Sandy Denny

Band members                             Related acts

- Sandy Denny (RIP 1978) - vocals, guitar, keyboards


  supporting musicians (1971)
- Gerry Conway -- drums 
- Pat Donaldson -- bass 
- Jerry Donahue -- guitar 
- Barry Dransfield -- violin 
- Buddy Emmons -- pedal steel guitar
- Trevor Lucas -- guitar 
- Linda Peters -- backing vocals
- Roger Powell -- drums 
- Tony Reeves -- bass 
- Richard Thompson -- guitar 
- Ian Whiteman -- keyboards


  supporting musicians (1972)

- John Bundrick -- keyboards 
- Tim Donald -- drums 
- Sneaky Pete Kleinnow -- pedal steel guitar 

- Dave Swarbeck -- violin 
- Richard Thompson -- guitar 


  supporting musicians (1974)

- Ian Armit -- piano

- John “Rabbit” Bundrick -- keyboards

- Gerry Conway -- drums, percussion

- Diz Disley -- guitar

- Jerry Donahue -- guitar

- Pat Donaldson -- bass
- Trevor Lucas -- guitar

- Dave Mattacks -- drums, percussion

- David Pegg -- bass

- Jean Roussel -- keyboards

- Alan Skidmore -- saxophone

- Danny Thompson -- bass

- Richard Thompson -- guitar 


  supporting musicians (1977)

- Gordon Bland -- 

- John Bundrick -- keyboards

- Dick Cuthell -- 

- Jerry Donahue -- guitar

- Timmie Donald -- drums, percussion

- Pat Donaldson -- bass

- Bennie Gallagher -- backing vocals

- Kay Garner -- backing vocals

- John Gillespie -- 

- Sue Glover -- backing vocals

- Phillip Goodwin -- 

- Ray Grand -- 

- Jimmy Hoines -- 

- Alan Holmes -- 

- John Hudson -- 

- Brother James --

- Susan Leslie -- backing vocals

- Bill Livesley -- 

- Peter Lockett --

- Trevor Lucas --- guitar

- Graham Lyle -- backing vocals

- Dave Mattacks -- 

- Junior Murvin --

- Dave Pegg -- 

- Robert Richards -- 

- Nigel Frank Ricotti --

- Jess Roden -- backing vocals

- Claire Terry -- backing vocals

- Richard Thompson --- guitar

- Bob Weston -- 

- David White -- 

- Steven Winwood -- kyeboards, guitar





- The Bunch

- Fairport Connection
- Fortheringay

- Sandy and Johnny
- The Strawbs 



Genre: folk-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  North Star Grassman and the Ravens

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4317

Year: 1971

Country/State: London, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --


Catalog listing: 200

Price: $20.00



In spite of widespread critical acclaim, the late Sandy Denny remains best known for her efforts with English folk-rockers Fairport Convention and The Strawbs (see separate entries). In spite of rave reviews and an extensive solo catalog, in the wake of her untimely 1978 death, the talented Denny remains virtually unknown to most Americans. For goodness sakes, how many metal heads know she contributed the female vocals to Led Zeppelin's 'The Battle of Evermore'?

Following a one-shot effort with the criminally overlooked band Fotheringay (sessions for a follow-up album were left incomplete), Denny embarked on a true solo career with the release of 1971's "North Star Grassman and the Ravens". Co-produced by Denny, former Fairport compatriot Richard Thompson (who also provided sterling guitar throughout) and John Wood, the results were well worth hearing. Highlighting Denny's sweet, troubled voice, material such as 'Blackwaterside', a cover of Dylan's 'Down In the Flood' and 'John the Gun' bore more than a passing resemblance to her Fairport catalog.  Full of dark, mid tempo tales of pain and unhappiness, the set was bound to appeal to Fairport fans, or anyone looking to spend an evening enjoying a pity party.  Yeah, there were a couple of tracks that exhibited a looser and more rock-oriented sound (Dylan's 'Down In the Flood' and 'Let's Jump the Broomstick'), but they were in the minority and nobody was going to mistake Denny for Fanny ...


"North Star Grassman and the Ravens" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Late November   (Sandy Denny) - 4:25

Intended for the second Forthingay LP and supposedly inspired by the death of Fairport Convention's Martin Lamble, the mournful, mid-tempo ballad 'Late November' showcased Denny's amazing voice and knack for crafting mesmerizing melodies, but also demonstrated some of the reasons she never managed to attract a big American audience.  Powered by Richard Thompson's crackling lead, the track definitely had a rock edge, but  like much of her repertoire there was a very heavy English folk vibe that was probably too dense for many American listeners.  Shame since this was a stunning opening.   Gawd only knows why, but A&M tapped at as an American single, though it apparently never got past being pressed as a promotional issue..  rating: **** stars.  

