Unhalfbricking is the third studio album by the English folk rock band Fairport Convention and their second album released in 1969. It is seen as a transitional album in their history and marked a further musical move away from American influences towards more traditional English folk songs that had begun on their previous album, What We Did on Our Holidays[2] and reached its peak on the follow-up, Liege & Lief, released later the same year.[3]

Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 1969[1]
RecordedJanuary–April 1969
StudioSound Techniques and Olympic, London
GenreBritish folk rock
LanguageEnglish and French
Fairport Convention chronology
What We Did on Our Holidays
Liege & Lief
1969 US release
Singles from Unhalfbricking
  1. "Si Tu Dois Partir" / "Genesis Hall"
    Released: July 1969

The album features several Bob Dylan songs, which he had not yet released. It also features what is arguably Sandy Denny's most notable achievement as a songwriter with the song "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?", which has been covered by many other performers and is now regarded as a classic. The only traditional song on the album, "A Sailor's Life", is seen as pivotal in the development of English folk rock music.

Changes in the line-up of the band, due not only to its musical direction but also to external events, mark this album as a turning point in the band's history. 1969 was a prolific year for Fairport Convention; from What We Did on Our Holidays to Liege & Lief within twelve months represented a major development.

The album also gave the band their first UK chart success, reaching number 12 in the UK album chart (the second highest position in the band's entire career), while the single release, "Si Tu Dois Partir", achieved number 21 in the UK singles chart.



Fairport Convention had been invited to Bob Dylan's London music publishers to hear then-unreleased tracks from The Basement Tapes sessions. The band's bassist, Ashley Hutchings, said "We loved it all. We would have covered all the songs if we could."[4] In the event, versions of "Percy's Song", "Million Dollar Bash" and "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" (retitled "Si Tu Dois Partir") were used on the album. The French lyrics for the latter were created during the interval of a performance at the Middle Earth Club.[5] According to guitarist Simon Nicol: "I think the boredom factor was one of the reasons we came up with this wacky idea. Three or four punters joined us in the dressing room; they were either French visitors or students of French working in London, and happened to be there that night."[5] "Percy's Song" and "Million Dollar Bash" had never been released before.[6]

The band's male vocalist Iain Matthews left during the recordings for Unhalfbricking to make his own album Matthews' Southern Comfort, after recording just one track, "Percy's Song".[7] Sandy Denny sang lead vocals on all the other songs, including her own compositions, "Autopsy", and "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?".[6] The latter was covered by many artists and is now viewed to be a classic.[8] The lengthy "A Sailor's Life", a traditional English folk song collected by A. L. Lloyd, was already part of Denny's club repertoire.[6] In particular, the version on Unhalfbricking has been described as "the turning point of Fairport's history from earlier contemporary Americana to English songs"[9] and by AllMusic's Richie Unterberger as a "clear signpost to the future".[2]

Guitarist Richard Thompson contributed two compositions to the album. The opening track, "Genesis Hall", is a slow 3/4 waltz, on which Simon Nicol played dulcimer, while Sandy Denny provided the vocals; it was the B-Side of the single release.[10] Genesis Hall was the nickname of the former Bell Hotel in Drury Lane, which had become a squat in early 1969 and later became noted for a mass eviction by the police.[11] In the view of Mojo magazine reviewer Mike Baines, "Thompson's writing reached maturity on 'Genesis Hall'".[6] "Cajun Woman", which opens the second side of the album,[12] features Dave Swarbrick's fiddle-playing in his first work with Fairport; having no electric pick-ups, the band improvised by smashing open a telephone and attaching the microphone to the instrument with an elastic band.[13]

Title and cover


The title arose from the band playing the word game Ghost while travelling to and from gigs.[14] Its object was to "avoid completing a real word",[15] and "Unhalfbricking" was Sandy Denny's creation.[16]

Eric Hayes took the photo on the sleeve design for the UK release, which featured neither album title nor band name.[17] The photo captured Denny's parents, Neil and Edna Denny, standing outside the family home at 9B Arthur Road, Wimbledon, South London, with the band distantly visible through the garden fence.[18] St Mary's Church, Wimbledon, can be seen in the background.[19] Joe Boyd later said "Unhalfbricking, then, that cover shot was taken in the early spring, right before the crash, I think; and that record came out in June".[20]

Unhalfbricking's cover in the US, released by A&M Records, was even less informative. It consisted of a picture of circus elephants with a small inset image of the band, allegedly because "the group apparently so upset their American label that they replaced it with an image of trampolining elephants".[21]



