In Fairport Convention circles there are endless arguments about which album is more influential, which lineup best, which fiddler is king, the arguments are endless and meaningless and usually end up with the same answer.
Which was the first Fairport you saw, it’s kind of like who is your Doctor for Doctor Who fans.
My first Fairport show was the Nicol, Swarbrick, Pegg and Rowland lineup, it was a raucous show with shouting from the audience chases with large inflatable bananas and the selling of merchandise from the stage. The show was performed by a band that had allegedly split several years earlier, had no label, no new record but did have a rabid fanbase and their very own festival. They managed to play loud folk-rock and at times sound like six people on stage.
So this was my Fairport and these are their two albums, they were actually paid not to make the third as they were not making any money for Vertigo records. They are solid albums with great playing that have provided songs and tunes that the more stable current lineup still perform. They are exciting albums that any band would be happy to put out.
The problem with my Fairport was that they were overshadowed by the sheer wealth of material that had gone before. They were making great folk-rock albums and performing exciting concerts but were no longer seen as cutting edge or at the time were overshadowed by punk. If they released these albums today they would be seen as overshadowing the last ten or twenty years output but then they were irrelevant.
It’s a shame I miss the days when you could be chased by the bass player with a banana, they took your phone number to make sure you did not miss Cropredy and the fiddle player spent 20 minutes hitting on your girlfriend while the guitarist got the round in and the drummer smiled like he was still at Woodstock. All of that run on sentence means that as the world disintegrated this week into racism and bigotry I took solace in the past.
Still working on Tales From Topographic Oceans and side 3 almost makes sense now.