Here's a rather strange thing I've put together from different sources. But hopefully it'll make sense once I explain.
The British folk-rock band Fairport Convention is rather unusual in that not only has it been in existence since the 1960s, with many different line-ups over the years, but it has annual reunions at the Cropredy Festival in which earlier line-ups often perform. The 1997 Cropredy Festival reunion was a particularly important one, since it marked 30 years since the band was founded in 1967. Virtually all of the many surviving band members took part in two different concerts on August 8th and August 9th.
The August 8th show concentrated on the first few years of the band's existence. It featured all the surviving members from that time, including Judy Dyble, Richard Thompson (who of course went on to a long and very successful solo career), Simon Nicol, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks, Iain Matthews, Dave Swarbrick, and Dave Pegg. The band's female vocalist for many of those early years was Sandy Denny, but she died in 1977. So her parts were song by a relative newcomer, Vikki Clayton.
The August 9th show was much longer, and featured numerous different line-ups, from the early 1970s until the current day at that time.
Both concerts were professionally recorded and professionally released as "The Cropredy Box." However, there were two problems with this. One was that over six hours of music were played over those two nights. Even though "The Cropredy Box" is a triple album, that meant a lot of songs had to be left out. Also, there were some problems which led to some key songs not being recorded, such as "Fotheringay."
I must admit that my interest in Fairport Convention is heavily concentrated in their heyday of the late 1960s and early 1970s. (And I'm not the only one who feels that way. There's even an official album of BBC performances from that time period called "Heyday.") I'm especially interested in the years when the musical giants Sandy Denny and/or Richard Thompson were in the band.
With that in mind, I wanted to make my own version of these shows, concentrating on the songs with Thompson playing on them in particular and discarding the rest. But what to do about the many missing songs? It turns out there's no good bootlegs of those other songs, at least that I could find. However, it turns out that, a mere two days earlier all the people mentioned above (apparently except Iain Matthews) had a warm-up concert in the nearby town of Banbury to practice those early songs they hadn't played together in many years. And, luckily, there is a very good sounding bootleg from that show. It doesn't sound as good as the ones from the official release of the actual Cropredy shows, but it's worthy of filling the gaps.
So this is an amalgamation of the songs from "The Cropredy Box" wherever possible with the Banbury songs for the rest. Also, the official album had almost no banter between songs, but the Banbury show had a lot, so I used that. But I did cut the banter down some. There were some parts where one couldn't hear what was being said that well, and other parts that went on too long or were mostly dead air.
The end result is probably the closest one is going to get to the full August 8th show as is possible, unless a more complete version of "The Cropredy Box" gets released someday. I did find a list of the exact songs played, and the order they were played in, so I stuck to that as much as possible.
The first song, "Wings," isn't actually from the early years of the band. Instead, it was written by band member Ashley Hutchings as retrospective commentary on what those years were like. The next three songs were from the brief time period Judy Dyble was the band's female vocalist, so she's featured on those. But back in the day she was replaced by Sandy Denny, so in this concert she was replaced by Vikki Clayton. Dave Swarbrick and Dave Pegg didn't join the band until a couple of years after that, so they also joined in later in this concert.
Note that "Million Dollar Bash" was originally written by Bob Dylan. But this version has mostly new lyrics written by Fairport Convention. The new lyrics jokingly comment on some of the band's history.
I did the exact same thing to the August 9th concert as I did with this one, mixing the "Cropredy Box" songs with the Banbury bootleg ones. I plan on posting that soon.
By the way, it seems that even more songs were played in the August 8th show, probably a lot more. I found YouTube videos of a few more, and in one, there's a reference to the show being well over two hours long! Weirdly, those extra songs don't show up in the known setlists for the Banbury or Cropredy shows at setlist.fm, which closely resemble each other. But it's hard to deny the evidence of the YouTube videos. Hopefully, someday, more of this music will emerge in excellent sound quality.
I've included the extra songs I found as bonus tracks. They're only
bonus tracks because the sound quality is notably poorer than even the
Banbury tracks. It's also fitting that they're not numbered like the
rest, because I have no idea where they would have fit in with the song
order. There were a couple others I didn't include even as bonus tracks, such as "Tale in Hard Time" and "Tam Lin," because the bass rumbled so much that I deemed them unlistenable.
This album is an hour and 13 minutes long.
01 Wings (Fairport Convention)
02 Both Sides Now (Fairport Convention)
03 talk (Fairport Convention)
04 Jack O'Diamonds (Fairport Convention)
05 talk (Fairport Convention)
06 Time Will Show the Wiser (Fairport Convention)
07 talk (Fairport Convention)
08 Fotheringay (Fairport Convention)
09 Mr. Lacey (Fairport Convention)
10 talk (Fairport Convention)
11 Suzanne (Fairport Convention)
12 talk (Fairport Convention)
13 talk (Fairport Convention)
14 Percy's Song (Fairport Convention)
15 talk (Fairport Convention)
16 Genesis Hall (Fairport Convention)
17 talk (Fairport Convention)
18 Million Dollar Bash (Fairport Convention)
19 talk (Fairport Convention)
20 Come All Ye (Fairport Convention)
21 talk (Fairport Convention)
22 Lark in the Morning [Instrumental] (Fairport Convention)
23 talk (Fairport Convention)
24 Reynardine (Fairport Convention)
25 talk (Fairport Convention)
26 Matty Groves (Fairport Convention)
I'll Keep It with Mine
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
One Sure Thing
I could only find two good photos of the 1997 Cropredy concerts. So I've used one for this album and the other for the August 9th one. I took the fancy writing on the top half from some promotional artwork for the 2007 concert, and squished it horizontally to make it fit.
The picture shows (from left to right): Simon Nicol (red shirt on
guitar), Dave Mattacks (in the background on drums), Dave Pegg (blue
shirt on bass) and Dave Swarbrick (with his back to the camera on