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 songs, 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’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 often excellent studio albums.

Similar to The Byrds in America in the sixties, they spawned a bunch of successful spinoff acts; over those two years, they turned over six 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 the band going, and it’s still active, but with the possible exception of Denny’s comeback album, 1975’s Rising For The Moon, I’m more interested in the above spinoff projects rather than the band itself after 1970.

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