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Life Is People

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Bill Fay is one of English music's best kept secrets — a genuine national treasure. Back at the dawn of the 1970s, he was a one-man song factory, with a piano that spilled liquid gold and a voice every bit the equal of Ray Davies, John Lennon, early Bowie, or Procol Harum's Gary Brooker. He made two solo albums but his contract wasn't renewed, leaving his LPs and his ... Read more in Amazon's Bill Fay Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Life Is People + Bill Fay ~ Remastered with Bonus Tracks + Time of the Last Persecution ~ Remastered (2008)
Price For All Three: £36.29

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Product details

  • Audio CD (20 Aug. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Dead Oceans
  • ASIN: B008D1RCI6
  • Other Editions: Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,103 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. There Is A Valley 4:15£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Big Painter 3:59£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Never Ending Happening 3:43£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. This World 3:43£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. The Healing Day 5:14£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. City of Dreams 6:10£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Be At Peace With Yourself 5:00£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Jesus, Etc. 4:17£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Empires 3:23£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Thank You Lord 3:14£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Cosmic Concerto (Life Is People) 7:56£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. The Coast No Man Can Tell 3:06£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description

Bill Fay is one of English music's best kept secrets. At the dawn of the 1970s, he was a one-man song factory, with a piano that spilled liquid gold and a voice every bit the equal of Ray Davies, John Lennon, early Bowie, or Procol Harum's Gary Brooker. He made two solo albums but his contract wasn't renewed, which left his LPs and his reputation to become cult items. But he never stopped writing, the music kept on coming. Now, in his late sixties, he has produced Life Is People, a brand new studio album that shows his profoundly humanist vision is as strong as it ever was.

His debut on the underground Decca Nova label, Bill Fay (1970), included spacious big band jazz arrangements by Mike Gibbs, but it was the follow-up, Time Of The Last Persecution (1971), that cemented his reputation a harrowing, philosophical and painfully honest diagnosis of an unhealthy society and a messed-up planet, that featured the cream of London's fieriest jazz session players such as guitarist Ray Russell. Unable to make ends meet as a musician, Fay wandered through a succession of jobs for years, writing songs privately. Both solo albums were re-issued in 1998, and when the likes of Jeff Tweedy began singing his praises in the early 2000s, Bill began to come back into view and Wilco even convinced the shy singer to join them onstage in London in 2007.

A few CDs of Bill's early demos and home recordings have since emerged, but Life Is People is his first properly crafted studio album since 1971. He was motivated by American producer Joshua Henry, who grew up listening to his dad's Bill Fay albums on vinyl. Spooling through Bill's home demos, Joshua discovered an incredible trove of material. Matt Deighton (Oasis, Paul Weller, Mother Earth) assembled a cast of backup musicians to bring out the songs' full potential. These include Deighton on guitar, Tim Weller (who's played drums for everyone from Will Young to Noel Gallagher and Goldfrapp), and keyboardist Mikey Rowe (High Flying Birds, Stevie Nicks, etc). In addition, Bill is reunited on several tracks with Ray Russell and drummer Alan Rushton, who played on Time Of The Last Persecution.

And it's a stunning return to form. Ranging from intimate to cosmic, epic but never grandiose, Bill's deeply committed music reminds you of important, eternal truths, and the lessons to be drawn from the natural world, when the materiality and greed threaten to engulf everything.

It's time to recognise one of the great English voices. After nearly 50 years, Bill Fay has finally delivered his masterpiece: as rapturous and soul-stirring as any music you'll hear this year.

BBC Review

Some careers are hard-fought; some are just hard. And some are as lonely as the long-distance runner. Bill Fay’s happens to be all three.

After two distinctly powerful and ignored albums – 1970’s Bill Fay and the following year’s Time of the Last Persecution, whose title alone indicates an already wearying state of mind – Fay went into exodus. Twenty-seven years passed before his reputation was salvaged when both albums were reissued in 1998, with previously unheard material and Wilco’s cover of Fay’s Be Not So Fearful feeding the cult worship.

Arriving 41 years after Fay’s last original studio album, Life Is People represents the return of a prodigal son you never knew existed. Its religious symbolism is inspired by Fay’s own relationship with faith, the result a stunning, profound, moving and soulful record.

Fay’s never preachy, his questioning the kind you might expect from a brilliant mind who, at one point, worked as a factory cleaner. There’s environmental awareness, existential drama and considered advice. If Father Time made an album, it might sound like Life Is People.

Fay’s deep-set voice and the music both rise to the occasion. There’s a string quartet, a gospel choir on Empires and Be at Peace with Yourself, and some judiciously employed guitar (his principal collaborator is Paul Weller sidekick Matt Deighton). The organ/piano foundations sometimes echo Bob Dylan’s wild mercury sound, and can be reminiscent of early Mott the Hoople’s rolling, wistful, valiant feel.

