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FAIRPORT CONVENTION

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Fairport Convention picture
Fairport Convention biography
Founded in London, UK in 1967 - Recording hiatus 1979-1984 - Reformed in 1985 and still active as of 2018

FAIRPORT CONVENTION was formed in 1967 by Richard Thompson (guitar & vocals), Simon Nicol (guitar & vocals, viola), Ashley Hutchings (bass), Judy DYBLE (vocals) and Shaun Frater (drums). Before the release of their first record Shaun Frater was replaced by Martin Lamble and Ian (Matthews) Mc Donald (vocals & guitar) joined the band. FAIRPORT CONVENTION plays Folk-Rock influenced by British-Folk, American-Folk-Rock, Blues, Country, Cajun and American songwriters like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Tim Buckley and Joni Mitchell.

In 1968 they made their first recording 'Fairport Convention' for Polydor with Joe Boyd as producer. The record was mainly influenced by American-Folk and contained covers of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Later that year they signed to 'Island Records' and the departing Judy Dyble was replaced by Sandy Denny (Ex-STRAWBS) who would compose some of the band's finest compositions. In 1969 FAIRPORT CONVENTION released their second record 'What Did We Do On Our Holidays' introducing for the first time Traditional-Folk and the beautiful 'Fotheringay' by Sandy Denny. Their third record 'Unhalfbricking' (1969) concentrated more on acoustic arrangements and contained a French-sung version of Bob Dylan's 'If You Gotta Go' and the Sandy Denny signature song 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes?'. The record introduced later fulltime member Dave Swarbrick on fiddle. After the recording the band was struck by tragedy when Martin Lamble was killed in the crash of their tour van. With their fourth record 'Liege and Lief '(1969), that contained mainly Traditional-Folk-Songs, the band moved into the field of British-Folk-Rock. After the recording Sandy Deny left to form FOTHERINGAY, while Ashley Hutchings left to form STEELEYE SPAN. With Dave Pegg joining on bass the band recorded 'Full House' (1970), another classic FAIRPORT CONVENTION record and the last with Richard Thompsonbefore he left to become a solo recording artist. In 1971 they recorded 'Angel Delight' and the concept album 'Babbacombe Lee'. For the rest of the 70's the band went through a constant change of musicians. In 1974 Sandy Denny rejoined the band for a tour that is documented on the live recording 'Live Convention' (1974). Sandy Denny stayed with the band to record another studio-record 'Rising Fo...
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FAIRPORT CONVENTION discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FAIRPORT CONVENTION top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.31 | 58 ratings
Fairport Convention
1968
3.66 | 81 ratings
What We Did On Our Holidays
1969
3.69 | 94 ratings
Unhalfbricking
1969
3.77 | 126 ratings
Liege & Lief
1969
3.66 | 69 ratings
Full House
1970
2.91 | 40 ratings
Angel Delight
1971
3.71 | 51 ratings
'Babbacombe' Lee
1971
2.25 | 34 ratings
Rosie
1973
2.88 | 36 ratings
Nine
1973
3.27 | 41 ratings
Rising For The Moon
1975
1.55 | 25 ratings
Gottle O' Geer
1976
2.51 | 24 ratings
The Bonny Bunch Of Roses
1977
3.01 | 19 ratings
Tipplers Tales
1978
3.21 | 14 ratings
Gladys' Leap
1985
2.20 | 11 ratings
Expletive Delighted !
1986
3.48 | 16 ratings
Red & Gold
1988
2.97 | 16 ratings
The Five Seasons
1990
3.74 | 19 ratings
Jewel In The Crown
1995
2.89 | 9 ratings
Old New Borrowed Blue
1996
3.68 | 15 ratings
Who Knows Where The Time Goes?
1997
3.12 | 14 ratings
The Wood And The Wire
1999
3.83 | 11 ratings
XXXV - The 35th Anniversary Album (1967 / 2002)
2001
3.36 | 14 ratings
Over The Next Hill
2004
2.42 | 10 ratings
Sense Of Occasion
2007
2.50 | 10 ratings
Festival Bell
2011
3.86 | 7 ratings
By Popular Request
2012
3.22 | 9 ratings
Myths And Heroes
2015
3.33 | 3 ratings
50:50 @50
2017

