Fairport Convention – Liege & Lief (1969)

frontcover1Liege & Lief is the fourth album by the English folk rock band Fairport Convention. It is the third and final album the group released in the UK in 1969, all of which prominently feature Sandy Denny as lead female vocalist. (Denny did not appear on the group’s 1968 debut album). It is also the very first Fairport album on which all songs have either been adapted (freely) from traditional British and Celtic folk material (for example “Matty Groves”, “Tam Lin”), or else are original compositions (such as “Come All Ye”, “Crazy Man Michael”) written and performed in a similar style. By introducing songs of this genre into the group’s repertoire Denny, who had previously sung and recorded traditional folk songs as a solo artist, was instrumental in this transformation. Although Denny quit the band even before the album’s release, Fairport Convention has continued to the present day to make music almost exclusively within the traditional British folk music idiom, and are still most strongly associated with it.

The album was moderately successful, peaking at number 17 on the UK Albums Chart during a 15-week run. It is often credited, though the claim is sometimes disputed, as the first major “British folk rock” album. (This term is not to be confused with American-style folk rock, which had first achieved mainstream popularity on both sides of the Atlantic with The Byrds’ early work several years prior.) The popularity of Liege & Lief did a great deal to establish the new style commercially and artistically as a distinct genre. In an audience vote at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2006, the album was voted “Most Influential Folk Album of All Time”.

Following the motorway accident that had killed Martin Lamble, the band were left without a drummer. After the release of Unhalfbricking, Dave Mattacks took over the role and, having previously been a drummer at Mecca Ballrooms, had to “learn a whole new style of drumming.” Dave Swarbrick, a little older than the rest of the band, had already been in a successful duo with guitarist Martin Carthy. After his appearance on Unhalfbricking, he too joined Fairport full-time.

The band rehearsed and put together Liege & Lief over the summer of 1969 at a house in Farley Chamberlayne, near Braishfield, Winchester, launching it with a sold-out concert in London’s Royal Festival Hall late in 1969.

Gone were the covers of songs by Bob Dylan and others, replaced by electrified versions of traditional English folksongs and the first of a long line of instrumental medleys of folk dance tunes driven by Dave Swarbrick’s violin playing. Much of this material had been found by Ashley Hutchings in Cecil Sharp’s collection, maintained by the English Folk Dance and Song Society.


The title is composed of two Middle English words: liege meaning loyal and lief meaning ready. The cover, a gatefold in grey and purple, featured cameo images of the band along with track listing and credits.

Soon after the release of Liege & Lief, Ashley Hutchings left to further pursue traditional music in a new band, Steeleye Span; Sandy Denny also left to form Fotheringay.

Liege & Lief was promoted by John Peel on his Top Gear radio programme[10] and the album spent fifteen weeks in the UK album chart, reaching number 17.[11] In a contemporary review, John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone recommended the album only to devotees of “quietly arty traditional folk” and felt that “Deserter” is the only “arresting” song, as “not even the originals match up to the group-composed material on previous albums.”[12] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave Liege & Lief a “B–” and said that, because of his “anti-folk” tastes, he was disappointed with the album’s more traditional material after Unhalfbricking.

The album has come to be regarded as having a major influence in the development of British folk rock. It was voted the ‘most important folk album of all time’ by BBC Radio 2 listeners in 2002, and at the 2006 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Liege and Lief won the award for Most influential Folk Album of all time. At the event, the original line-up of Simon Nicol, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Mattacks, with Chris While replacing Sandy Denny, performed Matty Groves. Georgia Lucas, the daughter of Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas, accepted the award on behalf of her late mother. This commemoration was repeated on 10 August 2007 at Cropredy, when the complete album was performed.

In a retrospective review, Allmusic’s Mark Deming said of the album that “while [it] was the most purely folk-oriented Fairport Convention album to date, it also rocked hard in a thoroughly original and uncompromising way”.[14] In June 2007, Mojo magazine listed Liege & Lief at number 58 in its list of “100 Records that changed the world”.


