Olivier Assayas's film on the aftermath of May 1968 is infantile ultra-leftism
JOE GLENTON explains his need to respond to a world that is unsustainably divided
Sifting through the music and literature that's marking the 45th anniversary of Fairport Convention and the contribution of Sandy Denny to their legendary status
In the supposedly ephemeral world of rock and pop, longevity seems to have become the norm. The Who's Roger Daltrey might well have sung "Hope I die before I get old" but his wish was not granted.
The Rolling Stones are still very much alive but an equally counter-intuitive phenomenon is the way that rock family trees can branch off and personnel may change so that, in some cases, none of the original musicians are present but the band plays on.
That's what the Byrds did and likewise Pink Floyd, though Roger Waters would doubtless disagree.
But this year, 45 years after they were formed and over 30 years since they officially "retired" for the first time, the phenomenon of Fairport Convention seems - like John Barleycorn in the old ballad - to spring up again and again, as the world goes round and the seasons change.
Originally classed as "Britain's Jefferson Airplane" by pop writers who deal in such spurious comparisons, they were then seen as the founding fathers of folk rock.
This disregarded the fact that the musical soil that nurtured them was tilled already by such as Davey Graham and a whole generation of so-called "folk baroque" guitarists. They've now become a shape-shifting collection of musicians who have managed to establish their own special relationship with their audience despite whatever the music biz has tried to define them as.
This band has become a brand in its own right and the 45th year of their formation has been marked by two concurrent events.
First, the production of Fairport By Fairport, an assemblage of first-person accounts of their comings and goings prepared by Bradford pop pundit Nigel Schofield.
It is a truly monumental effort, clearly a labour of love, and while the £45 price may put off some readers, it's more than worth it.
It's accompanied by a speciall produced DVD and since there will only be 2,000 copies, fans will need to get in quick to get their personally-signed buckram-bound books. Hopefully a lower-priced edition is on the way for the less well off.
This year has also seen the release of an incredible number of CD collections covering the life and work of Sandy Denny, the supreme vocal stylist whose entries and exits from the Fairport story demonstrate the band's strengths as well as its occasional weaknesses.
Her influence runs through the band's history and Fairport By Fairport tells it better, if more tangentially, than Clinton Haylin's disappointing No More Sad Refrains: The Life Of Sandy Denny, published last year.
As Denny herself once put it: "I was a member of Fairport on two separate occasions but a band so similar to Fairport backed me on record and on stage so regularly that I feel never to have not been part of Fairport."
But not only did Fairport nurture and cherish her idiosyncratic and sometimes shambolic genius, it also played a similar role in the career of Richard Thompson, whose stature as a songwriting guitar player stands out with equal prominence in British musical history.
Like Denny, he's become an an artist in his own right but unlike her - she died in 1978 - he is still around.
As founder Fairporter Simon Nicol, who himself left the band in 1971 and rejoined it five years later, says: "Richard left the band at the start of 1971 and has been playing with us ever since."
But, like a great theatrical ensemble, picking out individuals is not really where it's at.
Fairport By Fairport is taken mainly from the words of 15 past and present members of the band but the list of their names carries the disclaimer that it's not a complete list.
Nor is the story over.
As the old song says, the best is (probably) yet to come.
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