Thursday, 12 July 2012

FAIRPORT CONVENTION

CD Review

4Play

There is a great word from the Brazilians which is suadade which simply put is a longing for things past, a yearning for nostalgia and missing things which have now passed and, strangely enough, 4Play can induce that effect.

Fairport Convention have earned their place
 in folk music history
If you are of the generation which reached your teens in the 1970s and The Old Grey Whistle Test with "Whispering" Bob Harris was your musical bible then you will understand what I am saying when you listen to this collection of live recordings of Fairport Convention.
Considering this is an album thrown together from cassettes, for the ipod generation those are tape recordings, which have been thrown around in a "tatty box" and carted half way across the world, this third offering from the box of bits is absolutely incredible.
Fairport Convention have been going for 45 years, they have survived death, destruction, disasters and numerous line up reshuffles and yet through all of it you cannot really talk about folk music in this country with either the band or at least one of its members cropping up, such is the group's pervasive influence.
So it's a great treat for folk fans everywhere to be able to get their hands on this album put together by one of Fairport's most famous contributors Dave Swarbrick.
This collection of songs showcase some of FC's live shows over a three-year period and if you want any confirmation that it's from the 1970s then you only have to look at the Bonny Bunch of Roses, on the first of the double CD offerings, and see the track lasts more than 15 minutes.
To say FC pushed, the sometimes indefinable, boundaries of folk music is an understatement, throughout all the tracks the clear roots and traditions of folk music are there but leaking out of the seams and constantly raising its head are the sounds of prog rock, borne out of the 60s and maturing in the 70s.
The tracks as a whole on these CDs are good enough and stand the test of time but as an added bonus there are solos and musical strands in each of the tracks which are just outstanding.
A perfect example is Dirty Linen which is introduced as being inspired by Dave Swarbrick's Y fronts, delve into that one as much as you dare, but on it Swarb himself shows why he is one of the most respected fiddle players on the folk or any circuit for that matter.
The fact these tracks are live, recorded in Australia, Europe and England gives them a rawness which the passing of more than 30 years has not diminished.
Even though there is a great deal of electric prog-rock-style sounds on this, the real folk stuff is still there in bagfuls but when they do intertwine the electric with the acoustic then the greatness which marked FC out from the crowd surfaces on tracks such as James O'Donnell's Jig.
Perhaps one of the best tracks on these CDs is the shoulder swinging, foot-tapping General Taylor which has overtones that would not be out of place on the soundtrack of A Clockwork Orange, but as the assembled crowd join in you do get the sense of people swaying back and forth, with pints of real ale in their hands, to the rhythm of the tune.
There are some fantastic tracks on this such as the Royal Seleccion No5 which starts of like a rant but which then goes in to a lively mix of electric and folk which could easily be one of Bellowheads such is the energy and fun it conveys.
Of course there are more traditional folk songs such as Eynsham Poacher and Flower of the Forest, but even these are seasoned with the flavour of electric, and they even jazz things up with The Hens March to the Midden.
This is one of those albums that all folk fans will end up having in their collection.
4Play is out July 16 on the Shirty3 label and if you want grab a little folk history then it's definitely one to get your hands on.
For more information and to order the CD then visit |Dave Swarbrick's site.