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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Fairport in a good-value package, 8 Mar 2003
By 
Tim Edmonds "tim427" (Minehead) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Unhalfbricking (Audio CD)
This was Fairport's third album, recorded in the early part of 1969 and, in what was fast becoming a tradition, it emerged during a period of personnel changes. Ian Matthews was on the way out (but sings on "Percy's Song") and Dave Swarbrick was on the way in (making guest appearances on "Si Tu Dois Partir", "A Sailor's Life", "Cajun Woman" and "Million Dollar Bash" prior to joining as a permanent member). The core band here comprises Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Simon Nicol and Martin Lamble (killed in the van accident before the album was released).
In its original form the tracks comprised three Dylan covers and a 'trad/arranged', with the balance being original compositions by band members Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny. The album thus exemplifies the three strands of Fairport repertoire at the time. The Dylan songs are representative of the early reliance on American material, while to choose to sing one in French shows the Fairport trait not to take themselves too seriously. In contrast, songs like Thompson's "Genesis Hall"and Denny's "Autopsy" are early evidence of the songwriting skills that were to blossom fully in solo careers.
Amongst all these good things, however, for me two tracks stand above the rest in showing how this band collectively was more than the sum of its members. Fairport take the traditional "A Sailor's Life" and give it the epic treatment, with the whole band rocking together in a superb performance that matches the song perfectly. In my view this stands above anything on "Liege and Lief". The performance of "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" is sublime, with gentle acoustic guitar, bass and drums complementing the interplay between Richard Thompson's electric guitar and Sandy Denny's voice.
This is essential Fairport and, having bought it on vinyl when originally released then replaced when it was reissued on CD, what did I get for my money this time? The first CD version included minimal packaging, but here we have a booklet with notes by Ashley Hutchings and illustrated with numerous photos. I'm no expert on remastering, but the sound is crisp and fresh (complete with the perfectly-timed broken bottle in "Si Tu Dois Partir") and the original tracks still sound as exciting as when I first heard them. Then there are the two bonus tracks. Dylan's "Dear Landlord" was recorded in the same sessions as the rest of the original album and has been released twice before, on Volume 1 of Ashley Hutchings' "The Guv'nor" and more recently on the "Fairport Unconventional" boxed set. This differs from both those in that the backing track includes piano - presumably played by Sandy Denny although this is not stated. The last track is an unexpected gem, a beautiful rendering of "The Ballad of Easy Rider" which, although recorded by the "Liege and Lief" line up, is very much in the style of the early Fairport. This is a good value package and worth five stars.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Album, Now Even Better., 1 May 2007
By 
William J. Walker "Billyjay" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Unhalfbricking (Audio CD)
The problem with this album is that it always seemed to suffer, slightly, when compared to "What We Did on Our Holidays". Stylistically the albums form a natural pairing, but whereas its predecessor is a near perfect album, with every track complimenting each other perfectly, it always seemed to me that "Unhalfbricking" was by comparison a rather fractured affair with its various parts pulling the listener, a little too sharply, in different directions. In an odd way, it always felt as if it was only half a great record, but saying which bits are lacking is hard, as they all seem good or great when taken in isolation.

On the other hand the quality of most of its parts (if not the sum) is at a level most artists can only dream of. I should also point out that none of the above prevented this from becoming, and remaining, one of my best loved albums.

I believe that with the release of this version, the album has finally attained the balance it always needed, with the addition of the bonus tracks added for this release. They give the album that little more time required to absorb its disparate elements. With the addition of 'The Ballad of Easy Rider'(the best version of this song I have heard) the album finally has the majestic closing number it always needed and acts as a counterweight to the mighty 'A Sailor's Life' which seemed overly dominant at the center of the disc .

