Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Bill Fay" (UK SSW 1970)

Songwriter Bill Fay's self-titled debut album was issued on Decca in the aftermath of his "Some Good Advice"/ "Screams in the Ears" single in 1970. It is a startling but uneven collection of unusual folk-pop songs that stand the test of time for their idiosyncratic vision and unique, if at times overblown, nearly Baroque arrangements by Mike Gibbs. The album sold poorly, but well enough for the label to invest in a further offering, the stripped-down Time of the Last Persecution issued in 1971, before releasing him from his contract. Bill Fay is very much a product of its time; more lushly orchestrated than Nick Drake's Bryter Layter, it was recorded in one day. Gibbs had taken a cassette of Fay's demos of the songs and worked on them for a few weeks beforehand, showing up to meet the songwriter in the studio on the day of recording with a 27-piece orchestra. The small band that backed Fay included guitarist Ray Russell and drummer John Marshall. This was Gibbs' first set of arrangements for a full album, and it shows. Fay's songs are delicate, spiritually dense, and searching -- particularly the searing "Garden Song" and the sprawling "The Room." Gibbs' use of brass and strings can sometimes overshadow the stark, personal intimacy of these songs, with their arcane lyrics and elementary melodies. But it's a small complaint because of the striking originality of Fay's vision. "Good Night Stan," with its jazzed-up horn charts, stands in marked contrast to Fay's minor-key minimalist melody, and the juxtaposition is a poignant one. "Cannons Plain" is a poetic exhortation to an unnamed other. The phrasing melds folk and Anglicized country as Gibbs winds up the horns in the center of the song, turning it into an arrangement that would be fitting on Richard Harris' A Tramp Shining had Townes Van Zandt been British; another case in point is "Be Not So Fearful." Fay's unusual lyric schemes and canny spiritual insights have been chided in the past for their pretension, but 35 years later they sound fresh, innocent, mysterious, and compelling. The Eclectic Discs reissue is fully remastered from the original tapes and includes the aforementioned first single as a bonus. The package contains complete notes written by Fay as well as photos and lyrics. While Time of the Last Persecution is Fay's mythic "classic" album, this outing is essential for anyone interested in the British folk-pop songwriting scene of the time. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

Sample pic: Click


Blogger Reidar said...

mmm.. wonderful! A real gem :)

01 November, 2006 01:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sound quality seems affected by some
wow/flutter. Was it taken from a tape?

very much thanks for this.


03 November, 2006 03:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You Guys for providing the Music
EVERY Household Breadth and Length of
the uk and beyond should have a piece of this decca nova masterpiece
forever in debt for your fortitude

08 February, 2007 12:29  
Blogger Carlos said...

Lizardson & Friends,
Thanks for the excelent blog.
When I saw this blog some links were broken, then I ask you to post, when it'a possible, the albuns from Tranquility.
Thanks again,

15 March, 2007 03:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's all very great, but where is a link to the album?!

02 September, 2009 18:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Simon House

10 November, 2009 07:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could someone post the passwords for the above two files? Thanks

22 November, 2009 11:40  

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