Subscriber article

Low Culture Podcast: Fairport Convention’s Liege & Lief

In this month’s subscriber podcast John Doran and Luke Turner discuss a record that caused a seismic shift in British music and, despite mining an ancient tradition, remains entirely relevant today

All together now! “A holiday, a holiday, and the first one of the year!” In this month’s Low Culture podcast Luke Turner and John Doran go back to 1969 to discuss an album that radically transformed British folk rock. Fairport Convention’s Liege & Lief was the third album the group released in a tumultuous year, following on from What We Did On Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking and an appalling motorway crash that killed drummer Martin Lamble and Jeannie Franklyn, the girlfriend of guitarist Richard Thompson. We talk about how peerless singer Sandy Denny helped inspire the band to look away from America and into the rich folk heritage of the British Isles. This happened as they moved into a beautiful old house in the deserted village of Farley Chamberlayne, an idyllic time that saw Fairport decide to break with notions of authenticity and create their own unique interpretation of ancient songs of sex, death and magic, such as ‘Tam Lin’ and ‘Matty Groves’. That murderous cuckolding anthem is a particular favourite here at tQHQ, the song that turned John from a folk sceptic into an enthusiast. Discover more about that journey up hill and down dale, how Liege & Lief is an evergreen exploration of the British class system, and find out where we hear its legacy of today. We also kick off with some current cultural tips – along with John’s recommendation of Mathias Enard’s The Annual Banquet Of The Gravediggers Guild and Luke discussing Yoko Ono’s Music Of The Mind at the Tate Modern

Thanks as ever to our producer Alannah Chance and to all those who keep our show on the road with your generous subscriptions. To listen to the podcast you’ll need to be a Low Culture or Sound & Vision subscriber, signing up gives you access to this monthly broadcast plus a load more exclusive editorial, playlists, newsletters and, for the top tier, especially commissioned music. Sign up to be a tQ subscriber via the Steady checkout below or by visiting our page on the platform here.

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today