Judy Dyble: Gathering The Threads (Fifty Years of Stuff)

Self-compiled, vault-raiding, three-CD comp from original Fairport Convention singer.

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North London-raised Dyble has often appeared a figure out of time and place in her under-appreciated yet quietly remarkable career. The sleevenotes accompanying this handsomely packaged collection recall former librarian JD sat on the stage edge knitting at scenester hangout The Speakeasy while fellow Fairporter and boyfriend Richard Thompson jammed onstage, with Jimi Hendrix.

It is certainly Dyble’s singular character and unaffected, sure and steady purpose that runs through these tracks. The home recordings age 15, early Fairport demos, hook ups with pre-King Crimson Robert Fripp and post-Them Jackie McAuley are all of a piece with last year’s ravishing Take Me Dancing, the latter a product of her rewarding creative partnership with writer/producer Alistair Murphy.

Despite a prolonged hiatus (child raising and running a cassette duplication business) Judy’s genre-hopping facility across folk, prog, jazz, orch pop and, even, rebel rock is a tribute to her path-less-travelled daring and resilience. Standouts include Better Side Of Me the only surviving gem from her 1971 sessions with Mike Batt and Shining, the classical-enhanced pastoral mystery and loveliness from post-comeback 2006 release Spindle.

Off-piste and experimental gems abound, but the strongest and most compelling material is the most recently recorded (CD3: Onwards). Much of this work has been created away from the spotlight, but through it all Judy’s voice and vision has attained an evanescent lightness of touch and richly layered maturity.

For those yet to make the lady’s acquaintance, discovery is advised and there’s no better place to start.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.