This recording has all the appearance and feel of a '90s version of The Bunch Rock On or another Cropredy Festival record, albeit on a smaller scale. Birthday Party, however, is simply a celebration commemorating Fairport Convention bassist Dave Pegg's 50th birthday. Consisting of Chuck Berry rock & roll classics, Fairport favorites like "Rosie" and "Me With You," along with folk singalongs and remakes of Bob Dylan and Band songs, this isn't your average birthday bash. And the cast of supporting characters is as varied and impressive as one might expect. Fairport members old and new like Dave Swarbrick, Jerry Donahue, Martin Allcock, and Chris Leslie -- along with the Ian Campbell Folk Group and guitarists Roger Hill and Ben Bennion -- all make significant contributions. The between-song banter is interesting enough (and appropriate, given the event), isn't overdone, and doesn't appear scripted. The best is saved for last, though, as the foursome of Bennion, Pegg, Allcock, and singer/drummer Mick Bullard plow through Robbie Robertson's "The Shape I'm In" and "The Weight" in loose yet soulful Band style and conclude in grand fashion with Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone."
Birthday Party Review
by Dave Sleger