by Fairport Convention (Liege & Lief, 1969)
The band's fourth album often receives credit for defining the British folk rock genre and for creating more awareness of traditional compositions and music. On the group's third release of the year a conscious move was made away from interpreting contemporary artists such as Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell, to discovering an electrified roots sound with versions of traditional British folk songs like 'Reynardine' or 'Matty Groves'.
'Matty Groves' is the story of an adulterous tryst between the wife of a nobleman and a servant that dates from at least the 17th century and which ends in the death of the young lover at the hands of his boss. Much of the song is dominated by Sandy Denny's shrill but not unpleasant vocals as she recounts the tale. The rhythm section bounds along while the violin adds folk flavour along with a complementing electric guitar. As if to break the eight minute monotony a fairly random and extravagant folk breakdown takes place mid-way through involving violin-drum combinations and goes on to include longish guitar and violin solos which take us full turn to the original melody as the outro. Recently Tom Waits, Alela Diane, James Yorkston have released versions of the song.