Fairport Convention


Band members               Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-68)

- Judy Dyble -- vocals 

- Ashley Hutchings -- bass, backing vocals  
- Martin Lamble (RIP 1969) -- drums, percussion, violin, tabla  

- Ian Matthews -- vocals, percussion  

- SImon Nicol --  lead guitar, accordion, backing vocals

- Richard Thompson -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion

 

  line up 2 (1968-69)

NEW - Sandy Denny (RIP 1978) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards 

  (replaced Judy Dyble) 

- Ashley Hutchings -- bass, backing vocals 
- Martin Lamble (RIP 1969) -- drums, percussion, violin,  tabla

- Ian Matthews -- vocals, percussion

- Simon Nicol -- lead guitar, accordion, backing vocals

- Richard Thompson -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion

 

  line up 3 (1969-70)

- Sandy Denny (RIP 1978) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards 

- Ashley Hutchings -- bass, backing vocals 
- Martin Lamble (RIP 1969) -- drums, percussion,

  violin,  tabla

- Simon Nicol -- lead guitar, accordion, backing vocals

- Richard Thompson -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion

 

  line up 4 (1970)

- Sandy Denny (RIP 1978) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

- Ashley Hutchings -- bass, backing vocals 
- Dave Matticks -- drums (replaced Martin Lamble) 
- Simon Nicol -- lead guitar, accordion, backing vocals

- Richard Thompson -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion

 

  line up 5 (1970)

- Sandy Denny (RIP 1978) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards 

- Ashley Hutchings -- bass, backing vocals 
NEW - Dave Mattacks -- drums, percussion, keyboards,

   backing vocals (replaced Martin Lamble) 
- Simon Nicol -- lead guitar, accordion, backing vocals

NEW - Dave Pegg -- bass (replaced Ashley Hutchings)

NEW - Dave Swarbrick -- fiddle, multi-instrumentalist 

- Richard Thompson -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion

 

  line up 6 (1970)

- Ashley Hutchings -- bass, backing vocals 
- Dave Mattacks -- drums, percussion, keyboards, 

  backing vocals 
- Simon Nicol -- lead guitar, accordion, backing vocals

- Dave Pegg -- bass

- Dave Swarbrick -- fiddle, multi-instrumentalist 

- Richard Thompson -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion

 

  line up 7 (1971)

- Dave Mattacks -- drums, percussion, keyboards, bass,

  backing vocals 
- Simon Nicol -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion, 

  backing vocals

- Dave Pegg -- bass

- Dave Swarbrick -- vocals, fiddle, multi-instrumentalist

 

  line up 8 (19)

NEW - Roger Hill -- vocals, guitar (replaced Simon Nicol)

- Dave Mattacks -- drums, percussion, keyboards, bass, backing vocals 

- Dave Pegg -- bass

- Dave Swarbrick -- vocals, fiddle, multi-instrumentalist

 

  line up 9 (19)

NEW - Tom Farnell -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Dave Mattacks)

- Roger Hill -- vocals, guitar
- Simon Nicol -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion, 

  backing vocals

- Dave Pegg -- bass

- Dave Swarbrick -- vocals, fiddle, multi-instrumentalist

 

  line up 10 (19)

- Tom Farnell -- drums, percussion
- Simon Nicol -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion, 

  backing vocals

- Dave Pegg -- bass

- David Rea -- guitar (replaced Roger Hill)

NEW - Dave Swarbrick -- vocals, fiddle, multi-instrumentalist

 

  line up 11 (19)

NEW - Jerrry Donahue -- vocals, guitar

- Tom Farnell -- drums, percussion

NEW - Trevor Lucas -- guitar (replaced David Rea)

NEW - Dave Mattacks -- drums, percussion, keyboards,

  bass, backing vocals  (replaced Tom Farnell)
- Simon Nicol -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion, 

  backing vocals

- Dave Pegg -- bass

NEW - Dave Swarbrick -- vocals, fiddle, multi-instrumentalist

 

  line up 12 (19)

NEW - Sandy Denny (RIP 1978) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards 

