Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ian Matthews: Reno, Nevada

Here’s another Fairport Convention who has been variously known as Ian McDonald, Ian Matthews, and more recently as Iain Matthews in which he reverted back to the original spelling of his forename. From 1971, “If you saw thro’ my Eyes” is Matthew's fifth album project after exiting Fairport. It was his first of two albums for the Vertigo label.

I bought my copy from the cutout bin at Woolworths in the Eastland Shopping Center in North Versailles, PA back in 1973. It really is a great album all the way through and I labored on which song to feature in our weekly Traditional Tuesday feature. The album features the likes of other Fairport alumni Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson; Fotheringay alumni Sandy, Pat Donaldson, and Gerry Conway; as well as Tim Renwick and Andy Roberts. Matthews would form the band Plainsong with Roberts.

After much consternation, I decided on my first choice – Richard and Mimi Fariña’s “Reno, Nevada.” This was a song that Matthews and Judy Dyble sang in their Fairport days. Fairport’s version was not released until nearly 20 years later with the release of “Heyday: the BBC Radio Sessions 1968–69.” Which version is better, I will have to say I like Matthew’s version better than his previous recording with Fairport and much better than the Fariña’s original version.

One of the reasons I like this incarnation better is that I think Richard Thompson has a much better lead on this version than his lead on the earlier version. Matthews’ vocals are much more expressive and the intervening years of singing has only made him better. Additionally, the production is very tight on this recording – probably in part to the rhythm section of Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway. The same energy they brought to Fotheringay’s only LP. Enjoy.

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