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What We Did On Our Holidays

Fairport Convention

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Album Review

Sandy Denny's haunting, ethereal vocals gave Fairport a big boost on her debut with the group. A more folk-based album than their initial effort, What We Did on Our Holidays was divided between original material and a few well-chosen covers. This contains several of their greatest moments: Denny's "Fotheringay," Richard Thompson's "Meet on the Ledge," the obscure Joni Mitchell composition "Eastern Rain," the traditional "She Moves Through the Fair," and their version of Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine." And more than simply being a collection of good songs (with one or two pedestrian ones), it allowed Fairport to achieve its greatest internal balance, and indeed one of the finest balances of any major folk-rock group. The strong original material, covers of little-known songs by major contemporary songwriters such as Dylan and Mitchell, and updates of traditional material were reminiscent of the blend achieved by the Byrds on their early albums, with Fairport Convention giving a British slant to the idiom. The slant would become much more British by the end of the 1960s, though, both gaining and losing something in the process. Confusingly, What We Did on Our Holidays was titled Fairport Convention in its initial U.S. release, with a different cover from the U.K. edition as well, although Fairport's very first album from 1968 had used the title Fairport Convention as well. In the CD age, the title was standardized in all territories to What We Did on Our Holidays. [The 2003 CD reissue of this record adds historical liner notes and three bonus tracks from the same era, one from a BBC broadcast, one from a non-LP B-side, and one a studio outtake.]

Biography

Formed: 1967 in London, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The best British folk-rock band of the late '60s, Fairport Convention did more than any other act to develop a truly British variation on the folk-rock prototype by drawing upon traditional material and styles indigenous to the British Isles. While the revved-up renditions of traditional British folk tunes drew the most critical attention, the group members were also (at least at the outset) talented songwriters as well as interpreters. They were comfortable with conventional harmony-based folk-rock...
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