Monday, 21 October 2019

Fairport Convention - What We Did On Our Holidays (1969)

I'll keep it with mine....


Released in January 1969

Running time 38.07

This was the album which saw some of the initial signs of a switch towards folk rock from the semi-psychedelic late sixties fare of their 1968 debut album for Fairport Convention. Judy Dyble had left and was replaced by Sandy Denny, complete with haunting, ethereal vocals that gave the band a unique sound for three albums. The band were actually influenced by Pentangle quite a bit as they made this transition. Another thing to note is that there are no long narrative tracks on here, they are all very short, something that would change on subsequent albums.


1. Fotheringay
2. Mr. Lacey
3. Book Song
4. The Lord Is In This Place - How Dreadful Is This Place
5. No Man’s Land
6. I’ll Keep It With Mine
7. Eastern Rain
8. Nottamun Town
9. Tale In Hard Time
10. She Moves Through The Fair
11. Meet On The Ledge
12. End Of A Holiday


13. Throwaway Street Puzzle
14. You're Gonna Need My Help
15. Some Sweet Day                                                   

Ironically, Fotheringay, the opening song, written by Denny,  about the incarcerated Mary, Queen Of Scots would be the name of the group Sandy Denny would join a year or so later. The song is a gentle, moving one sung over a light acoustic and strings backing. Mr. Lacey shows that the group had not completely left behind their bluesy rock taste as they deliver a Clapton-esque slow burning blues grinder of a track. It contains some odd background noises that sound like an electric drill.

Book Song combines a folky melody with some solid, bassy instrumentation. Denny’s voice is typically late sixties as it strongly matches the rumbling bass and lead guitar interjections admirably. It sounds a lot like some of The Byrds’ material from the same period. The Lord Is In This Place - How Dreadful Is This Place is an authentic, short instrumental cover of a traditional blues/spiritual number. No Man’s Land is an upbeat, male vocal stomper that is sort of country-ish rock with some folky airs. Some Cajun-style accordion is used, something the group would utilise on more than one occasion.

The group always liked a Dylan cover and this album’s one is I’ll Keep It With Mine, sung beautifully by Denny over a bewitching bass and cymbals rhythm. The beguiling Eastern Rain was a Joni Mitchell cover done in a very Crosby, Stills & Nash way. All very airy and slightly druggy in its hippiness. Nottamun Town is a traditional US folk song that sounds very much like a British one. It is one of the album’s folkiest numbers, combining folky vocals with a swirling psychedelic, Eastern instrumentation. Again, there is a pleasing, warm bassy sound.

Tale In Hard Time is a very 1969 sounding piece of strong folky, harmonious rock. She Moves Through The Fair is a take on a traditional Irish folk song performed in an appealing way, with Denny’s trademark vocals to the fore. The same applies to Richard Thompson’s Meet On The Ledge, which also features some impressive rock backing and a truly sumptuous bass. End Of A Holiday is a short, acoustic instrumental to end the original album.

The bonus track Throwaway Street Puzzle is a solid piece of blues rock that you feel should have been on the album. Similarly bluesy is You’re Gonna Need My Help, while Some Sweet Day is a sort of Beatles go country lively song.

The group would explore the folk thing more in their next album, Unhalfbricking, before going full on folk rock on Liege And Lief. All these albums appeared in 1969 (January, July and December), which was a potent year for the group.


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