Fairport Convention – Shuffle and Go

Album Review | Matty Grooves | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

If you walk along the Fortis Green road in the heart of Muswell Hill, you will come across the old Fairport House, where the band would noisily rehearse back in 1967, taking part of their name from a wooden plaque screwed to the wall next to the front door. Remarkably, the plaque is still there even after all these years, whereas the old Kinks’ house across the street, where the Davies brothers would punch each other’s lights out all day (and most of the night), has very much disappeared. This is perhaps a sign of the endurance of Fairport Convention, who are still together fifty-three years on and with original member Simon Nicol, whose parents owned the house, still at the helm.

During the last half century Fairport have released over thirty albums of varying quality, many more if you count all the compilations and live recordings, and the band shows no immediate signs of slowing down. Shuffle and Go is surprisingly good with one or two fine moments, notably the highly melodic McCartney-esque “Cider Rain”, which suits Simon’s voice remarkably well, written by the Brittany band Rosemary and the Brainless Idols. If Chris Leslie’s “Shuffle and Go” almost guarantees jiving in the aisles, then Rob Beattie’s “A Thousand Bars”, one of the band’s favourite subjects, will no doubt have its moment when the lighters come out during the chorus at this summer’s annual outdoor shindig near Banbury. Sharing the lead voice throughout the album, Simon, Chris and Dave (Pegg), maintain our interest and keep the album flowing, even coming together to share the verses of James Taylor’s “Jolly Springtime”. No Fairport album is complete though, without one or two fiddle tunes, notably the rather enchanting album closer “Precious Time”, courtesy of Ric Sanders. Personally, I can’t help being a die hard fan of the old stuff, but I reckon I’ll pop Shuffle and Go on the player every now and again.

Choice Track: Cider Rain (NSV 496)