2.) Blackwaterside   (traditional arranged by Sandy Denny) - 4:07

Opening up with some nifty accordion (never thought I'd say that in a write-up), Denny's update of the traditional 'Backwaterside' showcased a forlorn vocal and even more impressive guitar work from Thompson.  The song was supposedly inspired by the death of friend Paul Bamber who had been a merchant marine sailor. Stunning ...  I've found myself humming this song at the strangest times.   rating: **** stars

3.) The Sea Captain   (Sandy Denny) - 3:07

On its own 'The Sea Captain' was a pretty enough acoustic ballad, but by the time you hit this track, the album began to suffer from a certain sounds-the-same feeling.  Luckily Thompson's chunky guitar (and backing vocals) popped up and saved the song from also-ran status.   rating: *** stars

4.) Down In the Flood   (Bob Dylan) - 3:17

Denny and Fairport Convention always had a thing for obscure Bob Dylan covers and this time around she takes on 'Down In the Flood'.  Hearing Thompson initially take the lead vocal was a surprise; as was the song's laidback, bluesy vibe.  This one sounded like a jam sessions from The Bunch recording sessions and while it was kind of cool to hear Denny trotting out her Janis Joplin moves, it made for a jarring and not totally impressive change in gears.  Nice wah-wah from Thompson.    rating: *** stars

-5.) John the Gun   (Sandy Denny) - 4:35
'John the Gun' was originally written and recorded for Forthingay's planned second album and was briefly part of Fairport's concert repertoire.   I've always wondered what the song was about, though interestingly, to my ears the chorus has always sounded a bit like Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane. For anyone interested, Barry Dransfield provided the striking violin solo.
    rating: **** stars


(side 2)

1.) Next Time Around   (Sandy Denny) - 4:20

Another song that's a complete mystery to me (I read somewhere it was apparently inspired by Denny's American born boyfriend/folk singer Johnson C. Frank), Denny's opening piano chords to 'Next Time Around' are among the most haunting I've ever heard.  While the album version is impressive, there are a couple of demos that are even better.  Still, it's one of the album highlights.   (The late Frank's own story is a movie waiting to be made.)     rating: **** stars

2.) The Optimist   (Sandy Denny) - 3:21
'The Optimist' gets rave reviews from lots of fans, but the song's sudden tempo shifts have always bugged me.    rating: ** stars

3.) Let's Jump the Broomstick   (Charles Robins) - 2:40

As I recall, Brenda Lee had a hit with her cover of 'Let's Jump the Broomstick' and while most folks dismiss Denny's cover, I'll admit to loving her rocking cover.  Kicked along by some Jerry Lee Lewis-styled piano and Richard Thompson's lead guitar, this one really cooks.  Shame it was faded out so early.  rating: **** stara

4.) Wretched Wilbur   (Sandy Denny) - 2:34

'Wretched Wilbur' was another beautiful ballad with a pensive vocal that's always puzzled my American brain.  My only criticism of this one stemmed from the heavy orchestration - the song would have been even better with stripped down backing.  rating: *** stars

5.) The North Star Grassman and the Ravens   (Sandy Denny) - 3:25

The ocean sound effects always irritated me, but other than that 'The North Star Grassman and the Ravens' was another album highlight.  Kudos to Ian Whiteman for the cool flute organ fills.  Like so much of the album, the meaning was a complete mystery    YouTube has a clip of Denny performing the song for a BBC show - it's a very different take than the orchestrated LP version; just Denny at the piano, but well worth checking out:    rating: **** stars

6.) Crazy Lady Blues   (Sandy Denny) - 3:21

The most American-sounding tune (I realize that sounds kind of strange), 'Crazy Lady Blues' wasn't a blues tune at all, rather was a surprisingly effective slice of county-rock, complete with Buddy Emmons pedal steel guitar.  With some nice double tracked Denny vocals, A&M even tapped the song for a US single (I've only seen promo copies).   


