Diogenic Attempts LTD
Island Records, 1969
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (Island Records - ILPS 9102) - Front cover
Fairport Convention’s Unhalfbricking (Island Records - ILPS 9102), the second of three albums the folk rock group released in 1969 (and third overall) was recorded between January and April 1969 at Sound Techniques and Olympic Studios, London and was released on July 3, 1969, in UK.
The album has been described as transitional, the one 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. The album contains what is often considered the official beginning of the English Folk-Rock movement, the classic 11-minute rendering of the traditional tune A Sailor's Life. The record features for the first time Dave Swarbrick's fiddle-playing, who was later invited to join as a full-time member for the follow-up, Liege & Lief.
The front sleeve design for the UK release featured neither album title nor band name. It was the style of Island Records’ releases at the time for their acts name and album title not to appear on their sleeves, choosing instead just their logo and catalogue number. Up until the late Sixties, where there was a picture cover, it would normally have featured a portrait of the musicians, the acts name and album title positioned quite prominently. But then something of a revolution began to take place and, thanks to the likes of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, more creative ideas ideas started to appear. The photo, by photographer Eric Hayes, captured Fairport’s singer Sandy Denny's parents (Neil and Edna) standing outside the family home with the band taking tea distantly visible through the garden fence. The misty church spire in the distance underlines the image's assertion that this is rock music unlike any other, rock music from a different lineage.
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (Island Records - ILPS 9102) - Backcover
The back cover photo, also by Hayes, reveals Fairport gathered more intimately around a large, friendly table as they dig into a simple but nourishing feast. The decidedly un-glamourous and very domestic shot corresponds nicely with Fairport Convention's attempts to reconcile the past with the present by gently blending traditional folk music with contemporary rock instrumentation.
Although the album gave the band their first UK chart success (reaching number 12 in the UK album chart and "Si tu dois partir" single achieved number 21 in the UK singles chart), the release of Unhalfbricking would be sullied by tragedy. On 12 May 1969, two months before the album was released, drummer Martin Lamble and guitarist Richard Thompson's girlfriend, Jeannie Franklyn, were killed in a car crash as the band were returning from a concert in Birmingham. Fairport's van crashed on the M1 motorway, near Scratchwood Services, on the way home from a gig at Mothers. Lamble was 19.
Martin Lamble – photo (unknown)
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”
The band’s manager at the time, Joe Boyd, recalls:
“That cover shot was taken in early spring, right before the crash, I think”
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“
The title arose from the word-game, "Ghost", played by the band while travelling to and from gigs. Its object was to "avoid completing a real word", and "Unhalfbricking" was Sandy Denny's creation.
Ghost is a spoken word game in which players take turns adding letters to a growing word fragment, trying not to be the one to complete a valid word. Each fragment must be the beginning of an actual word, and usually some minimum is set on the length of a word that counts, such as three or four letters. The player who completes a word loses the round and earns a "letter" (as in the basketball game horse), with players being eliminated when they have been given all five letters of the word "ghost".
Ghost can be played by two or more players of any age and requires no equipment, although it can be played with pencil and paper instead of being spoken aloud.
The house shown on the album cover was Sandy Denny’s parents' place at the time (9B Arthur Road, SW19, Wimbledon, south London). St Mary's Church, Wimbledon, can be seen in the background. St Mary's Church is a Church of England church and is part of the Parish of Wimblendon, south-west London, England. It has existed since the 12th century and may be the church recorded in the Domesday Book in the Mortlake Hundred. It is still in active use today.
St Mary's Church – photo (unknown)
Diogenic Attempts LTD
Diogenic Attempts LTD were responsible of the design of the sleeve. This wasn’t the first nor the last time that they worked with Fairport Convention, as they also designed the sleeves of What We Did On Our Holiday (Island Records – ILPS 9092) and Liege & Lief (Island Records – ILPS 9115). During the late sixties and early seventies Diogenic Attempts LTD designed album covers for several folk and rock acts such as Nick Drake (Five Leaves Left – Island Records – ILPS 9105) and The Pentangle (Basket Of Light– Transatlantic Records – TRA 205) among many others. For a wider list of their designs go to:
Eric Hayes, a 23-year-old canadian photographer, spent a year and a half in London, England, backstage and in recording studios, documenting the lives and performances of musicians who have become some of the biggest names in Rock & Roll. He was chosen by the band to shoot the cover for the album. He liked what Fairport’s were doing and they were fans of his work for other musicians.
