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Folk Rock probably takes me back to my roots, to the music that made a difference to my youth, and in this genre, one of the saddest moments for me personally was when Sandy Denny left the group "The Strawbs" after only one recording, and a six month stint, taking the place of Judy Dyble in a group called Fairport Convention, a well known folk band with an enormous following both in the UK and worldwide. What saddened me was that the album she made with the Strawbs got lost amidst the more commercial work that she produced with Fairport Convention, and somehow never quite made it to huge popularity, although it is probably one of my favourite albums.
At the time of joining the Band, Sandy was going through college for a nursing career, and the popularity of her voice and style pursuaded her to give up her college work and begin what was to be a legendary career in the music that she loved, shaping the future of Fairport Convention in an unforgettable manner, and being the voice that people from the sixties remember as strong, vibrant and melodic.
This album was first recorded in 1968, and was released in 2002 on CD, remastered to a quality that was not around at the time of the original recording, and I worried that some of the rawness of what she sang may have been lost in the process, although this proved to be unfounded. The track listing is impressive, and the words still words that are catchy, though not corny. If one compares the styles, then I suppose that Mama Cass would come pretty close to the voice and style of Sandy Denny, although Sandy's singing definitely had a British slant to it, somehow having its roots in the folk club genre of music, strong vocals, good words, and a melodic backing.
What I like about this album is the fact that the musicians that back the work don't take the limelight, but do in fact enhance the experience, the drummer being discreet, and the double bass and sitar (relatively new on the folk scene at the time) are a compliment to the vocals, rather than being overstated. The vocals of Sandy Denny on this album are the most important aspect, giving crisp and clear rendition of the songs that the listener soon learns to enjoy and perhaps even treasure. These are folk songs, raw voice ones that are enjoyable even now.
Looking through the track listing of this album, the memories that come to mind about the thoughts I had growing up with these songs still have significance, and I don't believe that rare recordings such as these date. "Nothing Else will do" is a good introduction, upbeat, sing along, folksy classic, although the track that follows it is an astounding one. "Who knows where the time goes" is nostalgic as they get, and written by Sandy Denny herself. It is sultry and perhaps reflective, though stands the test of time.
"Tell me what you see in me" was a strange venture into almost an eastern style with its haunting refrains, whilst "Always on my mind" seemed to go back to British Folk roots, with simple lyric. In fact, listening to the album, yes there are some weaker tracks, although interestingly enough it is the tracks sung by Dave Cousins and Tony Hooper (being terribly British and slightly twee),which are the weaker links, whilst the songs that Sandy herself sang shine out like because of her newness at this stage, and lack of pretence, and I believe her best work, untainted by her later influences, and filled with a fresh enthusiasm that sometimes never returns.
Her voice is a strong one, though the manner in which she performs songs like "Stay Awhile with me" could never be performed as well by another artist. Even the words have significant wealth.
"I'll lock the door the throw away the key.
If you'll stay a while with me........."
Wonderful guitar backing, and a melody that stays in your mind, and is still every bit as enjoyable now as then.
The final track on this album is the one that somehow sticks out as being the perfect finish to an album that was a one off, never to be improved upon, never to be followed up by the same artists again, each of them keen in making this, their debut record, and each spontaneous in their performance, giving an ambiance of how people got absorbed by good music. "And You need Me" is a subdued song, accompanied by guitar, and to me epitomises Sandy Denny at her very best.
On the 21st April 1978, Sandy Denny died, at the age of 31 years, of
a cerebral haemorrhage, though what she left was part of British Folk history at its' best, and although she may be no longer with us, her voice lives on, to entertain and haunt perhaps with memories. This album is Sandy Denny as good as it gets, rare work, now available to those that missed the opportunity to take a step back in time.
1. Nothing Else Will Do (Cousins)
1.Who Knows Where The Time Goes (Denny)
2.Tell Me What You See In Me (Cousins)
3.Always On My Mind (Hooper)
4.Stay Awhile (Cousins)
5.Wild Strawberries (Cousins/Hooper)
6.All I Need Is You (Cousins)
7.How Everyone But Sam Was A Hypocrite (Cousins)
8.Sail Away To The Sea (Cousins)
10.On My Way (Cousins)
11.And You Need Me (Cousins)
Dave Cousins (vcls, gtrs)
Tony Hooper (vcls, gtrs)
Ron Chesterman (dbl bs)
Sandy Denny (vcls, gtr)
Ken Gudmand (drms)
Cy Nicklin (sitar)
Available from Amazon at 12.99 GBP, this represents darned good value.
Number of Discs:1
Catalogue Number: HNCD1361
Listen and enjoy.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Nothing Else Will Do
2 Who Knows Where The Time Goes
3 How Everyone But Sam Was A Hypocrite
4 Sail Away To The Sea
5 And You Need Me
6 Poor Jimmy Wilson
7 All I Need Is You
8 Tell Me What You See In Me
9 I've Been My Own Worst Friend
10 Two Weeks Last Summer
11 Always On My Mind
12 Stay A While With Me
13 On My Way