Sandy Denny (vocals)
Ashley Hutchings (bass, background vocals)
Dave Mattacks (drums, percussion)
Simon Nicol (guitar, background vocals)
Dave Swarbrick (fiddle, viola)
Richard Thompson (guitar, background vocals)

01. Come All Ye (Denny/Hutchings) 4.55
02. Reynardine (Traditional) 4.33
03. Matty Groves (Traditional) 8.08
04. Farewell, Farewell (Thompson) 2.38
05. The Deserter (Traditional) 4.10
06. Medley 4.00
06.01. The Lark In he Morning  (Traditional)
06.02. Rakish Paddy  (Traditional)
06.03. Foxhunters’ Jig  (Traditional)
06.04. Toss the Feathers  (Traditional)
07. Tam Lin  (Traditional) 7.20
08. Crazy Man Michael (Thompson/Swarbrick) 4.35
09. Sir Patrick Spens (Traditional) 4.02
10. Quiet Joys of Brotherhood (Traditional/Farina) 10.16



Fairport Convention – Live At The Theatre Royal, London (1976)

FrontCover1 Fairport Convention’s Dave Swarbrick dies at 75

Virtuoso fiddler who found fame as a member of Fairport Convention has died after struggle with emphysema

Folk musician Dave Swarbrick has died at 75, his family have announced. Best known for his work with the hugely influential folk group Fairport Convention, Swarbrick was a virtuosic violin player and one of the most highly regarded musicians of the 1960s folk revival. He also wrote, arranged and sang, and performed on the viola, mandolin and mandola, and guitar.

Swarbrick – known as “Swarb” – began his musical career as a guitarist in a ceilidh band in the late 1950s, before joining the Birmingham-based Ian Campbell Folk Group as a fiddle player. He first worked with Fairport Convention in 1969 as a session musician, subsequently becoming a member of the group, and was the first fiddler on the UK folk scene to electrify the violin. His writing and playing was a key ingredient in the group’s Liege & Lief album, a record that rewrote the folk landscape with its electrified versions of traditional English folksongs.

During the 1970s, alongside his leading role in Fairport Convention, Swarbrick became a sought-after session musician, working with acts including Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, Bert Jansch and Martin Carthy. Between 1976 and 2010 he released 12 solo albums, and in 2007 joined the 1969 Fairport Convention lineup (with Chris While standing in for the late Sandy Denny), to perform the Liege & Lief album in full.

Fairport Convention in 1970

Swarbrick suffered from emphysema, underwent three tracheotomies and was on occasion forced to perform with an oxygen canister on stage to help with his breathing. During one of his spells in hospital in 1999, the Daily Telegraph prematurely announced his death and published his obituary. At his next public appearance, he apparently took delight in signing copies of the obit for fans, saying: “It’s not the first time I’ve died in Coventry.”

In 2004 he received a double lung transplant, and in recent years continued to record and perform live; a 2006 collaboration with Martin Carthy produced the critically acclaimed album Straws in the Wind and won the duo a BBC folk award. “I’ve always loved working hard and playing live,” said Swarbrick in a 2004 interview in the Guardian. (by theguardian.com)

Musician Dave Swarbrick, best known for his work with influential folk group Fairport Convention, has died on June 3, 2016. He was 75. Known as “Swarb”, the musician performed mainly on the violin; and wrote and arranged songs for their albums – including on the influential electric folk album Liege & Lief – and performing with them up until they disbanded in 1979. The band posted a tribute on their website which said Swarbrick “had been seriously ill for some time”. He had struggled with health problems after being diagnosed with emphysema in the 1990s. Blur guitarist Graham Coxon was one of a number of musicians to pay tribute to Swarbrick, tweeting early footage of him playing mandolin with Martin Carthy with the message: “Very sad… Bye, Dave and thanks!” (by BBC)


Dave Swarbrick in 1977

Fairport Convention drummer Bruce Rowland died of cancer on June 29, 2015. He was 74. While the group had many members over the years, one of the most prominent was Sandy Denny, who passed away in 1978 at the age of 31.

Thanks to jswetch for sharing the show at The Traders’ Den.

jswetch noted:

Great sounding set from the FC line-up that recorded The Bonny Bunch of Roses and Tippler’s Tales. This features tunes from Bonny Bunch. Some disputes over actual date of this performance according to info on etree site.


Fairport Convention 1976
(from left to right, Dave Pegg, Bruce Rowland, Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol)

Simon Nicol (guitar, vocals)
Dave Pegg (bass, vocals)
Bruce Rowland (drums)
Dave Swarbrick (fiddle, vocals)

DaveSwarbrick1972Dave Swarbrick in 1972

01. Royal Selection No. 13 (Traditional) 4.40
02. Adieu, Adieu (Traditional) 2.39
03. The Hexamshire Lass (Swarbrick) 2.44
04. The Flowers Of The Forest (Traditional) 5.31
05. Hen’s MarchFour Poster Bed (Tradional) 4.17
06. When I Get To The Border (Thompson) 3.59
07. Jam’s O’Donnell Jig (Pegg) 3.14
08. The Eynsham Poacher (Traditional) 3.13
09. Sir B McKenzie (Swarbrick/Thompson/Nicol/Mattacks)  6.01
10. General Taylor (Traditional) 4.03
11. Dirty Linen (Traditional) 4.14




David Cyril Eric Swarbrick (5 April 1941 – 3 June 2016)


Fairport Convention – Same (1968)

FrontCover1Fairport Convention is Fairport Convention’s debut album. The band formed in 1967, with original line-up Judy Dyble and Ian MacDonald (later known as Iain Matthews) (vocals), Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol (guitars), Ashley “Tyger” Hutchings (bass) and Sean Frater, replaced after their first gig by Martin Lamble (percussion). In this form they made their major London stage debut in one of Brian Epstein’s Sunday concerts at the Saville Theatre.