- Jerrry Donahue -- vocals, guitar

- Trevor Lucas -- guitar

- Simon Nicol -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion, 

  backing vocals

- Dave Pegg -- bass

- Dave Swarbrick -- vocals, fiddle, multi-instrumentalist

 

  line up 13 (19)

- Sandy Denny (RIP) 1978 -- vocals, guitar, keyboards 

- Jerrry Donahue -- vocals, guitar

- Trevor Lucas -- guitar

- Simon Nicol -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion, 

  backing vocals

- Dave Pegg -- bass

- Dave Swarbrick -- vocals, fiddle, multi-instrumentalist

NEW - Paul Warren -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Dave Mattacks)

 

  line up 14 (19)

- Sandy Denny (RIP 1978) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards 

- Jerrry Donahue -- vocals, guitar

- Trevor Lucas -- guitar

- Simon Nicol -- vocals, lead guitar, accordion, 

  backing vocals

- Dave Pegg -- bass

NEW - Bruce Rowland -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Paul Warren)

- Dave Swarbrick -- vocals, fiddle, multi-instrumentalist

 

  line up 15 (19)

NEW - Bob Brady -- keyboards

NEW - Dan Ar Bras -- guitar

NEW - Roger Burrigde - Jerrry Donahue -- vocals, guitar

- Dave Pegg -- bass

NEW - Bruce Rowland -- drums, percussion 

- Dave Swarbrick -- vocals, fiddle, multi-instrumentalist

 

 

 

 

The Albion Country Band (Simon Nicol)

- The Brimbeats

- The Bunch

- Gerry Conway

- Spencer Cozens

- Sandy Denny (solo efforts)

- The Etchingham Steam Band (Ashley Hutchings and 

  Dave Mattacks)

- The Exception

- Forthingay (Sandy Denny and Ashley Hutchings)

- Gathering

- Giles, Giles and Fripp (Judy Dyble)

- The Grease band

- The GPs

- Heavy Jelly

- Jethro Tull

- John and Chris Leslie

- Trevor Lucas and Friends

- Ian Matthews (solo efforts)

- Matthews Southern Comfort (Ian Matthews)

- Mongrel

- Morris ON

- Penguin Dust (Judy Dyble)

- The Pentangle

- Savoy Brown

- Teh Soft Machine

- Spiro Gyra

- Steeleye Span (Ashley Hitchings)

- Super Genius

- Dave Swarbrick (solo efforts)

- Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol

- Richard Thompson (solo efforts)

- The Strawbs (Sandy Denny) 

- Trader Horne (Judy Dyble)

- The Uglies (Dave Pegg)

- Whippersnapper

- Wizzard (Bob Brady)

 



 

Genre: folk-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Fairport Convention

Company: Cotillion

Catalog: SD-9024

Year: 1967

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: --

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD
Price:
 SOLD

Since their inception in 1966, Fairport Convention has recorded dozens of albums (many never released in the States), as well as spawning a wide variety of side projects. During the past three decades the band has become one of England's best known entities; literally one of the few group's who've radically impacted the direction of popular music. In sharp contrast, in the States they remain virtual unknowns. 

Led by bassist Ashley Hitchings and guitarists Simon Nicol and Richard Thompson, the group first came together in London in 1966. The original lineup included drummer Shaun Frater (quickly replaced by Martin Lamble) and vocalists Judy Dyble and Ian Matthews. Once they began playing the local club circuit, they quickly became an "underground" hit which led to a recording contract with Polydor Records.

Their self-titled 1967 debut (originally released by Atlantic's Cotillion subsidiary and then reissued by A&M) featured an uninspiring collection of originals. Produced by Joe Boyd, "Fairport Convention" Shortly after it's release the group underwent it's first personnel change with original vocalist Dyble leaving to join Giles, Giles & Fripp (see separate entry). 

