Archive for the ‘Richard Thompson’ Category

Fairport Convention

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

FairportSirB, Fairport Convention, Island

Listen: Sir B. McKenzie’s Daughter’s Lament For The 77th Mounted Lancers Retreat From The Straights Of Loch Knombe, In The Year Of The Lord 1727, On The Occasion Of The Announcement Of Her Marriage To The Laird Of Kinleanie / Fairport Convention FairportSirB.mp3

Although the song title earned the Guinness Book award for ‘longest ever’, Fairport Convention were guaranteed not to have a hit single because of it. Besides, this was oddly relegated to the B side. A last remnant of Richard Thompson’s days with the band, by the time of it’s release, he was gone.

I was desperate to own this single, not having been included on FULL HOUSE, their current album at the time. Far from being amongst the majority vote, I considered the new four piece lineup, sans Thompson, their best yet. And although the prior release, LEIGE AND LIEF got, and still gets, all the praise, it’s FULL HOUSE hands down that’s my favorite. Possibly due to it coinciding with my first ever Fairport Convention concert, supporting Traffic. A wondrous night that. I was spellbound.

FairportJohnLee, Fairport Convention, Island
FairportJohnLeePS, Fairport Convention, Island

Listen: John Lee / Fairport Convention FairportJohnLee.mp3

Less spellbound were the critics. Everyone missed Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny. Okay, I get it, but Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol were equally powerful, unsung frontmen. Tiny Dave in dark blue platform boots swirling around the stage, attacking his violin, and creating a whirlwind of sound and nuts-ness. Showmanship in addition to being a superb songwriter. It was Dave Swarbrick who wrote all of these A sides. What the fuck’s not to like?

Their next album, BABBACOMBE LEE, ruled my world. That tour was a special night out for us British music followers, being sandwiched between The Kinks and Lindisfarne. This my friends was heaven on earth, the absolute best place to be in the entire solar system.

‘John Lee’, one the the album’s two singles, still brings back that raging blizzard of March 1, 1972. We’d driven through blinding snow for well over an hour. Being pre-cell phone days, I was terrified of finding the show’d been cancelled once we arrived and approached Kleinhand’s Music Hall with a deadly pit in the stomach. Besides, this was my first date with Corinne, who finally agreed to accept an invitation out. Please God, make it all happen.

Miracle. The show went on as planned, thankfully. It was in the stars I guess.

Let me tell you about it: This was Lindisfarne’s first ever US date, though you’d never have known. ‘Fog On The Tyne’ made it clear this was going to be a very English night. Bring it on, we had waited long for this.

Not to worry, Fairport Convention, despite being of the folk rock classification, powered that stage the moment they hit. Straight into ‘Walk Awhile’, “Sir B. McKenzie’s…’, ‘The Journeyman’s Grace’, ‘Sickness And Diseases’, ‘Sloth’ and the above ‘John Lee’, Even the balcony was jigging in the aisles, or at least they thought they were.

Then came The Kinks. At this point, in their high camp era, Dave decked out in a tailored tangerine red suit and Ray with bright green velvet jacket and clown sized bow tie, perfectly sloppy, opening with ‘Till The End Of The Day’, then satiating us with ‘The Village Green Preservation Society’, ‘Victoria’, ’20th Century Man’, ‘Death Of A Clown’, ‘Apeman’, ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’, ‘Holloway Jail’, ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Have A Cuppa Tea’, ‘Arthur’ and ‘Waterloo Sunset’. Sweet Jesus have mercy!


Listen: Rosie / Fairport Convention FairportRosie.mp3

“Rosie’ is as vital a song and single in Fairport Convention’s history as any of the others, which by the way, seem to get all the name checks. It came to represent the beginning of a comradery amongst former members that eventually defined lineups ahead, whereby any or many would float in and out of the band.

For this one, it was Sandy Denny who guested on the call and response type chorus, hinting at the full time member she would return to be just a year or so down the road. For proof of the fantastic vocal clarity she could bring to any song, just listen to ‘Rosie’.


