Fairport Convention “Unhalfbricking”


I can’t tell why I waited so long. After dabbling into the Fairport Convention’s discography with their universally acclaimed Liege & Lief, I apparently had had my Fairport fill. Such a fool was I for stopping there. Unhalfbricking is at once interesting and satisfying, delicate and fierce, joyous and moving. Also, where Liege & Lief might sound saccharine to first time listeners, this one won’t.

This is an album that really appeals to my taste in sound. There’s a quality to some of my favorite produced albums that’s hard to explain. The best description comes from Robbie Robertson, describing the Band’s self-titled 2nd record: a ‘woody’ sound. To me, this descriptor evokes a loose and real recording quality, where the bass and guitar are dry, EQ doesn’t over-shape every sound, and the drums have this warm and hard bite – the sound is so nice you wish you could grab it and hold it in your hand. The hand clapping, for example, on Si Tu Dois Partir (a French language version of Dylan outtake If You Gotta Go, Go Now) and the carefree accordion sound so present it truly warms the heart.

Bob Dylan fans can’t afford to ignore this record. Three tracks come from outtakes that didn’t make his original albums, the others being Percy’s Song (from Times-a-Changin) (maybe the best song on this record) and the Basement Tape’s Million Dollar Bash. Original contributions from Sandy Denny, Autopsy and Who Knows Where The Time Goes, are outstanding. So much spirit in these numbers.

While Unhalfbricking has much more to offer than the 11-minute centerpiece, you’ve got to listen (loud) to the epic track below on your next commute, as it drives through the gamut of style the Fairport Convention honed mastery over, from Sandy’s soothing vocal, the solid ingrained folk background, a slowly building and unbridled groove, with classic Richard Thompson guitar riffage and David Swarbrick fiddling, and a few moments so perfect they’ll run chills through you.

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“A Sailor’s Life”

:D CD Reissue | 2008 | Water | buy @ amazon ]
:) Vinyl Search | @ebay ]

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  • phil

    ok, i’ll give it these guys one more try…but only because you say so!

  • Finally somebody explains the “woody” sound! I always thought it was because the cover was brown…. I’ve also heard that Rubber Soul is “woody,” but maybe that’s just because of Norwegian Wood…

  • Just joking around (above). This song is really cool. I like the bass playing/sound. Kind of jazzy.

  • Brendan

    I hesitated in using the word jazz on this, but it’s definitely there. no denying it.
    but yeah, hahh, that woody stuff is hard to pin down. that brown cover certainly helps!

  • W

    Absolute masterpiece!

  • G_V_C

    There are some bands- take the Velvet Underground for example- who had a fairly short carreer but who recorded enough material (thank god!)- 4 albums, 2 live LP’s, and enough outakes for 2 LP’s in the 1980’s- to leave us with enough listening for a lifetime. And then there are bands like Fairport Cnvention, still a touring concern today-but who in that special incarnation in the late 1960’s, recorded too little. Yes, Liege and Lief makes all the ‘best of’ lists but it’s Unhalfbricking and What We Did On Our Holiday, that I love (both recorded just 6 months apart their practically a double album). That special combination of Richard Thompson’s guitar (and songwriting) behind Sandy Denny’s voice, with vocal duties shared with Ian Matthews, and every one pitching in and contributing tunes, not to mention their superb choice of covers! what I wouldn’t give if there was more of this! (Well there is, ‘Heyday’, their covers ablum which ,released in 1987, was like manna from heaven!, but I can’t help wishing foreven more!!!)

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