This LP came from Record Scene in Woking in the summer of 1981, marked down from £2.95 to £2.45. I bought it as a follow-on from another album on which Judy Dyble appears — one that will feature here on Friday (yes, I can see that far ahead, but never more than a week).
Now more or less throughout the eighties, Woking (population in excess of 100,000) was unable to support a single cinema. This in a decade that began with home video being an expensive luxury, unaffordable to 80% of households. That's the kind of cultural petri dish that Woking was. So a record shop selling Soft Machine and folky prog like this? Despite a prime position next to Sainsbury's in the shopping centre (or because of the high rents), it lasted just a few months. Not for want of support on my part: I spent as much there as a 16-year-old could, buying weird oldies (though this was only 14 years old at the time, fresher than Parklife is now), when I should have been buying Human League and Adam and the Ants. Or at least Talking Heads and the Au Pairs.
At the time, this was the oldest record I owned, and it retained that title for two and a half years until I got Bringing it All Back Home.
Anyway when I bought this, I didn't know who Fairport Convention were. "Allegedly… Britain's answer to Jefferson Airplane," it says on the back. But I didn't know who Jefferson Airplane were. Didn't know who Richard Thompson was, who Joe Boyd was, who Sandy Denny was… just that Judy Dyble had sung on on one track that I'd liked with another band.
I came to like the album a lot that summer, and I've liked it ever since — more than Jefferson Airplane, more than I like anything by The Byrds. And quite possibly more than Liege and Lief. I like the way it sounds; I like the two cover versions of Joni Mitchell before-she-was-famous; I love the two songs Richard Thompson co-wrote with Andrew Horvitch and Paul Ghosh (whoever they were/are — Google implies these two songs were the full extent of their less-than-15-minutes not-quite-fame).
I was nearly tempted to buy a CD of the remastered and expanded version, so cheap is it. But good sense reasserted its hold, and I reminded myself that it's available, for now, on We7 on Spotify whenever I want.
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Listen to this album in full at We7
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