I used to be a regular reader, but these days I seldom bother buying Mojo. This month seemed a must-buy, though, since it contained a bumper celebration of Island’s 50th anniversary, including a 13 track CD of music from the more folky side of the label’s catalogue. Half of it was familiar to me being a Sandy Denny / Fairport / Richard Thompson fan (Sandy sings on three of the tracks – Fotheringay’s “The Sea”, Fairport’s version of the folk standard “She Moves Through the Fair” and her own Beautiful “No More Sad Refrains” from her final album), but four of the acts I’d never heard before, although I’d long been aware of them. Dr Strangely Strange and Quintessence didn’t make much of an impression, being of the cosmic-hippie-folk genre that always comes across as a bit wet to me (see also Donovan). The Amazing Blondel were famous for their cod-medievalism, but they just made me think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail or the first series of Blackadder – ie a bit silly. Claire Hamill’s “Where Are Your Smiles At” from her 1971 album One House Left Standing is a little gem, though. I definitely need to hear more from her. I’ve known the name for years owing to her stuff always being racked next to Peter Hammill in record shops, but never knew anything about her.
The other tunes by Jethro Tull, John Martyn, Nirvana (the original version) and the Incredible String Band are all pretty good, so it’s certainly well worth buying the mag for the CD alone. As for the articles, there’s a interesting interview with Chris Blackwell, a fairly comprehensive top fifty (although I was a bit miffed to see that Ultravox! were missing – surely Ha! Ha! Ha! or Systems of Romance warranted inclusion) and a badly subbed piece (I thought “Black Dog” was by Led Zeppelin – silly me) on Nick Drake which doesn’t really add much to the reams already written about him.
Anyway, happy birthday Island – even if the label is just a name these days rather than a proper record company.
Fairport doing Now Be Thankful in 1970