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Fairport Convention - 'Babbacombe' Lee CD (album) cover


Fairport Convention


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3.74 | 61 ratings

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4 stars "Babbacombe Lee" is the seventh full-length studio album by UK folk/rock act Fairport Convention. The album was released through Island Records in November 1971. Itīs the successor to "Angel Delight" from June 1971. "Angel Delight" was a commercial success for Fairport Convention, and although "Babbacombe Lee" did not sell as well as its predecessor, it did receive praise from contemporary reviewers.

"Babbacombe Lee" is a concept story and often refered to as the first folk rock opera. Itīs the real life story of John Babbacombe Lee (1864-1945). His story is actually a very sinister and bizarre one and well worth telling. Lee was wrongfully (at least thatīs his version of the story) accused, convicted and sentenced to death for the brutal murder of his mistress Miss Keyse (whom he worked for at the time of the murder) in the town of Babbacombe (hence his nickname which is also the name of the album). But on the day of his execution the release mechanism of the scaffold didnīt work. Three times they tried to hang John Lee, but failed. The strange thing is that between those three attempts the release mechanism did work. After the three failed attempts to hang John Lee the queen commuted his sentence to penal servitude for life which in 1885 Victorian England meant twenty years in prison.

The lyrics on the first half of the album is about John Leeīs life before the murder. His youth and his time in the Navy before he was invalided out by the pneumonia. The last part of the album is about the murder, the trial and the failed execution. The music is very well crafted folk/rock which follows the mood and atmosphere of the story all the way through the album. I really like the shifting atmospheres and I think itīs one of the cases where the lyrics for a concept story works well with the instrumental part of the music. Nothing sounds forced here.

The musicianship is excellent and it finally sounds like thereīs confidence in the vocals (something I have missed on previous releases by the band). The fiddle and flute parts are much more restrained on "Babbacombe Lee" and it means that this album has a lesser degree of folk elements compared to its two direct predecessors. Some of the songs actually rock pretty good and Iīm almost reminded of Fairport Conventionīs excellent debut album.

The production is also much more powerful than on the two last albums by the band. Organic, detailed, and well sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. So upon conclusion "Babbacombe Lee" is a high quality album. Itīs one of the highlights of Fairport Conventionīs discography, and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 4/5 |


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