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Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?

red max 31 Jan 05 - 08:36 AM
Weasel Books 31 Jan 05 - 09:04 AM
Torctgyd 31 Jan 05 - 09:18 AM
The Borchester Echo 31 Jan 05 - 09:42 AM
red max 31 Jan 05 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,Russ 31 Jan 05 - 12:30 PM
michaelr 31 Jan 05 - 01:17 PM
Nerd 31 Jan 05 - 01:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Jan 05 - 01:51 PM
Nerd 31 Jan 05 - 02:11 PM
The Borchester Echo 31 Jan 05 - 02:12 PM
chris nightbird childs 31 Jan 05 - 02:41 PM
Nerd 31 Jan 05 - 03:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Jan 05 - 04:14 PM
Richard Bridge 31 Jan 05 - 06:46 PM
Nerd 31 Jan 05 - 08:09 PM
Teresa 31 Jan 05 - 08:23 PM
woodsie 31 Jan 05 - 08:23 PM
GUEST,folkrocker 31 Jan 05 - 10:00 PM
IanC 01 Feb 05 - 04:24 AM
Teresa 01 Feb 05 - 04:30 AM
red max 01 Feb 05 - 05:29 AM
SarahNash 01 Feb 05 - 07:37 AM
John Routledge 01 Feb 05 - 08:07 AM
Merina 01 Feb 05 - 09:52 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Feb 05 - 12:54 PM
The Borchester Echo 01 Feb 05 - 01:32 PM
Nerd 01 Feb 05 - 02:43 PM
The Borchester Echo 01 Feb 05 - 03:36 PM
red max 01 Feb 05 - 03:44 PM
Phil Cooper 01 Feb 05 - 03:53 PM
Nerd 01 Feb 05 - 04:38 PM
Bobert 01 Feb 05 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Wolfgang 02 Feb 05 - 06:24 AM
GUEST,Dáithí Ó Geanainn 02 Feb 05 - 09:01 AM
sleepy jim 29 May 07 - 10:10 PM
Bee 30 May 07 - 10:02 AM
greg stephens 30 May 07 - 11:27 AM
IanC 30 May 07 - 11:50 AM
Folk Form # 1 31 May 07 - 07:58 AM
GUEST,baz parkes 31 May 07 - 11:19 AM
Geordie-Peorgie 31 May 07 - 12:52 PM
Ruth Archer 31 May 07 - 02:11 PM
The Borchester Echo 31 May 07 - 02:25 PM
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The Borchester Echo 31 May 07 - 02:42 PM
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Subject: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: red max
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:36 AM

Let me stress that I'm a big fan of both, and am not trying to instigate a "who's better?" debate here. I'm just puzzled by the decidedly different attitude folk fans have towards each band. They probably share equal credit for introducing thousands of people to folk music, but while Fairport seem to enjoy universal respect and affection, the same can't be said for Steeleye. Indeed, I've heard many condescending comments about them, almost as if their legacy had done more harm than good

There are several parallels you can draw between the bands: they started up within a few years of each other, both had commercial success, both split up towards the end of the seventies and reunited sporadically during the eighties. Both have settled into a reasonably stable period with several long-standing members still on board. But Steeleye's profile is decidedly lower- I'm afraid they're not playing to packed houses anymore. And yet, when you look back on their studio output they've maintained a pretty high standard, which can't really be said for Fairport, let's be honest

Is it really the curse of All around my hat? Does snobbery come into this? Or have Fairport managed to create more of a community via the Cropredy Festival? They certainly seems to be a real family atmosphere around them, whereas Steeleye don't even have an official website. Perhaps Fairport's repertoire is more accesible? Steeleye have stuck more to the trad-arr approach, which might not be to everyone's taste. I'm curious to know what people think about this


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Weasel Books
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 09:04 AM

Well, I for one didn't really appreciate Steeleye that much until a few weeks ago.
Last year I had bought a double CD The Lark in the Morning which is all of the first 3 albums. I bought it mainly because I am a fan of Terry Woods. Until now I didn't much care for it. Dunno why, maybe it takes time. But you must give Steeleye credit for sticking to playing the traditional stuff with new instruments.
Fairport crossed over more readily into rock.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Torctgyd
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 09:18 AM

A good question. Personally I've always preferred Steeleye to Fairport but, off the top of my head here are a few possible answers to your question:

Fairport 'fell' into folk whereas Steeleye were folk who 'fell' into rock. Steeleye were from the wrong side of the tracks.

