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Bill Fay

Obscure British singer/songwriter Bill Fay made a couple of albums in the early '70s that matched Dylanesque songwriting with unusual arrangements. Fay had actually done his first single, "Some Good Advice"/"Screams in the Ears," for Deram back in 1967, produced by early Donovan co-manager Peter Eden. The single introduced his characteristic downbeat melodies and scrambled poetic lyrics, though with somewhat more pop-oriented production and melodies, than those heard on his albums.

It wouldn't be until 1970 that his self-titled debut appeared. Bill Fay is an odd record, in large part because his songwriting had the obvious ambition of song-poets like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, but it was more cosmic in scope. There was a bit of the lilting British storytelling style to his songwriting, in the path of Al Stewart, Donovan, and Nick Drake, as well. Orchestral arrangements figure strongly on that first self-titled recording.

His second LP, Time of the Last Persecution (from 1971), was more straightforward and rock-oriented in its production. Major British session players, including guitarist Ray Russell and drummer Alan Rushton, contributed to the sessions. While his debut received generally favorable critical notice, it was Time of the Last Persecution that got the lion's share. Due to its rather dire and apocalyptic subject matter, there was some outlandish speculation by music journalists about the state of Fay's mental health (it was nonsense).

Due to poor sales of both records, Decca released Fay from his contract and eventually deleted both recordings. They subsequently became cult classics and were reissued on CD in 1998. They were greeted with nearly universal acclaim. This cultivated a renewed interest in Fay from artists like Jeff Tweedy to David Tibet; the latter released the songwriter's lost third album, Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow (credited to the Bill Fay Group) in 2004. Bill Fay and Time of the Last Persecution were remastered and reissued again in 2007 by Esoteric. In 2010, Tibet released a compilation of early demos, as well as newer home recordings entitled Still Some Light.

Producer Joshua Henry, who had grown up listening to Fay's early albums from his father's record collection, tracked down and finally persuaded the reclusive songwriter to record a new album. He hired Matt Deighton to assemble a band, and also recruited Russell and Rushton to appear on several tracks; the end result, Life Is People, appeared on Dead Oceans in August of 2012.

The near universal critical acclaim that greeted the album didn't faze its creator. Fay slipped quietly back into the shadows, but was hardly forgotten. The War on Drugs played his song "I Hear You Calling" at shows on their 2014 tour, and A.C. Newman's cover of "Be Not So Fearful" was used in an episode of The Walking Dead television series.

At home, Fay continued to write and demo songs. In 2014, he and producer Henry re-teamed with many of the same players from the Life Is People sessions -- including Russell and Rushton. They worked at North London's Konk Studios and finished an album in 13 days. A pre-release single, "War Machine," was issued by Dead Oceans in February of 2015, followed by the full-length Who Is the Sender? in April. ~ Richie Unterberger & Thom Jurek
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Life Is People

1. There Is A Valley

2. Big Painter

3. The Never Ending Happening

4. This World

5. The Healing Day

6. City Of Dreams

7. Be At Peace With Yourself

8. Jesus, Etc.

9. Empires

10. Thank You Lord

11. Cosmic Concerto (Life Is People)

12. The Coast No Man Can Tell

x

Track List: Still Some Light

Disc 1

1. Backwoods Maze

2. The Sun Is Bored

3. There's A Price Upon My Head

4. Time Of The Last Persecution

5. Plan D

6. Sing Us One Of Your Songs May

7. I Will Find My Own Way Back

8. Love Is The Tune

9. Laughing Man

10. Arnold Is A Simple Man

11. Just To Be A Part

12. Inside The Keeper's Pantry

13. Pictures Of Adolf Again

14. Tell It Like It Is

15. Release Is In The Eye

16. Dust Filled Room

17. I Hear You Calling

Disc 2

1. My Eyes Open

2. Solace Flies In

3. Long Way From Tipperary

4. All Must Have A Dream

5. War Machine

6. There Is A Valley

7. Road Of Hope

8. Jericho Road

9. City Of Dreams

10. Time To Wake Up Now

11. Hello Old Tree

12. Anthems

13. Still Some Light

14. Fill This World With Peace

15. I Will Remain Here

16. Diamond Studded Days

17. God Give Them Rest

18. Keep Turning The Pages

19. Your Life Inside

20. I Thought I Heard Someone

21. Be At Peace With Yourself

22. All At Once

23. Peace On Earth

24. One Day

25. Here Beneath The Vail

26. I Wonder

x

Track List: Time Of The Last Persecution

1. Omega Day

2. Don't Let My Marigolds Die

3. I Hear You Calling

4. Dust Filled Room

5. 'Til The Christ Come Back

6. Release Is In The Eye

7. Laughing Man

8. Inside The Keepers Pantry

9. Tell It Like It Is

10. Plan D

11. Pictures Of Adolf Again

12. Time Of The Last Persecution

13. Come A Day

14. Let All The Other Teddies Know

Comments

Report as inappropriate
rpleaner
Stunning vocals ... Good stuff here
Report as inappropriate
There's an orchestra in Dylan's voice. Please refine your neuroplastic i t y .
Report as inappropriate
can live without that in my library no wonder I had not heard of him and most likely won't again
Report as inappropriate
on food stamps now.....
Report as inappropriate
i love dylan, but these two bill fay albums aren't even that comparable. bill fay's sound is much richer and much more downbeat, and in my opinion, a more enjoyable experience. bill fay was my best musical find in the last ten years. i heartily disagree with the reviewer.
Report as inappropriate
yeah this is a lot better than given credit for.
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dmlp1960
People will hate me , but I think Dylan is 90% crap.
Report as inappropriate
i'm calling bs on this reviewer. dylan is a clever man but can't hold a candle to bill fays honesty. and the arrangements on both of those records rule so hard. all music can suck it, big time.
Report as inappropriate
Just heard him fot the first time, and I agree with everyone here. Death to the blasphemous all music guide!!!
Report as inappropriate
Horrible review. this guy clearly doesn't even know what Dylan sounds like.
Report as inappropriate
shame on the creep who reviewed bill fay. amazingly off the mark. bill fay is an unbelievalab l e talent. that time of the last persecution record is chilling and beautiful.
Report as inappropriate
japhyrider54
screw this review, dylan is not even dylan, check out ramblin jack elliot and woodie guthrie. at least bill has enough self respect to keep his god given name. "hi, my name is robert zimmerman, no it is bob dylan,,,hi, I am jewish, no, now i am christian. bob is a talented guy, but if anybody wants to be someone else, it is Dylan!
Report as inappropriate
http://en.wi k i p e d i a . o r g / w i k i / B i l l _ f a y
Report as inappropriate
I'm not familiar with Bill Fay, but after listening to a track randomly I have to agree w/the previous comments. In fact MANY of the "About this Album" reviews leave much to be desired. I love Pandora, but I think too many of the reviews are short sighted and/or biased. The review above sounds like someone LOVES Bob Dylan more than anything...
Report as inappropriate
whereismatth e w r u n e
who ever wrote this biography for bill fay can f**k off! Was this douche even born when this guy wrote, recorded, lived etc. I mean give me a brake. compared to what we have now, where ever one sounds like every one. Say What?????
Report as inappropriate
What the hell is this guy talking about? Bill Fay is incredible!

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