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Fairport Convention Full House album cover
3.66 | 81 ratings | 12 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Walk A While (3:59)
2. Dirty Linen (4:12) Medley:
- Last Night's Fun
- Paddy On The Railroad
- Drops Of Brandy
- Poll Ha'penny
3. Sloth (9:14)
4. Sir Patrick Spens (3:30)
5. Flatback Caper (6:24) Medley:
- Miss Susan Cooper
- The Friar's Britches
- The Sport Of The Chase
- Carolan's Concerto
6. Doctor Of Physick (3:33)
7. Flowers Of The Forest (3:58)

Total time 35:10

Track list of 2001 Island expanded remaster:
1. Walk A While (3:59)
2. Doctor Of Physick (3:33)
3. Dirty Linen (4:12) Medley:
4. Sloth (9:14)
5. Sir Patrick Spens (3:30)
6. Flatback Caper (6:24)
7. Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman (5:31) * #
8. Flowers Of The Forest (3:58)
9. Now Be Thankful (Mono) (2:24) *
10. Sir B. McKenzies Daughter's Lament For The 77th Mounted Lancers Retreat From The Straits Of Loch Knombe, In The Year Of Our Lord 1727, On The Occasion Of The Announcement Of Her Marriage To The Laird Of Kinleakie (2:52) *
11. Bonny Bunch Of Roses (10:48) * %
12. Now Be Thankful (New Stereo Mix) (2:24) *

* Five non-consecutive bonus tracks
# Originally scheduled for inclusion on the original 1970 LP
% Recorded at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood, CA, May 1970

Total time 58:4

Line-up / Musicians

- Richard Thompson / vocals, electric guitar
- Simon Nicol / vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, bass (6), electric dulcimer (8)
- Dave Swarbrick / vocals, fiddle, viola, mandolin (6,7)
- Dave Pegg / vocals, bass guitar, mandolin (6)
- Dave Mattacks / drums, percussion, harmonium (2), bodhrán (3)

Releases information

ArtWork: Superwives (concept & design)

LP Island - ILPS 9130 (1970, UK)

CD Hannibal Records - HNCD 4417 (1992, Europe)
CD Island Records - IMCD 285 (2001, UK) Remastered (?) w/ 5 bonus tracks

Thanks to alucard for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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FAIRPORT CONVENTION Full House ratings distribution

(81 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Heptade
4 stars This is the album that sees Fairport at their most progressive and groundbreaking. Freed (if you can call it that) of two stronger musical personalities in Sandy Denny and Ashley Hutchings, guitarist Richard Thompson and fiddler Dave Swarbrick pushed the instrumental boundaries of their new genre, electric folk. This album features some awe-inspiring playing, as the two virtuosos unleash their abilities to the fullest for the first time on Sloth, where they exchange dueling solos, and on the ferociously fast dance tunes Dirty Linen and Flatback Caper. Bassist Dave Pegg (later of Tull, of course) and drummer Dave Mattacks also give inspired performances. In addition to the instrumental workouts, this album also contains some wonderful compositions, though, in the spooky Doctor of Physick and the elegant adaptation of the traditional Sir Patrick Spens. The bonus track Now be Thankful is also one of the band's all time best songs. Deprived of a standout lead vocalist, four of the members combined to give the vocals a group dynamic. Though none of them could be considered a very good singer, together they give the album a charming, rustic roughness. This album is a perfect combination of electric 60s rock with overt folk influences and sources, and is one of the classics of electric folk.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Bingo!

In the early 1970's, the members Fairport Convention decided that it was no longer practical for them to live in various parts of the UK and continue to work together. They therefore bought a disused pub ("The Angel") in the countryside about 30 miles north of London, and moved in together. The story goes that they originally decided against occupying the run down pub, but since Dave Swarbrick had already packed up and was heading for his new communal home, they had a rapid change of heart.

Along with the band members came their families and sundry crew. This resulted in two albums, the appropriately named "Full house" and "Angel Delight". Prior to the recording of "Angel Delight" Richard Thompson left the band to pursue his solo career, but the fact that he continued to live in The Angel is testimony to the convivial atmosphere enjoyed by all.

