Close to the Wind is a compilation drawn from Fairport Convention's 16th and 17th albums, Red & Gold (December 1988) and The Five Seasons (December 1990), boasting eight of the 11 songs from the former and eight of the ten from the latter, re-sequenced. On these albums, originally released in the U.S. by the Rough Trade label, the quintet of guitarist Simon Nicol, bass player Dave Pegg, multi-instrumentalist Martin Allcock, violinist Ric Sanders, and drummer Dave Mattacks staked a claim for the reunited full-time band. It was a tight unit in which Nicol took most of the lead vocals, singing well on the combination of traditional folk songs and borrowed originals by such writers as Ralph McTell, Bob Dylan, and Huw Williams, with powerful instrumentals led by Allcock and Sanders. The strongest track on either album, and thus on this one, is "Red and Gold," McTell's reminiscence of the English Civil War of the 17th century, as fought in Cropredy, not coincidentally the site of Fairport Convention's annual folk festival. There is also an excellent reading of Dylan's Basement Tapes-era "Open the Door, Richard." Not all of the songs come up to that standard, however, and the editing to get the two albums onto one disc eliminates several tunes written by Allcock and Sanders. Still, this is a good collection of late-'80s/early-'90s Fairport Convention.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann