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2023 Albums Thing 131 - Fairport Convention “Unhalfbricking”

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If my teenage self were to materialise in my house right now and have a flick through my record collection he would likely be horrified to find records like this in there. But that teenager was utterly focussed on Punk and New Wave and, quite rightly, evangelical about that music to the exclusion of all others, especially music like this that was regarded by him as the realm of Hippies and his contemporaries in the 6th form common room with the ex army great-coats, long hair and funny cigarettes. But in every facet of your life, things can change…

During the 1990’s my brother Miles became firm friends with Britain’s top light entertainer and singer, one Vic Reeves (or Jim Moir as his family know him). Now Vic/Jim is a big Prog Rock fan and in an attempt to turn Miles on to that particular style had made him a compilation CD of some of his favourites. Miles, whether trying to get rid of said CD or thinking if he was having to suffer it then so should someone else (sorry proggers but no matter how much things can change Prog Rock will never become part of my musical landscape), passed the CD on to me. The only three artists I remember now were Blodwyn Pig and Henry Cow, purely because of their ridiculous names, and Fairport Convention. And the reason I remember Fairport Convention were on there is because the track Vic/Jim included was Sandy Denny’s tour de force “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”, it absolutely floored me.

I knew nothing of Fairport Convention prior to hearing this song other than someone my Dad knew when he was younger played with them (Dave Swarbrick). To hear Sandy Denny’s angelic voice for the first time, to hear its rise and fall as she works through the song (when she lifts the first line of the last chorus “For who knows, how my love grows?” you wonder where she’s going with it and she settles back to where it should be, masterful singing) and all that set against some of Richard Thompson’s finest playing, well I'll say it again, it absolutely floored me.

The album itself is something of a muddled concoction of what is to come (the song we’ve already met and the English folk of “A Sailor’s Life” and “Percy’s Song”) alongside some bits of (US) folk revival type stuff (Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” sung in French as “Si Tu Dois Partir” and “Million Dollar Bash”). It all comes together for them later in 1969 with “Liege And Lief”.

Who Knows Where The Time Goes - https://youtu.be/OkOB57UcYk8

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