Saturday, 25 August 2012

Sunday Morning Blue: Bill Fay: Cosmic Concerto

A few years ago I was made aware of Bill Fay by Paul, who runs our local CD shop 'Blue and Black' in Calvi, Corsica. I'm always interested in Italian and French songwriters; they love their chanteurs... and Paul recommended Piers Faccini, who sounds Italian, lives in Paris and turns out to a Brit. I told Paul that I was amazed that there was an English songwriter that good that I'd never heard of. This was obviously accepted as a challenge and Paul then handed me a copy of Bill Fay's self-titled debut from 1970. One play and I was captured; especially when I discovered that my mate Mike Gibbs had done the string arrangements. I also bought the 1971 follow up 'Time of the Last Persecution', played it to death then... forgot about Bill. I recently read that, in his late sixties, Fay had been contacted by American producer Joshua Henry (a long time fan courtesy of his parents record collection) to make an album. Henry then approached guitarist Matt Deighton (Oasis, Paul Weller, Mother Earth) who assembled a cast of backup musicians to bring out the songs' full potential; Tim Weller (who's played drums for everyone from Will Young to Noel Gallagher and Goldfrapp), and keyboardist Mikey Rowe (High Flying Birds, Stevie Nicks, etc). In addition, Bill is reunited on several tracks with Ray Russell and drummer Alan Rushton, who played on 'Time Of The Last Persecution'.
'Life is People' is already wrestling with 'Mid Air' as my 'album of the year'. It's a lovely thing, unfettered by cynicism, there's a sense of a man who's come to terms with his lot; the serenity and compassion is addictive. His beautifully imperfect voice reminds me of Ian Hunter, Peter Gabriel and Dylan, but has its own unique resonance. 
Fay recently commented "you can't make a comeback album unless you arrive in the first place. I'm getting a little bit worried that I'm coming close to arriving". 
This could be the perfect 'comeback album'. In fact, with it's calming religious undertones and big, humble heart, 'Life is People' could be the perfect 'Sunday Morning Blue'
It's amazing what you can do with two chords; let 'Cosmic Concerto' 'stir your soul'.


  1. can always count on you Trev to find me that hidden gem. thanks, your mate from the States.

  2. Buy the album Robert; I hope that it leads you back to his debut and follow up. Emotional stuff...

  3. Awesome...
    Decades ago I picked up a cassette of "Persecution" from one of those wretched Christian bookstores we have here... didn't like it, apocalyptic doomy fundamentalist cheese to me. First and last I'd heard of the guy.
    Surprised to see the name again in your piece. Couldn't play the clip on Ipod, took a few days to cranked up the old PC for a quick listen... I ended up taking a ride through the whole album on Youtube, and being quite mesmerized by the heavenly beauty of the thing.
    I've gotta say that I've been shunning gospel music for awhile, but this has sucked me back... there's a wisdom, humilty and world-weariness here that as Fay sings "stirs my soul." Healing Day knocks me over. Oddly, it reminds me of "Let It Come Down" (Spiritualized)... stunning orchestration!
    I'm still processing... I'll get back to you. Can easily see it being my album of the year!
    Ordering now... Thanks for the amazing tip...

    PS: Stumbled across some beauties from Fay's 2010 release "Still Some Light." CD-2 seems to be a quiet, meditative precursor to the new LP. If you haven't heard it here's a couple of sample cuts...

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