- 1971's 'Crazy Lady Blues' b/w 'Crazy Lady Blues' (A&M catalog number 1331)


Taken from the same 1971 BBC session as above, YouTube has a stripped down performance of the song at:  There's no denying how impressive Denny's solo performance is (I'd rather hear this than live Joni Mitchell), but I'll go against the flow and say I prefer the full instrumental version.  rating: **** stars


In the Japan  the single was 

- 1971's 'Late November' b/w 'Let's Jump the Broomstick' (Island catalog number WIP )



Great album (I'd love to find something that could give me insight into the songs); though I'd rate it a tad under 1972's "Sandy".  Still well worth owning and you can still find originals at an affordable price.  




Genre: folk-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Sandy

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4371

Year: 1972

Country/State: London, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog listing: 199

Price: $20.00


Produced by Trevor Lucas (Fairport alumnus Dave Swarbrick and Richard Thompson also played on the set), 1972's "Sandy" stood as an excellent introduction to Denny's solo efforts.  Folks will argue this isn't her best solo outing and there may be some merit in such a stance, but this isn't a bad place to start.  Showcasing mostly original material (there were two covers), the set highlighting Denny's sweet, yet achingly sad voice. Exemplified by material such as 'It'll Take a Long Time' (showcasing a wonderful Thompson guitar solo), the haunting 'Sweet Rosemary', and 'Listen Listen' most of the set remained true to her folk-rock roots. Among the few exceptions were some interesting if atypical brass arrangements on 'For Nobody To Hear' (courtesy of Allen Toussaint).  The album wasn't a radical departure from her Fairport efforts, but the addition of rockers like 'For Nobody To Hear' gave the album a sense of versatility not commonly found in Fairport and that voice ...   Among the few disappointments was her cover of Dylan's obscure 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time' (fans will recall Fairport frequently covered odd Dylan tunes).  It.  And while I'm not a gigantic English folk-rock fan, on the strengths of Denny's beautiful voice, this album would probably make my desert island list.


"Sandy" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) It'll Take a Long Time   (Sandy Denny) - 5:11

With a country-tinged melody, the leadoff track 'It'll Take a Long Time' encapsulated everything that was great about Denny; that instantly recognizable voice; her knack for crafting fabulous melodies, and that dark and disturbing aura she brought to so much of her catalog.  The addition of Richard Thompson's understated fuzz guitar and Pete Kleinow's pedal steel guitar was merely icing on the cake.  Simply gorgeous and one of the highlights in her all too short recording career ...  rating: ***** stars

2.) Sweet Rosemary   (Sandy Denny) - 2:25

A gentle acoustic ballad with another beautiful melody, 'Sweet Rosemary' found Denny moving back towards more conventional English folk-rock.  Should appeal to her Fairport Convention flock and that voice ... geez, what an amazing instrument she was given ...  Consider this an English folk song for folks who didn't like English folk songs.   rating: **** stars

3.) For Nobody To Hear   (Sandy Denny) - 4:10

As mentioned above, the Allen Toussaint horns came as a surprise, but 'For Nobody To Hear' was well worth hearing, if only to discover that Denny could handle a true rock tune without any problems.  rating: **** stars

4.) Tomorrow Is a Long Time   (Bob Dylan) - 3:51

The album's first disappointment, my main problem with Denny'c cover of Dylan's 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time' stemmed from the fact it was given a straight-ahead country arrangement.  Imagine Linda Ronstadt had she been English and you'd get a feel for what this one sounded like.  In spite of those criticisms I'll readily admit the harmony vocals (featuring Richard Thompson's future wife Linda Peters) were amazing.   rating: ** stars

5.) Quiet Joys of Brotherhood   (Richard Farina) - 4:23

Done as a stark, multi-tracked a capella tune (Dave Swarbrick added some haunting violin to the end of the song), her cover of Richard Farina's 'Quiet Joys of Brotherhood' was simply stunning.  The arrangement was reportedly inspired by the Ensemble of the Bulgarian Republic.  On at least one occasion I've listened to it ten times in a row ...    rating: **** stars


(side 2)
1.) Listen, Listen   (Sandy Denny) - 3:56

'Listen, Listen' was my pick for the album's most commercial offering (which is probably why Island tapped it as a single in the UK and Spain).  Surrounded by a breezy, easy-going melody and a killer hook, it's hard to imagine how radio missed it.   