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.13 | 19 ratings
Live Convention
1974
3.93 | 18 ratings
House Full
1977
4.00 | 1 ratings
Live at the L.A. Troubadour
1977
3.14 | 9 ratings
Farewell, Farewell
1979
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Airing Cupboard Tapes '71 - '74
1981
3.67 | 6 ratings
Moat on the Ledge
1982
3.00 | 1 ratings
In Real Time (Live '87)
1987
4.00 | 1 ratings
25th Anniversary Concert
1993
4.50 | 3 ratings
The Cropredy Box
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Before the Moon
2002
4.00 | 2 ratings
From Cropredy to Portmeirion
2002
4.00 | 3 ratings
Festival: Cropredy 2002
2003
4.83 | 3 ratings
Acoustically Down Under 1996: The Woodworm Archives - Vol. 2
2005
4.50 | 4 ratings
Rare Broadcasts
2007
2.00 | 2 ratings
Meet On The Ledge
2008
3.00 | 3 ratings
Dirty linen / Live At The Marlowe Theatre
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
Ebbets Feild 1974
2011
4.00 | 1 ratings
Babbacombe Lee - Live Again
2012
3.00 | 1 ratings
Live At My Father's Place 1974
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live In Finland -1971
2016

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Cropredy Festival 2001
2001
3.12 | 6 ratings
Live At The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (DVD)
2003
4.00 | 4 ratings
The 35th Anniversary Concert
2003
4.00 | 5 ratings
The Ultimate Collection
2007

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.91 | 20 ratings
The History Of Fairport Convention
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Fairport Chronicles
1976
3.03 | 13 ratings
Heyday BBC Radio Sessions 1968-1969
1987
3.18 | 2 ratings
The Woodworm Years
1991
4.05 | 2 ratings
Fiddlestix, The Best of Fairport 1972-1984
1998
4.98 | 6 ratings
Meet on the Ledge - The Classic Years 1967-1975
1999
4.50 | 4 ratings
Then & Now 1982-1996 The Best Of Fairport Convention
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Fairport Unconventional
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Chronicles
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
Who Knows? The Woodworm Archives - Vol. One
2005
3.17 | 7 ratings
Fame And Glory
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Come All Ye: The First Ten Years
2017

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 2 ratings
Meet On The Ledge
1968
4.50 | 2 ratings
Si Tu Dois Partir
1969
5.00 | 2 ratings
Now Be Thankful
1970
5.00 | 1 ratings
John Lee
1972
5.00 | 1 ratings
Rosie
1973
5.00 | 1 ratings
White Dress
1975
5.00 | 1 ratings
Meet On The Ledge
1987

FAIRPORT CONVENTION Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Unhalfbricking by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.69 | 94 ratings

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Unhalfbricking
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Fairport Convention's three records with Sandy Danny are among my most cherished records. 'Unhalfbricking' is the type of record I put on directly after connecting my new stereo speakers. And then ask myself; can I get even more intimate with this angelic record? It has a perfect warm '69 sound, that unique folksy sentimentality and of course the angelic vocals of Sandy Denny. It makes me feel right at home. The band had started to experiment with traditional folk on their eclectic predecessor 'What we did on Our Holidays' (also 1969) under influence of the freshly recruited Sandy Denny. On 'Unhalfbricking' the band would expand on that. Moreover, Sandy Danny would sing almost all the songs here. The album has many unforgettable performances, only the three shorter contemporary folk songs are slightly less impressive - though still quite enjoyable. Richard Thompson would introduce a lot of great guitar 'vamps' (riffs) for the electric folk genre, most notably on the meditative 'A Sailor's Life'. 'Genesis Hall', 'Autopsy' and 'Percy's Song 'excel at evoking that ever sweet folk melancholy with which the band can instantly familiarize new listeners - as I witnessed on many occasions. This type of music should however be approached for what it is; greatly performed electric traditional folk. It is innovative and deep, but not progressive per se. My rating reflects my appreciation for the record and I think a serious vinyl collector of early progressive wouldn't want to skip on this.

Though Fairport Convention is often cited as the sole instigators of the folk-revival movement, I would urge people to look up albums of early Judy Collins ('A Maid of Constant Sorrow' or 'Wildflowers'), Shirley Collins (I recommend 'Anthems in Eden'), Tim Hart & Maddy Prior (Folk Songs of Old England) and the Steeleye Span debut.

