I can do this one. And I can do it without naming four Fairport Convention albums (I’m taking records to mean albums, in this case), I think. I do love Fairport Convention, though.
1. Fairport Convention: Liege & Lief. First things first. This album is a masterpiece. There are at least five Fairport albums that could contend for a list like this (What We Did On Our Holidays is right there, too, plus Unhalfbricking, Full House and the self-titled), but L&L has a certain majesty to it that puts it just a thin slice above. “Tam-lin” is probably my favorite British folk-rock track.
2. Pentangle: Basket of Light. Reflection and Sweet Child are both excellent as well, but Basket of Light has a special aura around it that gives it the nod here. Opener “Light Flight” suggests a pretty poppy, uptempo album, but it simmers down from there, and “Lyke-Wake Dirge” may be the most majestic thing they recorded.
3. Trees: On the Shore. The opener of this album, “Murdoch,” is pretty stunning, and this band made very fine use of electric guitar in an English folk context. They’re on a tier below Pentangle and Fairport, but this band could have been a contender if it had survived long enough to make more than two albums.
4. Comus: First Utterance. I should be very clear in warning anyone expecting a pleasant listening experience that this album is completely batshit nuts, and the wailing male and female vocals are definitely something you have to get used to, but if you want a totally unique record that’s rooted in British folk music, this is the one.
Rounding out a top ten without repeating any artists: Donovan: A Gift From a Flower to a Garden, Fresh Maggots: Fresh Maggots, John Martyn: Solid Air, Roy Harper: Folkjokeopus, Steeleye Span: Parcel of Rogues, Synanthesia: Synanthesia