Most of Fairport's cannon of work has been self penned by the likes of Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny etc. whereas Steeleye relied more on traditional material and the self penned material was not considered to be by the quality of writers Fairport had.

Fairport had the 'dead pop star' effect with the tragic deaths of members (or ex members).

But perhaps it is that Fairport Convention got there first.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 09:42 AM

The founder of both bands was Ashley Hutchings. Fairport didn't "fall into folk". Ashley was always involved in traditional music and brought his knowledge to the band which he quit after becoming dissatisfied with the musical direction it was beginning to take. He then proceeded to take exactly the same path with Steeleye. It was then with the early Morris On and Albion projects that the real ideological divide became apparent: those who stuck to the narrow folk-rock path by electrifying traditional material and those who considered this a blind alley and experimented rather with self-written material in traditional style.

Personally, I stopped taking either band seriously as credible exponents of the tradition more than 30 years ago. This isn't to say that quite a lot of their work isn't very well done for what it is, and listenable. And I'd agree that the Cropredy brigade seem a lot more vocal than the Steeleye camp. I just don't see it as an especially important argument.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: red max
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 10:16 AM

Probably not important, granted, but as Steeleye Span introduced me to folk I'll always be especially fond of them, and I think their contribution to the genre should be celebrated rather than - as sometimes is the case - derided


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 12:30 PM

Back when I was into that sort of thing I preferred Steeleye. More traditional stuff, less rock'n'roll.

Haven't listened to either in decades.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: michaelr
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 01:17 PM

Lead singers aside, I believe that Fairport, for the most part, had better musicians in its various lineups.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 01:21 PM

Actually, it's not true that Ashley was "always involved in traditional music." He began Fairport as a teenager and it was, initially, just a rock band with no traditional content at all--any "folk" influences were limited to singer-songwriters and the Byrds. He began to be interested in traditional music while with Fairport. In this sense it is true that Fairport "fell into folk."

Steeleye did not fall into rock, however. Their whole point, intially, was to be an electric band playing traditional songs. One could say, though, that individual members of Steeleye "fell into rock." While some, like Tim Hart, had been in rock bands before, I don't think Maddy had.

Why the difference in respect? I think, first of all, that some of the premises offered at the outset weren't quite right: both Fairport and Steeleye have recorded albums that weren't so hot. Look at "Back in Line," for example.

I also think that Steeleye don't try as hard. This is not a musical criticism, I just think it's true. They see it as a band that will tour once or twice a year, and they don't make a big deal out of it. I remember when I interviewed them all back in the 90s, Liam Genockey was pretty frustrated because he thought there wasn't a lot of thought going into their set: one hour of "greatest hits," finishing off with Thomas the Rhymer and All Around My Hat, year after year.

Now Fairport are also frequently coasting on old material, but they have released many more albums than Steeleye and also put a lot of work into touring and into their festival.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 01:51 PM

If I had to choose for my desert island discs, it'd alway be Steeleye Sapn over Fairport. I'd have assumed that was the general opinion when it came to rating the two bands.

But putting musicians in some kind of ranking order generally seems to me to be missing the point of the music.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 02:11 PM

I do agree with McGrath on both points, for the record. I personally listen to Steeleye more, and also think it's silly to rank musicians.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 02:12 PM

Nerd said:

Actually, it's not true that Ashley was "always involved in traditional music."

Actually it is, though I grant you Fairport's initial recorded output was pure rock, influenced more by west coast America than England's west country musical landscape.   And not just Ashley's, but Richard Thompson's musical experience was rooted in the tradition. My source? The first major interview I published on Steeleye's relaunch with Martin Carthy in the lineup in 1971. Prior to this, as a full-time EFDSS worker, I'd had the pleasure of meeting members of both bands on an almost daily basis as they researched Liege & Lief , Hark The Village Wait and Please To See The King.

To the best of my knowledge, Tim Hart had never been in a rock band before joining Steeleye, though Bob Johnson and Rick Kemp certainly had.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 02:41 PM

Is this another Purist thread?


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 03:01 PM

Tim was in a rock band called the Ratfinks. And as you say, Bob and Rick had also been in rock bands. Terry had been in electric versions of Sweeney's Men, Peter had been a classical child prodigy, etc, etc.

