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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply one of the best albums of all time
It is hard to believe that this album was recorded nearly 35 years ago! It sounds as fresh and invigorating now as it did back then. You don’t have to like folk or folk/rock to appreciate the wonders of this album. This is a brilliant showcase for excellent English songwriting and band performance. The voice of Sandy Denny was simply captivating and is sorely...
Published on 12 May 2004 by Dr. D. B. Sillars

versus
34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A classic - shame about the remastering.
This album is one of the undisputed classics of its genre, indeed one of the finest albums ever recorded, by a band of incredible talent at the very peak of their form.
That said, I've always had a problem with the sound: on some tracks (Come All Ye, the opener, for instance), the mix sounds too 'packed', not giving the instruments enough room to breathe. Elsewhere,...
Published on 14 May 2002


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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply one of the best albums of all time, 12 May 2004
By 
Dr. D. B. Sillars - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
It is hard to believe that this album was recorded nearly 35 years ago! It sounds as fresh and invigorating now as it did back then. You don’t have to like folk or folk/rock to appreciate the wonders of this album. This is a brilliant showcase for excellent English songwriting and band performance. The voice of Sandy Denny was simply captivating and is sorely missed. This is ably demonstrated on the opening “Come All Ye”. Rousing and spiritual, Denny makes the song fly, taking the band on a magical journey. On “Farwell, Farewell”, she has a breathless, earthiness in her voice wringing all the emotional essence out of the song. Let’s not forget the rest of the band. The winning combination of Thompson, Swarbrick, Mattacks, Nicol and Hutchings never fail to delight. A classic line-up who sound as if they really enjoy and inspire each other, especially on the instrumental medleys where the band are really on fire.
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.
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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Electro-Folk, 4 Mar 2005
This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
"L&L" is possibly the ultimate English Electro-Folk album. As a 19 year old, I was taught the song "Matty Groves" whilst steering a narrow-boat down a canal. Hearing the album, a new genre of music opened up. OK, so I had dabbled in the folkier side of rock (exhibits a and b "The Song Remains the Same" by Led Zeppelin and "2112" by Rush respectively), but Fairport were taking music clear out of the safety of rock and into (shudder) folk music.
Highlighting Sandy Denny's ethereal vocals, the sometimes frenetic combination of Richard Thompson's guitar/Dave Swarbrick's fiddle relied on a rhythm section also containing various demi-gods of British folk music. Combining some of the very best performers of the 1960s and beyond, Fairport Convention were to folk-rock what John Mayall's Bluesbreakers or the Yardbirds were to R&B: a finishing school/academy of excellence.
As an aside for the hard-rock fraternity - Sandy Denny was the female singer on Led Zeppelin's "Battle of Evermore".
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.
As a mark of the stature that playing in Fairport confers, like Carlos Santana and John Lee Hooker in their respective spheres, those who passed through Fairport have gone on to nurture the younger generation of talent and mere striplings such as aNNa rYDEr have the support. Check out some of their associates at Cropredy festival, or for the more eclectic, Guilfest, usually has artists with some Fairport connection.
To me, this is THE essential album for electro-folk/folk-rock enthusiasts.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's every bit as good as they say it is, 15 Mar 2004
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
Everybody says that this is Fariport Convetion's finest moment and they're absolutely right. It is also famously the album which launched folk-rock as we understand it today: electrified traditional music. Unfortunately, we cannot hear this album through fresh ears and cannot hear how original, and even revolutionary, it must have sounded in 1969. The album was recorded following a lengthy recuperation from the physical and psychic injuries the band members had suffered in the fatal van accident that had killed their drummer Martin Lamble and Richard Thompson's girlfriend Jeannie Taylor.
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? Of course you should: music simply doesn't come much better. However, I will say that 'Liege And Lief' is only the second best ever folk-rock album. Best ever? Steeleye Span's first album, 'Hark The Village Wait', which simply excels in every way.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply groundbreaking and breathtaking., 1 Aug 2007
By 
A. Thomson (Northampton UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
There can't be many albums that utterly redefine the musical landscape. Perhaps the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen"? Or Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde"? Or the Velvet Underground? Anyway, this is up there with the best.

