Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Ian Macdonald, June '46, Lincolnshire) Vocalist, guitarist. He was a teenage footballer, moved to London and formed band Pyramid, then joined Fairport Convention, playing on Fairport Convention '67, What We Did On Our Holidays '68 (incl. 'Book Song', his best known with the band) and Unhalfbricking '69, though by then he'd left to form Matthews' Southern Comfort, a C&W band with Gordon Huntly, one of the UK's best pedal steel players. They had UK no. 1 '70 with Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock'; LPs Matthews' Southern Comfort, Second Spring and Later That Same Year all c'70 were pleasant. He left; the band carried on as Southern Comfort. His solo albums began with If You Saw Through My Eyes '71 with Fairport alumni; Tigers Will Survive '72 was a strong album; great things were expected from his new band Plainsong (incl. guitarist Andy Roberts), but they split after promising start with In Search Of Amelia Earhart '72. Valley Hi '73 was prod. by Mike Nesmith, an admirer of Matthews's work; Some Days You Eat The Bear '73 and Journeys From Gospel Oak '74 pleased the fans; Go For Broke '76 had him working with celebrated Nashville session player Norbert Putnam. Hit And Run '77 was lacklustre, Stealin' Home '78 was stronger and his best effort in the USA, where it was his third chart entry, at no. 80. Siamese Friends '79 did not do well; Spot Of Interference was a strong rock album with Argent's Robert Henrit incl. Matthews's 'I Survived The 70s'. Discreet Repeat '80 was a compilation, showing his style on songs by Tim Hardin, Tom Waits, John Martyn and Robert Palmer. He appeared at Fairport's '86 reunion concert, first time he'd sung with them in nearly 20 years. He worked in A&R for Island and Windham Hill '80s; his name is sometimes spelled Iain in catalogues. Later albums incl. Shook '84 on Teldec/Line, Walking A Changing Line: The Songs Of Jules Shear '88 on Windham Hill, Skeleton Keys '93 on Mesa/Line, The Dark Ride '94 on Watermelon; also Night In Manhattan, Orphans And Outcasts, Pure And Crooked; compilation Soul Of Many Places (The Elektra Years 1972--74).