"Fairport Convention" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Time Will Show the Wiser
2.) I Don't Know Where I Stand
3.) If (Stomp)
4.) Decameron
5.) Jack O'Diamonds
6.) Portfolio

(side 2)

1.) Chelsea Morning  (Joni Mitchell) - 
2.) Sun Shade
3.) The Lobster
4.) It' Alright Ma, It's Only Witchcraft
5.) One Sure Thing

 

 


12.) My Breakdown


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Title:  Fairport Convention

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4185

Year: 1969

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4850
Price:
 $50.00

 

I own a big chunk of the Fairport Convention catalog, but have to admit that I've always been kind of a lukewarm fan.  The group's sheer 'English-ness' has always left me on the outside kind of wondering what all the excitement was about.  That said, the group's second album is an exception.  This is simply a great collection that should be known to more folks.

 

Originally entitled "What We Did On Our Vacation", for some reason A&M executives decided to re-title and repackage the band's sophomore release for American audiences.  Subsequently released in the States as the cleverly-titled "Fairport Convention" (conveniently ignoring the fact that was the title of their 1968 debut), the collection introduced former Strawbs singer Sandy Denny to the fold (replacing Judy Dyble who went on to briefly join Giles, Giles & Fripp).  With Joe Boyd again producing, the album also introduced a major change in musical direction.  With a background in folk, Denny's arrival saw the band move beyond original material to an intriguing mixture that included pop (Dylan, Joni Mitchell) and traditional folk covers ('Nottamun Town' and 'She Moves Through the Fair').  In addition to contributing several classic songs ('Forthingay'), Denny's crystal clear voice seemed to inspire the rest of the band to come up with some of their best material (Hutching's 'Mr. Lacey' and Thomson's 'No Man's Land').  While not a great comparison, imagine Roger McGuinn and The Byrds had they been English and you'll get a faint hint of what to expect on tracks like their psychedelic cover of Joni Mitchell's 'Eastern Rain' and Dylan's 'I'll Keep It with Me'.  Even better; check out the stunning Southern California-ish 'Take In Hard Time' and Thompson's 'Meet On the Ledge'.  Trying to avoid the usual dealer hype, the results are almost magical.  Note that this is one of the few albums in my collection that deserves a five star rating.  Yes, it's that good.      

 

There's also a hard to find single from the LP: 

 

- 1969's 'I'll Keep It with Mine' b/w 'Forthingay' (A&M catalog number 1109).

 

Unfortunately the album was followed by a series of personnel disasters.  Unhappy with the turn towards traditional material vocalist Matthews dropped out, reappearing with Matthews Southern Comfort.  Within a matter of months drummer Lamble was killed when the band's equipment van was involved in a crash while returning from a concert.  The same crash killed Thompson's girlfriend Jeannie Franklyn.  

 

"Fairport Convention" track listing:
(side 1) 

1.) Forthingay   (Sandy Denny) - 3:03

2.) Mr. Lacey   (Ashley Hutchings) - 2:50

3.) Book Song   (Richard Thompson - Ian Matthews) - 3:12

4.) The Lords Is In this Place ... How Dreadful Is this Place   (Ashley Hutchings - Richard Thompson - Sandy Denny) - 1:50

5.) No Man's Land   (Richard Thompson) - 2:23

6.) I'll Keep It with Mine   (Bob Dylan) - 5:50

 

(side 2)

1.) Eastern Rain  (Joni Mitchell) - 3:36

2.) Nottamun Town (traditional) - 3:077

3.) Take In Hard Time   (Richard Thompson) - 3:24

4.) She Moves Through the Fair (traditional)  - 4:09

5.) Meet On the Ledge   (Richard Thompson) - 2:49

5.) End of a Holiday (instrumental)   (Simon Nicol) - 1:06

 

 



Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Unhalfbricking

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4206

Year: 1969

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 4851

Price: $25.00

 

Released in the wake of Ian Matthews departure (he subsequently reappeared fronting Matthews Southern Comfort), 1969's "Unhalfbricking" was widely viewed as one of the group's crowning glories. Co-produced by the band and Joe Boyd, the collection featured several outstanding tracks from Sandy Denny ('Autopsy' and 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes') and from Richard Thompson ('Genesis Hall' and 'Cajun Woman'). Exemplified by the full tilt rocker 'A Sailor's Life'  the set also benefited from the formal addition of multi-instrumentalist Dave Swarbrick to the lineup (he'd actually contributed material to the two previous albums). Elsewhere, the band's Dylan fixation was in full bloom - the track listing featuring three Dylan compositions - 'Percy's Song' (boasting some of their most attractive group harmonies), 'Million Dollar Bash' and a quirky Cajun flavored cover of 'If You Gotta Go'.  I have no idea why, but for some reason the band translated the song into French ('Si Tu Dois Partir').  Equally inexplicable the song was released as a single and went on to become their only English hit). If not quite an all time classic, the set was never less than thoroughly enjoyable. 