I already owned the previous CD version so it was with some reservations that I bought this one (only, in the end, because I needed to hear Sandy Denny's take on 'The Ballad of Easy Rider'), but I am glad I took the gamble. I always loved this album but now it's better than ever.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps my favourite Fairport LP., 2 Sep 2006
This review is from: Unhalfbricking (Audio CD)
It begins with a burst of psychedelic guitar bending - care of the young Richard Thompson - and ends with a rousing and raucous version of Dylan's Million Dollar Bash. The 2003 re-issue offers two extra tracks - also associated with Dylan - which somehow manage to make this version of the album feel more "complete" than the original eight-track release from 1969. It helps that one of these songs is a cover of The Ballad of Easy Rider, which finds the ethereal vocals of Sandy Denny whispering hushed tales of rivers flowing to the sea, while outside the hippie dream lays dying in a ditch (shot by hillbillies on a road to nowhere). The rest of the album rides a similar wave, tip-toeing between drunken sing-along folk rockers like the French-language Dylan update Si Tu Dois Partir, the rousing Cajun Woman and the aforementioned Million Dollar Bash, with more reflective, melancholic numbers, like Genesis Hall, Percy's Song and that gorgeous classic, Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Though well received and well-respected amongst fans of 60's rock and folk, Unhalfbricking is, regardless, an album that sometimes gets overlooked within the wider aspects of the Fairport cannon (...perhaps because it was sandwiched between their pivotal second album, What We Did on Our Holidays, and their landmark fourth release, Liege and Leif... or perhaps due to the various tragedies that would befall the band immediately after it's initial release?). For me, it is the album that would really establish the classic Fairport sound, fusing the psychedelic rock inflections of their earlier Jefferson Airplane-inspired phase with the traditional folk style that would become more refined on the albums that followed. The bridge between these two very different musical worlds would be the music of Bob Dylan, with three of the songs on the original album stemming from Dylan's formidable collection of outtakes and cast offs. It is to the credit of the band that they purposely chose material that was less familiar to listeners than the likes of Chimes of Freedom, The Girl from North Country, Blowin' in the Wind, All Along the Watchtower and It Ain't Me, Babe. Like The Byrds, Hendrix and subsequently Bryan Ferry, the Convention take Dylan's originals and advance on them... bringing a sound, style and musical ideology of their own... so, instead of feeling like obvious cover versions, they blend beautifully with the more traditional numbers, and the fine songs of Thompson and Denny.

It's a further testament to the band that both Thompson and Denny could pen songs that far surpassed anything of Dylan's early period; with Thompson contributing the rousing opening track Genesis Hall and Denny offering her signature song, the aforementioned Who Knows Where the Time Goes? Added to this, we also have the traditional piece, A Sailor's Life; a folk rock standard that finds the band moving more towards the sound of The Doors than The Dubliners, with Fairport stretching things to the eleven minute mark as Denny's peerless vocals merge with the wild guitar playing of Thompson, which in turn, would blend seamlessly with the ace fiddling skills of Dave Swarbrick and the impeccable performances of the rest of the band. The song is one of the most astounding things Fairport Convention ever committed to record, with the song becoming more and more hypnotic in its approach and never pulling back... just continuing to escalate into a real muscular groove (and who said folkies couldn't be funky?). It sets the template for their next album, the hugely successful Liege and Leif and for epic songs like Matty Groves and Tam Lin, which both take the idea of tradition folk ballads performed with a 60's rock flavour, and pushed them that little bit further with the inventive arrangement skills of the band and the achingly beautiful voice of the wonderful Sandy Denny.

Unhalfbricking is perhaps less complete in its structure than later albums like Liege and Leif and the equally great (though much less talked about) Full House, and yet, it remains my personal favourite LP (of the ones I own). The first time I heard this album I was wandering aimlessly around the village where I live in the pouring rain. The combination of the pastoral setting, the melancholic mood, the carelessness of walking in a sudden downpour and the full splendour of the sound of Fairport Convention came together to create one of my most treasured moments of solitude!! Ulhalfbricking is a great album, and is probably (along with What We Did on Our Holidays) one of the best introductions to the wonders of Fairport Convention, as well as a fine introduction into the fantastic worlds of Richard Thompson and the late, great Sandy Denny. The great (and quite iconic) covert art, with the band sat in the back garden of the house of Denny's parents (devoid of any typeface or 60's iconography) is well worth the price of purchase alone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fairport - a defining album, 28 Aug 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Unhalfbricking (Audio CD)
This album focussed Fairport's music from fairly primitive beginnings to a fully-fledged folk-rock band. The first side (of the original album) is a trifle commercial, but the second side exhibits some of the talent that produced sublime recordings later such as 'A Sailor's Life'. Sandy Denny's voice is exquisite and a tribute to her talent. This album was for me an unforgettable experience and is an essential part of any true-blue Fairport fan's collection.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT STYLISTIC VARIETY, 17 May 2003
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Unhalfbricking (Audio CD)
For a folk band, this album displays a remarkable variety of interesting styles, from the catchy folk of Si Tu Dois Partir with its delightful fiddle, through the amazing guitar work that characterizes A Sailor’s Life, through the energetic playing on Cajun Woman to the exquisite balladry of Sandy Denny on her moving and poetic song Who Knows Where The Time Goes. This must be the definite song on the themes of change and aging from a personal perspective, and a graceful, mature love song too. I also love Percy’s Song, a fairly standard folk interpretation and the raucous singalong Million Dollar Bash. This music is at all times emotionally touching and truly timeless, lifted into greatness by Denny’ voice and Richard Thompson’s guitar playing.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairport Transition, 17 Sep 2006
By 
Morten Vindberg (Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Unhalfbricking (Audio CD)
As Ashley Hutchings says in the notes, this 3rd Fairport album contains various different styles that somehow, by luck?, hang very well together.
It`s an album that ends the beginning era of the band. With the following album "Liege and Leaf", also released in 1969, Fairport Convention established themselves as pioneers of English folk rock.

