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Fairport Convention - 50:50@50 album review

Feel like a number

Cover art for Fairport Convention - 50:50@50 album

It’s their 50th anniversary and this album is equally divided between live and studio tracks. So that’s the title sorted, but any suggestion that Fairport Convention are playing by numbers can be swiftly dispelled.

Time may have dulled some of their digital dexterity but their enthusiasm is undimmed, as is their ear for what makes a good Fairport song – like the traditional Lady Of Carlisle, with Pentangle’s Jacqui McShee on vocals, Steve Tilson’s The Naked Highwayman or John Condon.

They also get behind Robert Plant (a regular at Fairport’s annual Cropredy Festival), who works up a gospel fervour on Jesus On The Mainline, a song he first performed with them some 25 years ago.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.