"Unhalfbricking"track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Genesis Hall   (Richard Thompson) - 3:35
2.) Si Tu Dois Partir   (Bob Dylan) - 2:20
3.) Autopsy   (Sandy Denny) - 4:21
4.) A Sailor's Life   (traditional arranged by Richard Thompson - Sandy Denny - Ashley Hutching - Martin Lamble - Simon Nicol) - 11:10
 

(side 2)

1.) Cajun Woman   (Richard Thompson) - 2:43
2.) Who Knows Where the Time Goes   (Sandy Denny) - 5:05
3.) Percy's Song   (Bob Dylan) - 6:30
4.) Million Dollar Bash   (Bob Dylan) -

 

 

 

 2:55


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Liege and Lief

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4257

Year: 1970

Grade (cover/record): G / VG

Country/State: UK

Comments: gatefold sleeve; small SOC

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4852

Price: $20.00

 

Their second release in less than a year, 1970's "Liege & Lief" proved to be the band's creative and commercial breakthrough. Whereas earlier efforts reflected a band struggling to meld rock structures and instrumentation with English folk music, here they finally found the recipe. Simply one of the year's most original and endearing releases, material such as Denny's rocking "Come all Ye", the plaintive "Reynardine" and "Matty Groves" made for a must-hear collection. A major seller in England, the collection generated little attention, and even fewer sales in the States. Unfortunately, success led to major creative disagreements within the band. Interested in pursuing their folk-rock leanings, Hutchings and Denny quit. Hutchings wasted no time forming Steeleye Span, while Denny reappeared with the short lived Fotheringay with Denny (see separate entries). (Hutchings was replaced by former Uglys bassist Dave Pegg.)

"Liege & Lief" track listing:
(side 2)

1.) Come all Ye   (Sandy Denny - Ashley Hutchings) - 4:55
2.) Reynardine   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 4:33
3.) Matty Groves   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 8:08
4.) Farewell, Farewell   (Richard Thompson) - 2:38

(side 2)

1.) The Deserter   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) -4:10
2.) Medley: The Lark In the Morning/Rakish Paddy/Foxhunter's Jig/Toss the Feathers (instrumental) (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) -4:00
3.) Tam Lin   (traditional arranged by Dave Swarbrick) -7:20
4.) Crazy Man Michael   (Richard Thompson - Dave
Swarbrick) - ) - 

 

 

 

ick) - 4:35


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Angel Delight

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4319

Year: 1971

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Country/State: UK

Comments: gatefold sleeve; small punch out hole top right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6126

Price: $20.00

 

The first album following founding member Richard Thompson's decision to pursue a solo career, 1971's "Angel Delight" saw Fairport Convention reduced to a quartet featuring Dave Mattacks, Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, and Dave Swarbrick.  While no longer an active member, Thompson's influence on the band wasn't entirely missing given he'd co-written two of the ten songs prior to his departure - 'The Journeymen's Grace' and 'Sickness and Disease'.  So here's the surprisingly thing about this set - even with the loss of singer Sandy Denny and guitarist Thompson, the album was friggin' good.  Exemplified by tracks like 'The Journeymen's Grace' and 'Sickness & Diseases' parts of the album showcased Fairport coming close to recording outright rock and roll as you were going to ever head (okay, okay, there was no chance you were going to confuse these guys with a conventional AOR group ...)   With Nicol and Swarbrick stepping into the leadership roles, the album offered up a surprisingly enjoyable mix of traditional English folk ('') folks inspired band originals (''), and more conventional and commercial numbers ('Sickness & Disease').  While neither Nicol or Swabrick were fantastic singers (;course neither was Thompson), once you gave them a chance, the results weren't half bad.  Swarbrick's voice was particularly well suited to the more traditional tunes.  Nicol also deserved considerable credit for having successfully stepped into Thompson's shoes as lead guitarist.  Judging by his performances on songs like ''  he must have spent considerable time watching Thompson.  

