Fairport Convention has been credited as one of the leaders of the English folk scene since their founding in 1967. Their members have received many awards of recognition and have participated in some of England's best prog and rock bands. Each year they host the, Cropredy Convention, which is the largest annual folk festival event in England.This album features a pivotal live show which was recorded in 1974, but only released this year. It includes Sandy Denny, who was the lead female singer and piano player between the years, 1968 - 1969, 1974–1975. Sandy is also credited with the famous female vocals on Led Zeppelin's "Battle of Evermore".
I learned a lot from doing this review and that is always worth the effort. We lost Sandy too early. It sounds like she had so much more to give. Thankfully someone was wise enough to capture this moment in time, live for all of us to hear, no matter how long ago it was. The production is good and the spirit of the band is captured true to form. If you're a fan, then you must have this as part of the collection. If not, this is a great introduction to the band and the 'voice' which was Sandy Denny.
Introductions to fans clapping, as Sandy's vocals open "Solo". Heavy bass and piano along with Sandy's vocals as the guitars and drums join in to add to the caliber of the sound. The live sound of this album begins to build power as the violins weave their way through. A nice soft and at times dramatic opening to the show. "I could tell you that the grass is greener…"
"Hexhamshire" opens with a traditional Northern English romp, full of guitars and drums. The male vocals take you right home to the land of the song's origins.
Piano opens "John the Gun", with Sandy Denny singing, this time with backing vocals, and accompanied by guitar, piano and slow patted drums. The violins and guitars help create a real atmosphere of tradition - steeped folk music.
"Fiddlestix" blasts open with drums, guitars and violins entering later. It starts off as an instrumental full of powerful guitar and drum grooves, before setting sail with flying violins and then acoustic guitar. The best song on the album. Some traditional violin solos enter to really allow the sound to take flight. The violin work sounds more like fiddling with its incredible tempo.
"Dirty Linen "opens with a rollicking traditional English rhythm full of drums, bass, and violin. The violin and bass are wonderful. The fans join in and the claps and cheers get louder as the music increases in volume and power. They finally take it over the top as the cowbell joins in.
Slow soft acoustic guitar opens "Who Knows Where the Time Goes". Sandy's song, and a wonderful showcase for her vocal talents. A nice soft country morning kind of song for relaxing and taking in all of life's accomplishments. This famous song has been covered by the likes of Judy Collins and Nina Simone.
"Sloth" is the slowest and longest track on the album. It is full of country twanging guitar at the beginning, slow drums, bass, and all vocalists singing in unison. A good, calm, slow, mostly instrumental dirge – like song. Some of the lead and bass guitar solos are excellent. The violin and bass extravaganza that builds must be experienced to be fully appreciated. It would be great to someday see video of this song and album being performed live. This must be part of a band highlight reel. The fans roar!
"It'll Take a Long Time" is a Sandy Denny song as well. Country twang guitar, soft drums and Sandy's voice leading the way. Another one of her signature songs.
"Matty Groves" is a Fairport Convention favorite. This Appalachian story deals with adultery and murder, all the elements of many great 17th century tales. Sandy deals with the story well with her rising vocals, before the violins, drums, and bass take off on a romp. The guitars rush in to take over the sound as the momentum continues to build. The violins are wonderful as are the drums. This was the finale, on one of the two nights drawn from these recordings, and the band members are introduced, before the next, encore songs.
"The Medley" is a great instrumental mix of violin, drums, and guitar. A tradition – filled, fun romp with great playing from each band member. It starts off slow and then kicks off to a pace that will pull you out of the chair and to the floor to dance.
"Down in the Flood" is Bob Dylan's classic story, which FC covers well here. Fairport Convention brings this classic to life with drums and Sandy opening the track, supported by violin, bass and lead electric. Sandy invokes her best Dylan imitation, while she brings the power of her female vocals to bear on this bluesy folk number. Powerful closer.
1. Solo (5:04)
2. Hexhamshire Lass (2:35)
3. John The Gun (5:12)
4. Fiddlestix (2:46)
5. Dirty Linen (4:07)
6. Who Knows Where The Time Goes (7:15)
7. Sloth (13:23)
8. It'll Take A Long Time (6:18)
9. Matty Groves (10:04)
10. The Medley (8:29)
11. Down In The Flood (3:50)
Total Time 68:31