- 1972's 'Listen, Listen' b/w 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time' (Island catalog number WIP 6142)

rating: **** stars

2.) The Lady   (Sandy Denny) - 3:57

There's no denying 'The Lady' was a fantastic song - Denny's vocal was breathtaking and the song had a melody most singers would kill to have penned.  In fact, the only problem I've got with song is producer Lucas' overwhelming arrangement.  Coupled with Harry Robinson's strings, Denny is all but smothered in the orchestration (which occasionally bordered on incidental film music).   rating: *** stars

3.) Bushes & Briars   (Sandy Denny) - 3:49

Yeah, Pete Kleinow's pedal steel gave 'Bushes & Briars' a distinctive country-tinge, but the song was so good you overlooked it.  rating: **** stars

4.) It Suits Me Well   (Sandy Denny) - 5:05

Sung from the perspective of a Gypsy, 'It Suits Me Well' was my pick for the album's best performance.  With a sweet, strumming rhythm, Denny's mournful, reflective lyrics were simultaneously intriguing and calming.   It simply climbs into your head and won't leave.  What a great tune.  rating: **** stars

5.) The Music Weaver   (Sandy Denny) - 3:17

For what it was worth, I'd argue the stark ballad 'The Music Weaver' was one of the prettiest things Denny ever wrote.  A wonderful way to close out the album.   rating: **** stars



Unfortunately, while it received wide critical praise, the collection failed to sell in the States, or the UK.  


Postscript - David Bailey's cover photo was stunning - simply the prettiest picture of Denny I've ever seen.






Genre: folk-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Like An Old Fashioned Waltz

Company: Island

Catalog: ILPS 9258

Year: 1974

Country/State: London, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: UK issue; minor edge and corner wear

Available: 1

Catalog listing: 1470

Price: $30.00



There aren't many things that can stop be dead in my tracks.  Sandy Denny's crystalline voice and magical sense of melancholy is one of the things that can do it. Reportedly disappointed her self-titled 1972 album didn't sell better, 1974's "Like An Old Fashioned Waltz" was apparently intended as Denny's commercial breakthrough album.  Co-produced by Trevor Lucas and John Wood, with the exception of the ballad 'Dark the Night', nothing here was particularly top-40 commercial in nature (but then it would be hard to imagine Denny singing a top-40 pop ditty).  That said, the album found Denny moving away from her folk-rock roots to a more open sound that incorporated bits of jazz and adult contemporary pop.  Exemplified by tracks like 'Solo' (one of her best tunes), the title track, and 'Friends' the subject matter remained dark, depressing, and highly personal.  In fact, if you had lots of personal demons, or were battle depression, these tales of heartbreak, loneliness, and despair might not be the album for you.  On the other hand, if you were tough enough, this was a collection that slowly and surprisingly reeled you in and wouldn;t let you go.  Denny's voice was simply mesmerizing and since everyone needs a good cry once in awhile.  Denny's third solo album provided the perfect excuse for such a break.


"Like An Old Fashioned Waltz" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Solo   (Sandy Denny) - 4:24

What a voice and capable of going from zero to sixty in a heartbeat.  Pretty keyboard-powered ballad with a  dynamite Richard Thompson guitar solo.  I've always assumed it was inspired by her decision to leave Fairport Convention for a solo career, but who knows.  The original Japanese release of the album included Denny's descriptions of the songs:  "A song which depicts, I think, that knowledge we all have inside, which is, that nobody can live your life for you. But at the same time, let's try to help one another, all the same."  The video quality isn't particularly good, but YouTube has a fuzzy, black and white clip of Denny and  Fairport Convention (Jerry Donahue, Trevor Lucas, Dave Mattacks, Dave Pegg, and Dave Swarbrick) performing the tune at a 1974 concert.  No idea where it was filmed, but the sound quality isn't half bad.  rating: **** stars

2.) Like An Old Fashioned Waltz   (Sandy Denny) - 4:09

The kind of sentimental ballad I would normally run away from, but in Denny's hands it's enough to make you start tearing up.   In spite of Harry Robinson's choking orchestral arrangement, Denny's performance was simply beautiful.  Denny's own comments on the tune: "Being a romantic at heart which I indicated before, I tried to capture the magic of an old Hollywood movie. Two dancers alone in an enormous deserted ballroom. But where does the orchestra hide? Notice when the strings come in!"   Island tapped the song as a single, but subsequently withdrew it.

