The Flying Fairport Brothers
PHILIP S WOLF | SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA. USA | 10/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you were to rate the albums released by Fairport Convention in the 1970's, the number one in popularity would no doubt be " Full House " and " Rising For The Moon " would weigh in a strong second place. But Right between these two fine releases comes a Disc called " Nine " and it's mark in the history of this band has been understated to say the least. Nine has never been recognized as what it really is...the most important release by this band during the 70's.
The depatures of Richard Thompson & Simon Nicol in 1971 made the future of Fairport seem all but doomed. It was up to Dave Swarbrick and Dave Pegg to keep the boat afloat. The eighth record " Rosie " went down like a "lead Balloon" but it got the two Dave's together with Trevor Lucas and Jerry Donahue to bring this Folk-Rock Band back from near death. The result of all this talent (not forgetting Drummer Dave Mattacks) was "Nine".
With Jerry on board the band gained a Guitarist who could hold his own along side Richard. But even better with the addition of Trevor, the band had it's best vocalist and songwriter since 1969 when Mrs. Lucas (Sandy Denny) was onboard. There were no ego clashes this time out, and the Chap's were enjoying it all again and stormed the stages of the world doing it.
There are PLENTY of great tunes on "Nine" and it all begins with "The Hexhamshire Lass" a brisk opener sung by Swarb. "Polly On The Shore" is Trevor's most memorable moment on Record and it does sound just as good 32 years later. "To Althea From Prison" features another great vocal from Swarb and some of his best fiddle ever (one of the Great Overlooked Songs of this Band's history). My favorite of this batch is Trevor's "Bring 'Em Down", in concert this song became Epic with "Cosmic Fiddles From Jupiter" often bringing things to an conclusion before the fifteen minute mark on the clock...another Great Overlooked Tune, One of the very best things here. Check out the CD "Before The Moon" for that Space-Journey..
What Jerry Donahue brings to "Nine" is a Guitar and a lot of American Country & Western overtones as featured in "The Cherokee Shuffle" and "Tokyo" instrumentals and the song "Pleasure & Pain" which sounds like a British Burritto Brothers (way different territory for our heroes) but still it works. And the closer, Trevor's "Possibly Parsons Green" put's the Rock back into Folk-Rock, another Brillant Track.
This Remaster features four Bonus Tracks and they are welcome. First up is the Austrailian single version of "Fiddlesix" with Banjo and a 50 piece orchestra (don't laugh, it's good). Bob Dylan's song "George Jackson" get's a wonderful vocal from Trevor and the backing Mandolin (Peggy?) sounds really nice as well. After some Stage-Clowning a live "Pleasure & Pain" doesn't differ from the Studio Version much but the harmonies are "Spot-On".
It all comes to a close with "Six Day's on the Road" that put's us right back in Gram Parson Land with a rousing vocal by Trevor. Sandy would be taking over the Singing on this one and leading the Band within a few more months but this version is still just "the boy's" and you can hear how much fun the are having.
That's "Nine", a real fine record and the Remaster makes it sound Brand New. With the Bonus Tracks added in the running time is 56 minutes. The Lyrics are included, and four pages of notes from Jerry telling the Story, with lot's of pictures of the band with big smiles on their faces!
An important record for Fairport Convention...FOUR STARS"