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| Having seen close
approximations of all of them at Cropredy,
Fairport live in any of its incarnations seems
to have been an awesome thing.
But this was the noblest Fairport of them all,
in terms of sheer virtuosity and jaw-dropping
chops -- and this album documents that to the
hilt. This would be a 5-star album except that
the sound is a bit thin and dry... and, even at
that, it just misses.
((If the mobile truck
had been there for some of the moments
mentioned in the liner notes - like the
night they pulled Linda Ronstadt on stage
and did all of her songs, or the night that
Swarb's old mates in Led Zeppelin showed up,
it would be five stars anyway..))
It flat doesn't get any tighter and solider on
stage, and with guitarists Richard
Thompson & Simon Nicol and the Three Daves
-- Swarbrick on his demon fiddle dancing with
& around RT and SN's guitars and Pegg on
bass & Mattacks on thundering drums
providing a bottom and a beat that has to be
experienced to be appreciated -- Fairport
mounted a sonic attack that is almost
frightening coming from a "folk" band.
Granted, absent Sandy Denny, neither Richard
nor Swarb really fills that gap on vocals, but
what this band has in its own right that the
"Liege & Leaf" Fairport didn't exploit as
fully is its sheer power and virtuosity.
"Matty Groves" is a classic Fairport raveup,
"Sir Patrick Spens" is a nice reading of a
"trad.arr." ballad, "Mason's Apron" a nice
instrumental... But "Sloth", at something like
twelve minutes is simply incredible.
(Though, again, at their Cropredy Festival i
once timed a rendition at eighteen minutes
"House Full" is an important document of a
transitional time in Fairport's history, as is
its 1970 studio complement, "Full House"; both
are necessary to your collection if you're
buying more than one album -- but this is the
one to buy if you can only afford one today.