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Fairport Convention - The Five Seasons CD (album) cover

THE FIVE SEASONS

Fairport Convention

 

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2.97 | 15 ratings

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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Gold is the lowest of metals, too soft for serious use"

The Fairport line up which recorded this album was one of the most stable and long lasting in the band's history. This was the fifth album (hence the title perhaps) recorded since 1985 by Nicol, Pegg, Mattacks, Allcock and Sanders. While not exactly breaking new ground (we would not really expect them to now would we), this is a fine collection of songs which should please both the devoted fan and the inquisitive with a taste for folk.

The opening "Claudy banks" is a superb mid-paced traditional folk tale which affords each of the band members space to introduce themselves. This 6 minute song has a memorable melody and a timeless quality.

There are inevitably a few more ubiquitous numbers, and the Lowe/White penned "All your beauty" falls into this category. Those with an inkling for Fairport's jigs and reels will no doubt be delighted by the "Cup of tea. . ." medley, which draws in banjo, accordion, mandolin and violin among others.

The ballad "Gold" has a passing similarity to Ralph McTell's "Red and gold", a song also covered by Fairport. The song takes a pragmatic look at the true value of the precious metal, songwriter Peter Blegvad dreaming that "accountants are rarer than poets". The pace remains downbeat for "Rhythm of the time", a track omitted from the original LP version of the album due to lack of space. While the song is atmospheric and well performed, it does feel a bit ordinary. The writer of the song, Dave Whetsone, would go on to work with Maartin Allcock after the latter had left Fairport.

"The card song/shuffle the pack" is a traditional song with entertaining lyrics and a strong folk rock rhythm. The second of the instrumental tracks, "Mock Morris '90" is once again based around three short jigs and reels, credited to band violinist Ric Saunders. The first part, "The green man", is similar to "Bridge over the river ash", while "The Cropredy badger" and "Molly on the jetty" are more traditional toe-tappers.

A second Dave Whetsone composition "Sock in it" features the most cynical lyrics on the album such as "So don't leave your chickens when the vixen's on the hill, 'cos when you turn your back, you know she's gonna make her kill". Once again, the song is perfunctory rather than impressive, the heavy beat failing to distract from the rather ordinary tune.

"Ginnie", is a cover of Huw Williams song "Geordie will dance the jig". This soft folk number suits Simon Nicol's voice well, the instrumentation being kept respectfully unintrusive behind him. The album closes with "The wounded whale", another epic story song, this time written by legendary Scottish folk singer Archie Fisher ("The man with a rhyme"). Unusually for Fairport, the song features Maartin Allcock playing string synthesiser giving the song a symphonic feel at times while retaining its traditional sea-faring values.

The Talking Elephant CD re-issue has one bonus track, "Caught a whisper", another Whetsone song, this time recorded live at Cropredy in 1994.

In all, another enjoyable album by Fairport who by this time are well away from their prog folk days. Those familiar with their work from the mid-1980's on should enjoy this album.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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