"Babbacombe" Lee

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"Babbacombe" Lee_table_general_0

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"Babbacombe" Lee is a 1971 album by British folk rock group Fairport Convention, which tells the life story of John Babbacombe Lee, a Victorian-era alleged murderer who was condemned to death but reprieved after the gallows failed on three occasions to work properly. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_0

After the commercial and chart success of its predecessor, Angel Delight, the album sold disappointingly, though was critically acclaimed, and is regarded by the authors of The Electric Muse (1975) as the first "folk rock opera". "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_1

It is the band's seventh album since their debut in 1968. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_2

Concept "Babbacombe" Lee_section_0

The album follows John "Babbacombe" Lee's life story. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_3

The events of his life are described in song, from his boyhood through his conviction for murder, sentence of death, and the failure to carry out the sentence. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_4

The songs describe his boyhood poverty, his time in the Royal Navy, and his being invalided out. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_5

The album then describes how Lee went to work in the service of a Miss Keyes. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_6

While Lee was in her service, she was murdered, and he was accused, tried and convicted of the crime, and sentenced to death; however, when authorities attempted to hang him, the gallows failed three times, resulting in his release. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_7

These events are all told in song, and all but one of those songs are originals. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_8

Dave Swarbrick has explained that he conceived the album after discovering a file of old newspaper clippings in a junk shop; this file contained John Lee's own copies of the newspaper articles and was bound by him, signed and dated 30 January 1908. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_9

Because of its relatively complete narrative structure, "Babbacombe" Lee is regarded by the authors of The Electric Muse (1975) as a rock opera, and because of the band's musical style, in particular the first folk rock opera. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_10

Track listing "Babbacombe" Lee_section_1

Songs written by Fairport Convention "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_11

The original album listed tracks episodically rather than as discrete tracks, reflecting the structure of the narrative. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_12

Each of the five sections is composed of a number of songs and fragments of songs that were not listed separately on the original album. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_13

"Babbacombe" Lee_description_list_0

The later release of the album abandoned the original five-part division of the album and lists the songs as separate tracks complete with songwriting credits, as follows: "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_14

"Babbacombe" Lee_ordered_list_1

  1. "The Verdict" (read by Philip Sterling-Wall)  – 0:28"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_0
  2. "Little Did I Think" (Dave Swarbrick) – 2:19"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_1
  3. "I Was Sixteen (Part 1)" (Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg) – 1:29"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_2
  4. "John My Son" (Nicol, Pegg) – 0:44"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_3
  5. "I Was Sixteen (Part 2)" (Nicol, Pegg) – 1:17"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_4
  6. "St Ninian's Isle" (Ronald Cooper) / Trumpet Hornpipe (Traditional; arranged by Swarbrick) – 1:14"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_5
  7. "Sailor's Alphabet" (Traditional; arranged by A.L. Lloyd) – 5:50"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_6
  8. "John Lee" (Swarbrick) – 3:04"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_7
  9. "Newspaper Reading (read by A.L. Lloyd) – 0:46"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_8
  10. "Breakfast in Mayfair" (Nicol) – 3:09"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_9
  11. "Trial Song" (Swarbrick, Pegg) – 3:55"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_10
  12. "Cell Song" (Swarbrick) – 3:35"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_11
  13. "The Time Is Near" (Pegg) – 2:31"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_12
  14. "Dream Song" (Swarbrick, Pegg) – 5:24"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_13
  15. "Wake Up John (Hanging Song)" (Swarbrick, Pegg) – 5:25"Babbacombe" Lee_item_1_14

Two additional bonus tracks appear on some post-2004 CD releases: "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_15

"Babbacombe" Lee_ordered_list_2

  1. "Farewell to a Poor Man's Son" (Swarbrick)  – 4:55"Babbacombe" Lee_item_2_15
  2. "Breakfast In Mayfair" (Nicol) 3:59"Babbacombe" Lee_item_2_16

These tracks were recorded in late 1974 for the BBC 2 documentary about John Lee narrated by Melvyn Bragg. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_16

The programme was broadcast in the BBC 2 2nd House series as "The Man They Couldn't Hang – John Lee" on 1 February 1975. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_17

Personnel: Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks, Jerry Donahue, Simon Nicol (although he not in the band at this time, Nicol made a brief return for this one-off project), with, for one song, the newly returned Sandy Denny. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_18

2011 "Babbacombe" Lee Live Again "Babbacombe" Lee_section_2

In 2011, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original album, Fairport performed "Babbacombe" Lee in its entirety on both their Winter Tour and at the Cropredy Festival in August. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_19

The performance was released as a CD & digital download in 2012. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_20

Personnel: Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie, Gerry Conway. "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_21

Personnel "Babbacombe" Lee_section_3

"Babbacombe" Lee_unordered_list_3

  • Simon Nicol – vocals, guitar, dulcimer (12)"Babbacombe" Lee_item_3_17
  • Dave Mattacks – drums, electric piano (12), harmonium (6,7)"Babbacombe" Lee_item_3_18
  • Dave Swarbrick – vocals, fiddle, mandolin"Babbacombe" Lee_item_3_19
  • Dave Pegg – vocals, bass, mandolin"Babbacombe" Lee_item_3_20

on 16 and 17 (without Simon Nicol): "Babbacombe" Lee_sentence_22

"Babbacombe" Lee_unordered_list_4

  • Trevor Lucas - rhythm guitar"Babbacombe" Lee_item_4_21
  • Jerry Donahue - lead guitar"Babbacombe" Lee_item_4_22
  • Sandy Denny – vocals on "Breakfast in Mayfair""Babbacombe" Lee_item_4_23


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/"Babbacombe" Lee.