I'm still not sure what you mean that Ashley was "involved" in traditional music prior to forming Fairport, let alone that he was "always involved" in it, which is of course a logical impossibility. What do you mean by "involvement" in this case? What do you mean by "always?" Remember that by the time you were meeting Ashley and he was researching Liege and Lief, he was already In Fairport and had been for a couple of years.

The one folky thing he HAD done in some quantity before Fairport was Skiffle/jug band music like the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra, and in that context he did play some traditional English songs along with all the American blues and what was then called "trad," which was, of course, oldtime jazz. Is that skiffle experience what you mean?


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 04:14 PM

Skiffle surely courts as traditional music, even if the tradition it came out of was from across the Atlantic.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 06:46 PM

I think one might want to re-play the music of both bands before assessing. I gleefully acquired a collection of Fairport on CD a few months back, and much of it seemed very banal, whereas I could not say the same of Steeleye. I would have thought it was Steeleye that generally had the greater respect. With the exception of a few great songs (eg Meet on the Ledge) Fairport just sound (to me) average tired and dated now.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:09 PM

Okay, then, McGrath. But almost every English rock band began with people with some interest in American traditional music, namely the blues and the occasional folk song, which is precisely what Ashley had. I don't think you'd explain the Beatles or the Rolling Stones by saying "they were involved in traditional music." Likewise, I consider a primarily American-based blues and jug band player who forms a Byrds-like American-style rock band and then takes a sudden interest in traditional English folk music to have made a switch, not to have continued in the same stylistic trend. Certainly the other band members felt that way too, which is one reason the band went through a number of lineup changes in quick succession.

In the biography by Hinton and Wall, Hutchings himself talks about the Liege and Lief period as when he first got interested in traditional folk music: for example, he says he wasn't interested in magic at all in early 1968: "that only came later, with my reading of Child ballads and getting interested in the folk tradition." Prior to that his interest was in Blues, in American country music, in American rock music, and in jug bands. He doesn't call any of that "traditional music." Indeed, he doesn't even call the ethnic shuffle orchestra "skiffle," but rather "a jug band." "Skiffle" was my characterization of it, but I'm not sure he'd agree.   

I don't mean to split hairs about all this stuff, I just think in talking about Fairport and Steeleye there really is a distinction to be made, in that Fairport was a pre-existing rock band that took an interest in English folk songs, largely through Ashley suddenly becoming interested in them in late 1968 and early 69.

Steeleye, on the other hand, was an electric folk band, made up initially of people who were part of the folk scene. This was not an accident, but part of Ashley's design. Fairport was the group he happened to be in when he became interested in playing traditional music, while Steeleye was the group he formed in order to play traditional music. There's a big difference there as far as the groups' relationships to folk music go.

Looking back on his Fairport years, you can see how Ashley tried to convert Fairport to a more folk-friendly band by bringing in Swarb, but it didn't work that well. According to Joe Boyd, by the way, Ashley's bringing in Sandy Denny had been the catalyst that got him interested in English folk songs, but a desire to do folk songs was not why they hired her; she had simply auditioned and been brought in because she had the best voice of all those who showed up to try out. Over time, they realized that they could put a couple of her trad. songs in their set, hence "Nottamun Town" and "A Sailor's Life." Finally, Ashley decided that was where his interests lay, hence Swarb joining up full time and the creation of Liege & Lief.

Ironically, Sandy had seen Fairport as her ticket out of the folk club scene, and saw this as a backward step for her. Richard, who was synonymous with the band at that time, was enjoying the traditional stuff but didn't want to make a career of it. (There was in fact very little traditional background to RT's playing, by the way, except that he loved his Scottish father's Jimmy Shand records; not that that's unimportant, mind you! But he was very much a rock player, and also listened to classical music; he mentions Debussy as an early influence more than any kind of folk music.) Hence, there were tensions within the band about precisely that issue: was their goal to play traditional folk music or not? Richard's was not. Sandy's was not. Ashley's was. Simon, Swarb and Dave Mattacks were pretty open-minded about it, and just liked being in the band. It was largely because of this tension that Ashley, Sandy and Richard were all gone within about thirteen months of recording Liege and Lief, Sandy and Richard to do their own songwriting, Ashley to focus more on traditional material, and Fairport to follow what was sort of a middle path.

