What can be said about Sandy Denny that hasn’t been said before? One of the shapers of English Folk-Rock through Fairport Convention and Fotheringay; the only female vocalist on a Led Zepplin album; a songwriter immortalised by ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes‘ who was far from a one-trick pony in the song crafting stakes. And, of course, a singer with a solid catalogue of solo albums that were cut short by her untimely death. Oh – and the possessor of one of the finest voices to ever grace that intersection of folk, rock and yes even what we didn’t then but might now call Americana.
Proper Records have just completed a re-issue on vinyl series for those four solo albums: ‘The North Star Grasssman and The Ravens‘; ‘Sandy‘; ‘Like An Old Fashioned Waltz‘; and ‘Rendevous.’ They are an interesting series of albums showing – as one’s viewpoint takes it – either an evolution of styles or different attempts at finding a way to break through to a larger audience. Certainly the last album was directly aiming at a more mainstream market, and yet still contained some of Denny’s strongest songwriting – no more so than the, with hindsight, incredibly poignant closer ‘No More Sad Refrains‘. ‘Like An Old Fashioned Waltz‘ is often regarded as a more reflective and nostalgic album – but opener ‘Solo‘ is as powerful a statement as Sandy Denny ever made. ‘Sandy‘ is arguably Denny’s definitive singer-songwriter album and concluding this reverse chronology ‘The North Star Grasssman and The Ravens‘ is unarguably her solo folk-rock masterpiece.
All of the albums have been reprinted as vinyl LPs by Proper Records in audiophile 180gm vinyl as part of a new arrangement between Proper Music and UMC which sees titles from Universal’s catalogue re-issued on vinyl. Available in all good record stores and direct from Proper.
And here’s one of Sandy’s finest songs from the enigmatic ‘The North Star Grasssman and The Ravens‘ :
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Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan’s music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That’s not much to ask, is it?