I have this album on both vinyl and CD, the CD coming with one bonus track recorded in the studio rather than live. It has some lengthy insert notes which I shall finish this section with. The LP tracks, of course, are all live, and Side 1 kicks off thus:
1. “Matty Groves”
The first thing to note about this record is that throughout the whole thing, the instrument playing is faultless. It is deliberately imperfect on one track, but the brilliance of the players shines like a beacon from end to end. This feature is very notable, as few groups could achieve it live in those days. Moreover, the singing is likewise meritorious, meaning that the performances are all unimprovable. The opening track is no exception, where Simon Nicol does the vocals, and gives a competetent, straight “Liege & Lief” delivery. Of course, this is the bloke Simon Nicol and not the inimitable girl Sandy Denny, but this is nevertheless a tight and creditable version which compares well with the many other live versions. It is even better than the rendition which appeared on “Fairport Live Convention” [see above], which does feature Sandy Denny, albeit with those “uneasy” vocals. This first track elides seamlessly into Track 2:
2. “Orange Blossom Special”
This is a lively and brilliantly executed instrumental, featuring of course much of Dave Swarbrick’s expert violin. It starts and ends with frantic bits, with a calmer mid-section, and is a typical, masterpiece, tour-de-force.