on 24 June 2006
Angel Delight was Fairport's follow-up to their master-piece "Full House".
Guitarist and songwiter Richard Thompson had left the band before the recordings for the album, but some songs had been written and rehearsed before he left. Thompson is co-writer on two songs and though his personal vocals are missed, his absence is actually surprisingly not very obvious.
Before the recordings of "Full House" the band had moved in together in an old inn called "The Angel Inn" ( hence the title of the album ), and they lived there together during the recordings of this album too. Actually Richard Thompson still lived there after he had left Fairport Convention to pursue a solo-career; so obviously he still played a part in the band's musical direction.
Guitarist Simon Nicol reveals in the sleeve-notes that he was not too familiar with the electric guitar at this point; but he obviously had been very much inspired by Thompson's style and his playing on the album is great.
As with "Full House" the songs is a mixture of traditional songs and new originals written by the band.
The opener "Lord Marlborough" is one the traditionals. This old folk song features great lead vocals by Dave Swarbrick; catchy melody in a very unusual/difficult rhythm, which makes the song even more fascinating.
Simon Nicol takes over the lead vocals on the next traditional "Sir William Gower". The distorted guitar makes you think of Steeleye Span at their most electric/rocking period. Another good track!
The first of the album's two instrumentals is the the violin-dominated "Bridge Over the River Ash" - almost like a classical piece.
Dave Swarbrick takes over again the lead vocals on his and Simon Nicol's "Wizzard of the Worldly Game". Classic Fairport Convention at their best; fine solo by Nicol!
"The Journeyman's Grace" written by Thompson and Swarbrick is a song much in the same vein as "Walk Awhile" from "Full House"
The title track is a catchy and optimistic tune with autobiograpical lyrics. Great drum-breaks by Mattacks.
The traditional ballad "Banks of the Sweet Primroses" was from the the first time I heard the album my favourite track; and it still is. A gorgeous melody.
The instrumental medley is as always a pleasure; showing what great instrumentalist they all were.
The last traditional song "The Bonny Black Hare" is probably my least favourite track, which by no means makes it a bad track.
Swarbrick and Thompson's "Sickness and Diseases" is the most hard-rocking track on the album. Great closer of the original album.
The single bonus-track is a BBC recording of "The Journeyman's Grace"; not that much different from the album version, but still interesting as it features great guitar-playing from Thompson.
Conclusion: Classic Fairport, and a must-buy for any fan of the band.
This album was released by a Fairport reduced to just four members after the decision of Richard Thompson to leave the band. We now know that the concept of Fairport is greater than the sum of its parts, but the prospects in 1971 seemed bleak - how could the music survive the departure of its guitar virtuoso? Well this album was remarkably good at the time and it still manages to sound fresh and lively, with the vocal harmonies and throbbing instrumentals giving it a sound distinct from other Fairport albums. It has a definite traditional feel with an interesting combination of light and dark tones.
There are four traditional songs and two sets of traditional tunes given the Fairport treatment. The title track is autobiographical - a light-hearted description of life in the former 'Angel Inn' where the band lived in 1970/1. Also in a humorous vein, the "Bridge over the River Ash" medley takes the form of a 'string quartet' and was a feature of the live act for several years, with the title being renamed to reflect the local river. Other tracks that became regulars at concerts are the Swarbrick/Thompson song "The Journeyman's Grace" and the traditional tale of rural bawdiness "The Bonny Black Hare". Revived more recently was "Banks of the Sweet Primroses", which reappeared in a new recording on the "XXXV" album a few years back.
The repackaging consists of a card slip-case and an insert booklet with track details and notes by Simon Nicol. The remastering seems to have sharpened up the sound on several tracks but it is disappointing that there is only one bonus track. This is a BBC recording of "The Journeyman's Grace" which features Richard Thompson and so provides an interesting contrast to the studio version. Perhaps there were there no other songs available from that BBC session, but could no other goodies be found? The result is a CD that contains just 42 minutes of music, which does not represent good value compared with others in the series of Fairport remasters. The bonus track was released on the 'Fairport Unconventional' boxed set in 2002 so if you have that and the previous CD release of 'Angel Delight' then save your money for something else. Otherwise this is one you should have - there's some excellent music here including some Fairport classics.
on 9 August 2009
..half-hidden, that is, by unhelpful preconceptions that bypass your ears. Sometimes categorised by critics as from a band in decline, by Sandy Denny mourners (of whom I'm one) as Fairport but lacking Sandy, by Thompson fans (of whom I'm also one) as Fairport but lacking RT, this album deserves some ear- and mind-cleaning before giving it a proper hearing. I think it then emerges as absolutely one of the best things generated by that wonderfully rambling long-lived collective known as Fairport Convention. Reasons: 1. sacrilege, I know, but the mighty Thomson did sometimes overbalance the band and led Swarb into some heavy speed;for my money this is better balanced than "Full House," and despite the shimmering beauty of much of"Liege and L," more consistent than that album. 2. Swarb really gets into his own style of singing here, a voice for traditional and tradition-inspired songs which isn't finger-in-the-ear heavy yet is English, not faux-American (or Irish!)3 Nicol, Swarb and Pegg are beautifully balanced on this album, and Swarb's playing is inventive, rhythmically powerful yet melodic, and never heavy-handed. 4. Where's the duff track? 5. It's got some humour in it (title track), good original songs ("Journeyman," "Wizard of the W.G.") some heavy songs (tracks 9 and 10) 6. DM, always faultless but sometimes a little too chuggy for me, is on best form - and so on. They are four exceptionally talented people in their own right, it's half-baked to see them as "notSandy" or "notRichard." And the digitally remastered edition with very enjoyable notes by Simon N is excellently done and packaged, so it's actually worth buying the CD itself, for once. Well, suit yourself, as Frankie Howard used to say, but try to forget that it was issued in the early 70s, and listen to it as though it had just come out. If you enjoy this kind of music, you'd surely see it as a really exceptional album and be impressed and - Delighted.