But mostly, Life Is People is just hugely moving. Sad, too, but a comforting Nick Drake-style sad, so you wouldn’t want it any other way. There’s hope as well, even if The Never Ending Happening and The Healing Day undermine their titles with the feeling Fay is writing his epitaph.

This World’s opening line is, “This world’s got me in its grip / ain’t no way can I wriggle out.” Yet Cosmic Concerto (Life Is People) starts out with, “There are miracles in the strangest of places.” One of those miracles is that Fay, after so many years, is again making music.

Another miracle is how brilliant Life Is People is. Redemption time.

--Tom Hocknell

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Red on Black TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Aug. 2012
Format: Audio CD
Is it possible to be genuinely excited by the release of an album by an obscure English songwriter who will never trouble the charts and who recorded his last album 41 years ago? The answer is an emphatic yes, not least since Bill Fay remains one of the great lost artists of British music. He is one of those unexplainable great singer songwriters whose musical footprint never left any kind of substantial imprint. It is true that over recent years Fay's stock has risen not least as his first two albums have been re-issued and he has been championed by musical heavy weights like Nick Cave and Wilco's main man Jeff Tweedy. It is only right therefore that the latter has collaborated on this album with Bill Fay and if you do nothing else after skimming through this review please download the cover version of Tweedy's "Jesus, etc" which is one of "Life is people" many stellar highlights and easily matches the original. Better still get this album and listen to the sound of a composer who has been denied his proper deserts finally get his moment and grasp it with both hands. This is music for thinking, feeling and possibly "experienced" music lovers who know that the reaching of a certain age can shatter hope and ambition but also can lead to reconciliation and greater peace of mind. Bill Fay's "Life is people" is essentially a strategic overview of life's uneven journey, charting its desperate low points as a street sweeper in the evocative "City of dreams", an accommodation with faith in "Thank you lord" and in the seven minute "Cosmic Concerto "Life is people"" producing an anthem of quiet wonder.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Despite listening to music since the late 60s, Bill Fay is new to me. This is of some regret because here is a true artist. Now in his 60s you might say his voice is not the strongest, and writing lyrics about universal human issues is something he is good at, but not uniquely gifted. However, what he does do is sing his songs with such palpable emotion that I find some of this album transports me to another place. You could argue that this is what art is all about, and I think Bill Fay can rightly be called an artist. Having spent 30 years out of "the business" writing and playing songs in his home studio I guess there was a wealth of material to call on for this album of songs that are all about humanity and its place in the world. Whilst I do not share (at all) Bill Fay's evident faith in a God, I find his singing on such matters deeply touching. Best of all, to me, is the last song of this collection, "The Coast No Man Can Tell" in which he is saying goodbye to a close dying friend/relative. All done very simply and directly, and that's where its power comes from.
Finally, Bill Fay deserves a pat on the back for ensuring this enterprise was all about getting his music to a wider audience, and nothing else. To quote from the (vinyl at least) sleeve notes:
"I signed a contract with Dead Oceans that directed my share of the record's proceeds to Medecins Sans Frontieres."
A good guy has made a great album.
I've given the album 4* because there are no killer tracks, but it is still growing on me and may well be upgraded later.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By belvoirman on 22 Aug. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is my first encounter with Bill Fay, an overlooked London based singer/songwriter who released a couple of albums in the early 70's that passed the world by. He dropped out of the professional music scene, doing a variety of dead end jobs, but then became something of a cult artist in recent years, championed by Nick Cave, and Jeff Tweedy from Wilco. He was approached by Joshua Henry, who was based in Nevada, and had listened to the first 2 Fay Decca LP's that his dad had, and fallen in love with them, with a proposition to record a 3rd album in a proper studio, just a mere 41 years after his 2nd album! Fay was understandably initially cautious, but after some cajoling, in collaboration with 3 original bandmates from his second album, and Matt Deighton (ex Mother Earth and sometimes Oasis band member with some classy solo albums to his name) in a strong supporting role, he was booked into a studio in north London .

His singing voice is deep and fairly flat, for me a dead ringer for Bob Dylan around the time of Blood on the Tracks. Religious imagery abounds from song titles like The Healing Day, Thank the Lord, and Be at Peace with Yourself, with references to God, Souls, and a cover of Wilco's Jesus etc . There are also references to nature, trees , and being at one with yourself and god. The arrangements are generally fairly downbeat and melancholy, but a spirituality with wisdom and humbleness shines through. A couple of tracks are stripped down, with Bill on piano quietly singing, on Jesus etc, on closer The Coast No Man Can Tell, and with just the addition of subtle cello on The Never Ending Happening. On other tracks there is a much more lavish production including the Vulcan String Quartet, and the 4 member London Community Gospel Choir,tastefully incorporated.
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