Fairport Convention’s second album featured an important line-up change which drastically altered the band’s sound. Original singer Judy Dyble had left, and was replaced by Sandy Denny. Subsequently What We Did On Our Holidays was the first album which saw them move away from American folk rock and start to experiment with traditional English folk (under the instigation of Denny). Technically it falls somewhere between the two, as it features Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell covers alongside two English traditionals. Nevertheless a great deal of the songs are band originals, guitarist Richard Thompson contributing the most in terms of songwriting. Vocals are shared by singers Sandy Denny and Ian MacDonald (who had by now changed his name to Ian Matthews), who harmonize beautifully on most of the songs. However it was clear at this point that Matthews’ role was diminishing, as Denny managed to claim more lead vocal spots for herself, her haunting, ethereal vocals perfectly suited for the direction the band was heading. Elsewhere the music was characterized by the shimmering guitars of Thompson and Simon Nicol, accentuated here and there by flourishes of accordion, autoharp, harpsichord and more. Recorded at a crossroads in terms of both band membership and musical style, it is remarkable that What We Did On Our Holidays is such a strong and consistent record.
Fairport Convention (1968) <|> Unhalfbricking (1969)
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