With an approach strongly influenced by Jefferson Airplane’s first two albums, as opposed to the electric traditional folk for which the group later became famous, the debut album features songs by Emitt Rhodes, Joni Mitchell and Jim & Jean, adaptations of poems by George Painter and Bob Dylan, and some original material.

This is the only Fairport Convention studio album on which Judy Dyble sings. She was replaced in 1968 by Sandy Denny but during her short time with the band she made an impression, particularly through her on-stage habit of knitting dishcloths and scarves when not actually singing.

Judy Dyble

Fairport Convention with Judy Dyble on vocal and autoharp, 1968

The album should not be confused with the A&M Records’ Fairport Convention, the USA release/re-titling of their second UK album, What We Did On Our Holidays. The first album, listed a product of Polydor-England, was finally released in the U.S. on Cotillion Records in 1970. (by wikipedia)

By far the most rock-oriented of Fairport Convention’s early albums, this debut was recorded before Sandy Denny joined the band (Judy Dyble handles the female vocals). Unjustly overlooked by listeners who consider the band’s pre-Denny output insignificant, this is a fine folk-rock effort that takes far more inspiration from West Coast ’60s sounds than traditional British folk. Fairport’s chief strengths at this early juncture were the group’s interpretations, particularly in the harmony vocals, of obscure tunes by American songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Emitt Rhodes, and Jim & Jean. Their own songs weren’t quite up to that high standard, but were better than many have given them credit for, with “Decameron” and “Sun Shade” in particular hitting wonderfully fetching melancholic moods. It’s true that Fairport would devise a more original style after Denny joined, but the bandmembers’ first-class abilities as more American pop-folk-rock-styled musicians on this album shouldn’t be undersold9. [The 2003 CD reissue of this record adds four bonus tracks from outtakes, TV performances, and non-LP singles of the era, as well as historical liner notes. (by Richie Unterberger)


Fairport Convention, 1968

Judy Dyble (vocals, autoharp, recorder, piano)
Ashley Hutchings (bass, jug)
Martin Lamble (percussion, violin)
Ian MacDonald (Iain Matthews) (vocals, jew’s harp)
Simon Nicol (vocals, guitar)
Richard Thompson (vocals, guitar, mandolin)
Claire Lowther (cello)

01. Time Will Show The Wiser (Rhodes) 3.05
02. I Don’t Know Where I Stand (Mitchell) 3.45
03. If (Stomp) (MacDonald/Thompson) 2.45
04. Decameron (Ghosh/Horvitch/Thompson) 3.42
05. Jack O’Diamonds (Dylan/Carruthers) 3.30
06. Portfolio (Dyble/Hutchings) 2.00
07. Chelsea Morning (Mitchell) 3.05
08. Sun Shade (Ghosh/Horvitch/Thompson) 3.50
09. The Lobster (Painter/Hutchings/Thompson) 5.25
10. It’s Alright Ma, It’s Only Witchcraft (Hutchings/Thompson) 3.12
11. One Sure Thing (Brooks/Glover) 2.50
12. M1 Breakdown (Hutchings/Nicol) 1.22






Fairport Convention – The Five Seasons (1990)

FrontCover1Lot’s of reviews have slammed “The Five Seasons” here in the U.S.A. and in England for containing crummy tunes and for not sounding like “Liege and Lief “, well, STUFF THAT NOISE !!!

The only reason that Fairport Convention is still with us after 37 years can be summed up in a word… CHANGE.

This CD came after the 1988 release ” Red and Gold “. Red and Gold was in this reviewers humble opinion one of the most important releases in the band’s history and for that alone it was to be a hard act to follow. Red and Gold had (GASP) keyboards on it and the folk-purists had a BIG problem with this. Fairport Convention is a Rock band with so much talent in it’s ranks that it is capable of playing ALL types of music not just folk music.