Eric Hayes in 1969. Photo (unknown) –
"I was their photographer and I did the album cover for Unhalfbricking. I was quite proud of that." - recalls Eric.
The shoot took place at Sandy Denny’s parents house in Wimbledon on a Sunday afternoon. More close-up shots of the band were taken but few of them had surfaced since then. The reason that the sleeve for Unhalfbricking works is because the band aren’t the main focus of the photograph; in fact they are only just visible through the trellis. After the shoot, the band were treated to a fry-up which was also photographed by Hayes and used for the back of the sleeve.
A picture of the band taken during the Unhalfbricking cover photoshoot - Photo Eric Hayes
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. For more cover variations go to:
Label: A&M Records – SP 4206
Unhalfbricking's cover in the US, released by A&M Records, consisted of a picture of circus elephants with a small inset image of the band taken by Eric Hayes during the same photoshoot of the UK cover. Some sources claim that "the group apparently so upset their American label that they replaced it with an image of trampolining elephants" but it was quite common for labels to be redesigned for the American release.
The cover was done by Tom Wilkes, A&M Records art director, whose credits include “The Flying Burrito Bros – The Gilded Palace Of Sin” (A&M Records – SP-4175) and “George Harrison – All Things Must Pass” (Apple Records – STCH 639) among many others.
Tom Wilkes. Photo (unknown) –
For more info about Tom Wilkes go to:
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (A&M Records – SP 4206) - Front cover
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (A&M Records – SP 4206) - Backcover
Label: Island Records – ORL 8374
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (Island Records – ORL 8374) - Front cover
Label: Island Records – ORL 19102
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (Island Records – ORL 19102) - Front cover
Label: Island Records – Slir-il 22.037
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (Island Records – Slir-il 22.037) - Front cover
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (Island Records – Slir-il 22.037) - Back cover
Label: Festival Records – L-33512, Island Records – L-33512
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (Festival Records – L-33512, Island Records – L-33512) - Front cover
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbriking (Festival Records – L-33512, Island Records – L-33512) - Backcover
Official Fairport Convention website
Official Eric Hayes website
1. Unhalfbricking. http://en.wikipedia.org/. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unhalfbricking. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
2. AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger http://www.allmusic.com/album/unhalfbricking-mw0000650131Retrieved 12 December 2015.
3. England's 1969 Rock World Comes Alive At Photo Show. Ron Foley Macdonald http://www.erichayes.ca/press/260303.html Retrieved 12 December 2015.
4. Great album covers #5: unhalfbricking. July 12, 2012.
http://simplymarvellousmusic.com/441/Retrieved 12 December 2015.
5. Sandy Denny List, Frequently Asked Questions - Unhalfbricking Album Cover
http://sandydennylist.blogspot.com.es/2012/07/unhalfbricking-album-cover.htmlRetrieved 12 December 2015.
6. Martin Lamble - Artist Biography by Richie Unterberger
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/martin-lamble-mn0001215798Retrieved 12 December 2015.
7. This Day in Music Spotlight: The Highway Wreck that Killed Fairport Convention’s Drummer. Andrew Vaughan. 05.25.2011
http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/spotlight-0525-2011.aspxRetrieved 12 December 2015.
8. Unhalfbricking, Fairport Convention. The Observer. Sunday 20 June 2004. John Harris
Retrieved 12 December 2015.
9. Playing Games. David Greenberger.
http://metroland.net/back_issues/vol31_no30/recordings.html Retrieved 12 December 2015.
10. Ghost (game). http://en.wikipedia.org/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_%28game%29Retrieved 12 December 2015.
11. St Mary’s Church, Wimblendon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mary%27s_Church,_WimbledonRetrieved 12 December 2015.
12. Eric Hayes. Photographer. http://www.erichayes.ca/ Retrieved 12 December 2015.
13. Shooting stars. By Stacey Colwell http://www.erichayes.ca/press/050303.html Retrieved 12 December 2015.
14. Pavement to penthouse. Frieze Issue 68 June-August 2002. Aubrey Powell.
http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/pavement_to_penthouse/ Retrieved 12 December 2015.