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Saturday, 22 July 2017
Arriving through our post portal, one of the furthest out records you will hear all year…………………….Fiore Spietato is the fifth album from Unimother 27, the recording alias of Italian multi instrumentalist and bedroom Psychonaut Piero Ranalli ( if his music is anything to go by this man is a veteran of at least a 1000 psychic wars) and contains five freaked out tracks of Acid Rock squall, twisted Psychedelic improvisations and trippy Space Rock. Aided and abbeted by drummer "Mr Fist", Piero deconstructs the assumed “laws” of Psychedelic Rock and reassembles the music in strange and twisted shapes.
His music is hard to describe, but if you could get your head round the concept of a bus with Chrome and Acid Mother’s Temple on board tipping over a cliff, then this is the sound of the wreckage. It’s not the easiest album to get into, but after a few listens the Acid squall becomes near transcendental. The opening track ‘There Is No Trip For Cats’ is a LSD soaked guitar wig out that sounds like Alien Soundtracks era Chrome on a bad come down…………and it gets weirder. ‘Hierophantes’ is an angular guitar improvisation dragged along by clattering drums while ‘Something About The Clouds’ is broken Krautrock glued back together the wrong way round and is completely deranged. This is certainly not easy listening, however beautiful melodies emerge from the chaos from time to time…………. ‘The Wheels Of Memory’ is a fantastic guitar improvisation which has echoes of blissed out 60s West Coast guitar bands such as QMS and the Steve Miller Band. Clocking in at around the 15 minute mark the albums title track is a winding, spiraling track that anyone into the Cosmic Jokers will really love, slowly fading out into a gentle hum of feedback. It’s not going to be to everybodies taste, however if you like you Psych Rock further out there than most then you are likely going to dig this.
Fiore Spietato is out NOW and you can pick up a copy on Discogs here and check out the Pineal Gland website for more weirdness.
Friday, 21 July 2017
Seeing that 60s Psychedelia really didn’t hit the UK provinces full on until 1970, there was always a flip side to Swinging London. For every band of dilettante acid dandies freaking out at the Roundhouse or getting it together in the country there were a dozen hard gigging bands playing the northern clubs and discotheques every weekend. Apart from a few isolated pockets outside of the groovy epicenter, the fall out from the Summer Of Love was a London thing…………that’s where the really ambitious bands had to base themselves, however seeing that the Pop charts were full of hip tunes, a watered down version of Psychedelia seeped into almost every town in the UK. There were loads of venues and a load of bands available to play them……….they were hardworking professional musicians who could make a decent living mixing a dash of cabaret and comedy with a set of Freakbeat/Psych tinged pop tunes and if they were lucky they would be given an opportunity to record a single. Toby Twirl were one such band, originally from Newcastle they were playing regular gigs between 1968 until 1971……..they had the threads but were slightly uncool and no doubt the closest they came to a psychedelic experience was the hallucinogenic effects of Newcastle Brown Ale, but by the sound of their long overdue debut album they could really tear up a dancefloor on a Saturday night in Blackburn. The tapes of previously thought lost demo and showcase recordings were recently discovered by the band's drummer, John Reed, which have been carefully transferred to a digital medium and professionally mastered. This mix of original songs with a collection crowd pleasing hits of the day is soon to be released as a limited edition 180 gram LP and CD by the good folk at Mega Dodo.