On the this album there are still clear influences from American country, pop and rock`n roll. Songs like "Cajun Woman" and "Million Dollar Bash" would not have fitted later Fairport releases.

This is an album of transition. The last to feature drummer Martin Lamble, who sadly was killed in a car-accident, and singer Ian Matthews.

Longtime member Dave Swarbrick appears here for the first time, though only as studio musician on four songs. But his influence cannot be overrated; check out "A Sailor`s Life" . New drummer Dave Mattacks also appears for the first time, though only on one of the bonus tracks, which is actually an outtake from "Liege and Leaf"

Sandy Denny contributes classics like "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" and "Autopsy".

Richard Thompson`s best song here is "Genesis Hall".

My favourite is Dylan`s "Percy Song" with it`s beautiful vocals and great building up!

The band`s only hit record "Si Tu Dois Partir" is also there. It's a free-and-easy cover of Dylan's "If You Gotta Go, Go Now"

Both bonus tracks a good, fit the rest of the album fine!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The album which saw the birth of British Folk Rock, 2 Dec 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Unhalfbricking (Audio CD)
1969. I was a sixteen year old schoolboy who had just watched the Fairports perform an outrageous rendition of Si Tu Dois Partir on TOTP, complete with Ashley Hutchings playing a cello with a French baguette ! For some reason this song, the first time I had ever heard of Fairport Convention, compelled me to spend my hard earned wages from a milk round on Unhalfbricking on 12" vinyl....what choice did I have in those days ? (By the way, what is this title all about ?! - answers to this first time reviewer.) Was I glad I did ?...you betcha. This album, for me, ranks in the top 10 albums of all time. From the opening track, a Richard Thompson composition, "Genesis Hall", this album captivated me and 30 years later, it continues to do so. Other stand out tracks include the sorely missed Sandy Denny's "Autopsy", with its Jazz/Rhythm and Blues feel, "A Sailor's Life", which is just awesome and features some amazing interplay between Thompson's guitar and Dave Swarbrick's fiddle, and the beautifully sad, "Who Know's Where the Time Goes", which has Sandy's vocals, carried along on top of the most understated, intelligent and sympathetic guitar work you are ever likely to hear, from Richard Thompson. This album marked the end of the embryonic Fairport Convention before they "invented" British Folk Rock and produced the legendary, and almost equally impressive, "Liege and Lief". However, in my humble opinion, "Unhalfbricking", is the album which should be credited as Fairport's finest hour. Buy it !!...you won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So where has the time gone?, 7 Mar 2011
By 
H. Llewelyn "Hugh Llewelyn the Welshman" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Unhalfbricking (MP3 Download)
Since I really enjoy very depressing songs, this album does it for me with two numbers. On first listening, I was certain "Autopsy" couldn't be bettered - but it is. "Who knows where the time goes" is just so, so melancholic. Another song which for me sums up life. Definately want this played on my deathbed to cheer me up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good condition and turned up on time, 29 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Unhalfbricking (Audio CD)
Recently discovered Fairport Convention and loved the live show in Exeter. Givng this as a gift to family member to help improve their tastes!
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4.0 out of 5 stars UNIVERSAL TO RELEASE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF FAIRPORTS CD RE-ISSUES ON Lp, 10 Feb 2014
This review is from: Unhalfbricking [VINYL] (Vinyl)
(New York, New York) – Universal Music has announced its intention to make available special 10th Anniversary Deluxe vinyl re-issues of the 30th Anniversary Deluxe CD re-issues originally released during the early 2000s. The Lps, including the band’s seminal first five records, will feature none of the bonus tracks on the compact disc editions, nor will the records be remastered (digital or analogue) by producer Joe Boyd or original engineer John Wood. The records have been pressed using many-times recycled plastic on to special lightweight 80g vinyl. According to the press release, the original third generation master tapes used for the 1980 budget Carthage Records re-issue have been utilised for the 10th Anniversary vinyl re-issues of the 30th Anniversary CD re-issues. Universal’s Dick Schmoozely claims the use of crappy vinyl and well-worn masters give the disc “that highly prized thin, flat, almost muffled sound so beloved of late 70s and 80s re-issues.”
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