The folk-rock veterans revisit a half-century’s-worth of back catalogue live and in the studio, with the most pleasing of results
The year 1967 conceived many good things; me and Fairport Convention are just two of them. That was 50 years ago. While my parents were doing what came naturally in another part of England, elsewhere a group of musicians joined together and started to make some pretty iconic music – so iconic that it’s still as good today as it was then.
Now, to celebrate their 50 years as a band, the folk-rock veterans have released a new album of revisited songs and new compositions called 50:50 @ 50. The premise is that album’s made up of songs from right across their 50-year catalogue, both live and in the studio: there are seven of each, hence the ’50:50′ bit.
As you would expect it’s all quintessentially English, with charm by the ladleful and plenty of tweedle-dee and smooth vocals. As the pioneers of folk rock and electric folk, it’s no surprise that there are excellent harmonics and effects – notably on Mercy Bay – but the genre has also moved on, as is evidenced by, for example, the stirring atmospheric strings in Danny Jacks Reward. Robert Plant makes a guest appearance on live track Jesus On The Mainline and the band, unsurprisingly, are so tight you can hardly tell the live tracks from the studio ones until the audience comes in.
This album will give joy to longstanding fans, and may even engender some converts. It’s the perfect album for putting on of a summer’s evening, opening the back door and supping a cup of tea with a biscuit… or something stronger if you prefer.
Verdict: This summer, it’s time to get well and truly folked up