Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon: Deluxe Two-Disc Edition UMC/Island August 26th 2013

Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon Deluxe EditionFolking has just had word of the new deluxe edition of Fairport Convention’s fabulous 1975 recording, Rising For The Moon, an album that marked the only studio recording with Sandy Denny and the band members since her return to the group in 1974.

In 1969, the “classic” Fairport line-up recorded and released three albums (What We Did On Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking, Liege & Lief) all within a single year. At the end of that frenetic period, Sandy  quit the band to form Fotheringay, This again was short-lived as Sandy soon embarked on a distinguished solo career (some of these albums have also been released as Deluxe Edition series) before being drawn back into Fairport fold. She ‘officially’ re-joined in February 1974 during a four night stint at LA’s Troubadour club. A remarkable live recording of this legendary shows form part of this new release released and can be found on the second disc on this new edition of Rising For The Moon.

Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon Band PromoIt was 26 January 1974, when Fairport became the first rock band to play the Sydney Opera House, the Nine album line-up (featuring: Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks, Trevor Lucas, and Jerry Donahue) had been augmented by Sandy Denny, who was now married to Lucas.  The result was the ground breaking Fairport Live Convention album (released in America as A Moveable Feast) which confirmed how much the band had benefited from having Sandy back on board. Then only weeks later, Sandy was fully integrated into the band again and the LA Troubadour dates present a Fairport that was at the top of its game. As was often the case with Fairport’s luck in the seventies, the band’s perilous financial situation meant that they couldn’t afford to purchase the tapes from Wally Heider’s Mobile organisation. Over the years, odd selections trickled out but it was only on the 2010 definitive 19 CD Sandy Denny box-set that the tracks featuring Sandy were properly mixed to their natural audible glory. Now, with additional performances by Trevor Lucas and Dave Swarbrick included, fans can enjoy this brief but memorable line-up at its absolute best.

Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon Band ColourThe set list at the Troubadour is also unusual in that it was substantially different to the songs performed on Fairport Live Convention. In fact the recording features several songs that the band have never performed again including: Trevor Lucas’ ‘Ballad Of Ned Kelly’ originally on the ‘Fotheringay’ album, and ‘Down Where The Drunkards Roll’ (Trevor had sung background vocals on the original version on Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight). Sandy performs a passionate version of Dylan’s ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’ and her own ‘Crazy Lady Blues’ performed here with an added verse and, dipping into the Fairport back-catalogue, with a haunting ‘She Moves Through The Fair’.

Further highlights include ‘Solo’ and ‘Like An Old Fashioned Waltz’ from Sandy’s third album, and a spirited cover of Dylan’s ‘Down In The Flood’. Swarb delivers an effortless version of the ‘The Hens March through the Midden’ and a spirited break-necked performance of ‘The Hexamshire Lass’. Sandy’s signature ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ is there in all its majesty as well as a definite version of ‘Matty Groves’. The band also rocks out on ‘Six Days On The Road’ and ‘That’ll Be The Day’.

With Sandy back in the band, Island Records made a greater commitment to Fairport’s next studio recording and, to that end, Glyn Johns was brought in as producer for Fairport’s 10th studio album. Johns’ pedigree was impeccable: Rolling Stones, Beatles, the Who, the Eagles… and was emphatic that he wanted the new sessions to include only original material with no covers or traditional material.

The album was recorded at Olympic Studios in two blocks. The first sessions began in December 1974, but during a break in January, Dave Mattacks quit and was replaced by ex-Grease Band drummer Bruce Rowland, who played on the remaining tracks and stayed on for the tours following the album release in June 1975.

Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon Band MonoThe album included songs from all members of the band although seven of the album’s eleven tracks were penned in whole or partly by Sandy. Johns made them rehearse the new material, then sifted through to find the best and, on many levels, Rising For The Moon was indeed a triumph. Sandy is in fine vocal form; the band gels instrumentally and songs like the title track, ‘Stranger To Himself’ and ‘One More Chance’ (featuring blistering guitar from Jerry Donahue) are among Fairport’s best ever. Swarb’s ‘White Dress’ was sufficiently strong and was chosen as the album’s only 7” single.

