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In Search of Amelia Earhart

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Album Review

In just under three years, Ian Matthews split from Fairport Convention, went solo, formed Matthews' Southern Comfort - with whom he scored a number one U.K. hit - left the group at the height of its popularity, recorded three more records on his own (only two were released at this time) and in early 1972 started Plainsong, his fourth band in five years. And while his track record led one to believe that Plainsong may be just another short stay, the subsequent album, In Search of Amelia Earhart, proved to be worth the venture. Ian Matthews was of course the obvious draw, but Plainsong seemed to be formed as more of a collective effort, with lead guitarist Andy Roberts, who shares the lead vocal duties, the other focal point in the band. On the other hand, Matthews, whose folk and country-tinged tunes set the tone for the record, is the only member to contribute original material. Included among these is the thematic "True Story of Amelia Earhart," which along with the haunting "For the Second Time," leads a pack of five Matthews compositions that range from good to excellent. Elsewhere, Paul Siebel's heartbreaking "Louise," the dulcimer and harmony driven Appalachian gospel of "I'll Fly Away," and Roberts' readings of the playful "Yo Yo Man," Jim & Jesse's "Diesel on My Tail" and the mournful 1939 tale of "Amelia Earhart's Last Flight" are all highlights. Its title and artwork, along with notes by Charles Goerner on the flight and disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Frederick Noonan, gave In Search of Amelia Earhart the feel of a concept album, even though the title is nowhere to be found on the outside jacket and there are only two songs related to the subject contained within. It wasn't really a surprise when a follow-up, though recorded, failed to materialize, with the band parting ways on less than amicable terms, and Matthews going on to record two more records for Elektra. Still, In Search of Amelia Earhart fits nicely alongside the rest of his terrific early-'70's catalogue.


Formed: 1972

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A British folk group with strong country influences and fine harmonies, Plainsong were formed in 1972 by Ian Matthews, a former member of Fairport Convention and leader of Matthews Southern Comfort, and Andy Roberts, who had worked with the Scaffold and the Liverpool Scene before launching a successful career as a solo artist and sideman. Matthews and Roberts decided to form a band, with Matthews as the main songwriter and both men singing and playing guitar; rounding out the lineup were guitarist...
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In Search of Amelia Earhart, Plainsong
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