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This review is from: Liege And Lief (Audio CD)
"Liege and Lief" was Fairport's first album that was almost entirely inspired by traditional British music. The band had previously released 3 albums during a relatively short period of time, and the repertoire had been a mixture of pop, rock and American and British folk.
In May 1969 after the recording of the previous album "Unhafbricking" the band had a terrible road accident which took the lives of drummer Martin Lamble and Richard Thompson's girlfriend Jeannie.
Other band-members were injured in the crash and the group were close to splitting up, but with their wounds healing up they eventually decided to continue with new members Dave Swarbrick and Dave Mattacks.
They did not want to perform their old material and needed a new direction and with inspiration from Ashley Hutchings and Sandy Denny they began digging into traditional Bristish folk music.
In a Hampshire farmhouse they began rehearsing material for a new album which eventually became "Liege and Lief".
The album inspired many other musicians to dig into traditional music and has now become a folk-rock classic and the album.
The original 8 tracks are all great and this new release features two bonus tracks recorded during the same sessions. "Sir Patrick Spence" was later recorded by the next Fairport line-up, here you have the opportunity to hear an early version with lead vocals by Sandy Denny singing slightly different lyrics. The arrangement may be less tight than the "Full House" version, but still a great addition to a timeless album. The other "new" track is a droning version of "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" which Sandy later recorded several times and released on her second solo-album.
Though most of the material is traditional, there are a couple of originals written by Richard Thompson; and they both stand out. "Crazy Man Michael" ( co-written by Swarbrick ) and "Farewell Farewell" were always favourites - "Farewell Farewell" sound much better than on the original vinyl album.
An often overlooked song, "The Deserter", was actually the song that got me into the band; a great tune beautifully sung by Sandy Denny.