I bought this on a whim. Being a huge Nick Drake fan, I was hoping for another shadowy genius in a garret. And I suppose he is. Though, what I heard was more like SGT PEPPERS on downers.
Though these are demos & outtakes, the sound quality is alot better than expected. This is amazing stuff. Imagine The Beatles & a sort of British answer to Leonard Cohen all rolled into one. Yet, his songs have their own unique style that truely sets them apart. While he displays the ability to write a catchy commercial hook, his lyrics often touch on the maudlin & at times the surreal. A name like Syd Barrett comes close if you need comparison.
"Brighton Beach" is a bleak tale of suicide. "We Want You To Stay" & "Just Another Song" borrow from the English Musical Hall tradition. Only darker than Sgt. Pepper's & far less didactic than The Kinks at the time. "Camille" brings Blanche Dubois to mind, being carted off at the end of Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire.
The melancholy anthem, "Be Not So Fearful" could be his signature tune. Apparently Wilco has even done a cover. Based on what I hear on this, I'm loathe to seek it out. Easily one of the most moving tracks on the album. "The Sun Is Bored" preceeds Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon by 10 years or so & Fay's infectious sense of melody comes to a fore on "Morning Train".
In general, the songs live up to haunting titles like, "Strangers In The Feilds". From 1st to last, this a stunning find. Well worth any import price. Indispensible for any Psyche/Folk fans out there. Personally, I am blown away by this. If hard pressed to name a favorite tune, I suppose, its "Maudie La Lune".
Suffice it to say, Fay's relative obscurity has awarded him fabled cult status. Being dubbed British Pop's answer to J.D. Salinger by MOJO magazine doesn't hurt either. But epitaphs like "doomed romantic", "tragic fate" & "disappeared" simply don't apply. Take one listen & words like "genius" just might.
Eventhough Fay's 1971 debut masterpiece & the bleak follow up, TIME OF THE PERSECUTION are now back in print, I still heartily recommend this. Though there's some song overlap, don't pass this up. There's too much amazing stuff on here you won't hear any where else. At this point, I rank this up there as one of my favorite albums.