From Cropredy to Portmeirion

I added this Fairport Convention live album to my collection today, primarily because it includes a rendition of Ralph McTell’s song Red & Gold, which I believe he wrote for the band. The recording is from their UK Winter Tour 1990.

The following two paragraphs is an edited extract from https://mainlynorfolk.info/folk/ – a website specialising in English folk music:

Red & Gold is the title track of Fairport Convention’s 1988 album, Red & Gold, with Simon Nicol, vocals and acoustic guitar; Ric Sanders, violin; Dave Mattacks, drums and keyboards; Dave Pegg, bass and backing vocals; Maartin Allcock, electric guitars and backing vocals. It was also released on the Mooncrest Fairport sampler Close to the Wind without mention of the original album. A live version was released on the album 25th Anniversary Concert which was recorded on August 14/15, 1992 at the Cropredy Festival. Another 1996 Cropredy version was released in 2002 on the Fairport unConventioNal set.

Ralph McTell explained the origin of the song, thus: “I was rehearsing in Cropredy for an album with Dave Pegg when he mentioned that there had been an English Civil War battle at Cropredy Bridge. It seemed an obvious theme for a Fairport song because of their strong associations with the village, but it wasn’t until 1985 when I was a spectator of the 5th Cropredy Festival, while listening to the band, watching the sun go down and the colours in the field changing from green and brown to red and gold, that I conceived the idea of William Timms being a witness to the fight in the same fields by the same river so many years before.”

I find it a very moving song. Very 17th Century (Oxfordshire) English in atmosphere and an exceptional example of Ralph McTell’s writing. I don’t know if he has recorded it himself.

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