 

- I'll readily admit that I'm not a gigantic fan of Fairport's traditional offerings, but the opener 'Lord MacIlborough' is one of the exceptions.  With Swarbrick handling lead vocals, Fairport's arrangement was innovative and entertaining, growing increasingly rock-ish as it went along,.  Coupled with the engaging historical lyric it made for a nifty opener.   rating: **** stars

- Kicked along by some great Nicol fuzz guitar (he also handled the lead vocals) and a kick-ass Pegg bass line 'Sir William Gower' was one of those songs you wish would have run even longer.  Is there such a thing as folk-blues?  Well, that's what this one struck me as.    rating: ***** stars 

- The first of two instrumentals, 'Bridge Over the River Ash' showcased Swarbrick's multi-tracked fiddle on a song that seemed to be a mash-up of folk and classical genres.  I'm still not sure how the track worked, but like the debut, this traditional number surprised me in terms of being so memorable and enjoyable.   rating: *** stars
- Co-written by Swarbrick and Nicol, Wizzard of Worldly Game' was a beautiful ballad showcasing the talents of Mattacks on drums and keyboards.  Sweet melody (with another nice contribution from Nicol), and haunting lyrics made this one a real pleasure.   rating: ***** stars

- As mentioned earlier, 'The Journeymen's Grace' was one of two tracks that had been co-written by Thompson.  In this case the result was a blazing folk-rocker.  Mattacks drums were killer while Nicol's guitar solo would have made Thompson proud.   rating: ***** stars

- The title track was apparently inspired by the band's collective stint living in an old English inn.  In severe financial straits, they were piled into a two room suite and were forced to move when a truck crashed through one of the walls.  Kicked along by a jaunty melody and some nice group harmonies, as far as I can tell the lyrics were a reflection on the difficulties associated with living in close quarters, with an emphasis on each other's personal shortcomings.  The song was actually pretty funny and sported one of the best mandolin solos I've ever heard.   rating: ***** stars

- 'Banks of the Sweet Primroses' started out as a routine folk number, but quickly morphed into one of the album's biggest surprises ...  This has to be one of the prettiest melodies they ever crafted.  I clearly remember the first time I heard it the song stuck in my head for months.   rating: ***** stars

- The instrumental medley 'The Cuckoo's Nest / Hardiman the Fiddler' was professional and mildly interesting.  Nicol dominated the first segment, with Swarbrick's fiddle and pennywhistle showcased on the second segment.  Pleasant, but hardly the album's most interesting endeavor.   rating: ** stars 

- The biggest disappointment, 'The Bonny Black Hare' was a pedestrian folk number that simply never got in gear.    rating: ** stars

- The second Swarbrick/Thompson collaboration, 'Sickness & Diseases' was another rocker.  Yeah, this one actually rocked.   Some fans shun the song, but I love it.   rating: **** stars 

 

Perhaps because it's consider to be post-prime Fairport material, this one tends to get lost.  Shame since it's easily as good as anything in the earlier catalog and you can still find cheap originals.   Well worth looking for.


"Angel Delight" track listing:
(side 2)

1.) Lord MacIlborough   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 3:21

2.) Sir William Gower   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 4:52

3.) Bridge Over the River Ash (instrumental)   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 2:19

4.) Wizzard of Worldly Game   (Dave Swarbrock - Simon Nicol) - 4:00

5.) The Journeymen's Grace   (Dave Swarbrick - Richard Thompson) - 4:20

 

(side 2)

1.) Angel Delight    (Fairport Convention) - 3:34

2.) Banks of the Sweet Primroses   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 4:06

3.) The Cuckoo's Nest / Hardiman the Fiddler (instrumental)  (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 3:35

4.) The Bonny Black Hare   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 3:03

5.) Sickness & Diseases    (Dave Swarbrick - Richard Thompson) - 3:45 

 

 

 


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Full House

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4526

Year: 1971

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Country/State: UK

Comments: gatefold sleeve; spine beginning to show wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4853

