There’s an inevitability about some things. Two things on this blog are I will write about Hawkwind or Fairport Convention at some point in the week month or year. It’s going to happen, it’s the danger of being a fan. Cropredy comes and goes and I either go or not. This year we were meant to go, after swearing off mainly because Richard Thompson was going today with Pegg, Nicol and Mattacks as the backing band, not only is this only one member short of the greatest incarnation of Fairport Convention but also exactly the best backing band Thompson ever had. Personal events interfered in this pilgrimage and we never got to the show. This allowed me to nominally keep my vow not to go back, it was also a moment filled with sadness, I have been going to this festival since 1982, lately sporadically but it has been a constant.
In a fit of nostalgia I got excited discovering that 1996’s Acoustic Antipodean tour album has been released on vinyl. This is what happens when you stay up browsing eBay when a field is swaying to Meet On The Ledge. I was not perturbed at already owning this on CD somewhere in a box in the shed as everything sounds better on vinyl ( I am not sure this is necessarily true but vinyl just may feel better).
In the mid 80’s Fairport reformed without Dave Swarbrick, this caused fear anxiety and anger amongst the fans, horror at the fiddle maestro being left out, shock that they could do this etc. In order to make up they recruited Ric Sanders, jazzer and folkie, and Maartin Allcock, prog fan and rocker multi-sintrumentalist, and what happened was suddenly they were a band that could achieve their musical ambitions, as the years progressed this sometimes resulted in some horribly bloated songs that could be maudlin and boring, live however they drank more bars dry than a marauding biker gang and played longer and harder than could be imagined, Matty went metal and the tunes got faster and more complicated.
Just as you thought it had all got out of hand, they created their own unplugged acoustic version without Mattacks on drums and reinvigorated their sound and went on tour to places it was too expensive to take a drummer.
Acoustically Down Under is a great testament to that acoustic version of the band, apparently they saved the excesses until after the show the night this was recorded and they kicked the ball out of the park with definitive versions of some great songs like Slipjigs and Reels, Lallah Rookh and the Frozen Man as well as old favorites and by the end of the album all is well as Swarb turns up to sing Rosie and play as only he can.
So I never got to Cropredy, maybe next year, who knows.
Sometimes it’s okay to be a fan, sometimes it is okay to wallow in nostalgia. So to everyone happy end of Cropredy month.
2 thoughts on “a bad reputations a hard thing to bear…”
Wow. Never even heard of this one before, Neil. Fascinating.
It is well worth searching out, I had the CD a long time ago however Talking Elephant just released this, I think it’s essential and a moment before Mattacks left and the edge went out of the band as Allcock followed soon after. It was originally the second of an Archives project hey began and well never continued.