Toby Twirl were formed from the ashes of several Newcastle Beat groups and were briefly signed to Decca Records. The group released three singles on Decca……..'Back In Time', ‘Toffee Apple Sunday' and 'Movin' In'. Although critically acclaimed in later years, as these tracks have appeared on countless Freakbeat/Psych Pop compilations in the last two decades, none of the singles charted due to lack of major radio play at the time. The lost recordings that appear here walk a fine line between a cheesy desperation to get a hit single and a solid night club act. Side one of the album is very Pop orientated but includes a very cool cover of the Beatles ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man and the aforementioned Freakbeat tune ‘Movin In’. Side two is bonkers…….in a good way. There are covers of Steppenwolf and The Guess Who (‘Born To Be Wild’ and ‘American Woman’), a straight cover of ‘Something’ (for the slow dance), The Everly Brothers ‘When Will I Be Loved’ done Trojan moonstomp style and a fantastic cover of the Easybeats hit ‘Good Times’ which sounds like a Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels out take. Toby Twirl were late to the Psychedelic party and although there are some great tracks here, it sounds as if they were at heart a cabaret band (all be it a very successful one and were a top draw around the North of England) and played what worked for a beered up Saturday night crowd as opposed to finding their own path. They were good at what they did………the songs are played immaculately, the close harmonies are as tight as you like and they were a proper party band but they lacked the visceral energy and originality of bands such as Tomorrow or the Move and remind us of the Rock influenced club/cabaret bands that used to rock up on TV talent shows like Opportunity Knocks and New Faces in the early 70s. It’s a strange release for Mega Dodo, but all the same if you dig the seriously obscure side of British Pop Sike this will be right up your street. It’s a rare glimpse of the other side of the Psychedelic 60s.
Due for limited release 06/10/2017, keep ‘em peeled for pre-orders.
Monday, 17 July 2017
ALISON O’DONNELL - CLIMB SHEER THE FIELDS OF PEACE (Mega Dodo LP, CD, D/L). RICHARD BONE - AGE OF FALCONRY (Mega Dodo CD, D/L).
July sees the release of a couple of strange and beautiful albums from the ever reliable boutique label Mega Dodo……………….
Irish Folk singer Alison O’Donnell really should need no introduction, but for those of you new to her music here’s a brief biog………….. Born in Dublin, Alison O’Donnell recorded her first single, 'Feeling High', in 1968 for Simon Napier Bell’s SNB label at the age of 15 with the cult Progressive Folk-Rock band, Mellow Candle. They signed to Decca's Deram label in the early 70s and gigged their only album Swaddling Songs extensively in Ireland and Britain, appearing in concert with the likes of Genesis, Thin Lizzy, Donovan, The Chieftains and Steeleye Span before splitting up in 1973. Now considered a Folk Rock classic, Swaddling Songs was “rediscovered” during the Psych/Acid Folk revival of the mid noughties which led to a renewed interest in her work and an invitation to join Irish Wyrdfolk outfit United Bible Studies among various collaborations with the new breed of twisted Folk artists including a fruitful meeting of minds with English Psych Folk band The Owl Service. Climb Sheer The Fields Of Peace is Alison O’Donnell’s first proper solo album since 2009s Hey Hey Hippy Witch (a much under rated record that features contributions from various members of United Bible Studies, The Owl Service, Circulus and musicians from Mellow Candle) and is a collaboration with Dave Colohan from Raising Holy Sparks and mixes Folk and Electronica with remarkable effect. Although Folktronica is a genre that you would not immediately associate with Alison O’Donnell, as with her previous albums, Climb Sheer The Fields Of Peace is at turns unpredictable, chilling, heart-breaking and exhilarating as acoustic guitars and snaky synths combine with O’Donnell’s vocals to send shivers down the backbone; it easily stands shoulder to shoulder with her best work. Deeply atmospheric and stunningly beautiful, Climb Sheer The Fields Of Peace is Folktronica it best. Stripped down to stark and unfussy arrangements, the beauty is in the their simplicity, giving plenty of space to Alison O’Donnell’s wonderful voice in the mix, the songs have an ethereal quality not a million miles away from the pastoral psychedelia of United Bible Studies and Kate Bush at her more daringly experimental moments. Sometimes sounding almost like devotional music from a time before electricity and at other times having a more quirky, modern feel this is a collection of some of the finest Folk based songs you will hear all year.