With this recording, made after the band had been traumatised by a motor crash that robbed them of their iinventive drummer, Martin Lamble, Fairport single-handedly invented a new musical form marrying traditional British folksong with a serious rock arrangements. This is nothing like what American folk-rockers were doing in the 60s (with the possible exception of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and, of course, the mighty Band)(Music from Big Pink has been acknowledged by Fairport as their gold standard!)

There is not a duff track on this CD. Although the six members of this Fairport did play together in the future in different combinations, the six of them would never re-convene and, I believe, they only played a dozen or so concerts. This year (2007) the five remaining members (Plus Chris While filling in for the late Sandy Denny) will reprise the album at Fairport's Cropredy Convention.

The album highlights the folk sensibilities of Dave Swarbrick (fiddle and vocals) and Sandy Denny (wonderful heartbreaking vocals); Ashley Hutchings and Dave Mattacks (who, quietly, invented an entirely new and distinctive way of playing bass and drums) and Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol (possibly the best guitar pairing anywhere ever!)

More than thirty years on, Liege and Lief is awesome. Some of the musical themes got worked to death over the next decade (spare me fiddlers who speed up their tapes to emulate Swarb) but in their choice of material and because of their cracking musicianshp, Fairport created something unique. Quite simply they created something so special that nobody could follow it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Folk Album in the World EVER!, 9 Nov 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Liege & Lief (Audio CD)
Liege and Lief is, perhaps, the finest example of British folk you are ever likely to find. An album that sounds just as fresh and invigorating today as it did over 30 years ago. From the mastery of Dave Swarbrick's fiddle-playing to the emotion and power of Sandy Denny's vocals, every track is a classic in it's own right. If you thought folk music begins with morris dancing and ends with The Pogues then this album will be a revelation. The traditional ballads (Tam Lin, Matty Groves) blend seemlessly with the original material. If you thought folk music was all about men in woolly jumpers and farming then this is the record that will change your mind. Sandy's voice is as powerful as it is invocative and the jigs and reels will have you tapping a toe in no time at all. A wonderful introduction into Fairport Convention and a wonderful introduction to folk, an album that will become a lifetime favourite.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Album still captivates, 1 Sep 2007
By 
Iain Taylor "sherpataylor" (Angus, Scotland.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
This was the first album I ever bought, way back in 1970. The original vinyl is worn out and I replaced it with this CD. The music has the same effect it did back then - all the musicians giving it everything and Sandy Denny's voice, undoubtably at its best, still sends shivers down my spine. Wonderful album, with not a bad track on it, which showed the way for the next generations of folk-rock. Buy it - it's a bargain!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless classic, 15 April 2009
This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
Have not heard this album for well over 30 years, it's as fresh and brilliant as it ever was. probably yes it is the most important British folk music recording of the last century. What more can one say?
Get it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Folk-Rock, 26 Nov 2008
By 
This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
"Liege and Lief" was Fairport's first album that was almost entirely inspired by traditional British music. The band had previously released 3 albums during a relatively short period of time, and the repertoire had been a mixture of pop, rock and American and British folk.

In May 1969 after the recording of the previous album "Unhafbricking" the band had a terrible road accident which took the lives of drummer Martin Lamble and Richard Thompson's girlfriend Jeannie.

Other band-members were injured in the crash and the group were close to splitting up, but with their wounds healing up they eventually decided to continue with new members Dave Swarbrick and Dave Mattacks.

They did not want to perform their old material and needed a new direction and with inspiration from Ashley Hutchings and Sandy Denny they began digging into traditional Bristish folk music.

