Fairport Convention - Rising For The Moon
They may have been around for nearly forty five years, but mention Fairport Convention and invariably people think of 1969 and that very special year where they produced three albums fronted by the wondrous Sandy Denny. The third of these, Liege & Leif, is rightly considered as one of the finest folk albums of all time, but that was not the end of the relationship. Fast forward to 1974, and now married to guitarist Trevor Lucas, Sandy re-joins the party. The results were not swift in coming forth second time around, and the only studio album was to be 1975’s Rising For The Moon.
Produced by the legendary Glyn Johns in a last ditch bid to create something of a commercial success, he allegedly wanted “none of that airy-fairy folk shit”, and he got his wish. Rising For The Moon certainly carries the hallmarks, for better or worse, of a band searching for a wider audience as the focus shifts to a more middle of the road rock sound. The influence of the blues that becomes ever more apparent in earlier albums as well as on Sandy’s solo records is also clear to hear; ‘Iron Lion’ could be a dolled up Dylan cover whilst ‘Night-Time Girl’ is pure America.
Despite the lack of more traditional folk pieces, Sandy still has the ability to steal the heart and leave you weeping. ‘Dawn’ is the standout track of the collection as the raw emotion of that voice hits home; even though it is not one of her greatest performances technically, or perhaps because of it, there is an honesty that is impossible to fake, and noticeable by its absence in more recent times. But in the closing ‘One More Chance’ she is on top form, belting out the cries for peace as well as she ever has on record.
The usual odds and ends fill out the first disc of this deluxe reissue (although the stripped down version of ‘Dawn’ is well worth investigating), but in the second disc we have a little gem in the shape of a recording from 1974 at the famous LA Troubadour. Reading something like a Sandy Denny solo setlist, as it includes many tracks from both her past and future releases, there is an eclectic mix including the band’s only known attempt at ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’.
Rising For The Moon is the forgotten reunion, the return of the star player; it certainly has its moments, but fails to capture that special magic that existed first time around. Somewhat a victim of circumstance, it needed to be a success at the tills rather than just the with the critics and when it fell short, led to Fairport Convention falling apart yet again. It is not an album many will go back to often, though those few songs that rise above the rest make it a worthy addition to any collection.