Released in 1970, "Full House" was Fairport's fifth album in just over two years, something it would be pretty much impossible for today's bands to achieve. This is the band at their progressive (prog folk) best. Gone is vocalist Sandy Denny who went off to form the short live Fotheringay, and gone is founder member Ashley Hutchings. In comes the highly influential Dave Pegg, who is still with the band today.

The absence of Denny's pure tones is of course immediately apparent. While Fairport have always enjoyed the services of a talented array of vocalists, none can really compare with the pure delight of Sandy. On the other hand, the all male line up (for the first time in the band's history) did offer the opportunity to harden things up considerably.

By now, any vestiges of influences from the other side of the Atlantic were gone (although the band did record parts of the album in New York), to be replaced by a far more British feel. The opening "Walk awhile" a Swarbrick/Thompson composition, has a very traditional feel to it, while offering a highly accessible sing-a-long anthem which would serve the band well in the live arena for many years to follow.

There are a couple of medleys of jigs and reels, where Swarb is of course dominant on the fiddle and mandolin, which continue to emphasise the folk roots of the band. It is though the 9 minute "Sloth" which is the real meat here. This understated dirge, once again written by Swarbrick and Thompson, captures the very essence of prog folk. It is atmospheric, perhaps doomy, but wonderfully compulsive.

The song "Poor Will and the jolly hangman" is of historical interest apart from anything else. It was originally included in the album, with sleeves being printed and test pressings made. Thompson however did not want the song on the album, and very late in the day he prevailed over producer Joe Boyd and the song was dropped without replacement. This meant that the track order had to be hurriedly changed to balance the side lengths of the LP. The remastered CD version of the album restores the song and the other tracks to their original positions. Listening to the song now, it is perhaps possible to sympathise with Thompson's insistence on dropping it. The problem though appears to be with the arrangement and the mixing rather than the song or the performances. Indeed, given a little TLC, this could have been developed into another "Sloth". The reality is though that the album sounds better when the song is restored to it.

The remaster also includes a further four bonus tracks. Two of these are different mixes of superb single "Now be thankful", the improbably named B side (see the track listing, but let's just call it "Sir B's?"!) of that single also being present. This is actually a three part medley of jigs and reels consisting of " Biff, Bang, Crash", "The Kilfenora" and "Boston Tea Party". Thus the track title is irrelevant, and an unashamed attempt to secure a place in the Guinness Book of Records! The other bonus track is an early arrangement of the traditional "Bonny bunch of roses", a song which would later form the title track of a Fairport album. The song, which was recorded in Hollywood USA, is very much in the "Sloth" mode, and features a fine vocal performance by Dave Swarbrick. As an aside, Swarb must surely be one of the most under-appreciated musicians to have graced the 20th century. Incidentally, this entirely serious song has an unintentionally amusing moment when Swarb sings "Adieu, adieu forever"; it sound like he is sneezing!

In all, a superb prog folk album which serves to emphasise the importance of Fairport to the genre. The fact that they could produce such a landmark album immediately after the loss of two of their key members is testament to the whole (i.e. the band) being so much more than the sum of the parts when it comes to all things Fairport. Further change was just around the corner, as this would be the last album the legendary Richard Thompson would record with the band.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Full Convention

Most people consider Liege & Leaf to be the ultimate classic British Folk Rock album. I would say that it is this one. Compared to Liege & Leaf, the instrumental attack on Full House is, well... Fuller. On Liege & Leaf the sound basically consisted of only guitars, fiddle, drums, bass and vocals. Here the instrumental attack is much more diverse; Harmonium, Boran, Dulcimer and Mandolin is added, creating a perfect mix between rock instruments and traditional Folk instruments. And all these instruments are exceptionally well played too. The material is similarly well balanced; four of the eight cuts are original and the other four are traditional Folk tunes.

The sound quality on Full House is also much better than on Liege & Leaf; Full House is simply better recorded and produced. However, it is still far away from how it should be! Some people probably miss the vocals of Sandy Denny, but personally, I strongly prefer the all-male line-up of Fairport Convention to the earlier Sandy Denny fronted band.

