Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Vinyl log 17 - 1 July

1July1970Fairport ConventionLiege and Lief

45 years have passed since I bought "the most important folk album of all time". I don't remember buying this, I don't remember listening to it and I certainly don't remember what I thought about it then. I know that my guitar playing improved immensely through playing along with L&L, I know that I was impressed with Richard Thompson who played guitar solos on the low frets of the low strings, I know that the record even influenced my very early songs.

Of course, this record was the first in a very long line of Fairport family recordings which I have bought. Why, even this morning I belatedly ordered RT's new "Still" album. I had already seen Fairport live before buying this record, but that was the 'Full House' line up; apart from "Matty Groves" and the instrumental medley, nothing the chaps played in February came from this record.

I still don't like "Reynardine" and am not particularly fond of "Tam Lin", but the other songs on this record still take my breath away. As an exercise, I have just put the disc in the player to see whether listening to the songs brings back any particular memories; "Come all ye" conjures up a certain mood but no more. Thinking about it, this song is quite atypical; although an excellent calling on song, there isn't really anything else like it in the canon.

"Farewell, farewell" is so modest and so perfect; if one wants to find fault, then the wah-wah guitar hidden behind everything else seems unnecessary. On the other hand, the Leslie toned guitar on "Crazy man Michael" is sublime. Thinking about it now, it's interesting that Richard was trying some contemporary sounds which weren't in the Fairport tone palette - and never returned.

In view of the sad news this morning, it is good to remember that the nucleus of the original Fairport - Richard, Ashley and Simon - are all doing well. Swarb, despite his premature obituary and ill health, seems to hang on. I haven't heard anything about DM in years, which is a shame. Of course, Sandy left us years ago. Listening to her singing again, her voice seems so clean and open, possibly a little vulnerable, free of all the melismatic trimmings which so weigh down today's divas. Swarb's playing too is simpler and less frantic than his later style; this is easier to listen to.

I suppose that this record is in my DNA.

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