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Liege & Lief

4.7 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 7, 1988
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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.

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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 (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,391 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Audio CD
For this one, Fairport did traditional folk pieces using both modern and traditional instruments. Regardless of what instruments they were using, they had the beauty of Sandy Denny's voice to carry the day along with Richard Thompson's guitarwork. Denny dominates this disc and why not- she's very good here. After this record, fairport would start their endless game of musical chairs with the personnel of the band but this is the most popular version of the band at their best. All songs here are very good with the epic TammLinn the standout. It's a shame they couldn't milk this formula further- it worked great for them.
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Format: Audio CD
Startling at first listen....seminal...groundbreaking...the album that started a genre (English folk rock)....all that. But none of the talk really matters because the music's so darn good. Forget Sandy Denny as the best female vocalist there ever was, or likely will be. Forget that some make convincing arguments for Richard Thompson as the best guitar player around. Just listen to the songs and the way they're played. Ancient musical ideas from the British Isles, crackling with a new energy as this excellent band spun their alchemy and produced their all-time best effort, then split apart (as if they knew that that line-up couldn't top the album they'd just recorded). Openning with "Come All Ye"--a rousing troubador come-hither for the audience to follow as the band links wonderful songs one after another. Tempos and moods shift--some sparse and lonely, like standing alone on the moors too late at night and too far from home ("Reynadine"), some menacing and stabbing with full use of rock instrumental dynamics to hammer home the dark side of an old English folk tale ("Tam Lin"), some delicate and heartbreaking, like a last goodbye that won't be helped ("Farewell, Farewell"). And don't forget the dance medley (which has remained a stable of the band through all its incarnations)--stringing muliple old jigs and reels together in breakneck bash-outs, deftly played on rock instruments for the first time by anyone (yet sounding like it was old-hat to the players!). This album is a masterpiece from start to finish, with no weak spots of any kind. Desert island discs have been done to death, but when they bury me with the 10 discs I specify in my will, you better believe this one will be on the list. When the heck is the digital remastered version coming out!
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