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Fairport Convention - Who Knows Where The Time Goes? CD (album) cover


Fairport Convention


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3.69 | 14 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Featuring the man who inspired the revolutions in the USA and France

Some time between the release of the excellent "Jewel in the crown" album in 1995, and this 1997 set, Maartin Alcock left the band. The five man line up was however preserved by the arrival of Chris Leslie, a multi-talented folk musician who lists Dave Swarbrick among those who have inspired him along the way. Apart from his ability to play a wide array of instruments, Leslie also brought with him his song writing talent, an aspect where the band had been deficient for some time, leaving them to rely on the work of others and of course traditional material.

This album is made up of 10 new recordings, plus a couple of interesting live tracks, of which more later. Leslie makes an immediate impression on the opening "John Gaudie", a song he composed based on a traditional story about a Shetlander who is hit on the head by a hammer. The track incorporates some traditional melodies affording Leslie the opportunity to display his fiddle abilities too. Simon Nicol's first vocal contribution is on Anna Ryder's fine folk ballad "Sailing boat". While never a full member of the band, Ryder has been around the band for a while, also writing and playing on the 35th anniversary release. Nicol is as usual in fine form on the song, which features an excellent mandolin accompaniment by Leslie.

The Steve Tilston composed "Here's To Tom Paine" is interesting more for the tale it tells than for the song itself. Thomas Paine is credited with being a founding father of the USA, who inspired revolutions both there and in France through his inspirational writing. The song mentions a statue of Paine in Thetford, Norfolk (UK), which is "blessed by pigeons". Ric Sanders proves that he is no slouch on the fiddle either with his self composed "The Bowman's retreat", an instrumental which he generously wrote with the intention that he and Leslie would play together to "celebrate him joining the band". The piece is a fine workout for both, similar to the old favourite "The four poster bed".

Interestingly, "Spanish man" was co-written by former member Maartin Alcock and his replacement Chris Leslie. The song is surprisingly heavy, with an offbeat rhythm; it also features some excellent lead guitar which is rather unfortunately cut off in full flow. "The golden glove" is the second of the folk ballads, again featuring Simon Nicol on lead vocal. The song pairs a traditional lyric with a melody written by Sally Barker. Sanders second instrumental composition is "Slipology", a piece dedicated to legendary comedian Spike Milligan.

"The wishfulness waltz" is indeed in waltz time, Chris' vocal being perfect for this delightful song with natural similarities to The Eagles "Hollywood waltz". The twin violins are used to fine effect here the track closing with a Benny Thomasson melody entitled "Midnight on the water". "Life's a long song" is of course a cover of the Jethro Tull hit single. The band's three singers take turns at lead vocal on the track, which offers a reassuringly different take on the piece. "Dangerous" is a wonderful story song written by American singer songwriter Kristina Olsen. The song displays her talent for an acerbically witty composition, Nicol's lead vocal bringing out the song's "bite" (Nicol's word) perfectly.

The final two tracks are live recordings. The cover of the Marvin Gaye hit "I heard it through the grapevine", recorded at Cropredy in 1995, is sensational. It brings back former member Richard Thompson on lead vocals, while also featuring Roy Wood's Big band. Maartin Allcock, who was still a member of the band at the time, also appears on keyboards. The album closes with a recording of the wonderful Sandy Denny song which gives this album its name. This version is from a gig in Canterbury, UK in 1997, Simon Nicol taking on lead vocal. The natural emotion in Nicol's great voice bring out the full majesty of the song.

In all, a fine collection of songs which range from the traditional to the modern Fairport and back to the old Fairport.

The album was later retitled as "The wishfulness waltz" and re-released with four further new recordings of old material.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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