What We Did on Our Holidays

What We Did on Our Holidays (released as Fairport Convention in the United States) is the 1969 second album by British band Fairport Convention. It was their first album to feature singer-songwriter Sandy Denny. The album also showed a move towards the folk rock for which the band became noted, including tracks later to become perennial favourites such as "Fotheringay" and the song traditionally used to close live concerts, "Meet on the Ledge".[2]

What We Did on Our Holidays
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 1969
RecordedJune – October 1968 at Kingsway and Olympic Studio No. 1
GenreFolk rock, folk[1]
LabelIsland ILPS 9092 (UK)
A&M SP 4185 (US)
Hannibal (reissue)
ProducerJoe Boyd
Fairport Convention chronology
Fairport Convention
What We Did on Our Holidays
Singles from "What We Did on Our Holidays"
  1. "Meet on the Ledge" b/w "Throwaway Street Puzzle"
    Released: December 1968, Island Records WIP 6047
  2. "I'll Keep It with Mine" b/w "Fotheringay"
    Released: 1969, USA-only
Alternative cover
US self-titled release on A&M Records


Following the departure of Judy Dyble, the band conducted auditions for a replacement singer, and Sandy Denny became the obvious choice. Simon Nicol has said "it was a one horse race really... she stood out like a clean glass in a sink full of dirty dishes".[3] According to author Richie Unterberger Denny's "haunting, ethereal vocals gave Fairport a big boost".[1]

The album has been described by Unterberger as "a near-ideal balance between imaginative reworkings of traditional folk songs ... quality covers of contemporary folk-rock singer-songwriters, some quite obscure ... and original folk-rock material by various members".[4] In 2008 Simon Nicol described the album as his favourite,[5] and it was voted number 281 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).[6]

The cover features a sketch of the band performing, described in the album credits as "from a blackboard assaulted by Fairport Convention"[7] and the reverse of the original sleeve show a photograph of the band performing. The Island Masters 1990 re-release IMCD 97 also features a portrait of Sandy Denny.

In the USA, the album was released by A&M Records (SP-4185) with an identical track listing but featuring new cover art, and was re-titled Fairport Convention.[8] The album was also released in Australia and New Zealand by Festival Records with the ‘blackboard’ front cover and an entirely different back cover to both the US and UK releases. The Discogs website gives no less than 54 different versions of the album.[9]

Reception and influence

Professional ratings
Review scores
Rolling Stone(favourable)[10]
The Village VoiceA−[11]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[12]

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, American critic Robert Christgau deemed Fairport Convention the "most interesting unknown group" he had listened to in some time, highlighting their take on "Pentangle-style ballads" and Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It with Mine".[11] Neal Casal, of Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, later listed What We Did on Our Holidays as one of his favourite albums of all time.[13]

Reviewing the 2008 re-issue of he album Pitchfork.com said: "The album mixes new interpretations of traditional ballads like "Nottamun Town", here rendered almost as a raga, with much newer songs, such as their soulful take on Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" and their ponderous version of Mitchell's "Eastern Rain". The best material on Holidays, though, may be their own-- the stomping blues-rock of "Mr. Lacey", the racing "No Man's Land", and the stirring afterlife anthem "Meet on the Ledge".[14]

1999 album

The album title was re-used for the 1999 CD release What We Did on Our Holidays - An Introduction to Fairport Convention on Island Records as IMCD 263.[15]

Track listing

Side one
1."Fotheringay"Sandy Denny3:06
2."Mr Lacey"Ashley Hutchings2:55
3."Book Song"Iain Matthews, Richard Thompson3:13
4."The Lord Is in This Place...How Dreadful Is This Place" (based on "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" by Blind Willie Johnson)Hutchings, Thompson, Denny2:01
5."No Man's Land"Thompson2:32
6."I'll Keep It with Mine"Bob Dylan5:56
Side two
1."Eastern Rain"Joni Mitchell3:36
2."Nottamun Town"Traditional, arranged by Denny, Matthews, Thompson, Simon Nicol, Hutchings, Martin Lamble3:12
3."Tale in Hard Time"Thompson3:29
4."She Moves Through the Fair"Traditional, arranged by Denny, Matthews, Thompson, Nicol, Hutchings, Lamble4:14
5."Meet on the Ledge"Thompson2:50
6."End of a Holiday"Nicol1:07


Fairport Convention

Additional personnel

  • Bruce Lacey & his robots on "Mr. Lacey"
  • Claire Lowther – cello on "Book Song"
  • Kingsley Abbott – coins on "The Lord Is in This Place...," backing vocals on "Meet on the Ledge"
  • Paul Ghosh, Andrew Horvitch & Marc Ellington – backing vocals on "Meet on the Ledge"
  • Peter Ross – harmonica on "Throwaway Street Puzzle"

Production and other credits


  1. Unterberger, Richie. "Fairport Convention: What We Did on Our Holidays > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  2. "Fairport Convention: Meet on the Ledge". Reinhard Zierke. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  3. "Sold on Song – Song Library – Who Knows Where The Time Goes". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  5. "Fairport Convention – Keeping Cropredy in the Happy Family". Retrieved 5 April 2008.
  6. Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 121. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  7. Liner notes
  8. "Fairport Convention: What We Did on Our Holidays". Reinhard Zierke. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  9. "Fairport Convention - What We Did On Our Holidays". Discogs.
  10. Mendlesohn, John (6 September 1969). "Fairport Convention". Rolling Stone. San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. (41): 28.
  11. Christgau, Robert (10 July 1969). "Consumer Guide (1)". The Village Voice. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  12. Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 3074. ISBN 978-0857125958.
  13. "Interview: Neal Casal (Ryan Adams & the Cardinals)". stereokill.net. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
  14. "Fairport Convention: What We Did on Our Holidays / Unhalfbricking". Pitchfork.
  15. "What We Did on Our Holidays - An Introduction to Fairport Convention". mainlynorfolk.info.
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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