Review Archive

‘Rising for the Moon’ - Fairport Convention - deluxe edition, double-album

(September 03, 2013)

From time to time Fairport Convention has come in for some unfair comment. There were rumblings that after ‘Liege and Leif’ Fairport had somehow lost its way. Some regarded ‘Angel Delight’ as a ‘pop’ sell-out after the TOTP appearance. Others considered the rising_for_the_moon‘Babbacombe Lee’ concept album too much of a departure from so-called ‘approved’ folk rock. People joined in jolly japes and merry jests with names like ‘Fotheringay Convention’ and ‘Fairport Confusion’ as amusing reflections on the seemingly ever-changing line up. Whatever media commentators and fans thought, Fairport certainly rang the changes both with personnel and musical direction … and then came ‘Rising for the Moon’. The first Fairport album to feature only self-penned songs, no band-arranged ‘traditionals’. The first without the involvement of John Wood; Glynn Johns producing this one. And, although no one knew it at the time, the last Fairport album to feature Sandy Denny.

Despite containing some timeless songs that have since taken on mythic proportions in the Fairport pantheon of classics, the largely critically approval ‘Rising for the Moon’ remained less than spectacular in sales terms. And to many it remains one of Fairport’s least popular albums. All that aside, recognising the place ‘Rising for the Moon’ holds in Fairport history and to mark the last appearance on album of the talent that was Sandy Denny, UMC/Island release this deluxe edition, double-album.

The first disc covers the original album, recorded at Olympic Studios, London with the majority of songs penned by or involving Sandy. Naturally, there’s Sandy’s vocals - the evocative ‘Rising for the Moon‘, gorgeous ‘White Dress’, moody ‘Stranger To Himself’ and ‘What Is True?’ as perfect examples. There’s Swarb’s razor-sharp fiddle cuts and instantly identified tones on ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Night Time Girl’, the rich-voiced Lucas leading on ‘Restless’ and ‘Iron Lion’, Donahue’s guitar and of course ‘Pegg on the bass’. Half way through recording the album drummer Dave Mattacks left the band - replaced by ex-Grease Band drummer Bruce Rowland - the difference in style being clear. This deluxe edition also offers some remarkable bonus tracks, an unreleased live performance of ‘White Dress’ plus demos of ‘After Halloween’ and ‘King And Queen Of England’.

The second disc is a 1974 live recording from LA’s Troubadour (released for the first time on this deluxe edition). It includes several songs at first somewhat incongruous to Fairport fans, including the Americana-tinged ‘Down In The Flood’, the ‘Ballad of Ned Kelly’ and a Lucas-led ‘Down Where The Drunkards Roll’. Sandy delivers an unforgettable performance of the sublime ‘Solo’, the haunting ‘It’ll Take A Long Time’ a priceless collaboration with Swarb on ‘She Moves Through The Fair’ and an exquisite ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. Swarbrick is on predictable form with ‘The Hens March through the Midden’ and his fiery rendition of ‘The Hexamshire Lass’. Naturally, the band include ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ the obligatory ‘Matty Groves’ plus perhaps somewhat unexpectedly finishing with a rocky group sing-a-long ‘That’ll Be The Day’.

The kernel of Fairport at the time were Pegg, Swarbrick and Mattacks, with the returning Sandy Denny plus former members of Fotheringay, Trevor Lucas (vocals, guitar) and Jerry Donahue (electric guitar). As it turned out ‘Rising for the Moon’ did nothing to hold the band together or halt Fairport’s continuance for change. Not long after the recording Lucas and Donahue departed, followed by Denny.

It may be that ‘Rising for the Moon’ is not worthy of accolades attached to ‘Liege and Leif’ nor lauded as successful as ‘Jewel in the Crown’. It certainly marked yet one more variation in Fairport’s personnel fluidity. However ‘Rising for the Moon’ ranks as a favourite in many Fairport compendia. And whether you own a copy or not, this deluxe release is well worth your investment and should definitely join your collection.

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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