 Babbacombe Lee - Live Again by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Live, 2012
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Babbacombe Lee - Live Again
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
4 stars Fairport's one and only concept album gets an upgrade in quality. Babbacombe Lee is Fairport Convention's studio album from 1971 that tells the true story of a convicted English murderer that escapes both death and his the prison sentence when he survives three attempts by the state to hang him. A macabre tale, without a doubt, that is largely successful for the way the group jammed in so much narration and exposition into the album's songs without coming off sounding the least bit verbose and, more importantly, pretentious.

What adds quality to this superlative album is that new member Chris Lesley, who takes over the vocal duties for the late Dave Swarbrick, is a much more accomplished vocalist and easily displays emotion without the near straining vocal efforts of Swarbrick. And founding member and guitarist Simon Nicol's voice has grown into a wonderful baritone over the years and adds even more great vocals to mix. Bassist Dave Pegg's adequate voice has remained just that. adequate. But the improvements in recording technology, even if live, is so improved over what the studio could offer 40 years ago and really lets all of the vocal and musical nuances of this fine work really shine. Ric Sanders drops his octive splitting electronics for more conventional fiddle playing while drummer Gerry Conway's subtle but tasteful drum fills really bolsters the songs.

Once again, the songs "John Lee", "Little Did I Think", "The Sailor's Alphabet", "Breakfast In Mayfair" (which might be Nicol's best ever penned number, about a trivial look at the morning news), "Trial Song", "Cell Song" and the spacey "Dream Song" are the standouts and remain some of the best original songs (save the trad. "Sailor's Alphabet") the group has ever composed over their long and storied career.

If you were a fan of the old studio album, then do yourself a favor and pick this one up. 4 stars

 Unhalfbricking by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.69 | 94 ratings

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Unhalfbricking
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was the very first Fairport Convention album I ever owned. My parents were mentioning me about them in the early '90s as they apparently owned Liege & Lief at one time, likely in the early '70s. I noticed how much the rock critics were praising this band, at least when Sandy Denny was with them (they weren't so keen on the stuff after she left). In 1993 I bought Unhalfbricking on cassette. Ian Matthews had already left, with Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Ashley Hutchings, Martin Lamble, with Dave Swarbrick as guest. When I listened to it, I thought it wasn't bad but I failed to understand the hype. "Genesis Hall" and "Autopsy" were nice songs, and they obviously weren't taking themselves too seriously singing a Dylan tune in French, "Si Tu Tois Partir". Then there's "A Sailor's Life", a traditional song that clearly points at the direction they would be heading on their next album. The band really gets serious on jamming at the end, never going into one of those lethargic Grateful Dead type jams. "Cajun Woman" is obviously rather Cajun sounding, complete with accordion. "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" wasn't originally recorded by Fairport, as Judy Collins did a version of it in '68 from the album of the same name, so it looks like Sandy Denny, like Joni Mitchell, were known by singer/songwriters before they started recording albums and becoming known to the public. I really have a difficult time with "Percy's Song", a Dylan song. It's just way too repetitive and goes on for far too long, with a rather annoying chorus. This, in itself, makes me feel Unhalfbricking was overrated. Then you have another Dylan song, "Million Dollar Bash" which is much more fun to listen to. I have to say, for the prog inclined, "Genesis Hall", "Autopsy" and "A Sailor's Life" are worth hearing from a prog-folk point of view. Most of the rest is still good other than "Percy's Song". Mainly good album, but little did I know what's in store with their next album.
 Liege & Lief by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.77 | 126 ratings

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Liege & Lief
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Explorations of the electric/rock side of folk music yields Liege & Lief. Not the most proggy album on my list but it was a progenitor to many other experiments/developments in the Folk and Prog Folk realms.

Album highlights (for me): Sandy Denny's mesmerizing vocal over the fascinatingly sparse and intermittent support of the band in 2. "Reynardine" (4:34) (10/10); her second best vocal on the album's finale, 8. "Crazy Man Michael" (4:37) (9/10); the aggressive presentation of the 7. "Tam Lin" (7:13) story (8.5/10), and; the electric guitar play in general and the guitar-violin duel at the end of 3. "Matty Groves" (8:10) (8/10).

