I bought this album thinking that it would be one of those that I would listen to occasionally but intensely. Now I find that it's just nice to have on as background music. FC fans may wish to shoot me for saying that, but it isn't meant to be derogatory. There is the beautiful voice of Sandy Denny of course, and the unforgettable 'Who knows where the time goes', but there is more to Fairport Convention than that. There's such variety here, from traditional and contemporary folk songs, to music verging on blues or soft rock. The title of the album accurately reflects what you get. Included is a 'family tree' of the band, tracing its chganging line-up and the various musical influences that were brought to bear over the years from 1967 to 1972. Good grief, was it really that long ago?!
Whereas Steeleye Span were the Beatles of folkrock, Fairport were the Rolling Stones of folk rock. Just a bit less respectable, Earthier, probably having drunk a few more pints of real ale........... Steeleye were consistently good. Fairports were never consistently good - they were brilliant 70% of the time, ordinary 30%! Some songs which shouldn't really have seen light of day, but overall capable of producing amazing music when they get a head of steam up. And live some of their music is absolutely mesmeric. It's sort of reflected in the music here. This greatest hits compilation reflects all of that. And sort of reflects the age when the tracks were recorded. There is the odd weaker track here - sadly some of the tracks when Sandy Denny was singing (amazing voice, bad chooser of songs to sing...........). There is some of the great tracks: Sloth, Matty Groves are both here for example. Overall this is a good compilation because it is representative of the band - it shows Fairport at it's very best - and at their best they are fantastic - but it also shows Fairport when they were rather ordinary. And the recordings feel a bit rusty reflecting age in which they were recorded.
only one track from Liege and Lief? Incredible. Even more so when there is room for the plodding Mr Lacey. Crazy Man Michael should never have been omitted. I like Si Tu Dois Partir but it is hardly essential and does get a bit tiresome after a while.Otherwise this is a pretty good introduction to the group's earlier stuff. My copy has a rather muddy sound though. The family tree insert is invaluable.
I have to admit that the thing I most like about Fairport is that you can sing along to the songs without having to pretend you're American. Having said that, the songs are lovely, and each tell a story, so anyone who's sick of random strings of words that sound nice together, but don't actually mean anything: this is a CD you'd enjoy. Particularly The Bonny Black Hare, that's a classic. The album takes you through most of the band's career, with such beautiful and haunting melodies as Meet on the Ledge, all the way to the lively and amusing Angel Delight. It's a veritable feast of loveliness.
This is the best single CD introduction to Fairport Convention that you are likely to come across, and covers their golden years from 'What We Did on Our Holidays' through 'Babbacombe Lee' as well as is possible, in my opinion. Of course, once you have this, you'll probably want to start collecting all the original albums .. even their 'not best of' tracks are generally worth listening to.
Bought this as a replacement for my old scratchy vinyl - mainly for A Sailor's Life but also for other cracking good tracks. Imagine my surprise that one of my favourites - Crazy Man Michael - has been omitted on the grounds that 1. there isn't enough space and 2. you can always buy Liege and Lief. I could have suggested some other pretty mundane tracks that could have been omitted instead. Still a great album but not quite the full thing.