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Wigwam - Fairyport CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.14 | 215 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars The following album Being (1973) is considered Wigwam's ultimate masterpiece, but the group found their strength (which mostly was on the shoulders of Jukka Gustavson) on this one. Fairyport was released as a double vinyl - albeit a short one, approximately 66 minutes - and now we really can say that by leaving the worst parts aside and using further thinking in the running order this would have been so much better and more coherent.

The second vinyl side ends with a lousy - frankly, very irritating - Jim Pembroke song 'How to Make It Big in a Hospital'. What a striking contrast to the wonderful suite by Jukka Gustavson that starts with the title track on the first side. I'm not fond of the cacthy and rollicking 'Rockin' Ol' Galway' with its harmonica playing either, but Pempbroke wrote also two beautiful songs, the acoustic and moody 'Lost Without a Trace' (backed up by piano and Jukka Tolonen's guitar) and emotionally powerful 'Every Fold', which is an uplifting finale to the main album. Pembroke also wrote and sung nice lyrics for Pekka Pohjola's composition 'One More Try'.

Wigwam didn't too often succeed in team writing. The finest fruit of team work comes as the album opener 'Losing Hold'. WOW! One of the best tracks in the entire Finnish prog history. 'Fairyport' is another masterpiece. Notice those wonderful reed arrangements and the harmony vocals in the soft sections. Jukka's own vocal parts are very much in the style of his two Stevie heroes, Winwood and Wonder.Thankfully he was not the only vocalist in the group because it could easily became a tiresome factor. The three Gutsi songs in the second side are good vocal jazz-rock but less memorable. By the way, Jukka's original words in Finnish were translated by Mats Huldén. The wordplay (ie. intended "misspelling" of words) sometimes went a bit too cryptic, especially on Being album.

The master bassist Pekka Pohjola offers two instrumentals in his own unique style. 'Hot Mice' is naturally a nod to Zappa's album Hot Rats which he admired like crazy. 'PK's Supermarket' features a wide use of instruments played by Pekka, the brief composition being a bit silly fusion of jazz, rock and Baroque.

Some listeners like the forth vinyl side's 17-minute edition of live jamming titled 'Rave-Up for the Roadies' (starring Tolonen's electric guitar and Gutsi's organ) but I don't. I wonder how would I have felt in the concert, listening to the endless showing off of the technical skill, probably I'd be bored to death after half an hour, sorry. Those who despise prog as endless soloing are for once absolutely right.

Fairyport comes very close being a masterpiece but the faults are too serious to be totally forgiven. The great cover art was drawn after Gustavson's concept. On Being he took the leading role further; that album would ALMOST pass as his solo work, but thankfully he ordered compositions from Pembroke and Pohjola too. Both albums represent the very best of the Finnish classic prog.

Matti | 4/5 |


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