FairportWhite, Fairport Convention, Island

Listen: White Dress / Fairport Convention FairportWhiteDress.mp3

Supporting the reunion album, RISING FOR THE MOON with another Anglophile crushing US package (Caravan and Renaissance), the horribly under attended September 24, 1975 stop in Rochester had to be a demoralizing, why-are-we-here moment. Unfortunately, the stark, vast theater seemed ironically fitting during ‘White Dress’, their most haunting track ever, and in some ways, most powerful simply via Sandy Denny’s ability to evoke chills so effortlessly.

As with her very own version of Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind’, a solo single from ’78, ‘White Dress’ can be overwhelming, and many times, still challenges my courage to play it all the way through.

Sandy Denny

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Listen: John The Gun / Sandy Denny

Never made any bones about my fussy 7″ preferences: US and UK pressings only. Preferably promo, dj or demo copies.

Admittedly the runner up: Holland. In the 60′s, that lovely country’s record labels, particularly Dutch Decca, issued all their 45′s in picture sleeves. No exception. The Decca family singles took the cake, each one released in identically laid out designs, changing only the one or two color print frame parameters, logically swapping in titles, artists and matching black and white photos of the act specific to that particular release.

Said picture sleeve tradition spilled over into the 70′s too. As a result, Sandy Denny’s scheduled, but later cancelled, UK 7″ of ‘Like An Old Fashioned Waltz’ made it’s way to market in the land of great bakeries and hash brownie coffee bars.

Fast forward to the twentieth century. I end up assisting Dutch band Kane put together an album, and as a result, make brotherly bonds with group leaders Dennis and Dinand, not to mention their superior, and prettier, better halves, Karen and Lucy. Life’s journey can be a wonderful thing.

So on a recent trip, Dennis drives me on his bike, seriously, I’m the passenger on the back seat of his fucking bicycle, whisking through the streets of Amsterdam. I can be strong about things like this, but I’m not Hercules. Hence, it was a bit like ROBOCOP or something. Well suddenly, my eye catches a record/junk shop, so I insist he stops for a quick look. I could feel the place calling my name.

Five minutes later, I emerge with the above record, just stoked beyond belief at my discovery of it’s existence and the acquisition. Hey, I was in a state, and I gladly paid like 2 million guilders or some such amount for it, which probably boils down to $5 dollars, hopefully.

Never did I think I’d have a copy of ‘John The Gun’ from her much earlier, and debut, solo album, THE NORTH STAR GRASSMAN AND THE RAVENS’ on a 7. Like all Sandy Denny fans, I drooled in anticipation at the re-recording she had done with Fotheringay for their second, but shelved, album. This was a partial, and temporary band aid.

I suppose by now, that redone version has been scrapped from the bowels of unreleased tracks to contribute towards that nineteen cd Sandy Denny box set issued recently. God knows, who can afford both the cost and time for it. Me, I have no cd’s, no player, not even a computer with a disc drive. So Universal could have just issued it on a hula hoop, would have done me about as much good as the promo copy I got in the mail.

But I do love my 7″, complete with it’s near edible, luxurious pink inner sleeve.

Franz Ferdinand

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Listen: Walk Away / Franz Ferdinand

Just this past week, BBC Radio 4 had a second series whereby Joan Armatrading spoke to various guitarists about their style and technique. In fact, they’re all still archived for another few days. Being vastly accomplished herself, it of course led to nice conversation with a wide variety of others like Baaba Maal and Richard Thompson.

The first of those in this week’s rundown was the fellow from Franz Ferdinand, Alex Kapranos. Funny thing, one of their most inviting song’s for Joan, ‘Take Me Out’, was probably my most despised track of that period and the specific moment she liked best highlighted the exact reason I never had interest in the band. That being when they kind of change tempo mid song and all play in unison, each extending their left leg, or maybe right, and kicking out the beat together. Makes my skin crawl.

So it was a great surprise to me that the followup album, their second, included a song, ‘Walk Away’, that I just took to in a big way. Very reminiscent of The Kinks’ SLEEPWALKER or MISFITS period, the vocals were quite similar to Ray Davies, minus the obvious mimic that other bands purposely do. Made me a bit of a fan, and have now suddenly wondered what ever happened to them.