This extensive collection features classics and dozens of unreleased tracks from the early days of the British folk rock pioneers
Fairport fanatics will be quaking in anticipation at getting their hands on this seven-disc box-set. Taking in the first ten years of the band’s existence, from their debut in 1968 through to 1978’s Tipplers Tales, this collection fully encapsulates their intriguing evolution through a range of studio and live tracks, including 55 never before released.
For those relatively new to the world of Fairport Convention this package will thrill, bewilder and exhaust in equal measure. Inevitably the highlights still remain those featured from Unhalfbricking and the seminal Liege And Lief. The early 70s tracks, with the tour de force of Dave Swarbrick’s fiddle to the fore, also show what a fantastic live proposition they were (and still are of course). However after the third version of the inessential Matthew, Mark, Luke And John listeners may begin to feel they have bitten off more than they can chew.
Completists will of course revel in the delights on offer, from the thrillingly raw a capella version of Nottamun Town through to the 1973 concert at Fairfield Hall. Credit is due to Sandy Denny aficionado Andrew Batt for the huge amount of work that has gone into bringing this together.
Those looking for an introduction to Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and the numerous folk luminaries who have passed through Fairport’s hallowed halls would be better served by starting with those vital records from the late 60s. For die-hard fans though, this package would be a worthy addition to any collection.
Verdict: A British folk rock history lesson