Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Fairport Convention: Liege and Lief [A&M, 1970]
Because the rhythm section has oomph and the singer soul, their pursuit of the Pentangle down the wooded path of jigs and ballads isn't entirely disastrous. But it sounds more like liege than lief to me. Traditional or original, these songs are either momentary escapes--that is, dances--or tales of common folk battling fate and the class system to something less than a standoff. Matty Groves outfucks Lord Donald, but Lord Donald kills Matty as well as his own wife; the Deserter is betrayed by comrade and sweetheart, then saved--to be a soldier--by Prince Albert. And the music, inevitably, reflects this fatalism. B-