So after that rant we arrive at the 1990 release of “The Five Seasons”. The disk begins with “Claudy Banks” a lively tune that became a staple in live shows for many years. For anyone looking for ‘Jigs & Reels’ listen to “Cup of Tea/ Loaf of Bread/ Miss Monaghan’s”. Next up are two of the best songs on a Fairport Convention album, first up is “Gold ” then ” Rhythm of the Time “. These two gems have never been performed live so this is the only place you can find them and they are too good to pass up.

I don’t feel that “All Your Beauty” and ” Card Song” are great songs but that’s just me and “Card Song ” works quite well in concert and is fun for the crowd. “Ginnie” is one of the best ballads recorded by Fairport bar none. “Wounded Whale” is the big production number here and is far removed from traditional folk but became an epic number when performed live in concert. ” Mock Morris 90 ” is traditional music but presented in modern sytle. “Sock in It ” is considered a throw-a-way but it served a purpose as a FUN stage number.

Along with “Red and Gold” this release completly revamped Fairport’s stage show and it was presented the band as ‘modern’ . The old tunes of 1969-70 could now be rotated with the brand new material. And that is why the band still continues to be a (small) force in Popular music, the folk music is still here but you gotta listen for it.

As a bonus there is a live version of “Caught A Whisper” from Simon Nicol’s 2nd solo album with more of those keyboards on it.

This is a fine record by A GREAT BAND! Go out and see them live when the come back to our shores. And stop comparing this record to the ones they made 35 years ago. No this is not “Full House”, but musicians of this quality do not like to keep on repeating themselves and thank goodness they don’t Because how interesting would that be for us or them. Rock on Fairport Convention, Raise your glass to 37 more years of great music! (by Philip S. Wolf)

Martin Allcock (arcordion, bodhrán,piano, guitar, vocals)
Dave Mattacks (keyboards, drums, percussion, clarinet)
Simon Nicol (guitar, vocals)
Dave Pegg (bass, mandolin, vocals)
Ric Sanders (violin)

Alternate frontcover

01. Claudy Banks (Traditional) 5.53
02. All Your Beauty (Lowe/White) 2.55
03. Cup Of Tea!/ A Loaf Of Bread/Miss Monahan’s (Allcock/Traditional) 3.16
04. Gold (Blegvad) 5.06
05. Rhythm Of The Time (Whetstone) 5.52
06. The Card Song/Shuffle The Pack (Traditional/Sanders) 4.26
07. Mock Morris ’90 (Sanders) 4.53
08. Sock In It (Whetstone) 5.29
09. Ginnie (Williams) 4.10
10. Wounded Whale (Fisher) 6.43
11. Caught A Whisper (Whetstone) 4.43


Fairport Convention – Angel Delight (1971)

FairportConventionAngelDelightFCRichard Thompson exits the Fairport lineup, leaving the band reduced to a quartet of Simon Nicol, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pett and Dave Mattacks. The loss of big guns Thompson and Denny was felt, but amazingly, although it isn’t nearly as well known as Liege And Lief or Full House, this record reached the highest chart position of any Fairport LP, making number eight in England. Swarbrick led the group in even more of a traditional British folk vein. By now everybody involved was singing (with Nicol and Swarbrick usually alternating on lead), and they managed to pull it off, mostly by virtue of the honesty of their voices and instrumental work almost as vital and animated as any in their history. From the beautifully sung and exciting opener “Lord Marlborough,” the album should strike a responsive chord with any folk or folk-rock enthusiast–especially enjoyable are the singing on the buoyantly humorous title track and the viola/violin duet between Swarbrick and Nicol on “Bridge Over The River Ash.” (by Bruce Eder & William Ruhlmann)

FairportConventionAngelDelightAlternateFCAlternate frontcover

Dave Mattack (drums, piano, bass, vocals)
Simon Nicol (guitar, bass, viola, dulcimer, vocals)
Dave Pegg (bass, violin, viola, vocals)
Dave Swarbrick (violin, mandolin, vocals)

01. Lord Marlborough (Traditional) 3.24
02. Sir William Gower (Traditional) 4.53
03. Bridge Ovr The River Ash (Traditional) 2.21
04. Wizard Of The Wordly Game (Swarbrick/Nicol) 4.04
05. The Journeyman´s Grace (Swarbrick/Thompson)
06. Angel Delight (Mattack/Nicol/Pegg/Swarbrick) 4.06
07. Banks Of Sweet Primroses (Traditional) 4.12
08. Instrumental Medley: The Cuckoo´s Nest/Hardiman The Fiddler/Papa Stoor (Traditional) 3.25
09. The Bonny Black Hare (Traditional) 3.04
10. Sickness & Diseases (Swarbrick/Thompson) 3.46
11. The Journeyman´s Grace (BBC radio session feat. Richard Thompson) (Swarbrick/Thompson) 3.53