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Pioneers of the 1960s folk rock revolution (the band was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2002), Fairport's seminal album was voted the 'Most Influential Folk Album Of All Time' in 2006. And quite rightly so - it is the album that saw the band edge closer to its English folk roots, bravely combining folk traditions with electric instruments. The Oxfordshire group, who had always been mistakenly thought of as members of the American west coast folk scene, embraced music in all its raw Englishness becoming exponents of a genre that would not only define a moment in musical history, but which would change the face of folk forever.
It goes without saying that the Liege & Lief reissue is a must for all Fairport fans - the double disc has a collection of John Peel's Top Gear recordings, the highlight of disc 2 being the unmatchable "Tam Lin" from the September 1967 show.
But while Fairport's glory days are predominantly behind them, (a studio album Sense Of Occasion was however released in February this year), movements by former members including Richard Thompson whose album Sweet Warrior was released a few months ago, ensure the Fairport ghosts are never allowed to fade away. This important re-release will remind folk followers and music lovers alike why Fairport was one of the most important and pioneering folk collectives of all time. --Gemma Padley
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This was the band at their creative peak and the album is sympathetically produced by Joe Boyd. It is no wonder that this album regularly appears on Top 10 Best Albums of All Time lists. Though they recorded other wonderful albums, it will be for “Liege and Lief” that they will be remembered.
This album is to me Fairport's apogee - it has the driven supernatural thrills of "Tam Lin" and the softer, yet still dark "Crazy Man Michael" juxtaposed with the narrative "Matty Groves" and some perfect tunes to accompany 'jigging about'.
The lyrical content is on the darker side; Goth-folk, should such a genre exist.
Over the last 20 years, with the sad exception of Sandy herself, who died too young, I have had the privilege to see most of the performers who passed through Fairport, some with the band itself and some in other projects/solo. [their album "history of..." gives a family tree] This band is, to me, the foundation-stone of folk-rock and one could say that this album is the gnomen on the sun-dial of British folk-rock/electro-folk casting its shadow through time.Read more ›
Having tinkered with traditional English folk music on 'Unhalfbricking', they decided to record an entire album of traditional music. Fortunately, they showed the good taste that had characterized their earlier works in both the choice of material and their arrangements. A number of songs seem as they were chosen to match Sandy Denny's beautiful voice perfectly, especially 'The Deserter' and 'Reynardine'. The handful of band compositions are done in traditional style as well; indeed, 'Crazy Man Michael' is almost more folk-music than folk-music. The two stand-out tracks, however, are the lengthy pieces 'Tam Lin' and 'Matty Groves', particularly the latter which is the very embodiment of folk-rock.
This is a good repackaging and I have to say: about bloody time. Island Records have shown a shameful indifference to their magnificent back catalogue over the years. The thick booklet features a detailed history by Joe Boyd and Ashley Hutchings and a wealth of rare and beautiful photos. The two bonus tracks are a bit of a disappointment, however. 'Sir Patrick Spens' was justly left off the album first time round and 'Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood' is just plain tedious.
Should you get it?Read more ›