Full House, together with Angel Delight and Babbacombe Lee are the three best classic Fairport albums in my opinion. Full House is the folkiest of the these three, and it is very interesting to listen to. It is also one of the most progressive Fairport albums and a great place to start if you want to know what Fairport Convention is all about, and also what British-Electric-Progressive-Folk-Rock in general is about.

A very good Folk rock album!

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

After reaching their career high with L&L, FC was to almost implode losing two important members, both gone to pursue their own project. Denny formed her own group, named after her first Fairport song Fotheringay, feeling she didn't have the songwriting space enough and sort of returned towards a more US folk in her later solo album after a second run with Fairport in the mid 70's. Hutchings was the most traditionalist of the bunch and left to found Steeleye Span (he wouldn't stay long, though), but he thought Fairport was selling its soul with L&L..So he was replaced by Dave Pegg on bass (much later seen in Tull) and the group went out as a quintet and produced the Full House album, the last to be considered a classic Fairport, which I find a bit unfair given Babacombe Lee (and to lesser extent Angel delight) is still to come. This album's name is dedicated to their communal housing, a derelict pub the band had just moved in, creating a lively atmosphere in the premises..

And some of that spirit seeped in the songwriting and general preparation of the album, and despite losing two members, you'd never tell from listening to FH. Indeed if you don't Denny's voice anymore, her absence is quickly dealt away with by instilling a power, not yet heard in their albums so far, Starting on the average sing-along Walk A While (I tend these are cheap songwriting),, followed by a now-traditional jig medley Dirty Linen (I could do without the jig medley AND its title), the album starts rather average until... The album's highlight (you guessed it ;-)) is Sloth a 9-mins mini epic that FC does so well, in line with many Sailor's Groves Lin moments. The flipside contains four shorter songs (well there is another jig medley lasting 6-mins+, this time around) that are your average usual Fairport self, although there was another foreseen (Poor Will and the Happy Hangman) that was taken out for whatever reasons, now reinstalled but can be seen as a first bonus. In either case with or without Poor Will, the original album stood as yet another good Fairport album, but it's clear that there was a "FC album' formula (jig medleys and mini-epics) that was clearly wearing thin..

On the other hand, the remastered (and expanded) Cd version shuffles a bit the order of ruining of tracks of the vinyl, boasting some four bonus tracks (even five if you count the Poor Will track), two of them being a non-album single (again not much more than average for FC), a third being a mono version of one of them and finally the whopping 10-mins+ Bonny Bunch Of Roses (later used for an album's title), yet another small gem in the Sloth, Sailor & Groves mould. Indeed FH is testimony of FC's incredible depth in terms of songwriters after having lost so many members, and lead performers, but to this writer, the FC formula is turning rather weary and bored (outside the few exciting moments) writer (yours truly) that is lucid enough to still recommend you this album as one of the band's best.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Full House is the fifth studio album from UK folk/ rock act Fairport Convention. The album was recorded after the departure of two of the most prolific members of the band. Female vocalist Sandy Denny and bassist Ashley Hutchings were both heavily involved in the songwriting and re-arrangement of the traditional folk songs for their fourth album Liege & Lief. The band chose not to replace Sandy Denny with another female vocalist and took on the lead vocal duties themselves but Ashley Hutchings was replaced by new bassist Dave Pegg ( who would much later become a member of Jethro Tull).

The overall style didn´t change much as the music is still basically folk/ rock. The male vocals are not very strong though and I greatly miss Sandy Denny if I have to be honest. Violinist Dave Swarbrick is even more dominant on Full House than he was on Liege & Lief and IMO in a bad way. The mood of the album really suffers from the very traditional folky edge. Liege & Lief also had a very traditional folk sound but there were strong emotions involved on that album. That´s totally lacking here and the only track I partially enjoy is Sloth. The two instrumentals Diry Linen and Flatback Caper are terrible IMO. If you like traditional folk this might suit your taste but I dislike this kind of music.

The musicianship is good but as I mentioned above the lead vocals are really weak and it sounds like they needed a bit more practice before they should have recorded them.

The production is not as good as it was on Liege & Lief and of course this doesn´t help the music to shine either.

Full House is a great disappointment after the excellent Liege & Lief and I can only reward the album with 2 stars. I´m simply not entertained and the folky edge sometimes embarres me. I was really expecting more than this from Fairport Convention.

