So, Fairport Convention, what art thou? On the back cover, under the list of band members, titled “WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO”, we get this list:
Richard Thompson/electric & accoustic [sic] guitars…1
Ralph McTell/accoustic [sic] guitar…8
The Swarbrick Brothers (Dave,Cyril & Eric)/vocals…8
Andy Wheeler (alias Shirley Temple)/dogsbody
Philip Stirling-Wall (PMG)”.
Particularly interesting are the drummers; it seems Mr Mattacks was not re-recruited as soon as some of the others were.
However, the third one on the list is the most important “guest” to note, he alone having been a member of the original line up. The presence of Richard Thompson on the record seemed to me to be of immense significance, for all sorts of reasons, the main one being his transformation of the title track from a soppy yuk thing into quite a pleasant song. Similar considerations, of course, apply to the first on the list, Sandy Denny.
What was becoming clear was that Fairport Convention was not a group; rather, it was an evolving, revolving collective.