Funnily enough, Steeleye had the same sort of issues. Although their initial lineup's breakup was more personal than musical, it's also true that Gay and Terry Woods were not particularly interested in traditional songs anymore by the time they joined Steeleye. They were known for them, of course (or Terry was; Gay was known primarily as Terry's wife at the time) but both went on rather quickly to rock. It was the second lineup, with Martin Carthy and then Peter Knight, that finally gelled because it was finally a whole group of people whose primary interest was in playing traditional music in an electric way. That had never been true of Fairport.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Teresa
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:23 PM

Max, I've noticed the sort of polarity on this subject, too, and never understood it. I like both equally. Of course, this may be because I discovered both bands in the mid-80s, so I don't have the context that some do.

I think I have a slight preference for steeleye, but that is just subjective.

Teresa


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: woodsie
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 08:23 PM

Fairport Convention were brilliant - I was priveliged to have seen them several times in 1968 - 69. There is still a band knocking around with the same name, but I'm not sure who the are.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: GUEST,folkrocker
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 10:00 PM

I think one difference which has not been addressed above is the fact that Fairport had a much looser feel to their music, whereas Steeleye's arrangements were more complex. Both have a place, but I don't think comparisons should be made.

Both bands had wonderful musicians in the line up over the years, and I would never try to rate one over the other, they were different and that made them worth listening to. I have great respect for both bands and all the variants of them, but I do not think of them as competitors or even as equals, they are just different entities with their own sounds and approaches to their music.

Sorry for the rant.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: IanC
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 04:24 AM

I used to listen to more Fairport, but now it tends to be Steeleye. I think that's because the Steeleye stuff is basically just folk played with electric instruments, and is more timeless because of this.

In fact, I think the Shirley Collins / Albion Band era might just prove to be more long-lasting in the end. It's only their tapes that I have ever taught myself songs from. The Steeleye stuff still tends to bend the tunes etc. a lot more.

I think it's faily clear that Ashley Hutchings was interested in folk music before Fairport. Here are some useful early details

Ashley Hutchings started his musical life as a fan of skiffle, a highly rhythmic British answer to American folk and R&B, played at its most basic level on acoustic guitars, washtub bass, and washboard percussion, which became popular in England in the middle and late '50s. He also had an appreciation for "trad," a British form of Dixieland jazz that had become popular in Britain at the beginning of the 1950s. He listened to a lot of early English and American rock & roll, but by the early '60s had developed a deep and abiding love for folk music as well. He began singing and playing bass in a skiffle band, and later graduated from the washtub version of the instrument to a proper upright bass.

In 1966, he formed the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra with Simon Nicol (guitar), Steve Airey (guitar), and Bryan King (washboard), which played a mixture of English skiffle, American R&B, and folk music from the British Isles. Their work together led Hutchings -- who was known then as "Tyger," a nickname he'd picked up because of his aggressiveness on the football field -- and Nicol, and new colleague Richard Thompson to form Fairport Convention in 1967, with Martin Lamble (succeeded, after his death in a car crash, by Dave Mattacks) and Judy Dyble (later replaced by Sandy Denny) added to the line-up. Fairport Convention performed a similar mix of traditional English folk, original songs, and American singer/songwriter material. After three albums structured along those lines, the band recorded Liege and Lief, a record drawn largely from traditional folk material. When it became clear to Hutchings, however, that future albums would include far more original material, he exited the line-up and began organizing a new band, Steeleye Span.


:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Teresa
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 04:30 AM

Thank you, IanC. I think you nailed the reason I tend to listen to more steeleye. Again, not saying one is "better" than the other.

Teresa


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: red max
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 05:29 AM

Some good points here, thanks. Let me repeat, I don't want to compare the merits of the bands, it was just the contrast in people's attitudes towards them that puzzled me

Nerd makes an interesting point about Steeleye perhaps not trying as hard. On the face of it they're hardly putting a foot wrong: They Called Her Babylon was a very strong album, and the gig I saw on the Winter tour was very enjoyable. BUT the theatre was half empty! I gather Fairport's last appearance at the same venue sold out completely. They're obviously doing something right, and I strongly suspect Cropredy has really galvanised their fanbase. Steeleye fans don't even have a website to visit!

