In November 1971, “island” label released “Babbacombe Lee”, the seventh Fairport Convention studio album. It was recorded August – September 1971, at “Sound Techniques” in London, and was produced by John Wood and Simon Nicol.
- Sandy Denny– vocals
- Simon Nicol– vocals, guitar, dulcimer
- Jerry Donahue- lead guitar
- Trevor Lucas- rhythm guitar
- Dave Swarbrick– vocals, fiddle, mandolin
- Dave Pegg– vocals, bass, mandolin
- Dave Mattacks– drums, electric piano, harmonium
All tracks by Simon Nicol, Dave Mattacks, Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg, Trevor Lucas and Jerry Donahue.
The album story is about the life of John “Babbacombe” Lee, murderer who was condemned to death but reprieved after the gallows failed on three occasions to work properly.
The tracks are listed episodically rather than as discrete tracks, reflecting the structure of the narrative.
- John’s reflection on his boyhood, his introduction to Miss Keyes and The Glen, his restlessness, and his struggles with his family, finally successful, to join the navy
- This was the happiest period in his life. All locked set fair for a career until he was stricken with sickness and invalided out of his chosen niche in life. Reluctantly and unhappily he turned to a number of menial occupations and finally returned to the services of Miss Keyes
- Tragedy now strikes hard. The world’s imagination is caught by the brutal senseless[ness] of the apparent criminal who slays his kind old mistress
- John was hardly more than a bewildered observer at his own trial, not being allowed to say more than a few words. The tides of fate wash him to the condemned cell where he waits three sad weeks for his last night on earth
- When it comes, he cannot sleep, but when he does, a strange, prophetic dream comes to him, and helps him to bear the strain of his next day’s ordeal as scaffold and its crew try in vain three times to take his life