This 1969 Fairport masterpiece is one of the definitive folk-rock albums. Sandy Denny's ethereal voice shimmers on Matty Groves; Come All Ye; Tam Lin; Farewell, Farewell , and more.
British hippies who started out emulating Jefferson Airplane, Fairport Convention escalated their homeland connections with each outing, culminating in this, their fourth album and a watershed for British folk-rock. Hindsight offers the ironic possibility that the Dylan covers of its predecessor, Unhalfbricking
, opened a window onto the earlier Irish-English-Scots roots of the American music they loved, and Liege & Lief
jumps through that window triumphantly. "Come All Ye" underscores their affinity for the Band yet is joyfully rooted in their own fertile folk traditions, echoed in a mix of classic songs from members Sandy Denny, Ashley Hutchings, and Richard Thompson, and given direct homage in the extended ballads "Matty Groves" and "Tam Lin," which evoke Neil Young & Crazy Horse in kilts. Fiddler Dave Swarbrick's arrival as a fulltime member adds new richness and a wonderful foil for Thompson's superb guitar leads. A medley of jigs and reels showcases their flair for hot-wiring traditional British Isles dances, a fixture ever since. --Sam Sutherland