Review by kenethlevine
2 stars Without Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention seemed to be having a bit more fun, just 5 chaps, 3 of whom happen to be named Dave, getting together and trying out a few originals and traditionals. Yet one of the essential flaws in even the best Fairport lies in how they can simultaneously sound spontaneous and rote. You've got your instrumental medleys, your traditional songs, your Swarbrick-Thompson collaborations and your "epic", all spaced out appropriately and played with a passionless virtuosity and little melodic instinct. I know Joe Boyd is considered an elite producer but I don't feel he did a good job playing up the group's strengths and cloaking their weaknesses, even given the limitations of the technology of the day.

Side 1 of the original vinyl is the more promising, with the excellent "Walk Awhile" kicking things off, brandishing an arsenal of instrumentation in an ensemble singalong. "Dirty Linen" is good as these type of things go, particularly when acoustic and electric guitar work is matched and syncopated by the rhythm section. "Sloth" is another Fairport monstrosity that simply doesn't equal those on "Liege", as without Denny they are just a bunch of tipsy boys railing together. It's not bad but not very entertaining or memorable, and certainly not progressive in any real sense.

For the rest, only "Sir Patrick Spens" is especially noteworthy, reminding me of what the now departed Hutchings would do with the Albion Band. The subsequent medley is unwelcome and VERY long, while "The Flowers of the Forest" is an interminable 4 minute dirge.

Fairport Convention possessed all the qualities necessary to assume the mantle of British folk rock supremacy, and in the view of many they achieved this end. Yet even the oft regarded classic "Full House" has plenty of "room" for improvements.

Review by Einsetumadur
5 stars 14.5/15P.: This album doesn't leave any space to criticism, simply because the band knows exactly how to treat British folk music and how to compose original songs which fit perfectly well into the frame. Full House is haunting, rustic and dark, but it soothes you with wistful melodies and great arrangements.

First and foremost I'd like to praise Dave Mattacks. Between 1969 and 1972 he was, in my opinion, the best drummer in rock music. You can listen to every Fairport album, and to every session he played - it's always mesmerizing to hear these little fills, the breezy cymbals, the little counter-rhythms and the gentle punch of his drums. Sadly, his session playing became a lot more simple in the mid-1970s - this might be the reason why some people criticise his playing - but what you get on this album is rhythmic perfection. I never managed to listen to a whole album before while only concentrating on the drums - in this case it works!

So, which types of music do you find here?

*Eleven thrilling minutes of jigs & reels*

Many folk rock bands believe they have captured the real essence of folk music when they simply electrify some British traditional dance tunes which, in many cases, sound quite alike when you compare them. Fairport Convention do everything to actually insert the rock instruments in a way that they don't sound like simple sound effects, but rather like a careful reformation of the old style.

And I don't mean that Fairport Convention were always successful in doing that. Just listen to the Sir McKenzie's Daughter's Lament (...) tune with the horribly long title, which I also criticized in the review of the otherwise stunning 1970 live album of the band. It's got this boring 4/4 driving rhythm which ignores the natural rhythm of the dance tune. Of course, Dave Mattacks plays one of the better boring rhythms, at least many other drummers did a worse job, but this piece just isn't convincing. But it's been a b-side of a single, and as such it doesn't hurt anyone.

The dance stuff on the original album is in fact quite a lot better, and that's how it should be. Dirty Linen lacks a constant drum rhythm and hence allows Dave Pegg to play the melody of this rapid jig on the bass guitar along with the violin and the guitars. Everyone in the band actually plays the same thing simultaneously, but I've rarely heard such a tribal and 'Nordic' power to a jig. Dave Mattacks also appears in this track, but plays some bodhran in the beginning and the drum kit inbetween, but only for a few measures each. Every stroke he sets in this album has its purpose, no drum stroke is superfluous, and that's one of the reasons why this album is the band's ultimate masterpiece. Flatback Caper is really really long, longer than most of the dance medleys, but it's so damn entertaining thanks to the tricky rhythm changes and Dave Pegg's and Dave Swarbrick's duelling mandolins; it's real tight and it simply rolls on and on without even coming close to boredom or narcissistic noodling.