About the trad aspect, would it be helpful to specify British/Irish trad here? Wasn't Liege & Lief advertised as "the first British folk rock album"? I don't think Fairport have recorded what could be termed a "trad" album since Tipplers Tales, a fact that probably emphasises Swarb's influence. As has been pointed out, Steeleye were pretty much formed around Ashley's desire to play traditional music, and as it gave them such huge success I guess they feel a stronger affinity to it than Fairport


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: SarahNash
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 07:37 AM

Possibly the fact that Fairport have their own festival as a platform for their music, whereas Steeleye haven't really been a full time band since the 80s?

Both have made albums I like and albums I don't, but I've noticed that Fairport put themselves in the public eye considerably more.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: John Routledge
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 08:07 AM

In my younger life everything had to have a pigeon hole so Steeleye were "Folk" and Fairport were "Rock" :0)

So I listened to almost no Fairport.

My loss I think.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Merina
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 09:52 AM

Marketing. Great over-generalisation but a lot of Fairport's continued following rests on rousing the troops at the annual Cropredy beer picnic. Having not had a great or charismatic singer since the early 1970s, they've successfully gone for the beery blokes. It's basically pub rock meets rugby club with jigs'n'reels, and they've built a significant community out of that audience. Steeleye never had that marketing drive. Neither band have musically produced much of real significance since their innovative years when they were hungry and motivated, but as barnetfolkbabe said, Fairport have definitely been much better at keeping in the public eye. And as somebody else said, since SS were considered 'folk' and FC 'rock', the latter have been helped more by the rock nostagia press too.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 12:54 PM

I don't think you'd explain the Beatles or the Rolling Stones by saying "they were involved in traditional music."

I would actually. That's what made the differenc e.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 01:32 PM

Well, Nerd, I can only repeat what Ashley told me about his early musical influences as I didn't - as you point out - meet him till 1969. OTOH, the writers of all the bios you've been reading could just have been making it up as they went along. Or just didn't ask the right questions...

True, Ashley might, after all, have been lying through his teeth when he spoke with vast knowledge and great affection about the English tradition which had interested him for some years. But it didn't sound like it. He was particularly annoyed at those who just assumed that Fairport's embracing of English traditional music was down to Swarb and Sandy.   And that love of the music has never left him. I don't pretend to like everything he has done because some of it didn't really work but I admire his tenacity and perseverence.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Nerd
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 02:43 PM

McGrath,

yup. That would make the difference alright :-)

countessrichard,

if you judge by all the recorded output of every band and demo tape Ashley was involved with before 1968, you will see little evidence of any interest in traditional English song. An interview I had with him in 1996 suggested essentially the same thing (for I too have met all these folks or in Ashley's case, spoken on the phone), as does the direct quote from Ashley in the Hinton and Wall biography putting his interest in the folk tradition still in the future in early 1968, and everything else that has been published. His influences and interests were Blues first of all and then Americana in all forms. As McGrath says, some of it was traditional music, so I must concede that point! But it was not English folk music; it was the same traditional music all British rock bands were starting from, and does nothing to suggest Fairport's future direction.

I don't think Ashley was "lying through his teeth," if he did indeed profess a long-time love of English folk song in 1969, but I do think at nineteen one tends to exaggerate and say "I've been interested in this for a very long time" when in fact you mean about a year, which would have been right when you met him. Especially if you're trying to look serious to an impressive full-time employee the EFDSS! It's similar to RT: when they were doing publicity for Liege and Lief it was natural to emphasize whatever traditional influences he had had--primarly, as I said, his dad's Jimmy Shands. But he doesn't emphasize that nowadays when talking about his early influences.

IanC, as I said, "skiffle" was an interpretation put on the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra by music journalists; Ashley himself says it was a jug band and is quite clear on influences like Cannon's Jug Stompers. I've never seen much evidence apart from your quote that they played "folk music from the British Isles," though I have seen that article before. Indeed, it was written by my colleague Bruce Eder from New York, for a book of which I was one of the editors! (Too bad I didn't catch it then--but I never noticed the paucity of references to Skiffle in Ashley's own statements until looking through them for this thread!) I think some reviewers, including me, have assumed ESO was a "skiffle band," and then put their generic expectations of skiffle onto it. Ashley called it a jug band, though he certainly knew about skiffle too.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 03:36 PM

an impressive full-time employee (of) the EFDSS

Moi?

