Angel Delight - Island 1971
Guitarist and songwiter Richard Thompson had left the band before the recordings for the album, but some songs had been written and rehearsed before he left. Thompson is co-writer on two songs and though his personal vocals are missed, his absence is actually surprisingly not very obvious.
Before the recordings of "Full House" the band had moved in together in an old inn called "The Angel Inn" ( hence the title of the album ), and they lived there together during the recordings of this album too. Actually Richard Thompson still lived there after he had left Fairport Convention to pursue a solo-career; so obviously he still played a part in the band's musical direction.
Guitarist Simon Nicol reveals in the sleeve-notes that he was not too familiar with the electric guitar at this point; but he obviously had been very much inspired by Thompson's style and his playing on the album is great. As with "Full House" the songs is a mixture of traditional songs and new originals written by the band.
The opener "Lord Marlborough" is one the traditionals. This old folk song features great lead vocals by Dave Swarbrick; catchy melody in a very unusual/difficult rhythm, which makes the song even more fascinating.
Simon Nicol takes over the lead vocals on the next traditional "Sir William Gower". The distorted guitar makes you think of Steeleye Span at their most electric/rocking period. Another good track! The first of the album's two instrumentals is the the violin-dominated "Bridge Over the River Ash" - almost like a classical piece.
Dave Swarbrick takes over again the lead vocals on his and Simon Nicol's "Wizzard of the Worldly Game". Classic Fairport Convention at their best; fine solo by Nicol! "The Journeyman's Grace" written by Thompson and Swarbrick is a song much in the same vein as "Walk Awhile" from "Full House"
The title track is a catchy and optimistic tune with autobiograpical lyrics. Great drum-breaks by Mattacks.
The traditional ballad "Banks of the Sweet Primroses" was from the the first time I heard the album my favourite track; and it still is. A gorgeous melody. The instrumental medley is as always a pleasure; showing what great instrumentalist they all were.
The last traditional song "The Bonny Black Hare" is probably my least favourite track, which by no means makes it a bad track.
Swarbrick and Thompson's "Sickness and Diseases" is the most hard-rocking track on the album. Great closer of the original album.
The single bonus-track is a BBC recording of "The Journeyman's Grace"; not that much different from the album version, but still interesting as it features great guitar-playing from Thompson.