Even Sandy – though happy with the finished album – recognised that the financial and personal strain it had put on the band made a split inevitable and by the end of 1975 guitarist Jerry Donahue and then Sandy and Trevor decided to leave the group. The original Rising For The Moon is now ripe for reappraisal whereas at the time it raised the question was it a Sandy Denny album or a Fairport album? Of course it’s both and, whichever way you look at it, it is one of Fairport’s and Sandy’s best and most underrated records.

Now enriched on this Deluxe edition by 21 additional tracks – including; a beautiful, previously unreleased performance of ‘White Dress’ (discovered in the LWT archive), an alternate mix of ‘Dawn’; a studio demo with Sandy and Trevor of ‘What Is True’; plus Sandy’s home demos of ‘After Halloween’, and ‘King And Queen Of England’, the latter written for the album but never recorded.

The album reviews at the time were largely positive. The Guardian judged the album “their best for six years… it ought to re-establish Fairport as a significant British band.” In the end it wasn’t to be; the rigours of touring and financial problems essentially drove the band to split. A truncated Fairport went on to record their final album for Island, Gottle O’ Gear, and in 1976, Jerry Donahue went off to work with Joan Armatrading; Trevor went on to produced Sandy’s 1977 album, Rendezvous; but within a year Sandy was dead and the folk scene lost its greatest heroine. Despite her solo success, the Sandy many of her admirers remember with most fondness is the lady who fronted Fairport Convention during their glory years. So here then, are the beautiful songs she wrote and the music she made with the band second time around.

DISC ONE

01: RISING FOR THE MOON  ( 4.08 )
02: RESTLESS   ( 4.01 )
03: WHITE DRESS   ( 3.44 )
04: LET IT GO  ( 2.00 )
05: STRANGER TO HIMSELF  ( 2.51 )
06: WHAT IS TRUE ?   ( 3.33 )
07: IRON LION   ( 3.27 )
08: DAWN   ( 3.42 )
09: AFTER HALLOWEEN   ( 3.38 )
10: NIGHT-TIME GIRL   ( 2.56 )
11: ONE MORE CHANCE   ( 7.58 )

BONUS TRACKS

12: WHITE DRESS ( 3:24 ) Live on LWT – 9/8/1975
13: DAWN – ALTERNATE VERSION ( 4:11 )
14: WHAT IS TRUE ? –  STUDIO DEMO ( 3:16 )
15: AFTER HALLOWEEN – DEMO ( 3:00 )
16: THE KING AND QUEEN OF ENGLAND – HOME DEMO ( 3:12 )

DISC TWO – LIVE AT THE LA TROUBADOUR

01: DOWN IN THE FLOOD    ( 3:13 )
02: BALLAD OF NED KELLY ( 3:59 )
03: SOLO ( 5:40 )
04: IT’LL TAKE A LONG TIME ( 5:35 )
05: SHE MOVES THROUGH THE FAIR ( 4:09 )
06: THE HENS MARCH THROUGH THE MIDDEN & THE FOUR POSTER BED (3:17 )
07: THE HEXAMSHIRE LASS ( 2:44 )
08: KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVENS DOOR ( 4:33 )
09: SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD ( 3:38 )
10: LIKE AN OLD FASHIONED WALTZ ( 4:19 )
11: JOHN THE GUN ( 5:10 )
12: DOWN WHERE THE DRUNKARDS ROLL ( 4:14 )
13: CRAZY LADY BLUES ( 3:54 )
14: WHO KNOWS WHERE THE TIME GOES ( 6:54 )
15: MATTY GROVES ( 7:05 )
16: THAT’LL BE THE DAY

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Meet on the Ledge Release Long Shadows

MOTLCoverIt’s been a 10-year gap between recordings but fans of the folk veterans Meet on the Ledge will rejoice when they listen to the just-released “Long Shadows”.