Ashley is exactly the same age as I am. In 1969 we were 24.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: red max
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 03:44 PM

"they've successfully gone for the beery blokes. It's basically pub rock"

A little like Lindisfarne, perhaps?


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 03:53 PM

I'm fond of both Fairport and Steeleye. Especially the trad oriented work. Fairport had better songwriters for their contemporary songs. The original workings of Steeleye Span didn't do much for me. What I particularly liked about fairport was the fact that they knew how to play electric instruments when they went into their traditional experiments. I liked what Steeleye Span did in that respect as well. Some of the bands that followed, I felt, plugged in before they really knew what they were doing.

Case in point, in my opinion, was the first Five Hand Reel recording. I love the recording, don't get me wrong. But, I don't think they had quite all the nuances down that electric instruments were capable of. I recently got the CD version of Liege & Lief and was reminded of how great a recording that is. As far as Steeleye goes, the records you can't touch for quality are anything in the early Carthy line up through Commoners Crown. Below the Salt and Parcel of Rogues are particular favorites.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Nerd
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 04:38 PM

Ah, he was older than I thought in 1969! But that doesn't mean you aren't impressive, countess richard :-)


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Bobert
Date: 01 Feb 05 - 06:12 PM

Hey, I know that I ain't 'sposed to say who I like the most so I won't but, IMHO, Fairport Convention's songs seem more interesting, better written and their songs & harmonies more memorable. Now if someone wants to equate that with respect, fine...

Like I said, IMHO...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: GUEST,Wolfgang
Date: 02 Feb 05 - 06:24 AM

I also prefer Steeleye when it comes to the small island choice, but like many of my music tastes this could change next decade.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: GUEST,Dáithí Ó Geanainn
Date: 02 Feb 05 - 09:01 AM

Well I get a chance to update my opinion of fairport ....they're playing my town (Lincoln)tomorrow night, so will be interesting to hearwhat they're doing nowadays. (Promoting a new album, for one thing).
Meanwhile, I'm still in love with Maddy Prior's voice anyway..her album about the wheel of the year a cupla years ago was excellent.
Dáith


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: sleepy jim
Date: 29 May 07 - 10:10 PM

I agree that what helps Fairport is their annual bash in North Oxon and i understand Steeleye are having their own annual bash towards the end of July (this year 2007)so perhaps they understand the value of the annual pilgrimage for the devotees. No one has really mentioned that Fairport produced Richard Thompson - one of our most talented musicians - and he still sort of "belongs" to Fairport as he turns every couple of years at Cropredy. i dont think Steeleye have produced anyone of a similar ilk but then not many bands have someone who can at the same time rank alongside Dylan as a songwriter and Clapton as a guitarist ?


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Bee
Date: 30 May 07 - 10:02 AM

I like both bands, they get equal listening time, pretty much. All of the above opinions and information are interesting. But here's a little quirk: it took me ages to even listen to Steeleye Span, because I had their name firmly mixed up with Steely Dan, which band I did not like.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: greg stephens
Date: 30 May 07 - 11:27 AM

My knowledge of both band lies in the future(except for All Around my Hat and Si Tu Vois Partir).Folk rock never attracted my attention at the time, so I think it's time I bought a couple of CDs and had a listen to them. Which one most represents each band, would you say? Then I could have a little study of the subject.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: IanC
Date: 30 May 07 - 11:50 AM

Greg

Fairport - no doubt - Leige & Leif
Steeleye - could be any of half a dozen ... Rocket Cottage? ... Original Masters might be a good place.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Folk Form # 1
Date: 31 May 07 - 07:58 AM

I call Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and the Albions the Holy Trinity of English Folk Rock; so I see them all as equally good.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 31 May 07 - 11:19 AM

Interesting question Greg

I think the "which steeleye" question is much harder to answer than the which fairport. I think after the sad loss of Sandy, there evolved a "generic" Fairport sound...which is a good one.

Carthy Steeleye is very different from Kirkpatrick Seeleye is very different from....and they're all good ones.

I do believe Bob Johnson to be one of the most underrated guitarists in this field though

Baz

Donning false beard disguise and ducking behind parapet....


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Geordie-Peorgie
Date: 31 May 07 - 12:52 PM

Quite right Baz!

Bob Johnson IS a superb guitarist and VASTLY underrated.