Price: $30.00

 

Recorded amidst now-standard chaos on the personnel front, 1970's "Full House" was erratic, but had it's share of greatness. Following Sandy Denny's departure, finding themselves forced to shoulder the creative burden, Thompson and Swarbrick demonstrated they'd developed into a capable writing team. Highlights included the nifty Walk Awhile", the lyrically intriguing "Sir Patrick Spens" and the extended anti-war paean "Sloth" (a Fairport classic and live staple with Swarbrick and Thompson trading versus a fiddle and guitar solos as the song built steam). Unfortunately several tracks sounded like "Liege and Lief" outtakes. Naturally the album was followed by another round of personnel upheavals; this time mainstay Thompson leaving in pursuit of a solo career. (The LP was originally released with a gatefold sleeve.)

"Full House" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Walk Away   (Richard Thompson - David Swarbrick) - 3:57
2.) Dirty Linen (instrumental)   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 4:17
3.) Sloth   (Richard Thompson - David Swarbrick) - 9:19

(side 2)

1.) Sir Patrick Spens   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 3:30
2.) Flatback Caper (instrumental)   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 6:24
3.) Doctor of Physick   (Richard Thompson - David Swarbrick) - 3:37
4.) The Flowers of the Forest   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 4:04

 

 

 


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Babbacombe Lee

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4333

Year: 1971

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Country/State: US

Comments: gatefold sleeve; spine beginning to show wear; original lyric insert; original insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5589

Price: $20.00

 

1971 found Fairport Convention down to a quartet consisting of drummer Dave Mattacks, guitarist Simon Nicol, bassist Dave Pegg, and fiddle player Dave Swarbrick.  Powered by the commercial success and artistic recognition bands like The Pretty Things and The Who enjoyed with concept albums (okay I guess The Pretty Things really didn't do all that well with "P.F. Sorrow"), the early 1970s saw an explosion in the rock concept genre.  Climbing aboard the bandwagon, Fairport join the throng with the release of 1971's "Babbacombe Lee".   Swarbrick reportedly came up with the concept after he found some of John Babbacombe Lee's papers in an antique store (original copies of the LP included a multi-page insert with the detailed story).  Anyhow, based on Lee's story, here's a synopsis of the plotline:

 

- Born into a poverty stricken family, at 15 John 'Babbacombe' Lee went to work for an elder lady -  Miss Keyse.

- Wanderlust saw him subsequently join the Royal Navy.

- Injured while on duty, he was forced out of the service and ended up working for an elderly lady - Miss Emma Keyse.

- When the 68 year old Keyes was found murdered in her home, Lee was tagged as the killer.

- Based on rather flimsy evidence  in 1885 Lee was sentenced to death at the gallows.

- Lee has a vision in which Jesus tells him he will not die and three times the gallows mis-function (in each case the trap door will not open).  British authorities eventually sentenced him to life in jail.  He was released after 23 years.

 

Yeah, the storyline was very British and probably didn't make a great deal of sense to your average 17 year old rock and roll fan.  The plotline was also complicated enough that translating it into an album made for some clumsy segments.  That said, forsaking their longstanding practice of updating traditional English folk material, this time around virtually all of the songs were band-penned originals.  Sure, this was definitely folk music, but  thanks in large part to Nichol's guitar about half of the album had a distinctive commercial feel and occasionally even managed to brush against a rock vibe - check the 'John Lee' section on side 1, the first section of side 2, or the hanging section at the end of side 2.  (The absence of clear cut song titles wasn't a brilliant move.)  The funny thing is that the album was probably too folky for rock fans, while longstanding Fairport fans may have found it to mainstream.  Not my favorite Fairport LP, but I'd put in the top-5 and it tends to grow on you the more you play it.  A&M actually released a single in the States though it did nothing commercially:

 

 

- 'John Lee' b/w 'The Time Is Near' (A&M catalog number S-1348)

 

Given the very English subject matter and the absence of a commercial single, the fact the LP actually hit the US charts peaking at # 195 was something of a miracle.

