Fairport Convention

Across the Decades

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Across the Decades is an apt title for a band that's as much an institution as anything. With more than 35 years under their belt, Fairport have a huge catalog to cherry-pick from for what's essentially a best-of release. Be warned, however, that there's nothing from the classic Sandy Denny/Richard Thompson lineup that helped invent British folk-rock. Instead, this picks up in 1971, although there are cuts from Denny's second, mid-'70s stint with the band. However, the bulk comes from later on, although many of the names are familiar, as is a great deal of the material; the pieces are played with plenty of energy and skill -- probably more skill than when some of them were first rolled out. But they stand the test of time, as do many of the songs, several of which are written in styles influenced by the tradition. Purists might well turn their noses up at some of this, and demand compilations that trawl all the way back in the band's history, and, to be fair, there was a magic about some early lineups that's not completely evident here. However, that's not to decry any of this, especially at a budget price for a double-CD set. It's not the perfect introduction to Fairport, but for those curious about the slightly later years, this is a good way to sample that.

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