This Island remaster of the 1970 Fairport live album adds improved sonics and a couple of tunes to the earlier Hannibal release (Sir B. MacKenzie, Yellow Bird). Sloth, Matty Groves, Staines Morris, Mason's Apron are all highlights, and some other reviewer somewhere in some other forum once wrote that this album features some of the "fastest jigs and reels in captivity."
But this is not speed-freak Fairport. It is a crack five-piece band in full mastery of its craft, overflowing with relaxed camaraderie and self-effacing charm. After the 1969 departure of founding bassist Ashley Hutchings and peerless vocalist Sandy Denny, guitarists Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol, along with newer members-named-Dave (fiddler Swarbrick, drummer Mattacks, and bassist Pegg) made two crucial decisions: passing the singing duties around instead of seeking a new star singer, and delving deeper into the project of electrifying the British folk tradition. The fruits of their labors are to be found on the studio album Full House, animated by powerful songwriting collaborations between Thompson and Swarbrick, and this live document of their subsequent American tour, drawn from a stint at the LA Troubadour (opening for Rick Nelson).
While legendary guest performances by Linda Ronstadt and various Led Zeppelin members are not included on the official release, this will do nicely. It captures a confident, exuberant Fairport building on its folk-rock strengths and breaking new ground. Thompson left the band shortly after this tour, bringing an end to an era, if not the legendary Fairport itself, which has jigged on, in one form or another to the present. They never made an album like this again, but then again, no one else did either. Catch classic Fairport Convention in their full resplendent glory on this disc.