Liege & Lief

Jon Hall, jgc.hall@tiscali.co.uk, March 21, 2002

Release Date - 6th May 2002

The classic Fairport Convention album from 1969 digitally remastered by Joe Boyd. Contains two bonus tracks "Sir Patrick Spens (Alternate Take) and The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood (Alternate Take) Voted The Most Important Folk Album of All Time by the listeners of BBC Radio 2 ".. it stands the test of time as a ground-breaking work of genuine originality and bravery." - Joe Boyd

Liege and Lief began in the summer of 1969 under the most inauspicious of circumstances. The group were poised to disband. No one could imagine playing the same songs again without thinking of Martin Lamble, their drummer, killed in the terrible crash that spring that also took the life of Richard Thompson's girlfriend, Jeannie Taylor.

Slowly, painfully, they came around to the idea of re-forming, but the original members felt strongly that there had to be a new direction, a completely new repertoire, so that they would never have to revisit the songs and styles they had developed over the years with Martin. There were many reasons they turned to British traditional music for this new project, but there were two I recall thinking were the most important.

Sandy had a habit of educating them on long trips and long waits in dressing rooms by playing traditional ballads. The group grew to love them, particularly Ashley, who started frequenting the archives at Cecil Sharp House and researching different versions of the great ballads. So the two prime inspirations for this new era for Fairport, ironically, were the two who would be the first to leave, soon after the album was released. When I visited the farmhouse that summer where they were rehearsing with new members Dave Swarbrick and Dave Mattacks, I was amazed by what they were doing. It sounded revolutionary and so it proved. Looking back, I can find fault with some things on Liege and Lief. But overall, it stands the test of time as a ground-breaking work of genuine originality and bravery.

Joe Boyd - Spring 2002

Track Listing 1. COME ALL YE 5.02 2. REYNARDINE 4.33 3. MATTY GROVES 8.09 4. FAREWELL, FAREWELL 2.39 5. THE DESERTER 4.23 6. MEDELY: The Lark In The Morning, Rakish Paddy, Foxhunter's Jig, Toss The Feathers 4.08 7. TAM LIN 7.13 8. CRAZY MAN MICHAEL 4.40 Bonus Tracks 9. SIR PATRICK SPENS (Alternate Take) 4.00 10. THE QUIET JOYS OF BROTHERHOOD (Alternate Take) 10.16 Cat. No. IMCD 291
John Hall, April 9, 2002

Originally posted to Richard Thompson List by Arie Euwijk
Just played the new Liege & Lief version, which came to me in a pre-release CDR version. So now I can shed some light on the two extra tracks.

"Sir Patrick Spens", with Sandy taking the lead, sounds better than the Sandy version on Ashley Hutchings' "Guv'nor 2" cd. I mean sonic-wise, because it could be the same version, but without the sucking sound on the drums to be found on the Guv'nor. Those sucking sounds (the more technically informed among you will have a better word for it) could be deliberate, in which case we have a different version now, or it could have to do with the age of the sourcetape (as Ashley prob. had a copy and not the mastertape) and they used a better one for this remaster. This version sounds as if she's still learning the song. I was thinking of that photograph from those Liege & Lief rehearsals on which we see Sandy singing with a piece of paper in her hand. Too bad that the best version of SPS with Sandy, on which she sings more assured, from the same BBC date as Tam Lin and Reynardine on the remastered Heyday isn't yet officially available.

The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood is indeed 10'16 long and then again not. Let me explain: It's different from the take used on the Sandy box. It's more than likely the same session, Dave Swarbrick plays violin, Richard Thompson plays electric dulcimer and Dave Mattacks drums. But DM is far more busy and more to the fore than on the boxset version, he uses even some cymbals. Maybe the version we already know is better suited to the subject matter, but I like this one better. The whole take is about 7'48, with the last minute an instrumental outro played between RT and DM, with a little Swarb. After this we hear nothing for a minute, then some talk and two abortive takes. It starts with "take two", after about 20 seconds RT makes a mistake and then we get "take three" followed by a minute of music stopped by Sandy as she mixes up words. After "take four" it ends at 10'15. That take four could be the one we got on the boxset, but who's to know? Maybe the linernotes will tell us more in a month's time..(prob. not) So not really a take of 10 minutes, but it is def. longer and IMHO even better.

The rest? As good as it ever was and prob. sounding better than ever. But for me it is almost impossible to hear it as such. After more than 30 years this album is a part of me, I can hear it without actually playing it. I hope you know what I mean, in cases as this I always find that my English isn't good enough to express myself. Ik kan dit album dromen, there you have it. Flip and Gosse and some others will understand.

Vriendelijke groeten
From: No'am Newman, March 20, 2011

The subject (Liege & Lief Outtakes) was discussed here before, slightly before August 2006. Here's what I wrote then: Once I heard CMM, then I knew what I was listening to. These 'outtakes' were passed around several years ago, but as far as my ears can tell, they're not really outtakes, but rather early mixes of the final versions. For example, CMM is missing Richard's Leslie'd guitar but otherwise is the released version. I'm not too sure about "Farewell, farewell"; it sounds like a slightly different mix, but it does contain all the component parts of the version we know.

One interesting thing: the disc which I have runs a bit faster and Sandy's voice is a bit higher than the versions recently posted. Whilst this can be done digitally, I sorely doubt that anyone would actually do so. I think that someone had a reel-to-reel which was running a bit fast, and that this was the source of the disc which I have, whereas the versions which have just turned up came from someone with a reel-to-reel running at the correct speed.

I don't think that anyone is trying to impress us with long lost alternate takes; neither do I think that someone has created these with studio trickery. It's similar to many of the Beatles' bootlegs with alternate versions: they're simply the final versions missing one or more instruments which were overdubbed at the end.

It actually says a lot about Joe Boyd's production techniques: it sounds like he would record the whole band at once - including vocals - and then add on whatever instruments needed to be added, normally Richard. The 'genuine alternative' takes of 'Quiet Joys of Brotherhood' on the remastered Liege & Lief show that Sandy would be recorded along with everyone else. Check out Richard's playing on 'Million Dollar Bash': he contributes wonderful runs when everybody else is singing, but when it's his verse, he only plays a simple rhythm part.

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