Fairport Convention’s ‘Babbacombe Lee' - Revisited(April 23, 2012)
For many of us old enough to remember it the first time round Fairport Convention’s ‘Babbacombe Lee' was one of those albums with its gatefold sleeve and detailed book with the sticker (“Don’t Hang Babbacombe Lee”) that every self-respecting folk-rock enthusiast counted himself lucky to own – I know I did. Here was the band at their peak of their story-telling prowess relating the legendary tale of ‘the man they couldn’t hang!’
The reason it worked so well forty years ago (and still does to this day) is in no small part down to Dave Swarbrick’s every-man vocal approach and now brilliantly re-interpreted by Chris Leslie. Many of the songs took on a life of their own outside the restrictions of the folk-opera and always guaranteed to bring a wry smile at many a folk club up and down these fair isles were ‘The Sailor’s Alphabet’, the ‘St Ninian’s Isle/Trumpet Hornpipe’ instrumental set, Simon Nicol’s ‘Breakfast In Mayfair’ and the truly hypnotic ‘Dream Song’.
Faithfully reproduced by the 2011 line-up (with the exception of the accordion on Alphabet) of Dave Pegg, Ric Sanders and Gerry Conway and the afore mentioned Leslie and Nicol this CD really is worth purchasing as it still has relevance today as an historical document and more relevant (to me at least) than say Rory McGrath’s Pub Dig. In addition to the band, congratulations should also go to John Gale for his recording, mixing and mastering skills and Mick Toole’s superbly re-booted package design. ‘Babbacombe Lee Live Again’ is available on Matty Grooves Records MGCD052
Reviewer: Pete Fyfe