Friday, September 12, 2014

In Search of Iain Matthews: If (Stomp)

It’s day six of our search for Iain Matthews and I continue with my favorite cut from Fairport Convention’s debut album. In addition to its presence on the album, “If (Stomp)” was released in the UK as the flipside of the band’s first single: “If I had a Ribbon Bow.” While the album was released on Polydor, the single was on Kit Lambert’s Track Records label and was released in February 1968.

With Fairport’s rise in popularity with their December 1969 release of “Liege & Lief,” Polydor re-released the album and brought “If (Stomp)” to the forefront in April 1970. “If (Stomp)” became the plug side and was backed by “Chelsea Morning.” The remastered version of the album with four bonus tracks was released by Polydor in 2003. This was the first appearance of “If I had a Ribbon Bow” on a Fairport album. I got my copy of the song, however, in the 1970s on an import Polydor album called “Rare Tracks.”

“If (Stomp)” is such an upbeat number that you can’t listen to it without smiling. Written by Iain Matthews (credited as Ian MacDonald) and Richard Thompson, the song features Matthews on lead vocals and includes Thompson and Simon Nicol on backup vocals. No doubt it is Thompson on lead guitar and probably Nicol on the slide guitar later in the song.

I love Martin Lambles’ drum break – I’m not sure if he is drumming on a rim, the top of the bass drum, or a stack of chairs as he did on “Si Tu Dois Partir.” Lamble also plays tambourine, but it isn’t as noticeable in stereo version as it is in the mono single mix.

Others on the tune include Judy Dyble on electric autoharp and Ashley Hutchings on bass. I never noticed the autoharp until listening to the remastered version of the tune. It is in the right channel – and is quite neat – I always thought it was a guitar.

Neither single, by the way, were released in the US and the album only surfaced the second time around when it was issued on Cotillion Records, a subsidiary label of Atlantic, in 1970. Getting a copy of this LP from my brother in November 1972 was my introduction to this English mainstay and it served to whet my appetite for more Fairport music.

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