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(2-CD set) The original line-up of Plainsong featuring former Fairport Convention lead singer Iain Matthews and guitarist Andy Roberts was only together for about 18 months in the early 1970's - but in that brief period - they recorded the classic album In Search of Amelia Earhart and a second previously unreleased album now seeing the light of the day for the first time. This set collects both of their studio albums as well as various rare live recordings - nearly 40 songs in total. British folk rock at its best, along with their versions of songs by Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, and other greats. Many rare photos and detailed liner notes.
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The Amazon editorial review describes this album as "British folk rock at its best", which I think is a bit of a stretch. Yes, the band is British, and yes the music has a slight folk vibe, but it sounds nothing like the more traditional British folk bands of that era. Instead, Matthews was influenced more by American country and pop-rock bands, and those influences certainly make their stamp on these songs. Despite the title of the first studio album, disc one's "In Search of Amelia Earhart," and several songs being about the pioneering female aviator, it wasn't truly a concept album. Again, I'd never heard this album in its entirety, but I can understand the enthusiasm of the other reviewers who were clamoring for it to be finally released on CD. It's an excellent album indeed.
And the previously unreleased album on Disc Two, "Now We Are 3," is no slouch either. It's another fine mix of originals written by Matthews and some cool covers, including a version of Merle Haggard's "Swinging Doors." One of the best things about this reissue could be the bonus material. Disc One has some dynamite radio sessions, including a stellar cover of Gene Clark's "Spanish Guitar" and a lovely acapella version of "I'll Fly Away". Disc Two boasts some live recordings, plus two studio singles, one of which is a dynamite cover of "Along Comes Mary". The CDs come with a very nice booklet too, featuring an interview with Matthews about this period in his career. Highly recommended!
Water has rewarded the faithfull with restored covers, informative liner notes, and a whole extra disc of the unreleased 2nd album, demos and live material.
Preaching to the faithfull is unfullfilling, Informing those who have not a clue is enlightening. Simplified, Plainsong is one of the most important reissues of recent memory, an important piece of work by Ian Matthews and company that should have made them a standard by which all future efforts by others would have been measured.
Eternally warm and transcendental, Plainsong is as fresh sounding today as it was when I unwraped the cover and placed it on my record player in 1972.
Get it now while you still can.....................
Would you believe that I first purchased Plainsong as an LP record at least 30 years ago! And yes, I still have it. But, of course, I also have it now on CD, courtesy via Amazon.
If Budweiser is Drinkablity, Plainsong (Ian Matthews, Dave Richards, Andy Roberts and Bob Ronga) is Very Listenable. I can honestly say that I like every song in the album!
I've got the entire CD on both my Zune and Walkman, and every time one of the songs pops up I sing along with the song, but only when I'm alone in my 2007 Chevy 2500HD Diesel Crew Cab truck with all the windows rolled up! Particularly when "There's a Diesel on my Tail" pops up. Just for the record, I don't tailgate!