Fairport have been around longer than several countries, so it’s hardly surprising their back catalogue is chunkier than a Mellotron 400. These reissues are a timely and delicious bimble through large swathes of their 40-plus years.
It’s great to have Moat On The Ledge aired again, despite various reissues. Recorded in 1981 at an early reunion at Broughton Castle, it includes appearances from the mighty Swarbs and Richard Thompson and generates enough live power to raise the dead.
In contrast, From Cropredy to Portmerion showcases a later Fairport incarnation. Capturing their live power circa 1990, it’s enlivened by Maartin Allcock’s singular playing and key tunes from their 80s rebirth, such as Red & Gold.
However, it is studio retrospective XXXV – which looks at the years 1967 to 2002 – that is perhaps the most fascinating. It covers both Fairport’s stellar past while allowing them to push themselves with material by Anna Ryder among others. In addition to this, Chris Leslie’s tunes also underline how significant he has been in Fairports’ renaissance. This box is both a snip and a delight.