10 beautiful, beguiling and bold folk albums from 1969

1969 was an amazing year for music, particularly for the album format.
Ralph McTell
Ralph McTell / Michael Putland/GettyImages
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1. Unhalfbricking – Fairport Convention

While some would argue that Fairport’s final album of 1969 (the aforementioned Liege & Lief) is the group’s crowning achievement – and that’s certainly a reasonable argument – but, to this writer, the group’s middle release of 1969, Unhlafbricking, is the collective’s finest album ever.

The album kicks off with three strong tracks, kicking off with the winding, intriguing “Genesis Hall” and ending with the beguiling "Autopsy," which starts in a jittery, driving 5/4 time signature but then settles into a slower 4/4 groove underscored by a gorgeous melody and jazzy guitar playing from the inimitable Richard Thompson.

Sandwiched in between is an engaging French-language version of Bob Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” called “Si Tu Dois Partir,” which was surprisingly the group’s only charting single (it reached number 21 on the U.K. charts). The song has a singalong, hootenanny-like vibe and the audible laughter before the second chorus underscores that fact.

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Of course, the centerpiece of the entire album is lead singer Sandy Denny’s magnum opus: the magisterial “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?” That song alone is worth the price of admission and stands out as one of the defining songs in the history of modern folk music (alongside McTell’s “Streets of London,” among a select few others).

Delivered with supreme subtlety and flawless backing from the entire collective, Denny’s performance is spellbinding as she wrings every ounce of emotion out of her incredible lyrics, with Thompson’s flickering guitar fills propelling the wistful yet soothing song forward. The song is an astounding achievement from the best folk album of 1969.

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