Fairport Convention were a critical band for me. After reading about them (and Joni Mitchell) in the Led Zeppelin biography, Hammer of the Gods, I explored their work, which took me down a wonderful rabbit hole of British Folk Rock, worlds away from the all day-all night classic rock radio that was my 13-year old life.
It was the Zeppelin track, "Battle of Evermore," off of Led Zeppelin IV. The startling female soprano vocals belonged to a certain Sandy Denny, Fairport's lead vocalist. After delving into Fairport's work--particulary the definitive Liege & Lief--it was clear that Denny's voice soared over most of the band's best work (her "Fotheringay" is one of my favorite melodies in all of music). However, there was one big exception, the track here, "Tale in a Hard Time." Sounding like a British Byrds, with more agile guitars, a more muscular rhythm section, and vocals that soared in a way the Byrds rarely did, this one is something special and Fairport never recorded another song quite like it.