A good friend of mine back in 1969 played an album of British electric folk music by a band called Fairport Convention and I was hooked. It was truly a melding of traditional folk, electric folk, and in some instances ancient madrigals. The woman who was singing had the ,sot beautiful voice and the musicianship, particularly the guitar, was exceptional. They were also on one of my favorite record labels, A & M who were in the forefront of picking interesting bands like Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth, Free, and others.
The album was Liege and Lief, the 4th album by the band and it has won the award for the Most Influential Folk Album of All TIme by the BBC. The band was startling in their playing! World renown guitarist Richard Thompson, drummer Dave Mattacks, who was the replacement for Martin Lamble, killed in a car accident, bassistst Ashley Hutchings,guitarist Simon Nicol, and the spectacular Dave Swarbrick on fiddle! The beauty of this band came through with the most perfect voice of Sandy Denny.
If you were to purchase only one Fairport recording this would be it!
I am a completist so I had to find the 3 previous recordings and check them out! The first LP was just called Fairport COnvention. The difference with this recording was that Sandy Denny was not a member of the band and a great folk artist, Judy Dyble was. This incarnation was much more of a Jefferson Airrplane styled band.
Here is a live version of an Emitt Rhodes composition Time WIll Show the Wiser
On their 2nd LP What We Did on Our Holidays Sandy Denny appears.
This brings us to Unhalfbricking, thier 3rd release and includes one of the most covered tunes Who Knows Where the Time Goes a classic written by Sandy Denny.
Si Tu Dois Partir, a Bob Dylan song, they did a number of his tunes, is a wonderful rendition in a class British folk tradition.
By 1970, Sandy Denny had left to form her own band Fotheringay, Ashley Hutchings had left to form Steeleye Span however, the band kept on writing great songs.
There were many versions of this band and many bands came out of Fairport Convention but, in my mind, this was the golden age .
I finally got to see the band in 1973 at Alice Tully Hall and they did not disappoint! But my fondest memory is going to the Bitter End Cafe in Greenwich Village on the coldest day of the year February 1973. I and two friends were the only people in the audience and she performed her full show and afterwards, came out to talk to us. I was so taken with her warmth and good humor! As a matter of fact, she asked if we had heard of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and I asked her what kind of music did they play!!! Sadly, she left us in 1978 but remains one of the standout female artist of our time. I am so glad I got to meet her!
Next week we will do something totally unique! I have not done a piece on the Stones basically because there are too many records to list. With the 40th Anniversary release of Exile on Main Street tomorrow, I feel it is time and to kick things off, I will do a track by track review of the re-release and the next few weeks will be my homage to the Rolling Stones