This two-on-one CD contains two of the most overlooked albums in the vast Fairport Convention catalog. Bonny Bunch of Roses was released in 1977 and Tippler's Tales in 1978. Both employed the same lineup of fiddler/vocalist Dave Swarbrick, bassist Dave Pegg, guitarist Simon Nicol, and drummer Bruce Rowland. Not many (and perhaps none) of the '70s Fairport albums retained the same personnel on consecutive releases; thus, a consistency of sound permeates these two records that hadn't existed for years due to the unwritten revolving-door policy of Fairport Convention. Sure, the rock & roll landscape was changing rapidly in the late '70s, but that shouldn't have justified the knee-jerk rejection of all artists preserving their decade-long style. In retrospect, these two recordings are important as they mark the final studio sessions featuring Swarbrick, as he left to form Whippersnapper after Fairport's brief retirement. His soulful style of playing, and to a lesser extent, singing, were vital to Fairport's patented sound early in the '70s. He is particularly moving singing "The Bonny Bunch of Roses" and "The Last Waltz." Bonny Bunch of Roses receives a slight nod over Tippler's Tales due to the greater use of Swarbrick's lead vocals, but both albums compare favorably with Fairport's early-'70s output. They are besmirched simply because of the years in which they were released. Actually, Fairport Convention should be lauded for not feeling the need to drastically overhaul their sound as virtually all veteran '70s band did, like Renaissance, Horslips, Gentle Giant, and Genesis. King Crimson had the foresight to call it quits for a few years before reconvening, but Fairport Convention had the courage to persevere.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Sleger