A solid four star album; B; an excellent addition to any progressive rock lover's album collection. Obviously my list of Prog Folk favorites leans more on the prog side than the folk side.

 Rising For The Moon by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.27 | 41 ratings

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Rising For The Moon
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This one should have been Fairport Conventions ticket back to the high life. Itīs really a shame it wasnīt. All the effort to bring back Sandy Denny to the fold, and the recording company suggestion of ace producer Andy Johns to coordinate the whole project should do the trick. Sadly it did not. Johns was against the use of traditional material or covers, in a time they did a fantastic version of Dylanīs All along the Watchtower. Besides, Trevor Lucas did push their sound maybe a little too much into american styled country rock (the presence of yankee Jerry Donahue certainly did not help matters), which alienated much of their fan base. Or maybe the timing simply was not right.

Still, the music here is beautiful, with Denny delivering some of the best tunes and performances of her short career. Her and Lucas voices blend very well too. Songs like the title track, White Dress and One More chance are the highlights of this very good album. Production is a little slick, but it works. With time Iīm sure Fairport Convention would find their feet and could take this line up very far. Alas, this was not meant to be, since Denny and Lucas would leave the band after the tour to promote it. Some people think it should have been a Sandy Denny album, but really it only takes a few spins to figure it is far better than most of her solo work. The magic was there, they just didnīt let it grow its debut (few) limitations.

All in all a very fine album, although not that much folk-ish. My rating would be something between 3,5 and 4 stars. Iīll round it up to four because I really love it.

 Sense Of Occasion by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.42 | 10 ratings

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Sense Of Occasion
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by SteveG

2 stars In the continuing up and down world of late era Fairport albums, Sense of Occasion once again finds the band on a downward slope after scaling the heights with Over The Next Hill released just two short years earlier. It seems to me that whenever Fairport stumbles upon the formula for some good to outstanding folk rock, they either lose the formula or lose their inspiration. Over The Next Hill showed off the group's new found penchant for superb vocal harmonies and exotic (for Fairport!) percussion added to the sound mix. However, Sense Of Occasion has none of that as the band relies on their old musical formulas at making serious but staid sounding folk rock. Which does work well is remakes of older Fairport songs such as "Polly On The Shore", from the album Nine and "Tam Lin" from the famous Liege and Leif album. Both songs being resurrected by Fairport for guitarist Simon Nicol to sing at the many Fairport reunions and celebrations that the current group line up finds themselves at these days. What doesn't work is the newer material written by multi instrumentalist Chris Leslie or cherry picked songs for Nicol to sing as they seem to be performed a bit too reverently, for lack of a better description. Which is a shame as songs like "Keep On Turning The Wheel", "North Dakota to Manchester" "In Our Town", and "Edge of The World" could have easily been Fairport classics if the band didn't try so hard to make them just that. Even a cover of XTC's "Love On A Farm Boy's Wages" is too reverent with identical music and Simon Nicol perfectly mimicking Andy Partridge's major to minor key vocalizing on the song's verses and chorus. Too bad as Fairport could have made this disguised folk song their own.

There's worse albums in the Fairport discography than Sense Of Occasion, but that's little reason for owning it. 2 stars.

 Over The Next Hill by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.36 | 14 ratings

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Over The Next Hill
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by SteveG

4 stars This is one of those times when I wish I had a time machine so I could bring this album back to the seventies and eighties. Many of the album's songs would have no doubt been hit singles if presented in the right time frame. However, that's still good news for us long time fans of the band.

Over The Next Hill is a more balanced album between the lead vocals of guitarist Simon Nicol and multi instrumentalist Chris Leslie and sports some of the finest group vocals between Nicol, Leslie and bassist Dave Pegg, on a scale approaching that of a group like Crosby, Stills and Nash. No mean feat. And the songs this time around are all absolutely superb and run the gambit from Gordon Lightfoot-like folk epics such as the three historically inspired gems "I'm Already There", "Over The Falls" and "The Fossil Hunter", which were all written and sung by the vastly improved Leslie.

