Tuesday, July 12, 2016

CD Review: Fairport Convention's Live In Finland 1971 (2016)

Fairport Convention's Live In Finland 1971
For those unfamiliar with this legendary band, Fairport Convention was one of the first wave of British folk-rock outfits that masterfully welded British folk tradition to an electric rock n’ roll framework. The early sound of the band, upon its formation in 1967, was built around the delightful guitars of Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol. Over the first four or five years of the band, and with classic albums like Unhalfbricking and Liege & Lief, Fairport Convention also featured talented vocalists like Sandy Denny and Iain Matthews.

That’s not the version of Fairport Convention that you’ll hear on Live In Finland 1971, but that’s not to say that’s necessarily a bad thing. Denny was long gone by the time of this August ’71 show, Thompson had just gone out the door, and Matthews had already launched his solo career (with help from his former bandmates) with 1969’s Matthews Southern Comfort album.

Touring in support of their overlooked and underappreciated Angel Delight album, this version of Fairport Convention – now comprised of bassist Dave Pegg, drummer Dave Mattacks, and fiery fiddle player Dave Swarbrick along with founding guitarist Nicol – raised a bit of a ruckus with a rowdy set that featured a couple of songs from Angel Delight (the traditional “Bridge Over the River Ash” and the original “The Journeyman’s Grace,” penned by Swarbrick and Thompson”) but otherwise relied heavily on traditional British folk tunes.

While the first couple of songs (the aforementioned Angel Delight tracks) are a wee bit wonky with the fiddleplay for my taste, there’s a fine instrumental balance on “Matty Grove” (from Liege & Leaf) and the lively “Sir B. McKenzie’s Daughter’s Lament” is a spry, foot-shuffling medley and jig and reels guaranteed to get the blood flowing. The sound on Live In Finland 1971 is excellent, especially given the era in which it was recorded, and the performance showcases the solid talents of this latter-day Fairport Convention line-up. Grade: B (Real Gone Music, released June 3, 2016)

Buy the CD from Amazon.com: Fairport Convention’s Live In Finland 1971

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