"Babbacombe Lee" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) John's Reflection On His Boyhood, His Introduction To Miss Keyes And The Glen, His Restlessness, And His Struggles With His Family, Finally Successful, To Join The Navy   (Dave Mattacks - Simon Nicol - Dave Pegg - Dave Swarbrick) - 6:19

2.) This Was The Happiest Period In His Life. All Locked Set Fair For A Career Until He Was Stricken With Sickness And Invalided Out Of His Chosen Niche In Life. Reluctantly And Unhappily He Turned To A Number Of Menial Occupations And Finally Returned To The Services Of Miss Keyes   ( Dave Mattacks - Simon Nicol - Dave Pegg - Dave Swarbrick) - 10:21

3.) Tragedy Now Strikes Hard. The World's Imagination Is Caught By The Brutal Senseless Of The Apparent Criminal Who Slays His Kind Old Mistress   ( Dave Mattacks - Simon Nicol - Dave Pegg - Dave Swarbrick) -  3:57 

(side 2)

1.) John Was Hardly More Than A Bewildered Observer At His Own Trial, Not Being Allowed To Say More Than A Few Words. The Tides Of Fate Wash Him To The Condemned Cell Where He Waits Three Sad Weeks For His Last Night On Earth   ( Dave Mattacks - Simon Nicol - Dave Pegg - Dave Swarbrick) - 7:32

2.) When It Comes, He Cannot Sleep, But When He Does, A Strange, Prophetic Dream Comes To Him, And Helps Him To Bear The Strain Of His Next Day's Ordeal As Scaffold And Its Crew Try In Vain Three Times To Take His Life   ( Dave Mattacks - Simon Nicol - Dave Pegg - Dave Swarbrick) - 13:20

 

 

Given the strength of this particular Fairport line up it was unfortunate that shortly after the album was released Simon quit to form The Albion Country Band.

 

 


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Fairport Chronicles

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-3530

Year: 1976

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Country/State: UK

Comments: double album, gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5853

Price: $15.00

 

With the band having absconded to Island A&M was clearly anxious to recoup some of it's earlier investment. Released in 1976, "Fairport Chronicles" was a double album, 20 track compilation. Given the band's extensive recording catalog the result was a well chosen, if limited retrospective. While nine of the selections were drawn from the band's first three albums, the set was rounded out by a couple of English singles ('Now Be Thankful'), a Fortheringay track ('The Way I Feel'), a Sandy Denny solo effort ('Listen, Listen') and a couple of tracks from The Bunch side project.  A must own for anyone who was simply curious, or for the casual collectors ...  (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve.)

"Fairport Chronicles" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Tale In Hard Time   (Richard Thompson) - 3:25
2.) Who Knows Where the Time Goes   (Sandy Denny) - 5:05
3.) Walk Awhile   (Richard Thompson - Dave Swarbrick) - 3:57
4.) Come All Ye   (Sandy Denny - Ashley Hutchings) - 4:55
5.) Listen Listen   (Sandy Denny) - 3:56

(side 2)

1.) Bridge Over the River Ash (instrumental)   (traditional) - 2:10
2.) I'll Keep It with Mine   (Bob Dylan) - 5:53
3.) My Girl the Month of May   (Dion DiMucci) - 2:08
4.) Million Dollar Bash   (Bob Dylan) - 2:55
5.) The Way I Feel   (Gordon Lightfoot) - 4:44

(side 2)

1.) Learning the Game   (Buddy Holly) - 2:05
2.) Meet On the Ledge   (Richard Thompson) - 2:48
3.) Percy's Song   (Bob Dylan) - 6:30
4.) Now Be Thankful   (Richard Thompson - Dave Swarbrick) - 3:10
5.) Tam Lin   (traditional) - 7:20

 

(side 4)
1.) Genesis Hall   (Richard Thompson) - 3:55
2.) Fortheringay   (Sandy Denny) - 3:01
3.) Sloth   (Richard Thompson - Dave Swarbrick) - 9:19
4.) Farewell, Farewell   (Richard Thompson) - 2:38
5.) End of a Holiday   (Simon Nicol) - 1:05

 

 



Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title: Farewell Farewell

Company: Simons

Catalog: GAMA 1

Year: 1979

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: UK pressing; gatefold sleeve; no bonus single

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5471

Price: $40.00

 