Nicol handles lead duties on two songs written by the great Steve Tilston and the band serves up great arrangements and concentrates on a more Celtic/folk music style where mandolins and bouzoukis sweeten up the fiddling of the great Ric Sanders. The trio of vocalists trade lead vocals on the traditional "Wassail Song" before letting loose on the sublime "Willow Creek" And "Westward", both featuring quirky but totally infectious verse and choruses that will echo in your head long after the songs end. Breaking all this up is a rousing acoustically strummed rocker that recalls Nick Lowe at his prime, the infectious and clever "Wait For The Tide To Come In", another great song sung and written by Leslie. The album of course features the compulsory jig and reel of "Canny Capers" and the Sanders penned instrumental "Someplace Special" but these are far from being filler and "Canny Capers" suggests past progressive nuggets like "Dirty Linen", from Fairport's 1970 album Full House, without duplicating it. What also helps this album is that the group stayed away from MOR sounding love ballads and concentrated on folk rock, their absolute forte and fist love. The group also embrace hand drum and timbale percussion to go along with Gerry Conway's rock steady drumming. While far from the layers of percussion found on a Santana recording it's quite exotic for a group like Fairport and helps to "loosen up" the music tremendously.

I'm very happy to say that this is one album produced by a band that's more then 35 years old that's deserving of 4 stars (4.5 really!). I just can't wait to hear their next one.

 'Babbacombe' Lee by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.71 | 51 ratings

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'Babbacombe' Lee
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by SteveG

4 stars "Babbacombe" Lee gets good press in the PA reviews and that's no surprise. Fairport Convention's seventh studio album is an unusual concept album about an historical figure named John Lee. Lee was condemned to die on the gallows and escaped death three times when the trap door wouldn't open on every attempt. Strangely, the door worked fine whenever Lee was not standing on top of it. As English law decrees that no one will be subject to execution attempts more then three times, Lee's sentence was commuted to serving prison time instead.

Fairport's Dave Swarbrick thought that this turn of the century drama would make an interesting concept album and he was right. Enlisting all of the band members to writing the music, "Babbacombe" Lee starts off with a narrative song titled "Little Did I Think" and moves on from there, recounting his teenage wish to be a sailor but he was ultimately invalided out and eventually went to live and work for an elderly spinster named Emma Keyes, who he allegedly kills for some unclear reason.

The music on "Babbacombe" Lee is quite good as folk rock and well played by all but lacks any of the past progressive music passages that made albums like Liege and Leif and Full House so enjoyable. I can understand that the group focused on the narrative lyrics and did a wonderful job of clearly communicating the story to the listener, but the music seems to have suffered a bit in the process. Still the album has many wonderful highlights with the stand out songs being "John Lee", "Breakfast In Mayfair", "Cell Song" and "Dream Song." The last being especially good as it's a weirdly atmospheric song about a dream of Mr. Lee's in which a voice tells him that he will survive the attempts to execute him. It's quite out of character for Fairport but all the better for it.

As usual, guitarist Simon Nicol, bassist Dave Pegg and drummer Dave Mattacks excellently back Swarbrick's vocals and violin playing with their own instruments while greatly improving on their own lead and backing vocals through out the album. However, "Babbacombe" Lee was a very poor seller in the history of Fairport albums which led to one more departure from the group with Nicol bailing out soon after it's release.

This review is solely based on the 2004 remastered CD which, I understand, now has clearly identified names assigned to the album's songs as opposed to the vague narrative descriptions for the songs listed on the original album jacket. The sound of the CD is excellent and lets much of the nuance of the vocals and music shine through. 4 stars for this reminder that even folk rock had reached for progressive heights at one time, even if not always completely reaching them.

 Liege & Lief by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.77 | 126 ratings

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Liege & Lief
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by SteveG

5 stars Finally we come to Fairport's jewel in the crown, the very celebrated Liege and Leif album from 1969. Is it worthy of it's accolades? That depends on if you like or hate the album, ultimately, as negative opinions always seem to miss the fact the fact this album is responsible for creating another folk rock subgenre. Nay Sayers also seem to miss the fact that this album is quite good, if not perfect, with first rate musicianship.

In a nutshell, Fairport took staid but interesting unaccompanied British folk standards and set them to very dramatic rock music while interfusing it with deft fiddle playing in order to give it all a rustic appeal. And for these songs it works well. The only song to resemble a conventional rock song is the lead off track "Come All Ye'" with it's conventional verse and chorus structure. The rest have the harder job of holding one's attention on longer narrative based ballads that display little change in the song's musical structure. This was easily accomplished by picking some truly interesting songs and having them sung by the one and only Sandy Denny, who could probably have made vocal exercises sound fascinating, such is the beauty of her voice, phrasing and delivery.