On 11 May 1969,[22] two months before the album was released, drummer Martin Lamble and Jeannie Franklyn, the girlfriend of guitarist Richard Thompson, were killed in a road accident as the band was returning from a concert in Birmingham.[23] Simon Nicol later said:

That was a big watershed, I think. In the aftermath, we thought a lot about what to do, whether to call it a day. It had been fun while it lasted but it took a definite effort of will to continue. It had given us a lot but now it had taken away a lot: was it worth it if it was going to cost people their lives? Martin was only 18 or 19 years old. He would have gone on to have been so much more than just another drummer, another musician: there was something very special about him.[23]

Ashley Hutchings also said in relation to the album cover photograph:

My memory of it is bound up with the terrible car crash. On the back cover we're all eating around a table. The shirt and the leather waistcoat I'm wearing are what I had on when the crash happened. I can clearly remember them being bloodstained. You don't forget things like that.[4]

Unhalfbricking appeared, therefore, at a difficult time for the group, but was enthusiastically received. After a period of intense reflection about their future they decided to pursue the folk rock idea further and violinist Dave Swarbrick and drummer Dave Mattacks were invited to join full-time for the follow-up, Liege & Lief.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [2]
Christgau's Record GuideA−[24]
PopMatters          [26]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [27]

AllMusic's Richie Unterberger described Unhalfbricking as "a transitional album for the young Fairport Convention, in which the group shed its closest ties to its American folk-rock influences and started to edge toward a more traditional British folk-slanted sound".[2]

Rolling Stone's John Mendelsohn, reviewing Unhalfbricking alongside Liege and Lief, was supportive, describing it as "Fairport Convention at its best" and singling out "Percy's Song" in particular as "the album's gem". He was less complimentary about "A Sailor's Life", regarding it as overlong.[28]

The album also gave the band their first UK chart success, spending a total of eight weeks in the UK album chart and reaching number 12.[29] The single "Si Tu Dois Partir" spent nine weeks on the UK singles chart and reached number 21.[29] Fairport Convention appeared on Top of the Pops on 14 August 1969, miming to the song and augmented by a roadie, Steve Sparks on percussion.[30][31]

It was voted number 688 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).[32] In 2004 Q magazine placed Unhalfbricking at number 41 in its list of the 50 Greatest British Albums Ever,[33] and in the same year The Observer, describing it as "a thoroughly English masterpiece",[4] listed it at number 27 in its Top 100 British Albums.[34] The following year, 2005, it was included in Robert Dimery's "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die".[35] The Sandy Denny track "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" was voted "Favourite Folk Track of All Time" by listeners in the Radio 2 Folk Awards 2007.[36] In 2010 Unhalfbricking was voted the second best Fairport Convention album after Liege & Lief by Mojo magazine readers.[37]

Track listing

Side one
1."Genesis Hall"Richard Thompson3:35
2."Si Tu Dois Partir"Bob Dylan2:18
3."Autopsy"Sandy Denny4:20
4."A Sailor's Life"Traditional; arranged by Denny, Thompson, Simon Nicol, Ashley Hutchings and Martin Lamble11:08
Side two
5."Cajun Woman"Thompson2:42
6."Who Knows Where the Time Goes?"Denny5:08
7."Percy's Song"Dylan6:46
8."Million Dollar Bash"Dylan2:54
Bonus tracks on CD reissue
9."Dear Landlord"Dylan4:06
10."Ballad of Easy Rider" (Bob Dylan is not officially credited as a songwriter on "Ballad of Easy Rider".[38][39])Roger McGuinn4:55

Release history


Unhalfbricking has been released on several occasions and in several formats:[2][40]

Year Country Label and catalogue number Format
1969 UK Island ILPS 9102 LP
1969 US A&M SP-4206 LP
1969 US Hannibal 4418 cassette
1969 Germany Island 849302 LP
1969 Italy International Ricordi SPA SLIR-IL LP
1969 Canada Polydor 543-098 LP
1970 Australia Festival/Island SFL 9333512 LP
1972 Japan King/Island ICL-36 LP
1973 Australia Festival/Island SFL 9333512 LP (reissue)
1974 Netherlands Island Ariola 88163XAT LP
1969 New Zealand Festival Records SFL-933512 LP
1985 US Carthage CGLP 4418 LP
1987 UK Island CID 9102 CD
1987 Japan Polystar P32D 25025 CD
1990 US Carthage CGCD 4418 CD
1990 UK Island IMCD 61 (Island Masters series) CD
1991 US Hannibal 4418 LP & cassette
1991 Japan Polystar P32D 1125 CD
1995 US Sammel 8424982 CD
2000 UK Simply Vinyl SVLP 164 LP
2003 UK Island IMCD 293 (Island Re-Masters series) CD
2007 US Simply Vinyl 00030726 LP
2008 US Water 212 CD
2008 US 4 Men With Beards 158 LP


