbone to support their lengths.

Consistent quality can be an issue. Right after the highlight of ''Tam Lim'', ''Crazy Man Michael'' ends the album on way too soft of a note (I would have preferred ''Farewell, Farewell'' as a closer, but that point is moot), almost dull even. Sandy Denny does have a fantastic voice, but there are times I feel she simply isn't into it.

A lot of reviewers don't care for the medley smack in the middle of the album. I actually enjoy the thing even if its purpose is to showcase Dave Swarbrick's skills. Still, that track ended up being the difference maker for me.

If you enjoy folk music updated to modern (for the 60's) standards, this is a classic. Slightly missing it on the prog side of things, though.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#810622) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars On Liege & Lief Fairport Convention made their definitive break away from previous 60s folk rock precedents, which had concentrated mostly on presenting modern material from singer- songwriters like Dylan, and instead applied a folk rock approach to adapting more traditional folk fare, focusing in particular on arrangements of British folk standards with only a smattering of original compositions.

It's spoken of as a groundbreaking album, and it is, but to perceive this you need to remember that the real inventiveness here is in the arrangements rather than in the compositions themselves, with mellow electric guitar solos and the like being worked into the mix so naturally you'd have imagined these songs were originally composed for electric instruments. Fairport Convention weren't the first people to take this sort of approach to British folk rock, but few were as successful as they are here.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#926419) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 08, 2013

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars I had seen Fairport Convention as an opening act for Jethro Tull, back in the early 80s and I certainly retain vivid impressions of what I saw and heard that night. Particularly, Ric Sanders terrific fiddle, which lashed out often and blazed a few memorable sonic trails. I always enjoyed British folk, as opposed to American country music, though it must be said that Fairport Convention is a different kettle of fish as it concentrates on traditional structures. On Liege and Lief, Sandy Denny, who has often been deified for dying young, a popular habit back in the 70s with a slew of superstars expiring (Hendrix, Jones, Joplin, Morrison, Wilson, Bonham & co) was of course a fundamental pioneer in the career of the Strawbs, a band I have a long standing love affair with. It must also be mentioned that the instrumentalists are equally first rate, no one more so than the enigmatic and genial Richard Thompson, but also the terrific Dave Mattacks on drums. The violin is held here by Dave Swarbrick .

This album is considered to be their finest hour, a glowing menu of brilliant melodies that perfectly capture the various styles associated with the nascent electric prog-folk scene, from old school traditional songs such as the instantly recognizable highlight tracks "Matty Groves", "Reynardine", "Sir Patrick Spens" and "Tam Lin" as well as more rollicking pub sing-along fare ("Come All Ye"). There is also an inspiring medley of jig related pieces that highlight the still revered British folk scene today, the fiddle leading the way in a style that spawned such current stalwarts as Iona or Loreena McKinnitt. There is even an epic 10 minute finale, the deliciously titled "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" that stamps strong prog imagery onto the disc's powerful folk leanings. The rock element is conveyed by Thompson's energetic performance, a fluid and innovative guitarist with boundless expression and exuberance. His playing alone is worth owning this in a prog collection.

The focus is also clearly on Denny and her angelic delivery, and she really does not falter or disappoint. Particularly on the extended folk platforms "Matty Groves" and "Tam Lin", she glides dramatically over the dignified melodies with assurance and class. "Crazy Man Michael" is another mesmerizing ditty, full of rolling bass from Ashley Hutchings, some cool Swarbrick violin and Denny howling to the moon. The epic final track has a unique buzz, somewhat experimental in nature, very Iona-like actually, like some mist choked bog in the Highlands churning out some sheep farmer's lament. The hypnotic mood is atmospheric and ethereal, simplicity ruling the melody as it's egged on by the swirly fiddle. Pretty sure Enya and Clannad got their initiation on this incredible track. The only slight negative is the awful artwork, a typically drab pre-Woodstock cover, looking more like an old postage stamp.

4 tankards of ale

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#1295516) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2014

Latest members reviews

5 stars Full article first published on blogcritics.org Ever and anon, out of trauma and tragedy arises, phoenix-like, a thing of wonder from the ashes. In May of 1969, Fairport Convention's band van swerved off the road and down a steep embankment on the M-1 outside of Birmingham, England. Most of t ... (read more)

Report this review (#391950) | Posted by The Dark Elf | Tuesday, February 01, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Lieg and Lief is a great album of English folk music with rock instrumentation. Sandy Denny is without doubt a brilliant vocalist and along with Dave Swarbick, the violinist (or fiddler) really gives this album its life. 'Come All Ye' is a great rallying call for musicians and music-lovers ev ... (read more)

Report this review (#172968) | Posted by burtonrulez | Tuesday, June 03, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 6.5/10 Decent Well, Fairport has almost entirely strayed from what I loved about them so much. At this point they are almost entirely traditional minstrel folkish sounding, which is probably my least favorite style from them. Farewell, Farewell is a complete masterpiece in the likes of Wha ... (read more)

Report this review (#165983) | Posted by The Lost Chord | Monday, April 07, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I am having trouble understanding the middling rating which this album has received. I think that this album is perfect. I love the two records that preceded this one, but I feel that the amazing musicianship and songwriting developed with the previous records really received a shot in the arm t ... (read more)

Report this review (#128747) | Posted by georgie centaur | Monday, July 16, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A flawless masterpiece! On Liege & Lief finally let all American influences behind them and concentrated on British folk instead. It would be their finest moment. The leading role is for Sandy Denny's lovely voice. Although a talented songwriter, she only contributed one the opening track for th ... (read more)

Report this review (#77936) | Posted by LittleMan | Friday, May 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I think "Liege & Lief" is this bands biggest achievement. It's absolutely fantastic! Every single track involves either strong songs, inspiring lyrics or astonishing musicianship. My favourite song "Crazy Man Michael" is put last on the album, here you get the very best of Sandy Dennys caracte ... (read more)

Report this review (#61276) | Posted by 1971 | Thursday, December 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This wonderful album set the direction to England's folk rock movement at the early Seventies, and IMHO it's the best album Fairport ever made. Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Ashley "Tyger" Hutchings were on top form here, probably delivering the performances of their lives. Of course, Dave ... (read more)

Report this review (#60555) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Saturday, December 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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