Fairport Convention’s Debut LP

AlbumfirstukfrontcoverWith folk music in bloom at the moment, it would be churlish to ignore the debut LP from the grand-daddies (and mummies) of psychedelic British folk. Of course, there are others with a bigger claim to it, but it was Fairport Convention that managed to reach a bigger audience first.

With ‘Leaf & Leige’ getting all the plaudits, the best two, ‘Unhalfbricking’ and the eponymous debut cut, are largely ignored.

The first LP isn’t what you think it is. Not really a folk LP as such, the debut is awash with psychedelic guitar work, and believe it or not, the jugband stylings of The Lovin’ Spoonful. ‘If (Stomp)’ is a classic example of that, and could, quite easily come from the cannon of John Sebastian.

In a pre Sandy Denny era, the girl folkie of the group, Judy Dyble, pelts out killer covers of Joni Mitchell, with a cracking version of Chelsea Morning to be highlighted. The group also pinched a Dylan track, which was de rigeur back then, for a great little romp through Jack O’Diamonds. Not finished with Bobby Z, the band cheekily nod to him with the wonderful ‘It’s alright Ma, it’s only Witchcraft’.

The LP crackles with the psychedelic stylings of Richard Thompson’s guitar, which would really find it’s feet on the glorious ‘Unhalfbricking’. As ever though, most of their energy was spent on the debut, which would subside into post-euphoric folk haze of what we now know them as.

Unfortunately, tragedy in the shape of a crashing of the tour bus, killing band members would redefine the group. For a joyous skip through swinging sixties folk-rock, you could do far worse than start here.

[Mof Gimmers]

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