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Fairport Convention - Over The Next Hill CD (album) cover


Fairport Convention


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3.36 | 14 ratings

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4 stars This is one of those times when I wish I had a time machine so I could bring this album back to the seventies and eighties. Many of the album's songs would have no doubt been hit singles if presented in the right time frame. However, that's still good news for us long time fans of the band.

Over The Next Hill is a more balanced album between the lead vocals of guitarist Simon Nicol and multi instrumentalist Chris Leslie and sports some of the finest group vocals between Nicol, Leslie and bassist Dave Pegg, on a scale approaching that of a group like Crosby, Stills and Nash. No mean feat. And the songs this time around are all absolutely superb and run the gambit from Gordon Lightfoot-like folk epics such as the three historically inspired gems "I'm Already There", "Over The Falls" and "The Fossil Hunter", which were all written and sung by the vastly improved Leslie.

Nicol handles lead duties on two songs written by the great Steve Tilston and the band serves up great arrangements and concentrates on a more Celtic/folk music style where mandolins and bouzoukis sweeten up the fiddling of the great Ric Sanders. The trio of vocalists trade lead vocals on the traditional "Wassail Song" before letting loose on the sublime "Willow Creek" And "Westward", both featuring quirky but totally infectious verse and choruses that will echo in your head long after the songs end. Breaking all this up is a rousing acoustically strummed rocker that recalls Nick Lowe at his prime, the infectious and clever "Wait For The Tide To Come In", another great song sung and written by Leslie. The album of course features the compulsory jig and reel of "Canny Capers" and the Sanders penned instrumental "Someplace Special" but these are far from being filler and "Canny Capers" suggests past progressive nuggets like "Dirty Linen", from Fairport's 1970 album Full House, without duplicating it. What also helps this album is that the group stayed away from MOR sounding love ballads and concentrated on folk rock, their absolute forte and fist love. The group also embrace hand drum and timbale percussion to go along with Gerry Conway's rock steady drumming. While far from the layers of percussion found on a Santana recording it's quite exotic for a group like Fairport and helps to "loosen up" the music tremendously.

I'm very happy to say that this is one album produced by a band that's more then 35 years old that's deserving of 4 stars (4.5 really!). I just can't wait to hear their next one.

SteveG | 4/5 |


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