Convention - What We Did On Our Holidays
This is *the* one. The album that means most to me, the one without which my life would have been very different. It's not neccesarily my all-time favourite, and it's not the *best* album ever made, but it's the most important to me.
As I mention elsewhere, I was introduced to some of these albums by a student that was staying with us. She had this and "Unhalfbricking" and I soon came to love it. It was my introduction to Sandy Denny, who I had a crush on, on and off, for many years, as well as to Fairport Convention who, in a later incarnation, would pave the way for my love of folk-rock and several years as a professional musician.
Fairport were named after a house in Muswell Hill (it's still there), barely half a mile from where I was living. Thier lead guitarist, Richard Thompson (a long-time favourite artist), was in his final year at my school when I joined and they did an open-air gig on Parliament Hill, immediatley outside my school gates. Also, a few years later, my family would often go to stay with the owner of the Red Lion pub in Cropredy, where several members of the band lived and often drank.
WWDOOH is their second
album, made when Sandy Denny had just replaced Judy Dyble on lead vocals, which
she shared with Ian Matthews (another long-time favourite artist). She brought
with her a huge repertoire of English folk songs, which they began to introduce
into their set, and several of her own. The album opens with one of her nicest,
"Fotheringay" (although my favourite, "Autopsy" was on the
followup), and apart from the 2nd track "Mr Lacey" the rest of the
album is gentle bot powerful, flawless and beautiful. I feel I want to play
it right now to remind myself (but I'm on the tube so I can't).
WWDOOH finishes with "Meet On The Ledge", an extraordinarily moving yet simple song which Fairport still have in their set today, and a brief acoustic guitar solo piece that on its own justifies Simon Nicol's existence on the planet.
Oh, I could go on and on
but I won't. Buy the album, love it, then get all of Sandy's solo albums, the
first four Richard Thompson solo albums, the first three Ian Matthews albums
(but not necessarily the Southern Comfort ones) and all the Fairport albums
(yes, even Rosie) up until Nine. You could get Rising For The Moon but it's
the beginning of a long slide downwards.
Failing which, at the very least get the double compilation CD of the Island years.
And yes, what you may have heard about Sandy Denny is true - she really was that good. Unfortunately her work belongs to a particular era and genre that seems a bit fey and irrelevant today, unlike Nick Drake - about whom, more later.
Featured track - "Meet On The Ledge".