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Reviews

Fairport Convention — Fame and Glory
(Matty Groves MGCD049, 2020, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-08-13

Fame and Glory Cover art I’ve already written expressing my opinion of the work of composer Alan Simon with his epic concept albums. (To summarize: “If you've always felt that Rick Wakeman's epic concept albums were a little too understated, Alan Simon has got you covered.”) Which is not to say that his overblown productions don’t have bright spots here and there. The contributions of Fairport Convention, which have appeared on five of Simon’s albums, are among those bright spots, and 18 of them are gathered here under the title Fame and Glory. The oldest come from the first installment of the Excalibur Cycle (1998) and the latest from Excalibur III (2012); there are also a few live tracks from the Concert Mythique album (2000), plus one previously unreleased track of unknown vintage. They don’t seem to be presented in any particular order, but that’s no detraction. The core of recent Fairport is present: Dave Pegg (bass, mandolin, backing vocals), Simon Nicol (lead vocals, guitar), Ric Sanders (violin), Chris Leslie (bouzouki, mandolin, violin), and Gerry Conway (drums, percussion). Numerous guests pop in for a track or two, including Dave Mattacks, Martin Barre, Brian Finnegan, Dan Ar Braz, Dider Lockwood, Jacqui McShee, John Helliwell, John Wetton, James Wood, Pat O’May, and Laurent Tixier. While nothing is very far outside the normal Fairport style (at least for the time period involved), the presence of the guests provides a somewhat different flavor, especially on the tracks that Jacqui McShee sings. The four tracks with Barre have more emphasis on electric guitar and a heavier rock feeling. Wetton’s track comes from Excalibur II (2007) and is a lovely, delicate, mostly-acoustic song that builds up to a stirring solo from Barre. While many of the tracks sound like traditional folk songs, they’re all Alan Simon compositions (with occasional co-writer credits), but he’s got the style down, and these selections avoid the overblown orchestration he’s prone to. I would definitely recommend Fame and Glory to fans of Fairport Convention and Celtic mythology as a more palatable alternative to Simon’s original releases.

Filed under: Archives, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): John Wetton, Fairport Convention, Dan Ar Braz, Martin Barre, Didier Lockwood, Ric Sanders, Alan Simon

 

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