Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bill Fay

"From the Bottom of an Old Grandfather Clock"

K. H. Orton (New York, NY USA):
I bought this on a whim. Being a huge Nick Drake fan, I was hoping for another shadowy genius in a garret. And I suppose he is. Though, what I heard was more like SGT PEPPERS on downers.

Though these are demos & outtakes, the sound quality is alot better than expected. This is amazing stuff. Imagine The Beatles & a sort of British answer to Leonard Cohen all rolled into one. Yet, his songs have their own unique style that truely sets them apart. While he displays the ability to write a catchy commercial hook, his lyrics often touch on the maudlin & at times the surreal. A name like Syd Barrett comes close if you need comparison.

"Brighton Beach" is a bleak tale of suicide. "We Want You To Stay" & "Just Another Song" borrow from the English Musical Hall tradition. Only darker than Sgt. Pepper's & far less didactic than The Kinks at the time. "Camille" brings Blanche Dubois to mind, being carted off at the end of Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire.

The melancholy anthem, "Be Not So Fearful" could be his signature tune. Apparently Wilco has even done a cover. Based on what I hear on this, I'm loathe to seek it out. Easily one of the most moving tracks on the album. "The Sun Is Bored" preceeds Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon by 10 years or so & Fay's infectious sense of melody comes to a fore on "Morning Train".

In general, the songs live up to haunting titles like, "Strangers In The Feilds". From 1st to last, this a stunning find. Well worth any import price. Indispensible for any Psyche/Folk fans out there. Personally, I am blown away by this. If hard pressed to name a favorite tune, I suppose, its "Maudie La Lune".

Suffice it to say, Fay's relative obscurity has awarded him fabled cult status. Being dubbed British Pop's answer to J.D. Salinger by MOJO magazine doesn't hurt either. But epitaphs like "doomed romantic", "tragic fate" & "disappeared" simply don't apply. Take one listen & words like "genius" just might.

Eventhough Fay's 1971 debut masterpiece & the bleak follow up, TIME OF THE PERSECUTION are now back in print, I still heartily recommend this. Though there's some song overlap, don't pass this up. There's too much amazing stuff on here you won't hear any where else. At this point, I rank this up there as one of my favorite albums.


Bill Fay Group "Tomorrow Tomorrow and Tomorrow"

K. H. Orton (New York, NY USA):
For fans who marveled over From The Bottom Of A Gradfather Clock, this is a must have. While Grandfather was a collection of demos recorded between 1966-70, this 1978-81 offering generally comes off more like an esoteric cross between Dark Side of the Moon & The Alan Parsons Project. That said, Fay's deep rooted melancholia is still there despite the dated production. As are those Beatlesque hooks. Things start off with the suitably spaced out "Strange Stairway". Despite the cheesy synths, "Planet Earth Daytime" could be Fay's answer to Sgt. Pepper's a "Day In The Life". The half spoken title track is as haunting and beautiful as it gets. Though titles like "Life" & "Man" may seem a touch too deep and portentious, both are quite moving peices. Fans will either be thankful or frustrated by the medley of several "lost songs", which are essentially incomplete glimpses of some amazing stuff that suffered from tape deterioration. Highlights here include my personal favorite, "Just A Moon", the Syd Barrett-esque, "Sam" & "Lamp Shining". While not as satisfying as Grandfather, Tomorrow should be enough to tide the intruiged over till the promised release of his 2 now legenday Decca albums this May. If you're a fan of Nick Drake or Elliott Smith, Bill Fay might be the well kept secret you've been looking for.


Anonymous Emil Thompson said...

Actually the vinyl version of Tomorrow has a different track list, they had disposed of the medley and put other tracks in it's place I haven't got the vinyl version but would love to hear it. So glad I found Bill Fay, he's the biz...also wired magazine did an interview with him a couple of years back..check the back issues.
All best

06 October, 2007 19:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought both these CDs recently, along with his other two after I heard them here. They are very cool additions to my collection.

06 October, 2007 23:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent choice. Thanks!

07 October, 2007 04:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing these! bless you.

07 October, 2007 10:29  
Anonymous ge said...

Shouldn't there be some consideration for the living artist who may collect royalties from CD sales of these in-print/available albums? Put yourself in his [probably not too new & shiny] shoes!

07 October, 2007 19:45  
Anonymous Manila said...

I thought twice about downloading these - I'd never heard of Bill Fay. But this is great stuff, and yet again I'm in debt to this fabulous blog.

