Written on the mailer in large block letters, “remember this?”
No letter, no card, just an album, The History of Fairport Convention.
This may be the most important record in my entire life, this actual record with its red ribbon intact, issued sometime between 1976 and the end of the decade. I have memories of sitting on my Aunts floor by the record player listening intently to this album over and over again while my cousin Tony did his biology homework or math or something equally important. I was obsessed at reading all of the lineups documented on the Pete Frame rock family tree album cover, I devoured every word in the booklet inside the sleeve.
In 1982 at the age of 16 I rode in the back of Tony’s Hillman Imp to Cropredy on Thursday the 12th of August, to see the band that no longer officially existed perform twice over the weekend, Friday the entirety of Babbacombe Lee, Saturday a 3 hour plus set covering the entire history of the band. Buce Lacey was there with his robots and Maddy Prior’s band and my young mind was blown.
One of my outstanding memories of that first Cropredy was driving into the middle of the field by the canal, stopping wherever we wanted, falling out of the back of that car and just setting up the tent. By the afternoon we were surrounded by tents, cars and vans and there was no way we were leaving. Health and safety be damned.
I was shaking as I played this tonight and closed my eyes and I could smell the beer and grass and sweat of an English festival before they became institutions and we all got too old to sit on the ground.
This album pretty much covers the first five years of the bands existence and apparently seven lineups. It’s all here sensitive pastoral songs, bawdy barroom humor, epics and some instrumentals. If you only own one Fairport Convention album, well you are frankly not doing it right, but this should probably be it.