In a Hampshire farmhouse they began rehearsing material for a new album which eventually became "Liege and Lief".

The album inspired many other musicians to dig into traditional music and has now become a folk-rock classic and the album.

The original 8 tracks are all great and this new release features two bonus tracks recorded during the same sessions. "Sir Patrick Spence" was later recorded by the next Fairport line-up, here you have the opportunity to hear an early version with lead vocals by Sandy Denny singing slightly different lyrics. The arrangement may be less tight than the "Full House" version, but still a great addition to a timeless album. The other "new" track is a droning version of "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" which Sandy later recorded several times and released on her second solo-album.

Though most of the material is traditional, there are a couple of originals written by Richard Thompson; and they both stand out. "Crazy Man Michael" ( co-written by Swarbrick ) and "Farewell Farewell" were always favourites - "Farewell Farewell" sound much better than on the original vinyl album.

An often overlooked song, "The Deserter", was actually the song that got me into the band; a great tune beautifully sung by Sandy Denny.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Folk-Rock, 25 July 2008
By 
Morten Vindberg (Denmark) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
"Liege and Lief" was Fairport's first album that was almost entirely inspired by traditional British music. The band had previously released 3 albums during a relatively short period of time, and the repertoire had been a mixture of pop, rock and American and British folk.

In May 1969 after the recording of the previous album "Unhafbricking" the band had a terrible road accident which took the lives of drummer Martin Lamble and Richard Thompson's girlfriend Jeannie.

Other band-members were injured in the crash and the group were close to splitting up, but with their wounds healing up they eventually decided to continue with new members Dave Swarbrick and Dave Mattacks.

They did not want to perform their old material and needed a new direction and with inspiration from Ashley Hutchings and Sandy Denny they began digging into traditional Bristish folk music.

In a Hampshire farmhouse they began rehearsing material for a new album which eventually became "Liege and Lief".

The album inspired many other musicians to dig into traditional music and has now become a folk-rock classic and the album.

The original 8 tracks are all great and this new release features two bonus tracks recorded during the same sessions. "Sir Patrick Spence" was later recorded by the next Fairport line-up, here you have the opportunity to hear an early version with lead vocals by Sandy Denny singing slightly different lyrics. The arrangement may be less tight than the "Full House" version, but still a great addition to a timeless album. The other "new" track is a droning version of "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" which Sandy later recorded several times and released on her second solo-album.

Though most of the material is traditional, there are a couple of originals written by Richard Thompson; and they both stand out. "Crazy Man Michael" ( co-written by Swarbrick ) and "Farewell Farewell" were always favourites - "Farewell Farewell" sound much better than on the original vinyl album.

An often overlooked song, "The Deserter", was actually the song that got me into the band; a great tune beautifully sung by Sandy Denny.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is THE seminal folk-rock album, 2 May 2002
By 
D. COBBIN "Dave Cobbin" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
This is an album which has entered into folklore (or should that be folk-rocklore!). Fairport moved away from their early American indulgences of covering little known Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen songs to produce the quintessential English sound that they are still famous (!) for today. This album mixes traditional song (Tam Lin, Matty Groves, Lark in the Morning)with tracks penned by members of the band. The album has something for everyone; There is storytelling in the adulterous Matty Groves and the mystical Tam Lin; there is poigniancy in Farewell, Farewell; an ode to togetherness in Come all Ye and the tragedy of Crazy Man Michael. The latter is possibly the apex of the songwriting partnership of Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick with its melancholy mood and storyline.
The musicianship and fine arrangements are evident throughout the album but nowhere more so than on the Medley where the violin and guitar drive the music on while the bass and drums lay down a solid foundation.
Often copied but never bettered, this is the album which gave Fairport Convention the tab of the founding fathers of folk-rock. It hasn't got the production values of today (it was made 33 years ago) and some of the songs may be longer than most would be today but don't let that put you off because this is one of the most rewarding albums of the genre.
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