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Liege & Lief

94 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 7, 1988
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Liege & Lief + Unhalfbricking + What We Did on Our Holidays
Price for all three: $31.47

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 7, 1988)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: A&M
  • ASIN: B000002GFT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,544 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By William M. Feagin on April 5, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I first heard Liege & Lief nearly 20 years ago, when my brother purchased a vinyl copy of the album. It took me some time before I fully got into Fairport Convention, but I had the best entry point a fan could possibly have--this was the record that has defined the band in the years since its release, with Sandy Denny's beautiful vocals, Richard Thompson's stinging guitar work, and Dave Swarbrick's always-excellent fiddle.
Thus, when I spotted the remastered and expanded CD here at Amazon, my first thought was "About freakin' time!" It was the only one A&M bothered to keep in print in the States, and the CD remaster from 1988 was only a minor improvement over the original LP. The original tracks burn as intensely as ever, with greater clarity and width of sound; the bonus tracks are revealing. "Sir Patrick Spens" is a bit slower and not quite as good as the final version on Full House, but Sandy does well enough with the vocals, or as well as one vocalist can manage (remember, the final version had Swarb, RT and Simon Nicol all harmonising); "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" is rather too slow, however. I much prefer the version from Sandy's 1972 solo album Sandy, and rather wish that the band's cover of "Ballad of Easy Rider," recorded during the L&L sessions, had been included here rather than on the expanded remaster of Unhalfbricking...but there you go. Fine work nonetheless.
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55 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Kim Fletcher on August 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD
At the end of 1969 Fairport Convention were to release an album that was to change the face of British rock, and define a whole new genre folk/rock. The fact that the album was released at all was astonishing in itself. But these days it stands the test of time as a groundbreaking work of genuine originality and bravery.

Fairport Convention first took wing into the realms of the British rock scene in 1967. Coming out of the North London folk scene, at first the line up was kept very flexible, until they released that they might be onto something here. The line up stabilized to Simon Nicol on guitars and vocals, a great man to have in any band as adaptability was his middle name, and enthusiasm he kept in bags. Ashley Hutchings took over the bass responsibilities and being steeped in traditional British folk music became the unspoken leader come spokesman for the band. On lead guitar and vocals was one of the nicest men on the planet, who also just happened to be one of the most original guitar players of his day, a distinctive vocalist, and a talented songwriter, so all round a pretty useful chap to have on board... Martin Lamble sat behind the skins and was the drummer that every band envied, as not only could he keep time, but brought with him a style of his own. Judy Dyble was the female singer that fronted the band, who had a fine clear folk voice enabling her to tell the stories the musicians were portraying. But Judy Dyble left the band preferring to stick to her solo folk roots and was replaced by the impeccable Sandy Denny. Now it is beyond any doubt that Sandy Denny was the finest female vocalist ever to come out of modern music. If you have ever heard an angel sing then you have some idea how Sandy Denny sounds.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Simon Henning on October 27, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Few albums truly merit the overused 'seminal' tag, but 'Liege & Lief' can stand proud among the best of 'em.

This, Fairport's best album by a country mile, played a lead role in kickstarting the British folk rock movement and it remains a key point of reference for lovers of the genre.

Rest assured, there is not a duff track on this masterpiece. If you get to the end of the opener, 'Come all Ye' without indulging in some serious foot-tapping, then the album's instant magic clearly hasn't woven its spell on you.

What follows is a veritable banquet of classic song after classic tune. This is the sound of a band at a creative peak and the album sounds as fresh and vital now as it did upon its release, all those years ago.

Buy this, and then tell your friends to buy it too. They'll thank you for the recommendation.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By DMT on March 27, 2005
Format: Audio CD
"Liege and Lief" is an undeniably important album and the word "seminal" cannot be overused in describing it. The album virtually single handily launched the genre of British folk/rock, inspired founder Fairprot member Ashley Hutchings to form Steeleye Span and, well the rest is history.

Nevertheless less this very solid album is not Fairport's best. The title belongs to their magnificent third album "Unhalfbicking" with their wonderful second album "What We Did On Our Holidays" checking in in second place.

Part of what keeps "Liege and Lief" from displacing those two are the occasional moments that come of just a mite contrived. The idea of kicking this off with a "calling on song" was a clever one give the albums concept of fully blending late 60's rock and roll with traditional British folk idioms, but that opening tack, "Come All Ye," well technically well accomplished comes across as more of an academic exercise than anything else. Nice try but better luck next time.

A smilier situation exists with the all instrumental track "The Lark in the Morning." Yes, jigs and reels are an important aspect of traditional music, but the execution here, while impressive, doesn't quite prevent the urge to hit the skip on the CD remote.

Much of the rest of the album, however isn't just exciting, it is damn exciting! The traditional "Matty Groves" is a harrowing epic of lust, betrayal, and murder that, in movie form, would have a difficult time getting on TV in these oh so Puritanical times in which we live.
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Topic From this Discussion
Identify a song, please?!?
"she's gone, she's gone said the serving man, she's gone with the gypsy davey!"

GYPSY DAVEY recorded by Sandy Denny & Fairport Convention, tells story about royal lady married to a king or a great lord who runs off with a raggle taggle gypsy named davey
Jun 5, 2008 by K. Rhodes |  See all 3 posts
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