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VINE VOICEon 3 June 2005
Here is another of those obscure singer songwriters (See also Judee Sill, Bergen White, John Howard, Linda Perhaps ) who released a clutch of superb material in the early seventies then disappeared off the radar. In the case of Bill Fay he just decided he'd had enough of the music business and went to a normal working existence. Both of his albums have now been re-issued, not before time, the first is an orchestral pop overload with some excellent songs, but Time Of the Last Persecution is a loose stripped down sombre masterpiece of teeth grinding intensity.
Fay is at pains to stress in his liner notes that the popular critical assessment of this album as being fuelled by drug burnout and paranoia are way off target, being based in the absence of any factual data on his appearance on the sleeve, sort of like a Manson / Rasputin type figure and the albums thematic content . There is much musing on a coming apocalypse and plenty of almost Biblical imagery , but there is also an undertone of hope and reassurance while we are left in no doubt that stark choices have to be made. That's as true in 2005, maybe more so, than it was in 1971.
Musically it centres on Fays elliptical piano notes and the guitar playing of Jazz Musician Ray Russell whose free towering trails of guitar nod heavily towards his musical up bringing. Normally that sort of scrabbling off kilter playing would have me reaching for the mute button so quickly I'd dislocate my wrist but somehow it seems to work on this album, never becoming overbearing or descending into pointless muso frippery. Apart that is, from one bout of pointless noodling on the rather odd "Let All the Other Teddies Know". That's a rare aberration though and with the addition of occasional plangent trombone and trumpet and wisps of tenor/ alto flute and Fay's limited but beguiling smoky croon this is an album of demanding but hugely rewarding listening.
So another welcome and overdue renaissance for yet another marginalized, and under appreciated figure. And another affirmation that longevity in the music business is one of the most over rated virtues of all. Better to have produced only two albums of dazzling material and then walked away from it all feeling you've made your definitive statement than plough in ever decreasing circles gradually descending into self parody. As definitive statements go Time of the Last Persecution is a real page turner.
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on 22 March 2010
Occasionally in your life ,you see a film or hear an album that sends shivers down your spine and somehow changes you forever.

On the face of it,a basic pianist with gruff,sometimes slightly off-tune voice singing about the apocalypse is a distinctly unpromising prospect. In fact the guy is a true visionary expertly assisted by a brilliant band led by jazz guitarist Ray Russell.There is no doubt,given the depth of feeling of the playing,that Ray understood just what a momentous event he has become part of.The guitar soars ,shimmers,and roars in perfect empathy with the deep emotions expressed by Bill.

It is the early seventies and the euphoria of the sixties has been replaced by the (drug-scarred ?) realisation that the problems brought about by totalitarianism,and materialism have not gone away.The title track "Time of the Last Persecution" and "Pictures of Adolf Again " are self-explanatory but extremely powerful.The latter quotes the South African leader John Vorster as an example of what we face if we're not careful-and this predates Sharpville by several years.The title track is exemplified by "He will ask for his feet to be kissed by your sister and your children will fear at his name ".Hearing it 30 plus years later, you could substitute Milosevic,Bush or Mugabe with equal resonance.

There is also a passionate and personal feel to much of the album- of the isolated lone voice who loves us but cannot understand why we're prepared to drift into oblivion with a whimper -"If you're sane-yes I'm mad,in good, in bad, my knees are not bleeding from kneeling in death's cathedral",or "Time will discreetly arrange that no more shall be seen of you".There are lyrical sections which speak of swarms of hornets,dustbins blowing away and many other pieces of poetic imagery.

Do yourself a favour and buy this album. If it doesn't move you ,check your pulse.This is a work of true genius which was apparently recorded in one day.
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on 29 December 2005
Bill Fay certainly cuts an evocative figure on his album sleeve; with that image of the artist all worn and weary, sat glaring off into the distance through a mess of dishevelled hair like some mad biblical prophet!! Despite what Fay himself says in the album's linear notes about this merely being representative of the style of the time, the image of his weary face - partially hidden beneath layers of unkempt facial hair - still seems absolutely tailored to the style of music found throughout the record in question, with Time Of The Last Persecution blurring elements of folk, blues, torch-songs and psychedelia to blistering effect, to create a bold and uncompromising album that goes way beyond anything created by those trendier-artistes referenced on the cover.