07 October, 2007 19:55  
Anonymous Manila said...

To ge:

This is a point that has some up on this and other blogs more than once. I think it's only fair that someone gives you an answer (if only from my own perspective). Most of the posts on this blog are of long-deleted, almost impossible to get albums. That, I think, explains its longevity when others have been forced to close. Indeed, some of the artists, or those associated with them, have been generous enough to leave comments thanking people for remembering them (I'm thinking here of Leo O'Kelly from Tir na nOg, and Krysia Kocjan's very proud - and rightly so! - husband, Rob. Though there have been others.) Very occasionally an artist complains, and Lizardson immediately removes the download link.
In the case of Bill Fay I can only say this (and again, I speak for no one but myself). As I said in my previous comment, I had never heard of Bill and I was amazed at how good he was. Based on this post I will certainly be on the lookout to buy his CDs. I think you'll find that is the case with a lot of people here. In general - and I say that because every blog has leeches, who grab the music, never leave a comment and don't give a damn about the artists - on this blog people are sensitive to the whole issue.

I realise this may not be a convincing argument (in certain, specific cases I have argued AGAINST it myself - with regard to Nic Jones' later CDs, for example) but I felt you deserved a reply, particularly since you made your point reasonably and without insults.

08 October, 2007 00:16  
Anonymous streaker said...

From my perspective I agree that the living artist should be compensated but then again these files are very, very low fi quality so one would assume that if anyone falls in love with any of the extremely obscure singers on this blog they would go out and buy the CD to get the higher quality. Also, from another way to look at it most of the music I discovered on Time Has Told Me I never would have heard on the radio and never would have bought since I had no idea they existed before this. One might also lament that Lizardson hosts this site and does all this work posting this amazing music without any compensation. That is time and money out of his pocket for love of this project of his. One can look at this like a library. There are many books in a library that one can read but that does not stop people from going out and buying a brand new copy for themselves now and then. Should we close the libraries to deprive the authors of some lost revenue? Anyhow, it is not an easy question.

08 October, 2007 13:09  
Anonymous Manila said...

Streaker's comment about this being a kind of library reminded me of something that struck me a while back. Some of the albums on this blog - in particular (but not exclusively) a number of the older UK folk albums - are so incredibly rare that most of us had given up hope of ever hearing them again. There is very little economic incentive for a company to put them out as CDs, and there have been rumours of master tapes rotting away for lack of proper care. (I think Dick Gaughan once referred to that as 'cultural vandalism.') Whatever the rights and wrongs of ripping these albums, it has made this blog a unique repository of extremely valuable (in the cultural sense) recordings. Has anyone looked down the list of artists included here lately? It's practically a who's-who of (mainly) British folk over the last 40 years! And though I've been a folk enthusiast for most of that time there are many, many albums that I never even knew existed. I just wish there was somewhere the files could be sent - as a kind of digital library - so they wouldn't, in time, be lost again. Sooner or later (and I hope it's not for a very long time!) this blog will close and the situation will go back to the way it was before: hardly any of the rarer folk albums available, even to researchers. Food for thought?

Regarding my previous comment on the Bill Fay albums, I'm still not 100% sure if I'm right or wrong. But like many of the people here, I do care about this music.

08 October, 2007 17:15  
Anonymous Corvux corax said...

Hello Lizardson. I'm a lady from Spain. I wish to say you thanks for having this blogg. It's always a pleasure to read and listen to the music that many people and you put here.

(Sorry, my english is very bad)

Thank you again!!!

09 October, 2007 16:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I just wanted to highlight what I posted before this discussion got going:

"I bought both these CDs recently, along with his other two after I heard them here. They are very cool additions to my collection."

I have bought several CDs after hearing them here first, some at great expense as imports. My rule of thumb is that if I'm still listening after about 3 listens, I need to go buy it. And I have never regreted it.

You know what I think artists should do is to start routinely putting a "make a donation" button on their web sites if they have out of print records in their discography. Then you know they're getting the money directly.

It may seem like a waste to some people, but it feels good to show the artist appreciation by tossing a few bucks their way.

I am very thankful that Lizardson does this.

11 October, 2007 10:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome is a much used word nowadays - but this is truly an awesome site. I can't thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to listen to long lost and legendary items that I never expected to get the chance to hear. I feel I should be buying you a pint every day for the rest of your life. May the Gods bless you.

02 March, 2009 02:55  
Blogger Dennis Robinson said...

Pardon me for asking, but could you perchance up the "Tomorrow" album as well?

02 July, 2009 07:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please give me a link to the album, I won't tell it anybody (it will be our only secret).

02 September, 2009 18:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow:

and sorry for this Bill...

Simon House

10 November, 2009 07:10  
Anonymous [uzine] said...

You can listen to Bill Fay here, without downloading. Do BUY "Still Some Light" as (A) it's wonderful and (B) all the artist's profits from the release will go to the major charities active in the poorest places of the world.

23 January, 2010 19:00  

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