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Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention Liege and Lief

Fairport Convention Album Reviews

Fairport Convention are the focal point for British folk rock of their generation. While they started their career as a sixties folk-rock band, like a London equivalent to Jefferson Airplane, they started reaching through the archives of British folk songs and electrifying them. With an impressive pool of talent, Fairport Convention boasted the sumptuous vocals of Sandy Denny, guitar hero Richard Thompson, and ace fiddler Dave Swarbrick.

With Thompson and Denny writing, and covering traditional material, and contemporary songs from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, they released a lot of excellent material in a relatively short space of time. Fairport Convention’s debut was released in mid 1968 and Full House was released in mid 1970, which means that within two years, Fairport Convention had released five generally excellent studio albums.

Similar to The Byrds in America in the sixties, Fairport Convention spawned a bunch of successful spin-off acts; over those two years, they featured ten different members and invented electric British folk rock, as well as spawning Steeleye Span, The Albion Band, and Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, and Ian Matthews’ solo careers.

The band’s turnover was so dramatic that you need a list to keep it straight – these are the personnel during their initial 1968-1970 period:
Richard Thompson – guitar, vocal (1967–)
Ashley Hutchings – bass guitar (1967–1969)
Simon Nicol – guitar, lead vocal (1967–)
Dave Pegg – bass guitar, mandolin, backing vocal (1969–)
Martin Lamble – drums (1967–1969; died 1969)
Judy Dyble – vocal, autoharp, piano, recorder (1967–1968)
Ian Matthews – vocal (1967–1969)
Sandy Denny – vocal, guitar, piano (1968–1969)
Dave Swarbrick – fiddle, mandolin, vocal (1969–)
Dave Mattacks – drums (1969–)

Rhythm guitarist Simon Nicol and bassist Dave Pegg have kept Fairport Convention active, but with the possible exception of Denny’s reunion album, 1975’s Rising For The Moon, I’m more interested in the above spin-off projects rather than the band itself after 1970.

Ten Favourite Fairport Convention Songs
Matty Groves
Farewell Farewell
Tam Lin
Percy’s Song
Fotheringay
Meet On The Ledge
Who Knows Where The Time Goes
Genesis Hall
Sir Patrick Spens
Sloth

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Fairport Convention Debut Album

Fairport Convention – Fairport Convention

1968, 6/10. Fairport Convention started their career more influenced by American groups like Jefferson Airplane than by traditional folk.

Fairport Convention What We Did On our Holidays

What We Did On Our Holidays – Fairport Convention

1969, 8.5/10. The first of three excellent studio albums that Fairport Convention released in 1969, What We Did On Our Holidays is a major step forward.

Fairport Convention Unhalfbricking

Unhalfbricking – Fairport Convention

1969, 8/10. Unhalfbricking is a worthy followup to What We Did On Our Holidays, featuring Sandy Denny’s ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’.

Fairport Convention Liege and Lief

Liege and Lief – Fairport Convention

1969, 10/10. If you have any interest in British folk rock you need to hear Liege & Lief immediately.

Fairport Convention Full House

Full House – Fairport Convention

1970, 7.5/10. Full House is worthy, but without Sandy Denny’s voice and with less engaging material, it’s less notable than their 1969 releases.

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