For all intents-and-purposes... Time Of The Last Persecution could (or perhaps, should) be seen as the definitive aural manifestation of the death of the swinging 60's, or indeed, as the sound of the hippy-era waking up to the guns and the protests and realising that you simply cannot change the world with peace and love alone. In keeping with this ideology, Fay and his main collaborator, blues-guitarist/producer Ray Russell, create an album that is quietly menacing, creating an escalating sense of claustrophobia and suffocation as the minimal piano/blues guitar combo eventually gives way to more psychedelic influences and nods to avant-garde jazz. On top of this severe sound - which predates some of Nick Cave's more volatile moments by more than a decade - we have those intense, prophetic lyrics, which mix Dylan-like depictions of civil unrest with bizarre evocations seemingly plucked from the wildest and weirdest nightmare imaginable. According to the sleeve-notes, Fay was mostly inspired by a book he found at a jumble sale, which essentially featured a number of essays by various high-ranking ministers from the 1800's on the Book of Revelations and the Book of Daniel, which Fay worryingly juxtaposes with the violence, apathy and general disintegration of traditional moral values at the heart of the world, circa 1970.

Listening to the album more than thirty-years after it was first recorded; it becomes clear that the doomy subject matter is as much about society now (in the twenty-first century) as it was about the early 1970's... with the album really becoming a series musical and lyrical treatise on the way the world is heading and the inevitability of the apocalypse. In other words... bleak music born out of one man's sadness; as he watches the world start to collapse all around him (with the historical references pointing to the turbulence of the late 1960's and the emotional fall out of the Second World War and that sense of anger, apathy and discontent that has seemingly been passed down from generation to generation ever since).

The use of music here is much more stripped-down than it was on Fay's first studio album, essentially building around our narrator's gentle piano playing, a dose of percussion, some sparse horn arrangements and the shimmering blues guitar of co-producer Ray Russell. The bursts of psychedelia arrive later, as if we're building up to something epic that will consume us during that amazing title track and the closing dissonance of Come A Day or the stark surrealism of close track, Let All The Teddies Know, which could possible be the sound of our narrator disappearing into the tender grip of madness?? The sound pre-empts the style of Nick Cave's more recent albums, particularly The Boatman's Call and certain aspects of his 2004 double-album, with the more traditional elements of rock and pop music blurring into elements of jazz and blues. The use of the flute on a number of songs, when combined with the rolling piano and the integration of trombone and trumpet is similar to the more jazz-orientated albums of Van Morrison, in particular, his masterpiece Astral Weeks, which has a similar shard of fear and paralysis running through it's dark, ethereal and strangely poetic imagery, and reminds me of recent albums like Neutral Milk Hotel's masterwork In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, or the Bright Eyes album Lifted (or The Story Is In The Soil...), both of which create the same kind of bizarre imagery, fear and concern, over simple chord structures and a dizzying bombardment of horns.

Fay's lyrics are extraordinary, with references to dust filled rooms, the apocalypse, the book of revelations, God, Christ, laughing men, and Adolf (whether Hitler or Eichmann is irrelevant... we still get the sense of fear and genocide that Fay is working towards with lyrics like "please, don't take the sun from the sky, don't let them damage my eyes, please don't let my marigolds die, though I will know they're not mine"!!). Time Of The Last Persecution is certainly something of a lost masterpiece... a fantastic album from a unique performer, one who "flew under the radar" and chose to fade away from the spotlight, rather than becoming another dull rock and roll cliché. In his sleeve notes, Fay talks in length about his troubles with the record companies and his inability to secure a contract after his first two albums failed to generate any serious success, and likens the sense of grief and fear to the sentiments expressed on albums like American IV by Johnny Cash, Dylan's Slow Train Coming and the Procol Harum album Home.

