It’s rare to be able to say, before an album has even been released, that it is going to be a piece of history. However, for the latest record from Fairport Convention, this is certainly true.
Rising for the Moon: Deluxe Edition is an extraordinary record, with a bumper selection of 32 tracks spread across two disks which are bursting at the seams with Fairport goodness. Disk one is a re-release of the classic 1975 Rising for the Moon album, enhanced with five bonus tracks. These additions include live, alternate, studio demo and home demo versions of the songs from the album, as well as the somewhat special inclusion of a track originally written for the release but never studio recorded.
Disk two, meanwhile, is something more unusual still: a whole album of previously unreleased live material marking Sandy Denny’s return to the band in 1975, which was recorded at LA’s La Troubadour. Amongst the trove of previously unreleased gems in store are tracks which Fairport never performed again, such as Ballad Of Ned Kelly and Down Where The Drunkards Roll.
What makes this second disk so special, along with the music itself of course, is the inclusion of the band’s own impromptu introductions to the tracks. Comments such as ’This is a new song… It’s about you and me’ heard in Sandy Denny’s own voice add a really personal touch, and take this recording from being an archive piece to something which speaks to listeners today.
Some of the strongest tracks on the release as a whole, understandably, are those which were studio recorded on the first disk. For instance, the rhythmic and hypnotic Stranger to Himself is a real Fairport classic, and the gradual unfolding of One More Chance makes it something of an epic.
It is pleasing, however, to see these tracks being enhanced by the bonus material included, and the alternate version of Dawn is certainly well worth a listen. The addition of The King and Queen of England, which was written for the album but never released, is also very refreshing. Although it is clear this would not have fitted smoothly alongside the other tracks on the album, it is great to hear a very old-fashioned storytelling piece from the band, and it really stands out from the crowd.
The second disk includes a heartfelt rendition of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door, a recording which has gained further poignancy in the years it has lain unreleased, given Sandy Denny’s untimely death just a couple of years later. John the Gun is another really strong track - an anti-war song with attitude, featuring stunning fiddle work by Dave Swarbrick which really blurs the boundaries between violin and electric guitar. Matty Groves is also a great addition, mixing traditional song with classic rock and roll.
The real beauty of this live material is in its unplanned and personal nature. Crazy Lady Blues even includes an extra verse written by Sandy Denny during the performance, in the five minutes between songs. The humour and personality of the band shines through in every word they speak and every tune they play.
Overall, this release is a real passport to the past. This is one piece of Fairport history which any fan should hear.Lucy Houlden
Release on UMC/Island, August 26th 2013
1. Rising For The Moon
3. White Dress
4. Let It Go
5. Stranger To Himself
6. What Is True?
7. Iron Lion
9. After Halloween
10. Night-Time Girl
11. One More Chance
12. White Dress - Live On LWT
13. Dawn - Alternate Version
14. What Is True? - Studio Demo
15. After Halloween - Demo
16. The King And Queen of England - Home Demo
17. Down In The Flood
18. Ballad Of Ned Kelly
20. It’ll Take A Long Time
21. She Moves Through The Fair
22. The Hens March Through The Midden & The Four Poster Bed
23. The Hexamshire Lass
24. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
25. Six Days On The Road
26. Like An Old Fashioned Waltz
27. John The Gun
28. Down Where The Drunkards Roll
29. Crazy Lady Blues
30. Who Knows Where The Time Goes
31. Matty Groves
32. That’ll Be The Day