- 1974's 'Like an Old Fashioned Waltz' b/w 'John the Gun' Island catalog number WIP 6195)   rating: **** stars

2.) Whispering Grass  (Fred Fisher - Doris Fisher) - 3:56

One of two covers.  Sweet version of the old Ink Sports hit (actually, Erskine Hawkins & His Orchestra recorded it way before the Ink Spots).   Love the breezy piano accompaniment.   Denny's own comments: "When I was young, my parents used to possess many of the old Inkspots recordings, this is one of my very favourites of these. I always promised myself that one day I would record it. So here it is!" I'm not sure why, but Island tapped the song as the UK single:


- 1974's  'Whispering Grass' b/w 'Until the Real Thing Comes Along' (Island catalog number WIP 6176)   rating: *** stars

3.) Friends   (Sandy Denny) - 3:31

Mid-tempo ballad that captured that special essence in her voice.  Wish I could adequately describe that characteristics.  My only complaint on this one remains Robinson's intrusive orchestration.   Denny's own description of the tune: "This is about some people I know and love. Even with their faults and all."   rating: **** stars

4.) Carnival  (Sandy Denny) - 5:44

Denny's comments on the song: "When I wrote this song, and when I sing it now it was, and is, a creation of imagery. Like when the summer is gone, and all the laughter and frivolities which go with the summer have mellowed, all at once the autumn is with us, albeit beautiful just the same."  Lots of folks love Autumn, but I have an intense dislike for the season.   Not only do I dislike the coming of shorter days and cold weather, but there's just something saddening about the loss of summer.   'Canival' captures the vibe perfectly.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)
1.) Dark the Night   
  (Sandy Denny) - 4:27

Complete with gurgling synthesizers and multi-tracked backing voices, 'Dark the Night' was easily the album's most commercial and mainstream tune.   Denny also turned in a beautiful electric piano solo.  Here description of the song's inspiration: "About love lost perhaps, and being alone with your memories, wishing that things may have been different, if you had your time again."   rating: **** stars

2.) At the End of the Day  (Sandy Denny)  - 6:28

Patented Denny ballad - let the tears start.   "Anyone who has ever been away from home for a long time, and has felt a little homesick, will understand the sentiment behind this song. I wrote it on the plane journey home, after an extensive tour of the United States."   rating: **** stars

3.) (It Will have To Do) Until the Real Thing Comes Along   (Holiner - Saul Chaplin - L.E. Freeman - Sammy Cahn - Nichols) - 3:40    The second cover and another tune picked from her childhood memories ...  Nobody did melancholy as well as Denny.  It take awhile for the track's magic to weave its way through your fiber - but it will.    "Once again a song which I loved as a child. When I first heard it, it was sung by a wonderful black Pianist - Singer, Fats Waller - master of the keyboard, as is the pianist on this rendering of the song - Ian Armit. We recorded it as closely to the aforementioned recording by Fats, as possible."   rating: **** stars

4.) No End  (Sandy Denny) - 6:30

"The story of two friends, one a person who loved to travel and the other one who loved to paint. They persuade each other back into their respective vocations, a strange song perhaps, but we all lose our zest for life at times don't we? Let's hope it's never for long!"  Even with that explanation the lyric's always been a mystery to me.  Pretty, but not one of my favorites.   rating: *** stars


Having wrapped up recording the album in the Fall of 1973, Denny put together a touring band and headed out on the road, only to learn that Island Records had delayed the collection's release until the Summer of 1974, by which time she'd rejoined Fairport Convention.  (If you believe urban legend, the delay had to do with the Arab oil embargo which found Island records having difficulties obtaining sufficient vinyl stock to press the collection.)



Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Rendezvous

Company: Island

Catalog: ILPS 9433

Year: 1977

Country/State: London, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog listing: 1492

Price: $20.00


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Rendezvous

Company: Island

Catalog: L 36136

Year: 1977

Country/State: London, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK issue

Available: 1

Catalog listing: 2985

Price: $15.00



After a two year hiatus Denny returned with 1977's "Rendezvous".  Originally entitled "Gold Dust", the album was completed in 1976, but Island repeatedly delayed releasing the set.  When it was finally release in May, 1977 Denny was pregnant and unable to tour, significantly reducing the collection's marketability.  To be honest, it took awhile to warm up to this one. Starting with the cover (airbrushed, windswept photos of an artist are never a good thing), it was clear Denny and producer/husband Trevor Lucas were interested in expanding her audience well beyond prior folk-rock endeavors. As such, the collection was a mixed success. Denny's wonderful voice and backing from Steve Winwood and Richard Thompson largely rescued material such as 'I'm a Dreamer', the Thompson-penned 'I Wish I was a Fool For You' and the gospel-influenced 'Take Me Away'.  On the other hand  a heavily orchestrated cover of Elton John's 'Candle In the Wind' and 'Gold Dust' were surprisingly anonymous AOR performances.  Even more irritating, Lucas and arranger Harry Robinson repeatedly abandoned Denny's normally spare and tasteful production in favor of some heavy handed orchestration.  Check out the pompous second half of 'All Our Days'. All told, call it a disappointing transition ...   Sadly, it was also her final album, coming two years before her untimely death.

