11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Sandy Denny's first Fairport album,
This review is from: What We Did On Our Holidays (Audio CD)
Following their debut album in 1968, Fairport Convention released three albums in 1969, all of which featured Sandy Denny and all of which are regarded as folk-rock classics. (The other two are Unhalfbricking and Liege and lief.) Sandy actually replaced Judy Dyble, who had been the group's female vocalist in the beginning, but this album does not just revolve around Sandy. In what is now recognized as a star-studded line-up, the male members of the group on this album were Ian Matthews, Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Martin Lamble and Ashley Hutchings. Nobody knows what Martin might have achieved if he hadn't died in a car crash later in 1969, but the other men all made their mark separately or sometimes in various combinations on the folk-rock scene, including (in some cases) further Fairport Convention albums.
The first thing that strikes one about this album is the cover picture, which is the result of doodling on a blackboard. The group were given a classroom to use as a dressing room for a university gig. Given the intricacy of the doodling, they must have had plenty of time waiting to go on stage. After they performed their gig, they realized that the blackboard doodling would make a great cover picture for their album. It is probably not the strangest cover picture that I've seen, but I haven't seen anything else quite like it. Still, it's the music that counts, not the artwork.
At this stage in their careers, Fairport Convention were experimenting with different sounds and styles within the overall framework of folk music but bringing in other influences. Rock hadn't come into their music yet; that came later, especially on Liege and lief. The experimental nature of the album could have made the results something of a mixed bag, yet the end result is a collection of songs that sound great together.
Highlights among the original songs include Fotheringay (a song about Mary Queen of Scots). Meet on the ledge and Book song. There are also excellent covers of She moved through the fair (traditional), I'll keep it with mine (Bob Dylan) and Eastern rain (Joni Mitchell). This release features three bonus tracks not included on the original album, including a cover of Some sweet day (an obscure Everly brothers song) that was once intended as an A-side single but another song was released as a single instead. Nobody has ever had a UK hit with this song, but it sounds to me as if could be a hit for somebody, some sweet day.
This is an excellent album of folk music with other influences. Despite all being released in the same year, the three albums that Sandy recorded with the group all have their own distinctive styles. I suspect that most people would nominate Liege and lief as the best of them, but I'm not so sure. I might nominate this one Still, all of them are excellent so any preference I may have for one over the others is marginal at best.