Sometime ago I made a vow to myself to not buy any more Fairport live records, as I have loads and to be honest the quality of them is mixed and some are downright poor. However I felt with Cropredy 2008 being another significant anniversary for the band - 30 years since the death of Sandy Denny - and one that they marked at the festival I would spend my money.
The CD is effectively split into three sections, a number of songs from the Babacoombe Lee record which have not been played live since the 70's, a mix from the standard Fairport live repertoire and a Sandy tribute section.
Babacoombe Lee was never a record I really got into as I feel concept albums can be rather contrived and have to be very special to hold my attention, but these tracks do work very well live and just for the curiosity value will attract a number of Fairport fans I would imagine.
The Fairport songbook is well represented and is a good mix from across their 40 years of history and starts with a cracking jaunty version of `Ye Mariners all' with Simon Nicol's guitar adding a rock edge. The version of the `Eynsham Poacher' is also smashing and a great start to the record. Also featured is the first live version of `Best Wishes' which closes the CD rather than the traditional `Meet on the Ledge'.
The core of the record though is the Sandy Denny tribute, crassly introduced by Simon as "...that chick in the band". Dear oh dear...
A succession of guest female vocalists are then introduced to cover some of Sandy's greatest songs, these include Chris & Kellie While and Vicki Clayton all of whom do a decent job. Although trying to cover `It'll take a long time' must be close to impossible!
The loudest cheer is reserved for the introduction of Robert Plant, with Kristina Donahue taking Sandy's role, doing `The Battle of Evermore' which should also appeal to Led Zep fans as the version is terrific especially Chris Leslie's mandolin.
A great record of another splendid year for the festival even if the conditions were more akin to the Somme than Oxfordshire.