Also new from Mega Dodo is Age Of Falconry by American Electronic musician Richard Bone. With roots in experimental Electronica, Richard has been releasing solo records on his own Quirkworks label since the early 90s and Age of Falconry is Richard’s first release with Mega Dodo. Richard’s versatile compositions walk the edge of combining the abstract with contemporary Electronica. His music steps out of the ordinary, transforms into unusual shapes and spheres, the latter ranging from hypnotizing and a bit foreboding to free form compositions with quirky elements occasionally lurking underneath. Age of Falconry has a haunting beauty at work on many of its tracks, juxtaposed with a cheery warmth, both elements sitting comfortably next to each other despite their polar opposite natures. It’s an album that mixes together many of the strands of modern Electronica………..the opening track, ‘Queensberry Wilde’, is a beguiling piece of Folktronica, where elsewhere there are hints of Eno’s Music For Airports and Apollo albums and elements of Ambient soundscaping and minimal Krautrock compositions. Tracks such as the haunting ‘A Shooting Star Was I’ and ‘Winged Persia’ are Eno-esque in their construction while other tracks like ‘Mabuhay!’and ‘Damfino’ sound like they have come from one the fantastic early 90s Ambient collections that labels like Warp and Leaf used to put out. There is a darker side to Richard Bone’s work as exemplified by the weird and glitchy ‘Urgent Curious’ and the brooding ‘Apotheosis’ which are in stark contrast to the lighter compositions on the album. If you are a fan of 80s/90s Ambient music, this is a record you need to check out.
Both albums are out NOW……………..Alison O’Donnell’s Climb Sheer The Fields Of Peace is a limited edition vinyl and CD release while Richard Bone’s Age Of Falconry is a limited edition CD release only. Available from all good record stores and on line outlets with copies also available directly from the Mega Dodo store or bandcamp page here https://megadodo.bandcamp.com/merch
Sunday, 9 July 2017
Strange things are happening in South America……………Outta Uruguay come one of Fuzz Club’s latest signings, the fuzzed up and freaked out boy/girl duo Las Cobras. Psychedelia has always been deeply ingrained in South America's culture and history, harking all the way back to the 1960s with the politically charged Tropicalia movement. Things are no different now either; it’s host to a wealth of great bands such as Follakzoid, Boogarins and The Holydrug Couple, to name just a few, and with their debut album Temporal, Las Cobras can be added to this list. It’s a totally mesmerising journey through warped synths, tropicalia percussion, lysergic bass-lines, smoky vocals and chiming, fuzzed-out guitars, influenced as much by Psych/Rock 'n' Roll greats such as BJM and Suicide as it is wildly immersed in the lysergic sounds of Psychedelic South America.
Driven by fuzz bass and the kinetic rush of a hot wired drum machine, the songs on Temporal pull together Las Cobras wide range of influences, from the hazy swirl out of ‘Dark Waves/Beating Hard’ to the Tropicalia flavoured,dreamy title track the duo of Sofía Aguerre and Leandro Rebellato explore their unique vision of Psych Rock filtered through the lens of traditional Latin American sounds. At times the album is a joyous head rush akin to Os Mutantes at their best, and at other times the luscious kaleidoscopic elements are dropped in favour of a more darker, sinister, fuzz fest propelled by motorik percussion with distorted guitars, foreboding bass lines and enthralling harmonies from both Sofia and Leandro. It’s experimental in the sense that Las Cobras are still trying to pin down their “sound” and having a blast trying to figure out what works the best…………..’Nothing Against You’ has the vibe of The Kills on a serious downer while ‘So Much Love’ is a brutal, bass heavy, echo laden sonic assault and sees the band dive into darkly enticing psychotropic waters. For a debut album from a band that only formed a mere 12 months ago it’s way better than could be expected and gives the perfect insight into the mystical, all-encompassing sounds of Las Cobras. We can’t wait for this band to seriously get there shit together and unleash what they are really capable of…………….it’s gonna blow minds.
Temporal is out NOW on Fuzz Club records as a limited pressing of 300 copies on coloured vinyl and available from all good record stores and on line outlets, with copies still available to buy direct from the Fuzz Club shop or their Bandcamp page at https://fuzzclub.bandcamp.com/album/temporal where you can also stream the album.
Saturday, 1 July 2017
DA CAPTAIN TRIPS - ADVENTURES IN THE UPSIDE DOWN (Vincebus Eruptum Recordings/Phonosphera Records LP, CD, D/L).
Cut from the same cloth as tripped out Acid Rock bands such as Monarch, Sendelica and Mythic Sunship, Italian cosmic jam band Da Captain Trips blend languid Dead Head fluid West Coast vibes with spacey 70s Prog/Psych influences in mind bending Adventures In The Upside Down………it’s a concept album of sorts, with seven tracks of instrumental “visionary psychedelia” based on a fantastic adventure of da good Captain floating on the border of reality in the upside down dimension. Working together with Italian Sci-Fi comic artist Roberto Bonadimani who, inspired by the music, has provided several beautiful illustrations for the album cover and the inner gatefold, Da Captain Trips have created a fantastic piece of work that evokes the look, sound and feel of classic early 70s albums that would have once surfaced on the Virgin, Vertigo and Deram labels…………”classic” Rock/Prog fans are going to go nuts for this.
Recorded live in the studio after being honed on the road, Adventures In The Upside Down has been made by a bunch of skilled musicians with an almost telepathic connection as it twists and turns, soars and swirls without dropping a beat or rushing headlong up blind alleys. Like their Welsh psychedelic soul mates Sendelica, Da Captain Trips have the self awareness to know sometimes less is more and that not all cosmic jams need to drag on past the twenty minute mark…………Adventures In The Upside Down sees the band developing expansive soundscapes, but with half an eye on the clock. Like the opening track ‘The Calm And The Storm’, all the tracks here are punchy and stripped of any pretentious self-indulgence that can blight Prog Rock albums. There are some really great tracks here………..with it’s driving staccato guitar riff and lush synth washes, ‘Manta’ pushes all the right buttons for all the ProgHeads while ‘Revelation’ is a……err……revelation, featuring Sendelica’s Lee Relfe on saxophone taking the band deep into the realms of Space Jazz. ‘Dear Zahdia’ and ‘Trepasses Bay’ are epic modern Psych/Prog tunes……………with rock solid drums and bass holding down the bottom end as tight as you like, there is plenty of space for a dizzying aerial ballet between guitar and Mini Moog, with both instruments dipping and diving, feeding off each others energy. The album slowly winds down with the gently reflective ‘Peaceful Place’ and closes with the beautiful part acoustic, part the raging guitars of QMS/Grateful Dead, Summer Of 67 evoking ‘Mother Earth’……….Adventures In The Upside Down is a really cool album of excellent, inventive instrumental Prog/Psych and well worth the time of any discerning ProgHead and Acid Rock loving space cadet.
Out NOW on limited edition vinyl, CD and also as a digital download…………..the vinyl version, released by Italian label Vincebus Eruptum Recordings, is available in either coloured or standard black vinyl (150/200 copies of each). The CD comes via Phonosphera Records in a limited run of 300 copies, both formats available from the usual outlets on line or direct from the band’s Bandcamp site
where you can also buy the download/stream the album.
Sunday, 18 June 2017
SAM KNEE - MEMORY OF A FREE FESTIVAL : THE GOLDEN ERA OF THE BRITISH UNDERGROUND FESTIVAL (Circada Books 2017).
They don’t do festivals like they used to……………..even the smallest boutique festivals today are, usually, pretty well organised with the bands running on time, plenty of decent food/drink, well thought out camping areas and the security not provided by the local biker gang. Heavy on images but a bit light on text, Memory Of A Free Festival (The Golden Era Of The British Underground Festival Scene) by writer Sam Knee collects together a load of photos, many previously unpublished, from the polite, CND supporting Jazz festivals of the early 60s all through to the mid 80s Stonehenge Festival where a meeting of minds of the original 60s/70s Freeks and the 80s Anarcho-Punks brought down the wrath of Thatchers Government, using the Police Force as state sponsored stormtroopers. Arranged in chronological order and held together by Sam Knee’s brief text putting the pictures in context, the photos document a lost world, maybe more innocent and certainly less money orientated than nowadays, that maybe only exists now in the farflung fields at Glastonbury well away from the main stage. It’s not the definitive history of the late 60s/early 70s UK festival scene, that book has yet to be written, and is light on the social/political ideas of the time that informed many of the festivals from that era but is a interesting meander through recent history with many of the photos unofficial, personal memories of the people who where there.
