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Liege & Lief
Studio album by Fairport Convention
Released December 1969
July 1970 (USA)
Recorded October 16, 19, 22, 29 and November 1, 1969, Sound Techniques, London
Genre Electric folk
Length 40:33
Label Island ILPS 9115
A&M SP-4257 (July 1970)
Producer Joe Boyd for Witchseason Productions Ltd.
Professional reviews
Fairport Convention chronology
Liege & Lief
Full House

Liege & Lief, released in 1969, is the fourth album released by the English electric folk group Fairport Convention. The album, which established British folk rock as a distinct genre, is considered one of the most influential folk albums of all time.[1][2]

Following the motorway accident that had killed Martin Lamble, the band were left without a drummer. After the release of Unhalfbricking, Dave Mattacks took over the role and, having previously been a drummer at Mecca Ballrooms, had to "learn a whole new style of drumming."[3] Dave Swarbrick, a little older than the rest of the band, had already been in a successful duo with guitarist Martin Carthy. After his appearance on Unhalfbricking, he too joined Fairport full-time.



The band rehearsed and put together Liege & Lief over the summer of 1969 at a house in Farley Chamberlayne, near Winchester, launching it with a sold-out concert in London's Royal Festival Hall late in 1969.

Gone were the covers of songs by Bob Dylan and others, replaced by electrified versions of traditional English folksongs and the first of a long line of instrumental medleys of folk dance tunes driven by Dave Swarbrick's violin playing. Much of this material had been found by Ashley Hutchings in Cecil Sharp's collection, maintained by the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

The title is composed of two Middle English words: liege meaning loyal[4] and lief meaning ready.[5][1] The cover, a gatefold in grey and purple, featured cameo images of the band along with tracklisting and credits.

Soon after the release of Liege & Lief, Ashley Hutchings left to further pursue traditional music in a new band, Steeleye Span; Sandy Denny also left to form Fotheringay.

In 2007 a double album "Liege and Lief Deluxe Edition" was released; the second album consisted mainly of BBC radio live performances and two stylistically uncharacteristic outtakes, the Frank Sinatra songs "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "Fly Me to the Moon".[6]

Reception and influence

Liege & Lief was promoted by John Peel on his Top Gear radio programme[7] and the album spent fifteen weeks in the UK album chart, reaching number 17.[8]

AllMusic's reviewer summed the album up as "while [it] was the most purely folk-oriented Fairport Convention album to date, it also rocked hard in a thoroughly original and uncompromising way".

The album has come to be regarded as having a major influence in the development of British folk rock. It was voted the 'most important folk album of all time' by BBC Radio 2 listeners in 2002, and at the 2006 BBC Radio 2 folk awards Liege and Lief won the award for Most influential Folk Album of all time. At the event, the original line-up of Simon Nicol, Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Mattacks, with Chris While replacing Sandy Denny, performed Matty Groves. Georgia Lucas, the daughter of Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas, accepted the award on behalf of her late mother. This commemoration was repeated on 10 August 2007 at Cropredy, when the complete album was performed.

In June 2007, Mojo magazine listed Liege & Lief at number 58 in its list of "100 Records that changed the world".[9]

Track listing


Side one

  1. "Come All Ye" (Sandy Denny, Ashley Hutchings) - 4:55
  2. "Reynardine" (traditional, arranged by Fairport) - 4:33
  3. "Matty Groves" (trad., arr. Fairport) - 8:08
  4. "Farewell, Farewell"[10] (Richard Thompson) - 2:38

Side two

  1. "The Deserter" (trad., arr. Fairport) - 4:10
  2. Medley (trad., arr. Dave Swarbrick) - 4:00
    1. "The Lark in the Morning"
    2. "Rakish Paddy"
    3. "Foxhunters' Jig"
    4. "Toss the Feathers"
  3. "Tam Lin" (trad., arr. Swarbrick) - 7:20
  4. "Crazy Man Michael" (Thompson, Swarbrick) - 4:35

CD reissue bonus tracks (previously unreleased)

  1. "Sir Patrick Spens"[11] (trad., arr. Fairport)
  2. "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" (Take 1)[12] (trad., arr. by Denny, Thompson, Swarbrick, Dave Mattacks, words by Richard Fariña;)


  • Recorded at Sound Techniques Ltd., London
  • Engineered by John Wood
  • Cover photography - Eric Hayes
  • Sleeve concept & design - Fairport & Roberta Nicol
  • Design coordination - Diogenic Attempts Ltd



  1. ^ a b Harris, John (2007-08-03). "There was a manic feeling in the air". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-12-30.  
  2. ^ "The seventh BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (2006)". BBC Radio 2. Retrieved 2008-12-30.  
  3. ^ "Simon Nicol writes about Fairport Convention". Retrieved 2008-05-05.  
  4. ^ "Liege". Retrieved 2008-05-05.  
  5. ^ "Lief". Retrieved 2008-05-05.  
  6. ^ "Netrhythms : A to Z Album and Gig Reviews". Retrieved 2008-05-05.  
  7. ^ "Features: The Liege & Lief Story". Retrieved 2008-05-05.  
  8. ^ UK Chart Stats
  9. ^ "MOJO - (June 2007) 100 Records That Changed the World". Retrieved 2008-05-05.  
  10. ^ this is the music to Child Ballad 100 Willie o Winsbury with new lyrics or possibly Fause Foodrage - Child #89 - the melody of which was used by Andy Irvine for his (& subsequent) readings of Willie O' Winsbury. Penney, Stuart; Chris Savage (Novermber 1996). "Strike Me Pink!". Record Collector (207): 129.  
  11. ^ sung by Sandy Denny, unlike the later version that appears on Full House
  12. ^ alternate take from the one used on the Sandy Denny— Who Knows Where the Time Goes? box set

External links


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