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Woebot
05-05-2005, 09:49 AM
I've been on the trail of this guy ever since i clocked that piece Rob Young wrote in The Wire on him. He's a British singer-songwriter who put out two very moody LPs in the early seventies which apparently interfaced with the improvisation of that era. I like the suggestion that improv has some bearing on his sound (even only if it means some of his musicians are hired hands from the improv scene), it seems as though it would lend proceedings some grit.

And isnt there a bit of a buzz around about him at the time anyway. That group Wilco have done a cover of one of his tracks etc. Anyway hype hype brr. So I had to laugh when i came across this on allmusic.com:

Obscure British singer/songwriter Bill Fay made a couple of albums in the early '70s that matched oblique sub-Dylanesque (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1%3Cimg%20src=%22images/smilies/biggrin.gif%22%20border=%220%22%20alt=%22%22%20tit le=%22Big%20Grin%22%20smilieid=%223%22%20class=%22 inlineimg%22%20/%3EYLANESQUE) songwriting with unusual arrangements, though it didn't add up to anything notable. Fay had actually done his first single, "Some Good Advice"/"Screams in the Ears," for Deram back in 1967, produced by early Donovan (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1%3Cimg%20src=%22images/smilies/biggrin.gif%22%20border=%220%22%20alt=%22%22%20tit le=%22Big%20Grin%22%20smilieid=%223%22%20class=%22 inlineimg%22%20/%3EONOVAN) co-manager Peter Eden (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1:PETER%7CEDEN). The single introduced his characteristic downbeat melodies and scrambled impressionistic lyrics, though with somewhat more pop-oriented production and melodies than those heard on his albums.

It wouldn't be until 1970 that his self-titled debut appeared. Bill Fay (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=2:BILL%7CFAY) is an odd and not particularly good record, in large part because his songwriting has the obvious ambition of song-poets like Bob Dylan (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1:BOB%7CDYLAN) and Leonard Cohen (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1:LEONARD%7CCOHEN), but not nearly as much talent. His hoarse, thin singing is also obviously Dylan (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1%3Cimg%20src=%22images/smilies/biggrin.gif%22%20border=%220%22%20alt=%22%22%20tit le=%22Big%20Grin%22%20smilieid=%223%22%20class=%22 inlineimg%22%20/%3EYLAN)-influenced, but like fellow Dylan (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1%3Cimg%20src=%22images/smilies/biggrin.gif%22%20border=%220%22%20alt=%22%22%20tit le=%22Big%20Grin%22%20smilieid=%223%22%20class=%22 inlineimg%22%20/%3EYLAN) acolyte David Blue (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1%3Cimg%20src=%22images/smilies/biggrin.gif%22%20border=%220%22%20alt=%22%22%20tit le=%22Big%20Grin%22%20smilieid=%223%22%20class=%22 inlineimg%22%20/%3EAVID%7CBLUE), he had the tendency to go distressingly off-key. There was a bit of the British lilting storytelling style to his songwriting, in the path of Al Stewart (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1:AL%7CSTEWART), Donovan (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1%3Cimg%20src=%22images/smilies/biggrin.gif%22%20border=%220%22%20alt=%22%22%20tit le=%22Big%20Grin%22%20smilieid=%223%22%20class=%22 inlineimg%22%20/%3EONOVAN), and Nick Drake (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1:NICK%7CDRAKE), but these traits were far subordinate to the inchoate Dylanisms (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=1%3Cimg%20src=%22images/smilies/biggrin.gif%22%20border=%220%22%20alt=%22%22%20tit le=%22Big%20Grin%22%20smilieid=%223%22%20class=%22 inlineimg%22%20/%3EYLANISMS). Twee orchestral arrangements figure strongly on the record, as if to cover up for some of the artist's vocal deficiencies. His second LP, Time of the Last Persecution (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE57B16DA4FA87E20C59E3645DA947BFD05D24C ED8B1F325E5D92BA234F912B4CB977CDDC87F2B670AB7CB0FD 2EA45F43D7C0ED5EF6DE672D4CF0&sql=2:TIME%7COF%7CTHE%7CLAST%7CPERS) (from 1971), was similar in its songwriting, but far more straightforward and rock-oriented in its production, and more conventionally accomplished in its vocal delivery. Though still not noteworthy, it was definitely better than its predecessor, and sometimes enlivened by unexpectedly gnarly rock guitar.

So is he really any good?

Rachel Verinder
05-05-2005, 10:02 AM
yes...

http://cookham.blogspot.com/2003_02_02_cookham_archive.html#88536084

...and yes again.

http://hemingwoid.blogspot.com/2005/04/bill-fay-group-tomorrow-tomorrow-and.html

francesco
05-05-2005, 10:40 AM
.... and yes again again, expecially, for my depressing taste, the bitter "Time of last persecution", which of the title track Current 93 (who put out the inedit album recently) make an heartbreacking version live.

Woebot
05-05-2005, 11:35 PM
thank you for those links marcello.

Woebot
19-09-2005, 08:18 AM
picked "time of the last persecution" up on CD.

for a while I was really gnawing my fist thinking, jesus this is so banale!

however i reached "pictures of adolf" and the whole thing clicked. in its damp, paranoid way it's quietly engrossing. enjoying it is definitely about getting into fay's headspace, rather than kicking back on the tunes or the performances. you can see why its the kind of record that gets plaudits from people like David Tibet and Jim O'Rourke (who couldnt write a catchy tune, even if they wanted too).

yeah, quite cool. must have been an absolutely MINISCULE record at the time, you read in the liner notes about him approaching John Peel (clearly overawed by, gasps, a radio one DJ) and you can grasp how (appealingly) samll fay's endeavour was. i suppose this is a time when post-Beatles just about anyone could get a record deal...