Peter Knight is also (IMHO) every bit as fine a fiddle player as Swarb

But..... They are both great bands who, over the years, have produced some superb music

I love 'em both!


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 31 May 07 - 02:11 PM

"Pity them what see him suffer
Pit poor old Steely Dan..."

Nope - doesn't work quite so well.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 31 May 07 - 02:25 PM

I went to get my SS pics out of the drawer in the newspaper's art department (this was 1971 and digital cameras hadn't actually been invented) and found them not there.

Turns out somebody had filed them under Steel Ice Band.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: GUEST,Spidey Bobe
Date: 31 May 07 - 02:39 PM

And I played in 2 bands with [Steve Airey (guitar)] and am still in touch with him today!


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 31 May 07 - 02:42 PM

Yes, well we can all play Airey Guitar and it often sounds better than the real thing, especially when it's a blue Telecaster sans pickup.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: GUEST,Mr. Gubbins (no not that one!)
Date: 31 May 07 - 03:44 PM

*Ashley Hutchings started his musical life as a fan of skiffle, a highly rhythmic British answer to American folk and R&B, played at its most basic level on acoustic guitars, washtub bass, and washboard percussion, which became popular in England in the middle and late '50s. He also had an appreciation for "trad," a British form of Dixieland jazz that had become popular in Britain at the beginning of the 1950s. He listened to a lot of early English and American rock & roll, but by the early '60s had developed a deep and abiding love for folk music as well. He began singing and playing bass in a skiffle band, and later graduated from the washtub version of the instrument to a proper upright bass.

In 1966, he formed the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra with Simon Nicol (guitar), Steve Airey (guitar), and Bryan King (washboard), which played a mixture of English skiffle, American R&B, and folk music from the British Isles. Their work together led Hutchings -- who was known then as "Tyger," a nickname he'd picked up because of his aggressiveness on the football field -- and Nicol, and new colleague Richard Thompson to form Fairport Convention in 1967, with Martin Lamble (succeeded, after his death in a car crash, by Dave Mattacks) and Judy Dyble (later replaced by Sandy Denny) added to the line-up. Fairport Convention performed a similar mix of traditional English folk, original songs, and American singer/songwriter material. After three albums structured along those lines, the band recorded Liege and Lief, a record drawn largely from traditional folk material. When it became clear to Hutchings, however, that future albums would include far more original material, he exited the line-up and began organizing a new band, Steeleye Span.*

Rather odd that this account doesn't include Mr Hutchings' time with Dr. K's Blues Band, of which,I believe, he was a founding member.


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 31 May 07 - 05:20 PM

There are many reasons why Folk Music is my favourite musical form but there was a time (a Golden Age?) when I could say it was because it didn't contain all this bollocks about 'bands' and 'guitar heroes' (yawnnnn!!!!) etc., etc. ... then along came Fairport, Steeleye et. al., and I had to tick that one off the list ... oh dear!


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: BanjoRay
Date: 31 May 07 - 05:48 PM

I agree Shimrod. It was all the folk rock that made me concentrate on American Old Time - the guys in the US still play good stuff like their grandfathers used to.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Fairport/Steeleye - unequal respect?
From: ClaireBear
Date: 31 May 07 - 06:28 PM

I am coming rather late to this conversation, but when these bands first became known to me in California -- which would have been about 1969, I think -- I rushed out to acquire everything I could from Fairport and from my third member of the holy trinity, Pentangle. (Didn't discover Ashley Hutchings until years later.) Steeleye Span I liked very much too, but I never got around to rushing out to buy any Steeleye records, though I happily listened to them when someone else put them on.

The reason, I've always thought, is that I saw what both Fairport and Pentangle did as "fusion" -- of folk and rock in Fairport's case, folk and jazz in Pentangle's.

I found this fusion, an entirely new concept to me at the time, deeply stimulating and conceptually more interesting than SS's music, which it seemed to me was performed in straight folk style and just happened to have some electric instrumentation in the background. Steeleye didn't "challenge" me the same way the fusion bands did. I listened to them more for source, background, and singalong material rather than for intellectual stimulation.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I found the fusion style more innovative and transformative of my own budding musical style than the electrified folk of SS. But again, let me stress that I think I liked all three bands equally, if in different ways.

My two cents...

Claire (ducking and covering)


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