Memory Of A Free Festival charts a path through the gentile Jazz, Blues and Folk Festivals inspired by the Newport Folk Festival, (although there was a massive rumble at the 3rd Beaulieu Jazz Festival between fans of Trad Jazz and Modern Jazz which sounds wonderfully surreal in 2017), through to the floating anarchy at Stonehenge and stopping at all points in between. The title of the book is more of an opportunity to squeeze in a Bowie reference (although there are pictures of the free festival organised by the Beckenham Arts Lab that inspired the song from the Space Oddity album……“The sun machine is coming down and we’re gonna have a party”, but bring a rain coat just in case) and also includes pictures from the freak festivals that charged admission, so you get great 60s pictures/posters/flyers from the National Jazz & Blues Festival as it slowly went psychedelic, the 14 hr Technicolour Dream, the Festival Of Flower Children at Woburn Abbey, the iconic free concerts in Hyde Park.
The early 70s were the real golden age of the Underground Festival…………………in the wake of Woodstock there were several “bread-head” festivals such as the massive Isle Of Wight festival which surpassed Woodstock in numbers, and got it’s fence torn down by French anarchists turning it into a free festival, The Bickershaw Festival was held in a swamp near Wigan, totally chaotic as it pissed down with rain all weekend, and of course the hardy Reading Festival which has always reflected the changing tastes in rock music (the line up in 1973 featured Rory Gallagher, The Faces, Quo, S.A.H.B, Magma, Genesis and John Martyn among others)…………………elsewhere the freak flag was being flown at events like the acid soaked car crash of a festival Phun City, a creepily misogynistic relocation of the Notting Hill freek scene to a field in Worthing, the authority baiting Windsor Free Festival whose final year in 1974 was broken up by an massively violent Police over reaction and the legendary early festivals at Glastonbury. There are pages of really interesting pictures from this era, more about the vibe about these events than the bands that were playing, it will be an eye opener to anyone who’s first recollection of festivals is the heavily commercialised big modern events that are part of the social calender than a freak scene right of passage. The final section of the book covers the more politically driven RAR events and the anarchy of the early 80s festival scene where along with Stonehenge, Glastonbury was still like the Wild West with cool bands a good 15 years before the fence went up. More personal recollections than the history of the UK festivals, if you where there it’s a blast from the past………….if you were too young, it’s a snap shot of what festivals were like before big money sucked the soul out of them.
Ok, we admit we are looking at the 70s/80s Underground with rose tinted shades, it wasn't all gentle freaks and groovy people that turned up to these festivals as there was always an element of shady characters and right nasty bastards that you had to be wary of……..we are a bit too young to have gone to the iconic early 70s festivals, we started going late 70s but knew we had to keep our wits about us to prevent wandering into really fucked up situations and watch out for scallies and thieving grebos. The large scale free festival was killed off when the law came down on the rave at Castlemorton like a ton of bricks, but even if the bands are a bit shit nowadays festivals have improved…….the bogs are no longer stinking cess pits, festival food has come a long way from just being botulism burgers and warm beer and you are unlikely to get a kicking from the local biker gang. There are still some really cool, low key festivals out there if you look.
Published by Cicada Books, Memory Of A Free Festival is out NOW and available from good book shops and the usual on line outlets.