The production of this album is nothing to write home about, sounding quite dull and congested like demo recordings would. However, the less musically dense songs come off best as is the case with the highway bandit ballad "Reynardine", that features economical washes of guitar, bass and whooshing cymbals. This song, turned into a lycanthropic tale by folklorist Cecil Sharp, is absolutely sublime and, more then "Come All Ye", really sets the tone for the album. Following directly is the magnificent tale of betrayal and murder that holds one spell bound through five minutes of dramatic story telling to go along with it's propulsive bass and drums. This song, "Matty Groves", is the highpoint of the album and concludes with a dramatic instrumental coda featuring Richard Thompson's lead guitar kept melodic company by the late great Dave Swarbrick's violin. Swarbrick is more in a supporting role on this album and unfortunately that keeps a song like "Matty Groves" from turning into a progressive tour de force as the songs found on Fairport's follow up album Full House, but it's damn close.

"Farewell, Farewell" is an emotional ballad with lyrics written by Thompson around the melody of the traditional song "Willy O' Winsbury". Denny sells this song in a way that no one else ever could, while it's Spartan musical arrangement once again let's the song shine. The dramatic traditional ballads "The Deserter" and "Tam Lin" follow and the latter song, with long verbiage, would tax many without the dramatic stop/start rhythms and slashing electric guitars that keep it interesting. Both songs are placed around the first of Fairport's recorded jigs and reels simply titled "Medley", which is only a warmup for the ballistic hyper instrumentals that would follow on subsequent albums. The album concludes with the melancholy "Crazy Man Michael", which was written by Thompson and Swarbrick and fits the album perfectly being a tale about a man who murders his lover.

Liege and Leif is not without it's faults but it's virtues and accomplishments put it firmly in the 5 star category.

 Full House by FAIRPORT CONVENTION album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.66 | 69 ratings

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Full House
Fairport Convention Prog Related

Review by SteveG

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 compose songs, in partnership with violin player Dave Swarbrick, that easily fit into Fairport's "British folk rock style". What is profoundly different from the revolutionary last album is that all of the lyrical songs on Full House, save one, are newly written as opposed to Liege And Leif's reliance on rocked up versions of British folk standards. Indeed, Thompson's macabre Poe-like lyrics combined Swarbrick's music sound more "old world" then the songs found on Liege and Leif. But its the new found musical interplay between Thompson, Swarbrick, rhythm guitarist Simon Nicol, drummer Dave Mattacks and new member Dave Pegg on bass that really sets this album on fire. As both Thompson and Swarbrick were new to front man vocal duties and sound a bit tentative at times, it was probably decided to blind their public with their musical prowess. And lucky are we musicians and music lovers for their efforts.

The songs that are most impressive as a result are "Sloth", "Doctor Of Physick", and "Poor Will and The Jolly Hangman" (now restored to the album on the 2001 remaster) which delves into almost metal like riffing in the song's wonderful coda. I've never found a satisfactory reason for why this excellent song was omitted from the original album's release, at writer Thompson's request, but that's probably not necessary now. The album sound's perfectly complete with it's inclusion. "Sloth", by the way, is probably Fairport's most progressive song with wonderful guitar and violin interplay between Thompson and Swarbrick in the song's extended instrumental middle section.

Other moments of musical achievement can found on the now prerequisite traditionally based jigs and reels of "Dirty Linen" and "Flatback Caper" which both showcase Pegg's impressive bass playing along with Swarbrick's virtuoso playing of both fiddle and mandolin. Both songs are absolutely breath taking. To even out the somber tone of Thompson's lyrics, the band reprise Denny's arrangement of the traditional "Sir Patrick Spens" and rock it up quite a bit and display some wonderful round robbin band vocals. The same can be said of the album's lead off track "Walk Awhile" which Fairport still open their live shows with today.

Simply put, on a musical level, Full House is a slight step ahead of the ground breaking Liege and Leif but I cannot imagine someone loving one and not the other. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 for this classic prog folk album.

Thanks to alucard for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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