What We Did On Our Holidays
The first of three (!!) excellent studio albums that Fairport Convention released in 1969, What We Did On Our Holidays marks a rapid transition from a talented but unfocused young band, to a folk-rock band with a much clearer direction. Sandy Denny joined the band before What We Did On Our Holidays, sharing vocals with Ian Matthews; she’s a sublime singer, and her sole writing credit ‘Fotheringay’ opens the album on a confident note.
The most notable of the originals is Thompson’s ‘Meet On The Ledge’, with a surprisingly dark atmosphere and intense guitar solos. Thompson also contributes two more overlooked winners, the driving and almost psychedelic ‘Tale In Hard Time’ and the accordion-centred ‘No Man’s Land’, an impressive portfolio for a songwriter still in his teens. The covers of Joni Mitchell’s never released ‘Eastern Rain’ and Dylan’s ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine’ are highlights, and while the covers of the traditional folk material aren’t as revolutionary, along with ‘Fotheringay’ they point the direction forward for the group.
What We Did On Our Holidays is still unfocused in places, but there’s tons of brilliant material here, and it’s a startling and timeless achievement for a group of London teenagers.