Saturday, 10 June 2017
From the stages of the UFO Club, Mothers and Middle Earth to Cropredy in Oxfordshire and from a fresh faced very English version of Jefferson Airplane to revered elder statesmen, it’s been a long strange trip. Now celebrating their 50th anniversary, Fairport Convention have outlasted their peers from the late 60s/early 70s UK underground Folk Rock scene by several decades. Formed in London in 1967, Fairport Convention are the hardy perennials of the British Folk scene with a continually shifting line-up, which has over the years seen such Folk Rock luminaries as Richard Thompson, Judy Dyble, Ashely Hutchings, Simon Nicol, Sandy Denny, Dave Swarbrick and Dave Pegg as integral members of the band. Massively influential during their early years, they were the first band to take traditional folk out of the clubs and into the concert halls playing for a Rock audience with their 1969 album Liege and Lief being the yardstick by which all Folk Rock bands are still measured against. The soon to be released lavish seven CD box set, Come All Ye – The First 10 Years, celebrates and explores the band’s creative heyday, beginning with their eponymous debut for Polydor in 1968, through all of their seminal albums for Island Records and finishing with tracks from their two albums for Vertigo, The Bonny Bunch of Roses and Tippers Tales. Of the 121 tracks featured here, 55 are previously unreleased and includes key tracks and alternate versions from all of their classic albums, single B-sides, BBC Radio Sessions, 5 songs from the French TV programme Pop 2 (December 1970), 5 songs from the Television show The Man They Couldn’t Hang (1971) and the audio for an entire concert at The Fairfield Halls, Croydon (December 16th 1973) plus 2 songs recorded live for the Scottish Television programme, ‘Anne Lorne Gillies – The World of Music’ (1976). The box set comes complete with liner notes by respected English writer, Patrick Humphries. However, as tracks from the first four classic albums from the 60s are dashed off pretty quickly, with very little previously unreleased material, within 2 CDs it really depends on how much you like the various incarnations of the band led through the 70s by Dave Swarbrick before you shell out nearly £60.
Discs 1 and 2 chart the band’s progression from Dylan/Joni Mitchell/Byrds obsessives to totally re-imagining British electric folk music for decades to come in a three year burst of creativity second to non. Although patchy in parts as the band find their feet, the debut Fairport Convention album is somewhat under rated with some excellent tracks on the record. Come All Ye – The First 10 Years collects four album tracks from the debut and a couple of songs from a John Peel’s Top Gear radio session in the summer of 68, including the scorching cover of The Merry-Go-Round’s ‘Time Will Show The Wiser’ which features Richard Thompson’s stunning Acid Rock guitar playing……………………if you take the “English Jefferson Airplane” analogy to it’s logical conclusion then the first album can be considered as their version of Takes Off, then What We Did On Our Holidays is the English equivalent of Surrealistic Pillow (ok it’s a tenuous connection, but try running with it). What We Did On Our Holidays is an absolute stone cold Psych/Folk/Rock masterpiece. Judy Dyble had been replaced by Sandy Denny, considered by many to have been Britain’s finest Singer/Songwriter, forming a formidable male/female duel vocal partnership with Ian Matthews plus with the stellar talents of Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Martin Lamble and Ashley Hutchings this line up of the band could have easily gone toe to toe with anything America could offer at the time. Included from Fairport’s second album is an alternate version of ‘Mr Lacey’ taken from the Sandy Denny box set, Richard Thompson’s first really great song and Fairport Convention's unofficial anthem ‘Meet On The Ledge’ (plus the B-Side from it’s single release, ’Throwaway Street Puzzle’) plus a couple of fantastic previously unreleased tracks (a alternate take of the band’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Eastern Rain’ and an A Capella version of ‘Nottamun Town’ stripped of it’s Raga Rock arrangement). Five tracks from this album does not do What We Did On Our Holidays justice………if you have not heard the record before and have been put off by the supposed image of Fairport Convention being only for weird beard and sandals real ale enthusiasts, go check it out as it is a brilliant Psychedelic Folk Rock record that has more in common with Dylan, The Byrds and the S.F. Ballrooms than dusty Folk Clubs. Disc 1 closes with four tracks from the excellent Unhalfbricking album which was the transition point from the Fairport’s having a psychedelic edge to being the full blown electric Folk Rock band they became after a ram raid on Cecil Sharp House and escaping with an armful of obscure Trad Folk songs. Unhalfbricking was the first record Dave Swarbrick played on, a veteran of the Birmingham Folk Clubs, Swarbrick brought a more traditional folk sound to the band, however the epic reworking of the folk tune ‘A Sailors Life’ that Denny had brought to the band, on this it is the Swarbrick free version from the Sandy Denny box set that is included along with previously unreleased alternative takes of two classic Denny songs ‘Autopsy’ and ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’. More than half of Disc 2 documents what was Fairport Convention’s greatest moment, the seamless melding of Folk Roots and amplified music that was Liege And Leif…………….THE British Folk Rock album. A seminal work, which said it all but launched a thousand imitators. Come All Ye – The First 10 Years collects together assorted alternative versions and Peel sessions featuring tracks from this groundbreaking record including a raw rehearsal version of ‘The Deserter’ and another couple of tracks from the Sandy Denny box set, fantastic alternative versions of ‘Come All Ye’ and ‘Matty Groves’ along with a thrilling John Peel’s Top Gear session from September 1969.
