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Fairport Convention - Rosie CD (album) cover


Fairport Convention


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2.26 | 33 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The best track was history before it appeared on this album

Fairport's follow up to the 1971 concept album "Babacombe Lee" took a couple of years to surface, the space being filled by the excellent "History of Fairport Convention" collection. The line up here retains the Swarbrick/Pegg/Mattacks core, but Simon Nicol has moved on, at least for the time being. In come guitarists and vocalists Trevor Lucas and Jerry Donahue. The family nature of the band is wonderfully demonstrated by the appearance of Sandy Denny, Richard Thomson, and Gerry Conway on specific tracks, plus guest appearances by other folk luminaries such as Linda Peters (Thompson), and Ralph McTell. Lucas immediately installs himself at the producers desk and contributes two of the songs.

Generally seen by the Fairport faithful as a turn for the worse, there is no doubt "Rosie" lacks the inspiration and sense of adventure of the band's earlier days. Pegg and Swarbrick tend to take control of the song writing, but appear to be relying on material which would have struggled to find a place on albums such as "Unhalfbricking" or " ..holidays".

The opening title track is a curiously mellow song, with a "Meet on the ledge feel", although the mood is more romantic than mournful. Sandy Denny and the Thompsons provide sympathetic background harmonies on the chorus. "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John" follows in similar fashion, with a simple but catchy refrain.

Trevor Lucas takes lead vocal for the first time on "Knights of the road", a song which is more country than folk, the multi-tracked vocals being effective but rather alien. The first real burst of traditional Fairport we get is on Dave Pegg's instrumental "Peggy's pub" (note the pun in the title) which is similar to "The cuckoo's nest" medley on "Angel delight".

Lucas's second contribution, "The plainsman" borrows the melody from a traditional song called "Tramps and hawkers". It is a lovely melody, but being aware of the original song, I would have preferred to hear that version here.

Things take a decided turn downwards as side two leads off with Pegg's "Hungarian rhapsody", a sort of "Smoke on the water" type narrative but devoid of a decent melody or interesting story. Swarb's "My girl" reverts to the romantic reflections of the title song, the two being very similar in style and substance. If "Hungarian rhapsody" was at best mediocre, we have possibly the band's worst song ever in "Me with you". The cod 40's feel of the performance, complete with slight megaphoned vocals, is truly awful.

Fortunately, we are left without a sour taste in the mouth, as the traditional instrumental "The hens march through the midden/The four poster bed" finds Fairport delivering what they do best. I have to say the track, which predated the album by appearing on the "History of Fairport Convention" (if that makes sense!) is one of my absolute favourite Fairport jigs and reels. Swarb's fiddle on "The four poster bed", is some of the most inspired he has played. We close with Swarbrick's "Furs and feathers", a rather strange tale of a king who disguises himself as a beggar. The verses are quite effective, but the chorus is prosaic.

In all, "Rosie" is not as bad an album as the press it receives might imply. Admittedly, it does have a couple of stinkers, but there is enough good material here to justify investigation by the Fairport faithful. From a prog perspective though, there is little if anything of value.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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