Tippler's Tales is not a concept album, even though alcohol is a recurrent motif in many of the traditional numbers like "Three Drunken Maidens" and "John Barleycorn." (Even the instrumentals get in on the act, with titles like "The Bottom of the Punch Bowl" and "Hair of the Dogma.") But despite appearances, Tippler's Tales is really just the post-Sandy Denny edition of Fairport Convention doing what the bandmembers do best -- taking some fine old traditional English jigs, reels, and traditional narratives and putting their own distinctive folk-rock stamp on them. The clear highlight is the tale of "The Widow of Westmorland" (aka "The Widow of Westmorland's Daughter"), a typically saucy traditional number about a simple maiden who decides to regain her virginity. This song became a Fairport concert staple, as did the robust drinking songs "Ye Mariners All" and the aforementioned "Three Drunken Maidens," all of which are performed here with humor and verve. Also of note is Dave Pegg's jaunty instrumental "Bankruptured," which was later recut for Expletive Delighted! With the band beginning to find its way again after a few patchy years, and Simon Nicol really starting to come into his own as a vocalist, it was truly a shame when Fairport shut down as a recording unit for seven years following the release of this album.
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AllMusic Review by Rudyard Kennedy