Of course the folk harmonies and masterful instrumentation upon which MOTL built it’s well deserved legacy and following, are beautifully showcased and presented on its latest release. There’s no arguing that.

But if forced to choose one song that showcases the band’s musical chops and expertise it would have to be its cover of “Smoke on the Water.”

What the band did when it rethought and rewired the classic heavy metal anthem is a task at which only a master could excel. Clearly MOTL founder Ron Holmes, who has his own independent musical pedigree, and his band mates were more than up to the task.

They created a version of “Smoke on the Water” that has just enough electric guitar and pulsating drums to make it familiar. Yet the slower tempo and acoustic accents give it a whole new personality, showcasing an elegance that is often lost amid the clanging and banging of the heavy metal versions.

As fans know, Meet on the Ledge rarely make missteps and that’s certainly true on this 12-track gem. Just listen to “Who Told the Butcher,” the Peter Knight tune, which marries contemporary instrumentation to world-weary lyrics and binds them together with glorious harmonies. The same came be said of “Travelin’ Soldier,” a tune the band found in America, which gives a slightly different perspective to the lass who longs for a connection to a certain soldier.

Other don’t miss tracks include the upbeat (yes, really) “The Murdering of Edwin Jones,” – presented in a bit less grisly way than the much-loved “Matty Groves” — and the hearty, traditional “Last Boat from Bolton” written by long-time friend of the band, Kevin Day.

The album is as satisfying as a bowl of hot soup on a cold, winter’s day and just as tasty.

Welcome back, MOTL!

Reviewed by: Nancy Dunham

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Paul Johnsons folking interview with Ioscaid from Cropredy 2012

Ioscaid is group of young lads from counties Down, Armagh, and Derry who came together in late 2009 as a band to enter the Siansa Gael Linn competition.

Brothers Dermot and Fintan Mulholland entered Siansa the previous year in a group with Niall McCrickard and Declan Magee called Coimriú who came third that year. The following year, the 4 lads joined with Niall Murphy & Ciaran Hanna and entered Siansa under the name of ‘Ioscaid’. After the various rounds of the competition, the group were selected as one of the 8 finalists to compete in the National Concert Hall in the Grand Final of the competition. In April 2010 they made history by winning the competition and bring the trophy to Ulster!

In October 2011 they hit the UK scene after entering and winning the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards which earned them a slot at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention 2012 which is where our folking “Ow R U” stalwart interviewer,  Paul Johnson caught up with em backstage for a chat…

AS WINTER SETS IN BIG TIME – WE TAKE A WARM LOOK BACK TO WHEN IOSCAID  – THE BBC YOUNG FOLK AWARD WINNERS SET, MESMORIZED THE CROPREDY 2012 CROWED BACK IN THAT WONDERFUL AUGUST SUMMER SUNSHINE THAT NOW SEEMS SO LONG AGO!

But they needed a lesson on the Matty Groves story first…

As well as having the best Cropredy weather for years, in 2012 and winning countless medals at the Olympics – as we basked in the glorious sunshine smiling with a pint Wadworth’s Horizon beer in a sunny Cropredy contented way –  I had the pleasure of catching up with BBC young folk award winners Ioscaid  (pronounced ‘Iss – Kidge’) for a chat about their success so far, but not before noticing several posters around the Cropredy site displaying Fairports Olympics results as follows

Lord Darnold  – Fencing – Gold

Servant – Swimming – Gold

Maty Groves – Fencing – Did not finish!

Hiring Fair Maid – Breast Stroke Gold

So seeing that the three members of Ioscaid I was about to interview reading these posters looking totally puzzled they asked me what these were all about!!!

The interview could not start until I had recited all lyrics of Matty Groves with full explanations to these lovely young lads bless em !!!! Now they know, and I can take credit for a tiny piece of these lads musical education!! Paul Johnson

Click on the player below to listen to the interview….

Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/Ioscaid
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SUZY BOGGUSS – American Folk Songbook CD and Songbook (Loyal Dutchess Records LDR 1006)

When I took my first faltering steps into the world of ‘folk’ music my music teacher presented me with a book of American folk songs edited by Alan Lomax. That memory is once again evoked by this glorious collection of songs and what better way than to reminisce than with Suzy Bogguss. It sounds very much as if Ms Bogguss and I travelled the same road for isn’t it best that in the first instance you should ‘enjoy’ what you’re performing and if possible invite everybody in who’ll listen? If that is the case then this comes across in a presentation that is simple yet effective utilising amongst others the skills of musicians including Jerry Douglas (dobro), Stuart Duncan (fiddle & mandolin) and John McCutcheon on hammer dulcimer. Along with long time associate Pat Bergeson on guitar Suzy’s lyrical style is all encompassing with an easy going approach that will appeal to anyone who feels a kinship with predominantly traditional ‘folk’ music. Opening with the unrequited love song “Shady Grove” of which the melody in the UK is more recognisable as that employed by Fairport for “Matty Groves” (but nowhere near so gory) the catalogue of 17 tracks reads like a top of the pops list of those we have loved. “Shenandoah”, “Red River Valley” and Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” are all treated with dignity never allowing the arrangement to become indulgent thereby giving an honest, orderly representation of the chosen material. The hardback book is well laid out with piano accompaniment and guitar chords and Suzy’s informative notes make for interesting reading but not (thankfully) in a scholarly way. This project was obviously put together by someone who wants to convey the message that ‘folk’ music is good for the soul and if you’ll allow it you too can become an advocate. If the CD and book get the kudos they deserve I hope it won’t be too long before another recording is in the offing – perhaps with “The Titanic” and “Jesse James” amongst them?

PETE FYFE

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Artist Web link: https://www.suzybogguss.com/

RETURN OF THE CROPREDY EXILE – By Dai Jeffries

Whisper this, but I hadn’t been to for twenty years. I had felt it was getting too big for my personal comfort – when I first went there was one campsite, now there are seven – but an insistent invitation drew me back this year. In fact what are bigger are the camper vans, the folding chairs and, dare I say, the waistlines. We older and …er…more substantial punters do like our comforts. Some aspects of the festival are more technological and sophisticated. The bar is a marvel of mobile opulence although initially no more efficient than in the days when there was one Wadsworth’s lorry, lots of barrels and one choice of beer. That’s no reflection on the brilliant bar-staff, by the way, but logistics do sometimes let the side down.

An innovation during my absence is the big screen which, in between displaying safety information, “televises” the show. It can be a boon for those at the top of the field although it’s often obscured by a forest of flagpoles. The interesting thing is that even down the hill at the front, unless you’re actually leaning on the pit barrier, you find yourself watching the screen, not the performers. Sure, you get 10 foot high images of John Tams’ face and Graeme Taylor’s plectrum technique but it feels wrong. If they could just pipe it into the cable TV network we wouldn’t actually have to go there. Er…maybe not.

Everything else is pretty much the same. The stewards are unobtrusive, laid-back and helpful and with road closures around the site their help was invaluable. The familiar spirit of the festival remains. Two examples that I heard about: one couple left their car keys in the door when they went to bed and woke to find the car locked and the keys safely guarded and a purse containing credit cards and a good deal of money was lost overnight and returned intact the following day. I’m not sure where else that would happen. T-shirts remain the badges of identification and mutual recognition although in general clothes are less outré – that goes with the Aldi and Tesco carrier bags. There are still more food concessions than can you eat from without the aid of a tapeworm, lots of silly hats to buy and, increasingly important as one gets older, civilised toilets. Don’t laugh, it’s important. And despite promising myself that I wouldn’t visit the CD store, I failed to keep my promise.

The rain loitered with intent on Thursday afternoon but stayed away as Fairport Convention opened the proceedings with a short and none too serious acoustic set followed by Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts and Blair Dunlop. Hearing ‘Walk Awhile’ as the second song really sets you up for the weekend. Bob Harris introduced Home Service as the evening’s compère, John Tams, was too modest to introduce himself. It is so good to have the band back together although it has to be said that their failure to invite Bill Caddick to return raises awkward questions. Their set was familiar material – new boy Paul Archibald had to learn another back catalogue after all – and, in the current climate, it was impossible to listen to ‘Alright Jack’ and ‘Sorrow’ without reflecting on how little things have changed.

Hayseed Dixie might be considered a one trick pony but they perform the trick very well, although I have my reservations about their interpretations of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. A couple of serious moments were hidden in the rockgrass but I’m not sure if anybody noticed. They had a lot of fans at the festival, particularly among those who found Home Service too intellectually challenging to actually bother listening to. UB40 closed the day – slick, professional and, I have to admit, not my thing at all.

Before it actually opens to the public the arena is rather eerie. I watched Seasick Steve sound-checking with his pounding drums reverberating around the empty site. Steve was Friday’s headliner and I still can’t make up my mind whether he’s the great original everyone reckons he is or a charming old fraud. Don’t get me wrong, I love his music, but I don’t buy into his story. If I’m right he’s only following in the tradition of Bob Dylan who, in his early days, fed interviewers the most outrageous lies and watched them lap up everything he said. Listen to Folksinger’s Choice for prima facie evidence.

Moore Moss Rutter provided a suitably relaxed start to Friday, another day when the weather couldn’t make its mind up. The Travelling Band began with a Blind Lemon Jefferson tune which felt like a smart move. They moved on to their own material variously augmented by viola, cello and brass and played an exciting set which was also VERY loud. I rather liked them despite that but the contrast in approach was hard on Steve Tilston who had to follow them. I also like Steve and his partnership with The Durbevilles feels like a very natural match on a song like ‘Jackaranda’. This was a good set and The Oxenhope EP was one of my purchases. Charlie Dore provided yet more country-style music – the theme of the day, it seems. I found her set rather relaxing which was good for the late afternoon slot but I confess that I was waiting for The Dylan Project.

Like his hero, Steve Gibbons is seventy this year. How did that happen? Everything about him is unique from his look to his guitar style and the way he used to make Keith Richards appear the picture of robust good health. They played a tight set with none of Steve’s extemporising as they mixed the downbeat – ‘Dark Eyes’, ‘Sweetheart Like You’ and ‘Cold Irons Bound’ – with the simpler sentiments of ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’ and ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’. ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ seemed a most appropriate choice given the events of the preceding week.

The Urban Folk Quartet was another band who benefited from my visit to the record stall but they had released a live album at a special Cropredy price and I wasn’t about to pass that up. UFQ are another band who have found a new approach to traditional music. Frank Moon’s oud features heavily, Joe Broughton seems to play more guitar than fiddle but who’s counting, Paloma Trigas is a bundle of energy and Tom Chapman joins a small roster of singing percussionists. If you haven’t heard them yet, you really should.

The Coral: ahead of their time or brilliantly retro? They included ‘Ticket To Ride’ in a spectacular show of their 21st century rock and would have made a better final act. It was unfortunate that there was a delay before Seasick Steve took to the stage. There was none of the redneck southerner schtick you get on TV and he seemed rather low key. I chose to watch him from the top of the field to see how he would work with such a big crowd and sad to say people around me were drifting away into the cold night long before the end of his set. I’d like to see him live in a smaller, more intimate, venue but so meteoric has been his rise to fame that he doesn’t play small gigs any more.

Richard Digance is a fixture as Saturday’s opener. Part comic, part social commentator and all warm-up man he did a superb job, getting the crowd on its feet doing silly things and listening to some serious songs – ‘Jobs’ is absolutely brilliant. It’s a combination that pulled the audience together and pointed it in the right direction. Next up, it was lovely finally to see The Shee on stage: fiddles, flute, mandolin, accordion, harp and voices performing their mixture of Scottish and American music and songs. I like the way they wear their posh frocks on stage, too.

