Pieter Breughel the Elder-The Wedding Dance (Dutch 1566)
The new Four Men With Beards label vinyl reissues of Fairport Convention's What We Did On Our Holidays and Unhalfbricking are superb sounding. Hearing these U.K. folk rock records on vinyl is like seeing Mean Streets on film. The essence is in the light and conveyance. My only misgiving lies in that inevitable moment a week, year or decade down the road when I find original U.K. Island label copies of the lp's and conclude that it would be imprudent to buy them both twice. I suppose I can always take solace in the rare certainty of self-knowledge that I'll buy them again anyway.
For now these are worthy substitutes.
On a related note I have to give honorable mention to the scattering of Dylan covers on these records. "Million Dollar Bash" channels the rusticity of The Band, and comes off like a bonfire anthem for a Breughel scene. But it's the soaring, heartflooding "I'll Keep it With Mine" that caps side one of What We Did On Our Holidays that really stands out. In much the same way the Byrds did, Fairport uses Dylan to augment a compatible in-house songcraft--McGuinn's with the Byrds, and Richard Thompson's earthy romanticism here. In both McGuinn's and Thompson's defense they're both rare experts at letting that influence refine their crafts without turning them derivative. But in this instance the wreath unquestionably goes to Sandy Denny, who ruptures the faux-stoicism of the original, with a delivery that pushes everything out. It's devastating.