*Twenty-two minutes of Thompson/Swarbrick originals: sometimes lamenting, sometimes easy-going, but most of the time plainly shocking.*

The album opener Walk Awhile could be called country rock if it was played by any other band. But the whole attitude of the band, and attitude means lyrics, singing style and all those things which you instantly hear without knowing the band's history, is far away from all that US truck driving stuff. Firstly, there are Thompson's typically cryptic lyrics. They're no classic poems, they rather depict conversations or are narratives in metric form, and they are always shaped by the stream-of-consciousness-like invented surnames and places and the strange metaphors. They're rustic and dark, but hallucinating at the same time. Secondly Simon Nicol, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg and Richard Thompson (listed up chronologically) may sing one stanza each and move into harmony vocals in the stanzas. And these harmony vocals are as mesmerizing as the legendary Watersons and Young Tradition material, but in a very unique way. And the muffly sound of Liege and Lief has disappeared, too. The violin finally sounds like a real violin, and the drums are crystal clear as well. I absolutely love these busy little drum fills before each stanza, as to be heard around 1:20. The piece is already a worthwhile listen because of this bonnie little part; in fact, the jolty little instrumental parts are derived from the British folk song King Henry, as performed by Martin Carthy on Sweet Wivelsfield.

Sloth has often been described as a British response to the Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, a jam tour de force around the weary lament of a soldier in the state of war. Usually I'm quite cautious about jam pieces because they frequently are a shell without content, but this one avails itself really much of the sophisticated dynamic mounting (and, of course, dismounting) of the solos. The two lead instruments are, needless to say, Swarbrick's violin and Thompson's electric guitar. And where A Sailor's Life was still quite formless in its lengthy instrumental part, the two soloists now know how to interact, throw short melodies at each other and braid the violin and guitar improvisations to a forceful unit. And the vocal part isn't only the vehicle for the jam, but a fully working song which appears in the beginning, in the middle and in the end of the whole track - augmented by beautiful harmony vocals around the alternating lead vocals of Thompson and Swarbrick. In concert, the dynamic contrast would become even greater because in the second third of the song the band would calm down from a blastbeat section in the vein of Led Zeppelin (yes, Dave Mattacks was able to play like a madman when he was jamming with the right people) to a silent pizzicato part in which the rhythm was barely recognizable. The studio version is comparatively tame, but has an uncongested and lively sound which is simply plain listening pleasure.

The big surprise is Poor Will & The Jolly Hangman. For some really inscrutable reason Thompson deleted this piece from the album at the very last possible moment in 1970. I don't know why he did that, perhaps because it was his first lead vocal ever, but thankfully it appears at its original place on this reissue. The intro and outro parts with the distant multi-tracked Stratocaster finger-picking are already most captivating, but the guitar solo from 3:30 to 4:30 is a masterpiece beyond comparison, and it assures me that the band never played finer than in 1970. Quite a lot of distortion for Thompson's means, given that he usually prefers just a wee bit of crunch on his guitar sound, and again he does his typically weird string bending stuff. Furthermore you'll find his strangely 'chordal' approach to soloing and the menacing drones which are hammered through on the lower strings, but the threatening thrash of Mattacks' drums and Swarbrick's fairly tender mandolin work even seem to inspire Thompson to unforeseen heights. His voice is a strangely fragile one, but at the same time with an authenticity which also shines without Swarbrick as the second lead vocalist - even though Swarbrick, a grandee and innovator of British folk in the early 1960s, has been an invaluable enrichment to the sound of the band, of course. I can still remember the astonishment when I first heard Swarbrick's croony voice in that Sailor's Alphabet part of the Babbacombe Lee album; and Full House is clearly the better album of the two.

And don't forget the lyrics which hold a mirror up to a perverted society, presenting the poor people as an audience which thinks a death by hanging to be just a good show ('here's a toast to the jolly hangman, he'll hang you the best that he can'). The employment of archaic symbols, symbols of a time in which the social and political system was more openly arbitrary than it is today, to show how close the modern society tends to re-approach the conditions of the 17th century, would always be important to Thompson; listen to his solo track The Great Valerio to hear another psychological analysis of social voyeurism, using the symbol of a tightrope dancer on his wire.

