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Liege & Lief

4.7 out of 5 stars 104 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Island
  • ASIN: B000025XMB
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,545 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: 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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