Fairport Convention
Additional personnel



Certifications for Unhalfbricking
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[43] Silver 60,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Album Reviews" (PDF). Melody Maker. 26 July 1969. p. 18. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Unterberger, Richie. "allmusic ((( Unhalfbricking > Overview )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  3. ^ Deming, M. (2011). "Liege & Lief [Bonus Tracks] – Fairport Convention | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Harris, John (20 June 2004). "Unhalfbricking, Fairport Convention". The Observer. London. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  5. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "THE BIRTH AND HEYDAY OF FAIRPORT CONVENTION". richieunterberger.com. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d Baines, Mike (August 2010). "Fairport Convention: English folk rock's prime movers". Mojo. 201: 139.
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  8. ^ "Sold on Song – Song Library – Who Knows Where The Time Goes". BBC. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
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  10. ^ Zierke, Reinhard. "Fairport Convention: Genesis Hall". mainlynorfolk.info. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  11. ^ Fountain, Nigel (1988). Underground: the London alternative press, 1966–74. London: Routledge. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-415-00728-3. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  12. ^ Zierke, Reinhard. "Fairport Convention: Cajun Woman". mainlynorfolk.info. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  13. ^ Young, Rob (7 June 2012). Fairport Convention and Electric Folk: Faber Forty-Fives: 1967–1970. Faber & Faber. ISBN 9780571296552 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ "Unhalfbricking, Fairport Convention". The Guardian. London. 20 June 2004. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
  15. ^ "Ghost Game and other game resources". fun.familyeducation.com. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  16. ^ Greenberger, David. "Metroland Online – Recordings: Playing Games". Metroland. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  17. ^ Colwell, Stacey (5 March 2003). "Shooting Stars". Bridgewater Bulletin. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  18. ^ Irvin, Jim (1998). "Angel of Avalon: Sandy Denny". Mojo. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  19. ^ 51°25′43.03″N 0°12′37.67″W / 51.4286194°N 0.2104639°W / 51.4286194; -0.2104639 (best viewed using "StreetMap" option)
  20. ^ "Who Knows Where the Time Goes? – The Sandy Denny Story". 22 April 2008. 18 minutes in. BBC Radio 2. Archived from the original on 27 April 2008. {{cite episode}}: Missing or empty |series= (help)
  21. ^ Powell, Aubrey (July–August 2002). "Pavement to penthouse – The aesthetics of folk". Frieze Magazine (68). Archived from the original on 23 October 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  22. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "allmusic ((( Martin Lamble > Overview )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  23. ^ a b "History: Simon Nicol writes about Fairport". fairportconvention.com. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  24. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: F". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 24 February 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  25. ^ Deusner, Stephen (2 May 2008). "Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking". Pitchfork. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  26. ^ Ranta, Alan (27 June 2008). "Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking". PopMatters. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  27. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0857125958.
  28. ^ Mendelsohn, John (11 June 1970). "Fairport Convention". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 17 February 2007.
  29. ^ a b "FAIRPORT CONVENTION – full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  30. ^ Zierke, Reinhard. "Fairport Convention: Si Tu Dois Partir". mainlynorfolk.info. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  31. ^ "Fairport Convention Fansite " Expletive-Delighted!" – Discography : SI TU DOIS PARTIR / GENESIS HALL". musikfolk.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  32. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 222. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  33. ^ "Q Magazine – 3 Special Editions Jan, Feb, March 2004". rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
  34. ^ "The list in full". The Guardian. London. 20 June 2004. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  35. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2005). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. London: Cassell. ISBN 978-0-7893-1371-3.
  36. ^ "BBC – Press Office – Radio 2 Folk Awards 2007 winners". BBC. 6 February 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2008.
  37. ^ Baines, Mike (August 2010). "Fairport Convention: English folk rock's prime movers". Mojo. 201: 138–139.
  38. ^ Rogan, Johnny (1997). Ballad of Easy Rider (Media notes). The Byrds. Columbia Records.
  39. ^ Zierke, Reinhard (13 June 2011). "Fairport Convention: Ballad of Easy Rider". Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  40. ^ Zierke, Reinhard. "Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking". mainlynorfolk.info. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  41. ^ "Fairport Convention: Si Tu Dois Partir". mainlynorfolk.info. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  42. ^ Hutchings, Ashley (2003). Unhalfbricking (Media notes). Fairport Convention. Island Records. pp. 3, 16.
  43. ^ "British album certifications – Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 23 October 2023.