Plainsong was originally a British country rock/folk rock band, formed in early 1972 by Ian (later Iain) Matthews, formerly of Fairport Convention; Andy Roberts, previously of The Liverpool Scene; Dave Richards; and Bob Ronga. The original group split up before the end of 1972 but, since the early 1990s, Matthews and Roberts intermittently performed and recorded together, with other musicians, as Plainsong. Their latest, just released is “Reinventing Richard: The Songs of Richard Farina”. The great music publication “No Depression” said about “Reinventing Richard”:… the material is excellent and anyone who admires Farina’s wordplay and melodies or Plainsong’s mellow brand of folk should check out the CD.
All Music said, “Reinventing Richard is quite a good Plainsong album, full of deft instrumental work and splendid harmonies, and the performances and liner notes make it clear this project was a labor of love for all involved.”
Matthews had been a member of the legendary Fairport Convention with Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny since 1967. He then left to work solo, soon afterwards forming his own band, Matthews Southern Comfort achieving a Top Ten record all over the world with Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”. After that band split up, he recorded two solo albums, If You Saw Thro’ My Eyes and Tigers Will Survive in 1971, before forming Plainsong. The band was signed by Elektra Records, and recorded an album, In Search of Amelia Earhart. The album mixed songs by both Matthews and Roberts with covers. The album included “True Story of Amelia Earhart’s Last Night”, a Matthews song based on research that suggests that Amelia Earhart on her round-the-world flight may have been spying on Japanese bases in the Pacific islands; and “Even the Guiding Light”, a response to Richard Thompson‘s “Meet on the Ledge“.
The group toured extensively and began recording a second album, but Matthews and Richards disagreed on the direction the album should take, Ronga left before the sessions were completed, and the band broke up. Matthews went on to have a Top Ten Record, Shake It, under his own name in 1978.
In Search of Amelia Earhart was reissued on CD in 2001. Several albums of archive recordings of Plainsong have also been released on CD since the 1990s, including … And That’s That, comprising recordings made for the band’s unreleased second album.
“Reinventing Richard: The Songs of Richard Farina” started out as an Iain Matthews/Andy Roberts idea but by the time it was completed it became apparent it was a Plainsong album. It was released on Omnivore Record in North America in Sept., 2015