Fotheringay – Fairport Convention

For Fairport Convention, convincing Sandy Denny to join the band was akin to a decent mid-table football team somehow landing the most prolific goalscorer in the league. Fairport’s self-titled first album, on which vocals were handled by Iain Matthews and Judy Dyble, is so wet it beggars belief. The players, particularly Richard Thompson, show flashes […]

Genesis Hall – Fairport Convention

Golly, it’s an early masterpiece of British folk-rock… Early Fairport Convention is so wet you need to towel down after listening to it. It’s so green it gives you verdirgis. Their path to artistic maturity required them to toughen up and stop being so damn callow, which they never did entirely. Only Fairport could have […]

Stormbringer – John & Beverley Martin

A repost of a piece I wrote three years ago, about a record I think is very special indeed. I listened to it today on my way home from work with my hood pulled up and the rain beating down on me, and it really did take me somewhere else. In July 1969, John Martyn […]

Lady Margaret – Trees

The observant will note that we’ve slipped into our annual series of posts on folk-rock. Every autumn, folk gets me. It’s the most autumn-appropriate music I know. “This station is King’s Cross-St Pancras. Change here for Circle & Hammersmith, Metropolitan, Piccadilly and Victoria lines, and mainline, intercity, suburban and international rail services. This train terminates […]

Final songs

The following post probably shouldn’t be taken all that seriously. Just a few thoughts I’ve been kicking around for a couple of days. There is a difference between a great collection of songs and a collection of great songs. Revolver is a collection of (mostly) great songs. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a […]

Saturday Sun – Nick Drake

Nick Drake is at this point the most famous, the most listened-to, the most influential and the most widely beloved of all the British folk-rock acts of the 1960s and 1970s. Why Drake? Why not Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, Martin Carthy, John Martyn or Bert Jansch? All were (or are) talented, versatile and charismatic performers […]

Woodstock – Matthews Southern Comfort

This week we’re talking about a song written in New York City by a Canadian, about an event that took place in upstate New York that she didn’t attend, recorded in California, then covered by a man from England and turned into British folk rock’s biggest hit single and (I think) only UK number one […]

Silver Threads & Golden Needles – Fotheringay

It’s autumn. Time to talk about folk-rock. Here’s a sort-of repost from a couple of years ago to get us underway After she joined up with the thitherto rather wet Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny helped perfect a sound that blended traditional English and Scottish folk song, contemporary electric instrumentation and self-composed songs, an achievement that […]

The Sound of The Band

Three weeks after promising you shorter posts, here’s a 1600 word monster. I apologise. This only happened because I’m so familiar with these guys, the research and fact-checking time I needed was minimal. The Band’s debut album, Music from Big Pink, is not one of the hi-fi masterworks of studio recording. It’s churchy, it’s raw, […]

The Lay of the Land, 6th December 2014

Two years ago today I had a pacemaker fitted. The year before that I was in an advancing state of heart failure. At the point of my diagnosis, I was Class IV on the NYHA classification chart; the subsequent class is “end stage”, which is what it sounds like. I have idiopathic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a […]