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Unhalfbricking

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Album Review

Unhalfbricking was, if only in retrospect, a transitional album for the young Fairport Convention, in which the group shed its closest ties to its American folk-rock influences and started to edge toward a more traditional British folk-slanted sound. That shift wouldn't be definitive until their next album, Liege & Lief. But the strongest link to the American folk-rock harmony approach left with the departure of Ian Matthews, who left shortly after the sessions for Unhalfbricking began. The mixture of obscure American folk-rock songs, original material, and traditional interpretations that had fallen into place with What We Did on Our Holidays earlier in the year was actually still intact, if not as balanced. Sandy Denny's two compositions, her famous "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" and the far less celebrated but magnetically brooding "Autopsy," were among the record's highlights. So too were the goofball French Cajun cover of Bob Dylan's "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" (here retitled "Si Tu Dois Partir," and a British hit) and the magnificent reading of Dylan's "Percy's Song," though the bash through Dylan's "Million Dollar Bash" was less effective. Richard Thompson's pair of songs, however, were less memorable. The clear signpost to the future was their 11-minute take on the traditional song "A Sailor's Life," with guest fiddle by Dave Swarbrick, soon to join Fairport himself and make his own strong contribution toward reshaping the band's sound. [The 2003 CD reissue adds historical liner notes and two decent bonus tracks: an outtake cover of Dylan's "Dear Landlord" and a cover of the Byrds' "The Ballad of Easy Rider" (actually recorded during the Liege & Lief sessions) that previously surfaced on Richard Thompson's Guitar & Vocal compilation.]

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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