Fairport Convention

John Babbacombe Lee - Island 1971

Tracks: 1. John's Reflections on His Boyhood /2. This Was the Happiest Period in His Life/ 3. Tragedy Now Strikes Hard / 4. John Was Hardly More Than a Bewildered Observer at His Own Trial /5. When It Comes, He Cannot Sleep / 6. Farewell to a Poor Man's Son [#][*] / 7. Breakfast in Mayfair [#][*]


"Babbacome Lee" was Fairport Convention's second album in 1971; this was a period when the band was at the height of their creativity. The album was their only "concept" album, telling the stunning story of John "Babbacombe" Lee; the man who survived the gallows three times.

Musically they continue in the direction laid out on their two previous albums "Full House" and "Angel Delight". They combine traditional British folk-music with electric melodic rock. The line-up is the same as on "Angel Delight" and the playing is tight and inspired.

Apart from the traditional "The Sailor's Alphabeth" all songs are Fairport originals and they are obviously closely connected to the context of the Babbacombe Lee story; this does not mean that the songs cannot stand alone; outside the concept of the album . "Breakfast in Mayfair", "John Lee", "Cell Song" and "The Hanging Song" are great tracks on their own.

The two bonus-tracks are low-fi tape-copies of BBC recordings. It seems that the BBC has erased the original tapes, which is a big shame. "Farewell to a Poor Man's" is a Swarbrick ballad; probably a song that was never included on the original album; a great song. "Breakfast in Mayfair" is recorded after Simon Nicol's departure from the band; so his vocals are taken over by Sandy Denny.

The remastered sound is great on the whole original album.

The booklet contains all the original lyrics and the long magazine story of the life of John Lee. Unfortunately there are no new comments from the band-members to the creation of the album; like on the other Fairport CD re-issues. This is only a minor complaint and I can only highly recommend the album.

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