Fairport Convention,
In Real Time: Live '87
(Island, 1987)

It's a cheat, albeit a cleverly disguised one.

In Real Time was my second exposure to Fairport Convention, after Liege & Lief, and I found myself quite liking the direction the band had evolved. I also admired the band's highly polished performance in a concert setting.

Imagine my surprise when upon learning, at a much later date, that In Real Time was recorded "live" in the studio and the crowd sounds were added later. With palpable disappointment I went back to listen to this concert forgery again -- and realized it didn't really matter.

I'm not sure why Fairport members decided to fake a live CD, but the end product is still an excellent recording. It's not exactly new, but a fresh take on some Fairport favorites. The track list includes standards such as "Crazy Man Michael," "Meet on the Ledge," "Reynard the Fox," "The Widow of Westmoreland's Daughter," "The Hiring Fair" and, of course, "Matty Groves."

This incarnation of Fairport features the talents of Simon Nicol (vocals, guitars), Dave Pegg (bass guitar, mandolin, vocals), Dave Mattacks (drums), Ric Sanders (electric violin) and Martin Allcock (guitars, bouzoukis, vocals).

OK, so it's a cheat. It's also a damn fine album.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 20 July 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.