75 Essential Albums – Day #20 Fairport Convention

Here goes with day 20 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

Fairport Convention – Liege and Leaf

For any lover of British Folk-Rock Liege and Leaf is an essential album because it was most definitely the album that broke the mould and brought Folk Music into the 20th Century.  It also featured Fairport Conventions strongest ever line-up with the wonderful Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick all featuring.

Liege and Lief took folk music electric and mainstream and contains several of the bands best loved songs.  It has been voted the most influential folk album of all time.  Sandy Denny’s voice is beautiful and distinctive, and guitarist extraordinaire Richard Thompson, together with Dave Swarbrick on Violin drive the album.  Whilst “Tam Lin”, “Reynardine”, “Matty Groves” & “The Deserter”  are new arrangements of traditional songs they blend perfectly with original compositions “Come All Ye”, “Farewell, Farewell” and “Crazy Man Michael”

“Tam Lin”, is a 16th century Scottish ballad which invokes the netherworld with the folk tradition of an earthly knight held in thrall by a fairy queen whilst  Reynardine” is an eerie ballad about a werefox that slyly draws a young woman to her doom with fair words to hide its evil intent. The menace of Thompson guitar and Sandy Denny’s vocal is superb.

The highlight of the traditional songs on Liege & Lief is the incomparable “Matty Groves”, a tale of murder adultery and revenge Swarbick and Thompson finish the song with a rousing several-minute duel of fiddle and guitar.

On the original tunes Thompson’s songwriting abilities are apparent.   “Farewell, Farewell” mirrors the sad tone of the album, with Denny breathing the appropriate air of melancholy into the song. “Crazy Man Michael” is a musical descent into madness which chronicles a troubled man’s manic discussion with a prophetic raven.

Dave Swarbick’s influence is most notable on songs like “Matty Groves” and the foot-stomping “Medley”.  Swarbick’s fiddling laid down a blueprint for all the folk rock bands who followed.  Liege & Lief not only broke the mould in terms of folk rock, it also heralded a period of revolving doors for the band with a seemingly never ending stream of people joining and leaving the band.  This is a fantastic, genre defining piece of work who’s influence is still felt today,

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About The Sound of Summer

Hi, I am Alan. I live in Broadstone, Dorset with my wife, Shirley, my son, Ryan and two dogs called Bailey and Jasper. I have recently retired after working in the Armed Forces and in Public Service since 1977 so I now have a bit more time to do the things I love. Music is a huge part of my life and always has been. I have a broad taste in music and can find something to enjoy in most styles of music. I have always been attracted to music which has something to say, is outside the mainstream and is perhaps a bit rebellious. I guess my early influences were late 1970's Punk and new wave bands, especially those who came out of Northern Ireland where I grew up. I loved Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, Rudi, Starjets etc but also bands like The Ramones, The Clash, The Jam and so on. I like singer songwriters including Van Morrison, Springsteen, Neil Young & Bob Dylan and in recent years I have become more interested in folk and acoustic music but I also love the sort of high drive energetic Folk/Punk music delivered by bands like The Levellers, Leatherat, Ferocious Dog and many others who frequent the UK Festival scene. I have long since lost the desire to spend my holidays laying around in the sun and these days am much more likely to be found in a muddy field somewhere in the UK during the festival season.

Sing out here if you want to be heard!

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