By January 1971 Richard Thompson had left Fairport Convention following Sandy Denny and Ashley Hutchings on to other projects leaving the band to be steered by Dave Swarbrick deeper into traditional English Folk and the next 3 Discs of the box set becoming generally a series of diminished returns unless you enjoyed the albums recorded after Full House. The highlights of Disc 3 are a previously unreleased live performance from the French TV show Pop2 in December 1970 and the songs recorded for the BBC for the 1971 TV show The Man They Could Not Hang broadcast around the time Babbacombe Lee hit the shops. Disc 4 contains various odds and sods put down on tape around the time of the albums Nine and Rosie with a large majority of the recordings tracks previously unreleased and Disc 5 contains collects together many of the recordings/radio sessions made around the time Sandy Denny rejoined the band for their Rising for the Moon album which was a partial return to form, but a poor seller and resulted in the band fracturing again, limping on for a few more years with Swarbrick at the helm, before considering calling it a day after the disappointing Tippers Tales. After a career spanning 12 years, 15 line ups, 16 albums and 20 members Fairport Convention intended to disband in August 1979……….however they were soon back with original member Simon Nicol and ever present member since Full House, Dave Pegg leading the band through it’s most stable period in it’s history, maybe living off past glories a little and no longer the innovative band they were at their 1969 peak but still with a legion of hardcore fans that have grown up with the band.
It’s Discs 6 and 7 that will be of most interest to the Fairport faithful……………recorded for the 1974 Live Convention album Disc 6 has the full set from the show at the Croydon Fairfield Halls featuring the Country Rock tinged line up of the band featuring guitarists Trevor Lucas and Jerry Donahue with all but two tracks previously unreleased and Disc 7 contains the Live at the LA Troubadour 1/2/1974 recording previously available as part of the Rising For The Moon deluxe reissue. Taken from the soundboard, the sound quality is excellent throughout and the performance is a fascinating snapshot of this short-lived lineup (Sandy Denny, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks, Trevor Lucas and Jerry Donahue). The setlist is a typical Fairport mix of songs old and new, traditional and covers, with a fair sprinkling of material from Sandy’s solo albums as well as a song from Fotheringay. Interestingly, contempory Fairport songs seemed almost under-represented (one each from Rosie and Nine), although What We Did on Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking and Liege & Lief all get a look in with one song from each. Despite the diversity of sources, there is a cohesion to the performance and it’s great to have the chance to hear six fine musicians in top form and, perhaps equally importantly, sounding like they’re enjoying themselves. So there you go, seven discs marking the first 10 years of Fairport Convention beautifully presented with extensive sleeve notes……………..from the sparkling, innovative first three albums for Island which would easily rank in a poll of the best records of all time to a slow decline into pointlessness by the end of the 70s and with a hefty price tag perhaps for hardcore fans only……………….a curate's egg of a box set, depending on your opinion of the overbearing influence Dave Swarbrick had over the band during the 70s. Down in our psychedelic basement we prefer the Fairport Convention from the UFO Club and Middle Earth having had our minds blown by a second hand copy What We Did On Our Holidays as impressionable teenagers, but it takes all sorts………………maybe this one is for the Folkies and not the PsychHeads.
Due for release on 28th July, Come All Ye – The First 10 Years will be available from all good record shops and the usual online outlets…………….this can be yours for about the price of 17 pints of scumpy.