The next psychoanalytic - and even psychosexual - song is Doctor of Physick, the cruellest and most shockingly candid piece on this album which deals with a man who comes in the night to rape girls. Verses as explicit as 'And I fear I could not find my maidenhead' and the repeated chorus 'Doctor Monk unpacks his trunk tonight' are breathtakingly brutal, but in their overall impression not much more savage than many traditional folk songs. Just check the lyrics of the Scots song Twa Corbies, as recorded by Steeleye Span, which is about ravens discussing in which manner to lacerate a nobleman's corpse, and Hanged I Shall Be (played by the Albion Country Band in 1973) deals with a lover abusing and murdering his fiance a few days before the marriage. In all of the cases the lyrics aren't only provocatively shocking, but have both a literal level and an allegorical one: What do the religious connotations express in this song ('hold your relic near', 'Doctor Monk'), what's the girls' attitude to that doctor ('[daughter], don't dream of any gallant men tonight') and which role does the dream itself play ('I dreamed last night a man sat on me bed')? And who actually warns the girl that the doctor 'unpacks his trunk'? Regardless of these remarks you get, from the musical point of view, a pristine acoustic guitar by Simon Nicol and some biting power chords played by Thompson on his Stratocaster, while Dave Mattacks - a trained piano tuner - adds a sombre harmonium layer in the background. The real star in this song, however, is Dave Swarbrick, delivering an unbelievably melodic viola work and awesome lead vocals; Thompson, however, sings lead in the part in which the girl speaks.

Now Be Thankful, the a-side of the 1970 single which appears twice as a bonus track, is a less stressful Thompson composition sung by Swarbrick which rather sounds like a church ballad. I mean these songs in which one person's singing the more complex verses with the melismatic structures (q.v. 1:40) whilst the whole community sings along in the chorus. And this chorus is really uplifting with its rejoicing harmony vocals ('now be thankful to your maker'), the blurred symbolism ('crystal waters', 'the red rose', 'stones too cold to kneel' etc.) and the strange rhythmic offsets which occur when a song has been composed without a steady rhythm. A song like that could indeed sound soppy, but firstly you again don't know where Thompson is really at since the lyrics are too misty and sometimes too dark for a Christian gospel track, and secondly the far distant guitar notes are mesmerizing in a way akin to how Farewell Farewell on Liege and Lief was mesmerizing, too. And thirdly there are these little guitar interludes which always remind me of a Bach Menuett, and all that is condensed into hardly two-and-a-half minutes! After all it's simply a gorgeous song, but best listened to in the alternate remix. Yes, there's really a big difference between the two versions although they are both derived from the same recording. The second mix sounds unusually 'remixed', but by far breezier than the flatter mono recording which was used as the single.

*And finally ten short, but immaculate minutes of folk music*

Sir Patrick Spens was left over from the Liege and Lief sessions and has been performed with Sandy Denny for quite some time. It's impossible to say which version is better, but this version features some of the best chordal lead vocals ever. Many reviewers criticize that the vocals on Full House sound unconfident and weak, but I don't get that point at all. Swarbrick's lead vocals flourish on top of Pegg's and Nicol's steady fanfarish vocal drone, then Pegg and Nicol pause again for one verse to sing unisono with Swarbrick again - that's a footloosely composed vocal arrangement as it should be, nothing left to complain about.

And Flowers of the Forest was the best possible choice to end the album, a song which nowadays - albeit played by a group of pipers - serves as a lament for the soldiers killed in action during the 1513 Battle of Flodden in Northumberland, the northernmost county of England. Simon Nicol, at that time responsible for the whole acoustic guitar duties in the band, plays the electric dulcimer in this track and provides the gentle drone which this song deserves to have. The vocal arrangement lacks this afflicted mood of the ancient Scottish version with all the microtonality in the lead melody, as performed by Dick Gaughan amongst others, but gets a haunting four-part harmony arrangement in which all of the four characteristic voices can be differentiated clearly (Thompson's clearly in the foreground in the third verses each, by the way). In such a diminished arrangement every present instrument attracts attention. And this effect is used by Dave Mattacks to maximum effect: the verses per se could be stiffened to a plain 12/8 measure, which is that typical bluesy rhythm as in Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The last words of the verses, though, need some more space in the end to develop their full effect, and so the natural 15/8 measure of the song is accentuated by Mattacks by one short cymbal swirl on the 1st beat and one pedal hi-hat stroke each on the 4th, 10th and 14th beat of the measure - a really unusual accentuation, but in fact more usual in Military Tattoos. This information is, of course, totally useless for the listening experience, but it shows how a complex rhythm can be created with minimal means.