on 19 March 2004
This album along with Babbacombe Lee and Rosie is being remastered and reissued along with some bonus tracks by all accounts, so I'd hold off the purchase, made by the same line up that recorded Babbacombe Lee it's the first time a Fairport line up recorded two albums without new members coming or going, stand outs include the Thompson song Journeymans grace, which is still performed live. Worth buying, but it just surprises me that Island don't even bother to let the band have copies of the new issue.
on 24 December 2012
The Fairport Convention lived within 200 yards of my house when this recording was made and my wife taught Dave Swarbrick's son at the JMI school. We attended the charity gig on the hillside opposite the pub in Little Hadham mentioned in the notes. Two of the songs on the disc refer specifically to the Angel pub and the river Ash which featured prominently in my early and middle years. So this disc has to be a favourite with me together with its predecessor, Full House, which contains most of the songs played at the gig mentioned above. The recording and digital re-mastering is excellent and, of course, I love the notes, which do,however, contain one minor error - their landlord's name was Hodgkinson, not Hutchinson, as claimed by Simon!
on 1 November 2009
An album that I bought on vinyl when it first came out, but which I had not listened to for many years. Listening to it again brought back to mind those days when the title track, Angel Delight was featured on Top Of The Pops and Fairport were in their heyday with some great tunes.
on 29 March 2004
I have to say, I`ve never felt that Dave Swarbrick was singing with a cod Irish accent. It sounds English to me. Anyway, not being of a xenophobic persuasion, myself, I don`t have a problem with Swarbrick`s singing accent, although I do think his voice is a bit too high-pitched at times, bordering on the squeaky.
Angel Delight is easily the most entertaining of the early Seventies FC albums and it`s also the most consistent and cohesive. Although I would agree with some reviewers that subsequent FC albums were comparatively weak, I think it would be a bit extreme, not to mention mean-spirited, to write them off altogether. There are some outstanding tracks to be found on the albums "Rosie", "Nine", "Fairport Convention Live", "Rising For The Moon", and yes!, even "Babbacombe Lee", amid the more mediocre material. "Tipplers Tales" and "Bonny Bunch of Roses", released in 1977 and `78 after Simon Nicol had rejoined FC, are both excellent, and a reliable source informs me that these two albums are due for reissue in the not too distant future.
Anyway, yes, I highly recommend Angel Delight. Incidentally, I prefer it to the oft-lauded "seminal" Liege And Lief, which sounds a bit wishy-washy and unsure of itself as a *folk*-rock album. But, by the time of (Full House and)Angel Delight, the new lineup(s) had pulled out all the stops and weren`t afraid to be a real folk-rock band, with the violin and mandolin playing coming to the fore, along with a more robust rhythm section and the more appropriate male vocals.
on 11 March 2014
This, Liege & Leaf and Full House are my favourites and I wholeheartedly recommend them. Am seeing Fairport at this years Acoustic Festival which will bring back good memories
I lived a few yards from the Angel in Little Hadham when they were there and remember the A120 lorry crash incident very well as we went out to look & talk to the startled band members. When the Angel was formerly a pub, my Mum used to send me there to buy her cigs & Dad's Mackeson....couldn't happen today ! I walked over the bridge over the Ash every day to the bus stop for school & also attended their live gig in the field opposite the Nags Head + various Cropredys over the coming few years
This, Liege & Leaf and Full house are my favourites and I wholeheartedly recommend them. Am seeing Fairport at this years Acoustic Festival which will bring back good mamories
on 23 April 2016
Great - just what I wanted
on 20 November 2012
For whatever reason - the pressure of touring, lack of inspiration, upheavals in the band lineup - Fairport's music became a standard issue release sound for this album and just about every album afterwards up until Tippler's Tales (Denny's once-only return on Rising For The Moon places that one release in a very different category). Gone were the epic 8 minute productions, everything had been reduced down to a 3,4 or 5 minute folksie singalong. A couple of tracks here show huge potential for that spectacular makeover that gave numbers like Sloth and Matty Groves their huge universal appeal, but they've opted for the easy approach instead. Also on this album they split song source between trads and band-penned, ensuring that the overall Fairport Sound became pegged down (excuse the pun) in a rather indifferent nomansland.
Unspectacular throughout, although the bonus track is excellent, much improved over the dull studio take. It was to be many years until they returned to epic works (Jack Orion on Tipplers Tales) so this album is pretty much an identikit fit with any that come after throught the 70s.