Blockheads without Ian Dury: does it work? Well, the sun came out and England won a test match while they were on stage so I guess it does. The band isn’t exactly the same, inevitably, but in Derek “The Draw” Hussey they have a suitably eccentric lead vocalist who doesn’t attempt to imitate Dury but manages to channel his attitude. Songs like ‘Inbetweenies’ and ‘What A Waste!’ have been part of the band’s DNA for so long that they can’t fail to sound good.

My live experience of Lau suggested that they could be even louder than The Blockheads but the festival sound crew just about kept them in check. Martin Green seems to have more equipment every time I see the band – now he has a keyboard to go with his accordion and pedals adding new textures to Lau’s sound palette. The accordion was frequently used as a bass instrument with Martin playing a melody on the keyboard.

A decade ago Jim Lockhart introduced me to the art of ligging Dublin-style. This involved more pints of stout than I care to remember, being invited to a couple’s engagement party and being told by a lady with the reddest hair I’ve ever seen that my destiny was linked with the sea. As the ferry back from Rosslare didn’t sink I haven’t taken her too seriously. At the time Jim was head of production at RTÉ 2fm but in his previous life he played keyboards and flute with Horslips. Sadly they broke up before I had chance to hear them live which made their performance at Cropredy something of a milestone for me. Yes, Horslips are back, although Johnny Fean’s brother Ray now sits in for drummer Eamonn Carr. The outrageous stage clothes are gone and the band is rather more soberly dressed now but can still play those hits: ‘Dearg Doom’, ‘Trouble With A Capital T’, ‘Charolais’ and ‘Mad Pat’ as well as the soaring instrumentals from The Book Of Invasions.  It was a moment of magic.

I’ve tried listening to Badly Drawn Boy several times and it hasn’t worked. He has one great song, ‘Born In The UK’, but that’s not enough to hold my interest. My opinion was not helped by the fact that Horslips were cut short while Bad milked a smattering of applause for two encores. Look, this is personal recollection and I’ll be as partisan as I like, OK?

A typical Saturday set by Fairport Convention consists of some compulsory songs, explorations of the byways of their back catalogue and a succession of alumni and friends doing their thing. This wasn’t typical. Its centrepiece was a complete “Babbacombe” Lee which occupied a third of the programme and, of course, there’s a new album to promote which doesn’t leave a lot of time. They opened with ‘Walk Awhile’ and closed with ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’, ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘Meet On The Ledge’. ‘Crazy Man Michael’, ‘Honour And Praise’, ‘Mr Lacey’ and ‘The Hiring Fair’ were the other oldies. Ralph McTell dropped in for a couple of songs and PJ Wright and Phil Bond augmented Fairport when lead guitar and keyboards were required but otherwise the band stood up to be counted. I’m glad I heard “Babbacombe” Lee having managed to miss it on the spring tour and the use of films on the big screen added an extra something to the show. ‘Matty Groves’ was illustrated by a video featuring Barbie and Ken and what appeared to be a meerkat in a submarine – it was late, I’d had a beer or two: who knows what I saw?

So, has Cropredy grown too big? Yes, I think it has but I’ll qualify that by saying that the infrastructure is quite capable of coping with the 20,000 people who turn up each year. But on Saturday afternoon it was almost impossible to move around the field without kicking, jostling or stepping on someone and it was impossible to sit quietly and mind one’s own business without being kicked, jostled or stepped on. Thursday has now grown into an official day and the fringe occupies two pubs in the village. It may be time to consider a second stage. I would have been more than happy to see some of the acts play a second set in a smaller venue or some of the fringe artists accommodated there. It would take the pressure off the main area and restore the relaxed atmosphere that existed back in the eighties. I missed that. 

Dai Jeffries

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For more information on Fairport Convention visit: http://www.fairportconvention.com/

Dai has also created a Flickr photo set from the festival which you can view by clicking on the following link:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/daijeffries/sets/72157627345454269/