The bonus track Bonny Bunch of Roses is inferior to the album stuff, but it's worth a four star rating, too. It isn't really disappointing, but really long, it's monotonous and as challenging as any rendition of a folk song about historical occurances can be. Mattacks only plays the tom-toms here in a similar way to the studio version of Pink Floyd's Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, Thompson and Nicol both play quite freely on their electric guitars and Pegg sets the rhythm with the bass guitar, and so it goes on and on while Swarbrick recites the vocals about Napoleon really carefully and slowly. You need to listen to it three times to get the melody! It's quite similar to A Sailor's Life, with even less groove though, but it would have interrupted the natural flow of the original album if it had replaced any of the other songs. I like it quite much as one of the most free-form tunes by Fairport Convention, and I even like it a bit more than A Sailor's Life, but I cannot listen to it every day.


To sum up, this album is a doubtless candidate for a strong 5-star rating. You can check my other reviews to assure yourself that the realms beyond the 14 points (out of 15) have only been reached by two Pink Floyd records until now. For sure, this recording doesn't meet the expectancies of a progressive rock listener. It's neither a concept album nor linked to classical music, jazz, avantgarde or comparable music in any way. But it's intricate and sophisticated in its arrangements, it has that totally British and cohesive mood all the way through, it's played by exceptional musicians and it's stuffed with excellent compositions which allow the listener to spot more and more finesses at every listen. To me it has been the key to explore the British folk music which I never really understood sufficiently before I finally this album for five euros (yes, it's really that cheap!). The reissue features high-quality bonus tracks, a decent booklet with the original weird liner notes by Richard Thompson and some new liner notes by Simon Nicol and an exemplarily great sound. Even if you're not too much in the folk stuff - give that album a try, it's a masterpiece of folk rock music.

Review by Warthur
4 stars With Sandy Denny departed for her Fotheringay project and Steeleye Span emerging to present a more traditional-sounding version of the sort of electric folk that was Fairport's forte, Richard Thompson and friends responded by steering Fairport in a slightly rockier direction this time around. There's just a shade more groove in their step and a dash more fuzz to their guitar than in the preceding albums which makes this an interesting one to round off Richard Thompson's tenure in the band. The lack of female vocals on the album - Fairport having turned into a boys' club at around this time - is a particular shift in their sound which demonstrates that, far from trying to reclaim the glory of the preceding three releases, they were intent instead on pressing on to find a new sound, which they just about grasp the coattails of here.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Right after the release of the milestone Liege And Leif album, Fairport Convention saw the departure of vocalist Sandy Denny and bassist/band visionary Ashely Hutchings. But all was far lost at that juncture as guitarist Richard Thompson proved to be an able songwriter more then gifted to compos ... (read more)

Report this review (#2084407) | Posted by SteveG | Saturday, December 8, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Full House was recorded after Ashley Hutchings and lead singer Sandy Denny had left the band, so with such missing talent you can forgive most people for thinking they would just fold. But these gentlemen had many magic tricks up their sleeves. This is a fantastic effort. Where "Liege & Lief" kicked ... (read more)

Report this review (#490099) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Monday, July 25, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I must admit a little bit of surprise to find Fairport Convention on this web-site, as I always thought of them as pure folk. I also admit I'm wrong, for this was a very special album to me during my college days, and there is definitely a certain proggyness to it -(I guess it's the electric aspect ... (read more)

Report this review (#173971) | Posted by PinkPangolin | Sunday, June 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars "Full House" was Fairport's first album without Sandy Denny, and the last with Richard Thompson. By this time, Fairport was totally into folk (no less than four of the original eight songs are "Traditional, arranged by Fairport Convention" - all others were written by Swarbrick/Thompson), sett ... (read more)

Report this review (#62124) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Thursday, December 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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