Bill Fay – Time of the Last Persecution

Bill Fay’s introspective, biblically themed 1971 classic was all-but ignored on release – but its reputation and collectability have risen ever since…

Bill Fay joined Deram in the late 60s, and released two albums: in 1970 and 1971, respectively. Time Of The Last Persecution was the second of these but did not sell well, resulting in the label dropping the singer-songwriter/pianist. Over the years that followed, the album would become part of psych-folk lore and go on to attain almost mythical status.

Eventually, Time… would be held in similar regard to Nick Drake’s majestic 1971 album, Bryter Layter, and Vashti Bunyan’s stunning debut, Just Another Diamond Day. Yet until it was reissued in 1998, only a handful of people were aware of Fay’s music, garnering him cult status among a select crowd of (mostly) musos.

Musically, it’s a very light album, built around delicate melodic intricacies. For the narrative, Fay would draw inspiration from the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation. Coming off the back of the hippie movement, the album – warning of judgement and despair – was a stark contrast to the messages of peace and love that had become commonplace.

Due to poor sales, this has become a highly collectable record. Original, mint-condition pressings have sold for as much as £1,000, so finding a copy will be neither easy nor cheap, but will ultimately be rewarding – it’s sure to only grow in value. Time Of The Last Persecution would, like many unsung folk albums from the time, go on to become revered long after the release. It’s served as an inspiration to a number of artists, notably Wilco and regular Sonic Youth collaborator Jim O’Rourke, and still sounds ahead of its time nearly 50 years later.

Glen Bushell