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Fairport Convention - 'Babbacombe' Lee CD (album) cover

'BABBACOMBE' LEE

Fairport Convention

 

Prog Related

3.72 | 41 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Babbacombe Lee is the seventh studio album by British folk/ rock act Fairport Convention. Fairport Conventionīs last two albums Full House (1970) and Angel Delight (1971) was not to my taste so I wasnīt exactly looking forward to listening to Babbacombe Lee either. Big mistake that one though because Babbacombe Lee is a great album and a real surprise for me. Itīs condidered the first folk/ rock opera in music history and as it is a concept album that description isnīt far from the truth IMO.

The lyrics are very important on this album and I would suggest that you read ( if you have the CD version) John Leeīs story which is in the booklet before listening to the album. At least I got a kick out of doing it that way. It is a true story.

His story is actually a very sinister and bizarre one and well worth a mention. John Lee was wrongfully ( at least thatīs his version of the story) accused, convicted and sentenced to death for the brutal murder of his mistress Miss Keyse (whom he worked for at the time of the murder) in the town of Babbacombe ( hence his nickname which is also the name of the album). But on the day of his execution the release mechanishm in the scaffold didnīt work. Three times they tried to hang John Lee, but failed. The strange thing is that between those three attempts the release mechanism did work. After the three failed attempts to hang John Lee the queen commutes his sentence to penal servitude for life which in 1885 Victorian England meant twenty years.

Now the lyrics on the first half of the album is about John Leeīs life before the murder. His youth and his time in the Navy before he was invalided out by the pneumonia. The last part of the album is about the murder, the trial and the failed execution. The music is very well crafted folk/ rock which follows the mood in the story all the way through the album. I really like the shifting mood and I think itīs one of the seldom cases where a concept story doesnīt ruin ( at least to some extent) the music.

The musicianship is excellent and it finally sound like thereīs confidence in the vocals. Something I missed greatly on Full House and Angel Delight. The fiddle and flute parts are much more restrained on Babbacombe Lee and and it means that this album has a lesser degree of folk compared to its two predecessors. Some of the songs actually rock and Iīm almost reminded of Fairport Conventionīs excellent debut album.

The production is also much more powerful than on the two last albums from the band which is a great treat and something I really enjoy.

Babbacombe Lee is an excellent album and for me who had given up on the band after Angel Delight itīs a welcome return to form. Somewhere between a 3 and a 4 star rating, but Iīm gonna give Babbacombe Lee the 4 stars because I just canīt seem to stop listening to the album and that must indicate something. One of the best Fairport Convention albums I have listened to so far and very recommendable.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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