 

By 1979 the band consisted of singer/guitarist Simon Nicol, bassist Dave Pegg, drummer/multi-instrumentalist Bruce Rowland and singer/violinist Dave Swarbrick.  Finding themselves without a recording contract for the first time in a decade and with Swarbrick on the verge of permanently losing his hearing due to prolonged exposure to loud music the band decided to call it quits.  They undertook a 'goodbye' tour recording several performances including dates at Birmingham and Southampton Universities and a final performance at the village of Cropredy, Oxfordshire (which happened to be where Pegg lived and has subsequently gone on to become a major annual outdoor festival for the band).   Unable to interest a major label in releasing the live set Pegg and then-wife Christine decided to form their own label - Woodworm Records.  Released in 1979, "Farewell Farewell" (Woodworm catalog number BEAR 22) captured the quartet in an easy-going, upbeat mood.  Covering material from across their catalog, the album may not have been as consistent as the UK release "A Fairport Live Convention", or the US release "Live At the L.A. Troubadour", but apparently feeling free to simply enjoy themselves there were some killer performances on the album, including 'Matty Groves', 'My Lacey' and their closing cover of Richard Thompson's 'Meet On the Ledge'.   Never intended for nationwide distribution, only about 25,000 copies were pressed and made available to the individual band members for distribution.  The following year the album was reissued on the Simons label.  The Simons package came with a bonus 45 - 'Rubber Band' b/w 'The Bonny Black Hare' (Simons catalog number PMW 1).

 

"Farewell Farewell" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Matty Groves (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 6:33

2.) Orange Blossom Special (instrumental)   (Ervin Rause) - 2:30

3.) John Lee   (Dave Swarbrick) - 3:18

4.) Bridge Over the River Ash (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) - 2:40

5.) Sir Patrick Spens (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) -  3:17 

(side 1)

1.) My Lacey   (Hutchings) - 3:36

2.) Walk Away (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) -  4:13

3.) The Bonny Black Hare   (traditional arranged by Fairport Convention) -  

4.) Journeyman's Grace  (Dave Swarbrick - Richard Thompson) - 4:35

5.) Meet On the Ledge   (Richard Thompson) - 6:18

 

The album's been released at least two more times: In 1991 by The Road Goes On Forever label with the addition of 'Rubber Band' (catalog number RFG CD001) and in 2002 by Turning Point Music (catalog number TPM-02211).  The Turning Point released as a double LP set and included 'Rubber Band' and three other live performances:

 

- 'The Hens March Through the Midden / The Four Poster Bed'

- 'Flatback Caper'

- 'Dirty'

 

 

 


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  House Full

Company: Hannibal

Catalog: HNBL-1319

Year: 1986

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): G / VG

Comments: crease on right side

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4855

Price: $15.00

 

Recorded at a series of three September 1970 L.A. performances, "House Full" was essentially a remix of the earlier "Live At the Troubadour". With Sandy Denny gone, Swarbrick and Thompson were left to handle vocals. While the results were occasionally a bit on the ragged side (Denny was certainly missed on material such as 'Matty Groves'), the most impressive characteristic was the fact these guys could rock out. Tracks such as the extended 'Sloth', 'Matty Groves' and the instrumentals 'Masons Apron' and 'Battle of the Somme' were almost scary in their intensity. (Producer Joe Boyd's liner notes were also entertaining.)

"House Full" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Sir Patrick Spens   (Richard Thompson - Dave Swarbrick) - 3:06
2.) Banks of the Sweet Primorses   (Richard Thompson - Dave Swarbrick) - 3:56
3.) Toss the Feather (instrumental)   (Richard Thompson - Dave Swarbrick) - 3:56
4.) Sloth   (Richard Thompson - Dave Swarbrick) - 12:04

(side 1)

1.) Staines Morris   (traditional - arranged by Fairport Convention) - 3:44
2.) Matty Groves   (traditional - arranged by Fairport Convention) - 3:44
3.) Masons Apron   (instrumental) (traditional - arranged by Fairport Convention) - 4:32
4.) Battle of the Somme (instrumental)   (traditional - arranged by Fairport Convention) - 5:02

 

 


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