Come All Ye: The First Ten Years UNiverSAl 8/10 In Fairport’s first decade, more than 20 musicians joined and left the band, some lasting only a few weeks (drummer david Rea) and others returning after years away (drummer dave Mattacks). The mercurial membership allowed Fairport to develop in fits and starts, starting out with covers of American rock tunes before eventually finding their true mission reviving centuriesold folk tunes like the epic “Tam Lin” (from their 1969 breakthrough Liege & Lief ) and the rollicking “When First Into This Country” (from 1976’s Gottle O’Geer). The early lineups remain the most compelling, partly due to the contributions of singer Sandy denny and guitarist Richard Thompson, both of whom enjoyed even greater success away from the group. Mostly, however, it’s due to the fact that the entire idea of British folk rock was still new and revolutionary in the late 1960s. This 7Cd boxset, which marks the group’s halfcentury with 55 previously unreleased tracks, puts as much emphasis on their mid-1970s output, when fiddler dave Swarbrick and bassist dave Pegg were guiding the band through the bogs of British history.
extras: 8/10. Almost half of the boxset’s 121 tracks are previously unreleased live cuts, alternate takes, rarities and covers: a wealth of new material for diehard fans. Best may be denny singing the title track solo, turning folk rock’s greatest rallying cry into an incantation to the muse.
Natalie Merchant: once a Maniac…