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Fairport Convention is often credited with being one of the first English folk rock bands. Formed in 1967, Fairport rapidly developed from playing cover versions of American 'west coast' music to an individual style which melded rock music with traditional English folk tunes and songs.Read More...
Like their peers The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and Jefferson Airplane they were blessed with several considerable individual talents and produced music that -at least initially- was eclectic, as well as exploratory. This side of the band may best be heard on Heyday, a collection of tracks broadcast by the BBC. The move to a more British form of folk rock came primarily as a result of the enthusiasm of bassist Ashley Hutchings and producer Joe Boyd. Original singer Judy Dyble was replaced on their second LP What We Did On Our Holidays by Sandy Denny, an experienced folk singer and excellent composer in her own right. Fiddle virtuoso Dave Swarbrick joined, initially as sessioneer, on their third, Unhalfbricking. That LP has arguably their first two bona fide masterpieces. One is their version of the Sandy Denny song, Who Knows Where the Time Goes, popularized by Judy Collins, but characterised on their version by a perfect balance between Denny's vocals and the exquisite support of the group as a whole, and lead guitarist Richard Thompson in particular. The other is A Sailor's Life, the first to demonstrate the potential power of folk rock, the song exploding in an improvised and sophisticated instrumental coda that reaches beyond the words through the impassioned interplay of the whole band, led by the virtuosity of Thompson and Swarbrick in particular. Thompson also soon showed that he could create his own distinctive songs, notably the anthemic Meet on the Ledge, on Holidays.
The following LP Liege and Lief is perhaps Fairport's finest hour. Liege and Lief is generally remembered for its virtuoso versions of traditional folk songs but it also contains beautiful originals by Thompson and Denny. However the next, Full House -deliberately rockier in tone- has its particular gems, most notably Sloth, for its extended guitar/ fiddle duel and Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman, a perfect expression of Thompson's mordant humour; along with the sleeve notes, surely amongst the strangest and funniest ever.
The band continued with a series of personnel changes and albums, all with at least some high points, until it was temporarily disbanded in 1979, but played annual reunion concerts until it reformed in 1985. Since then, it has enjoyed stability and continues to tour and record regularly.
In part, the continuing success of Fairport Convention is due to the annual music festival it organizes. Cropredy Festival has been held every year since 1974 near Cropredy, a village five miles north of Banbury, Oxfordshire and can attract upwards of 20,000 fans.
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- LyricsA holiday, a holiday, and the first one of the year
Lord Donald's wife came into the church, the gospel for to hear
And when the meeting it was done, she cast her eyes about
And there she saw little Matty Groves, walking in the crowd
"Come home with me, little Matty Groves, come home with me tonight
- LyricsAcross the evening sky, all the birds are leaving
But how can they know it's time for them to go?
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I have no thought of time
For who knows where the time goes?
- LyricsCome all ye rolling minstrels
And together, we will try
To rouse the spirit of the earth
And move the rolling sky
Those that dance, will start to dance
- LyricsMy father he rides with your sheriffs
And I know he would never mean harm,
But to see both sides of a quarrel
Is to judge without haste or alarm
- LyricsWe used to say that come the day
We'd all be making songs
Or finding better words
These ideas never lasted long
The way is up along the road
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