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What one has to understand is that many different bands have played under the name of Fairport Convention. There have been 23 studio albums released under the Fairport name plus many live and compilation releases. Yes there certainly is a thread of continuity that runs through successive releases, but each band (version) is unique and creates its own sense of identity. That being said, today's lineup of Dave Pegg (bass), Simon Nicol (gtr/vcls), Ric Sanders (vln), Chris Leslie (mdln/vcls) and Gerry Conway (drums) does not compare to the cutting edge experimentation of the 1960's Fairport (when the band was still searching for its identity IMO). On the other hand, Fairport today is a much more polished group (technically and artistically) and one that is comfortable with its identity.
For years I've been looking for the "elephant" album on CD and couldn't find it. Now I know why. The Expletive Delighted site is wonderful. Thanks to all for the confirmation and enlightenment!
The latest CD remaster is tempting but apparently shaves a whole minute off Percy's Song. Are any of the earlier CD transfers preferable to others?
I agree with you, Joeabrams, about "Who Knows..." And as for Linkster's comment, yes, there are so many incarnations and iterations of Fairport. The only ones I listen to anymore are "Liege and Leaf," "Full House," and "Unhalfbricking." Otherwise, it's solo recordings by Sandy Denny and Richard/Linda Thompson all the way for me.
For those of you who are fans of early Fairport, I'd encourage you to seek out the live peformances from the band's annual Cropredy Festival. There are multi-disc sets available for the bands 25th (1992), 30th (1997) and 35th (2002) reunions. These sets feature repetoire of the early bands with the the same musicians (the living ones anyway). So you can enjoy Leige and Leif as played by a similar version of Fairport but having the benefit of another 30 years of playing! At the same time the current touring version of Fairport includes a fair amount of the older material in their set-lists. The band is embarking on a US tour for the month of June and I'd encourage all those who have even a remote interest in this musical genre to attend a performance- you won't be disappointed! The itinerary may be viewed on the band's website
Frankly I'm always a bit dismayed when fans are constantly engaged in debate about which version of Fairport is better, or choosing to ignore anything the band did in the 32+ years since Richard Thompson left. I'd urge all who have a passing interest in this genre to check out the last four studio albums (in chronological order): (1) Jewell in the Crown, (2) Who Knows Where the Time Goes, (3) The Wood and the Wire and (4) XXXV.