Friday, 8 March 2019

Fairport Convention - Fairport Convention (1968)


Released June 1968

Recorded in London

This was the debut album from folk rock legends/pioneers Fairport Convention. It features Judy Dyble on female vocals as opposed to Sandy Denny and is (somewhat unfairly) dismissed by many as being somewhat insignificant. Although it is folk/rock-ish, it take far more inspiration from late sixties West Coast hippy country rock and (to a slight extent) psychedelia than from traditional British folk music. Personally I see this as a hippy rock album, not a folk one. There are only snatches of folkiness on here to be honest. It is an album far more of incense than real ale.


1. Time Will Show The Wiser
2. I Don't Know Where I Stand
3. If (Stomp)
4. Decameron
5. Jack O' Diamonds
6. Portfolio
7. Chelsea Morning
8. Sun Shade
9. The Lobster
10. It's Alright Ma, It's Only Witchcraft
11. One Sure Thing
12. M.1 Breakdown                                          

"Time Will Show The Wiser" is a lively, rocky opener. "I Don't Know Where I Stand" is a very late sixties folk rock ballad, with plaintive vocals from Judy Dyble and a Velvet Underground-sounding guitar throughout. "If (Stomp)" is a very country rock-ish song, like the stuff Crosby, Still & Nash would soon do, The Byrds or even Dylan on "Nashville Skyline". The vocals are harmoniously early Beatles-esque. "Deacameron" is a haunting, folky acoustic number with a beguiling, almost ghostly melancholy to it.

"Jack O' Diamonds", co-written by Bob Dylan is a solid piece of jangly guitar-driven rock, with great harmony vocals and a deep, sumptuous bass line. The instrumental break in the middle is very late sixties, man. Check out that flute. "Portfolio" is a short, funkyish piano-driven instrumental. They do Joni Mitchell's atmospheric hippy anthem "Chelsea Morning" beautifully. This version actually came out a year before Mitchell's own version. "Sun Shade" is a gently rhythmic, mysterious and meditative number. Its bass is fetching, as is its guitar parts. It merges seamlessly into the inventive number, "The Lobster". It starts with a lengthy instrumental before a martial beat and some odd lyric about the said lobster arrive. The last minute is taken up with some madcap Velvet Underground guitar.

"It's Alright Ma, It's Only Witchcraft" is a lively, rocking Dylan spoof, full of "Subterranean Homesick Blues"- influenced lyrics. I'm sure Deep Purple used the verse melody for "Strange Kind Of Woman" too. "My One Sure Thing" is a cynical song about a love gone wrong, featuring some Byrds meets The Doors guitar. "M.1 Breakdown" is an energetic instrumental romp to end the album on. As I said earlier this was not really a folk album at all and it is very much an album of its time, but is worth a re-visit every now and again. It is not essential but it is interesting.


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