The fact that a songwriter with Fay's vision and ambition could go thirty-plus years without a record contract (whilst fresh-faced no-talents continue to knock out twelve-track odes to mediocrity) is one of the great tragedies of the British music industry. Time Of The Last Persecution is a bleak, thoughtful and intelligent album that tries to make sense of the pettiness and senselessness at the heart of our modern society, with Fay, still lost and frightened, having seen something "from which there was no going back", managing to put into words the kind of horrors that most of us, if we're lucky, will never truly experience.
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on 5 November 2007
I was living in Birmingham in 1972 and bought a vinyl album from the bargain bins. There was no cover, just the album.Bill Fay... never heard of him, but for five bob I decided to give it a go.One hundred plays later and I still had not tired of it.
As so often in life, things slide and the record was lost, as was the memory, until recently I googled the half remembered name and the CD, remastered currently sits in my CD player.
It is as current and modern now as then.
I am reminded of Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker, but believe me this is an original. Forget about any biblical references, this is one superb album.
Anyone who likes intelligent singer songwriting should own this. Haunting, disturbing, melodic, poetic, BRILLIANT!
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on 4 February 2010
When I first heard about the existence of this legendary Album, I was told it was music to slit your wrists to. It was described as being fairly depressing in its content. Yet this relates to the contrast, with his heavily orchestrated debut Album " Bill Fay". The music is sparse, led by Bill Fay's commanding piano and the able electric guitarist, arranger and producer - Ray Russell. Yet both Albums interlock, the debut was bouncy and heartfelt whereas "Time of the Last Persecution" is certainly darker, and fuller able to reflect the burning issues in Bill Fay's World . We are led in gently with "Omega Day", and the album continues the style of his double single " Scream in the Ears" "Some Good Advice" : Dylan inspired lyrics with downbeat melody. As soon as we hear " Don't let my Marigolds Die", we are veering into a deeper personal terrority, so doggedly continued with " Dust Filled Room", "Laughing Man",and "Inside the Keepers' Pantry" etc. I almost feel " Come a Day" matches the opening track, a sort of hymn to life. There seems to be an unrealised coherency to this Album. The Album's cover perfectly reflects the rugged tone of Bill Fay. He is as close as you have to a homegrown lyrical Messiah, imploring in his "Til The Christ Came Back" and inspective in "Release is in the Eye"

Contemporary Political commentaries are addressed " Pictures of Adolf Again", and the magnum opus " Time of the Last Persecution" both consist of lyrical blows against the State. Very counter culture. Yet "Tell it Like it is" is almost a resigned sigh to life passing us by, and the inevitabile powerlessness of life itself with "Plan D". Even his internal child is not afraid to emerge with "Let All the Other Teddies Know" . There is power to his Album, he is very raw, and we hang onto every word. Brave
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on 20 March 2014
I must admit having read some reviews I took a gamble and bought the first album of Bill Fay and then the second album 'Time Of The Last Persecution. What a great discovery, beautiful music, well written & performed.
I was a little surprised having listened to the albums that he never made it Big, well worth adding to your collection.
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on 14 July 2006
Bought this on the strength of the album cover alone; Bill Fay looks like a disillusioned Charles Manson who has just had a big bong. Sounds like a cross between Nick Drake and Bob Dylan, which can't be bad, and the songs haven't dated, though it's very early 70s. Agreeable stuff.
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on 19 October 2007
yes, its only my opinion but this album is quite possibly one on the best albums ever made (and the many ive introduced to it all strongly agree). unfortunately very few albums (even really good ones) really hold interest and continue to open out and challenge for quite as long as this does... even being familar with this does'nt seem to weaken its appeal.

its futile trying to explain, if you dont own this this and you are interested in music, you are missing out. buy the first album ' bill fay' at the same time and look forward to receiving your mail...
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