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A classic album that still sounds fresh
on 11 March 2003
From the first gentle guitar notes of "Fotheringay" until the quiet epilogue instrumental "End of a Holiday" this has always been an album that grabs you and doesn't let go. Between these opening and closing tracks of the original 1969 LP (and the 1990 CD release) we are treated to a variety of musical styles, all played superbly with panache and/or sensitivity. There are songs by Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, two 'trad/arr' songs, with the remainder composed by various members of the band. This is the album where the Fairport male/female vocalist style, pioneered by Judy Dyble and Ian Matthews on the first album, reached its peak with the pairing of Matthews and Sandy Denny. The other members of the band here are Richard Thompson, Simon Nicol, Ashley Hutchings and Martin Lamble, who all contribute high quality playing.
My first listen to the remastered version was a revelation - although the music was familiar I began to hear this album with a new clarity and, in particular, I could distinguish some individual instruments and voices in the mix which were hard to separate previously. For example, Claire Lowther's cello playing on "The Book Song" comes through more strongly. There isn't a bad track here, but my personal favourites are Sandy's exquisite "Fotheringay", a soulful performance of Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine", and the definitive version of Thompson's "Meet On The Ledge".
There are three bonus tracks. "Throwaway Street Puzzle" is a Thompson/Hutchings song that was the B side of the "Meet on the Ledge" single, since when it has been included in a remixed form on the Thompson collection "(Guitar/Vocal)". Pleasant, but not outstanding, "Some Sweet Day" was recorded as a possible single but has never been released until now. Sandwiched between them is a BBC recording of "You're Gonna Need My Help" which has appeared on Volume 1 of Ashley Hutchings' "The Guv'nor". These are 'nice to have' tracks which give additional value-for-money to a classic album that still sounds fresh 34 years after its first appearance.