"Rendezvous" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Wish I was a Fool For You (For Shame of Doing Wrong) (Richard Thompson) - 4:25  rating: *** stars

Some folks are going to find Denny's version of 'I Wish I was a Fool For You" inferior to the Richard Thompson original (found on his "Pour Down Like Silver" album).  personally I'm torn.  Thompson's original had a far starker feel and while Denny's version is clogged by a bloated arrangement, her vocals are pretty killer.  
2.) Gold Dust (Sandy Denny) - 3:54 
rating: *** stars

Interesting, occasionally jazzy vibe on this one.
3.) Candle In the Wind (Bernie Taupin - Elton John) - 4:08  
rating: ** stars

A cover of elton John's 'Candle in the Wind' was a late addition to the track listing; replacing Danny's own 'Still Waters Run Deep'.  Maybe due to the original song is so well known, it's always been hard to listen to Denny's cover without drawing comparisons.  Her version was certainly professional, but burdened with a heavy, sappy arrangement, you had to wonder what drove her to cover this one when there were so many better tracks out there.  
4.) Take Me Away (Sandy Denny) - 4:23  
rating: **** stars

Simply a stunningly pretty performance, Denny seldom sounded as good.  The tune was made even better by a killer Richard Thompson solo.  The ballad would have been even better had Harry Robinson opted for a leaner arrangement.


(side 2)
1.) One Way Donkey Ride (Sandy Denny) - 3:34
   rating: **** stars

In one of her final interviews Denny mentioned 'One Way Donkey Ride' was her favorite song on the "Rendezvous" album.  With a charming, laidback arrangement, it's easy to see why
2.) I'm a Dreamer (Sandy Denny) - 4:45   
rating: **** stars

'I'm a Dreamer' was recorded live and completed in a single dat.  If you've never heard Denny's crystalline voice, this heartfelt ballad stands as a good place to start.  Would have been five stars without Robinson's MOR string arrangement.
3.) All Our Days (Sandy Denny) - 7:25  
rating: ** stars

One of the few Denny songs that I have a real dislike for. Long, plodding, pompous, and largely tuneless.
4.) Silver Threads and Golden Needles (Dick Reynolds - Jack Rhodes) - 3:40  
rating: ** stars

Slowing this classic track down to a funeral dirge and slapping a horn arrangement on it may have seemed like a good idea.  In reality it wasn't.
5.) No More Sad Refrains (Sandy Denny) - 2:48  
rating: *** stars

Another one of the songs that was recorded live and finished in a single day, 'No More Sad Refrains' sported one of the album's prettier melodies, but once again Robinson's heavy handed string arrangement sucked a lt of the energy out of the performance.

Having given birth to daughter Georgia, Denny undertook a brief tour in support of the album.  Ironically, having finally begun to attract widespread attention, in April, 1978 an intoxicated Denny died after falling down a staircase and suffering a massive brain hemorrhage. A tremendous loss to the music world, she was only 30.





Genre: folk-rock

Rating: ***** (5 stars)

Title:  Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

Company: Hannibal

Catalog: HNBX-5031

Year: 1986

Country/State: London, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: 4 LP boxed set; includes 20 page insert and recording notes

Available: 1

Catalog listing: 6350

Price: $60.00


Even though I've never been a gigantic fan of the genre, I seem to own quite a bit of English folk-rock.  One of the few exceptions to my general lack of enthusiasm for the genre came in the form of  the late Sandy Denny.  I remember this one coming out and thinking I'd pick up a copy, but by the time I got around to looking for it, the set had all but vanished - it only took me two decades to track down a copy.  Shame I wasted so much time.   Anyhow, no matter if you're an established fan, or someone merely curious, if you've got the money and the time, 1986's "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" is a pretty wonderful set to own.  Note I mentioned time.  A four LP, 43 track boxed set, this isn't a collection you're going to slap on the turntable and walk away from.   Exploring and appreciating Denny's amazing voice across a significant part of her recording catalog is going to take an investment of time and effort.   Carefully compiled and produced by Joe Boyd and Denny's Fairport Convention cohort and former husband Trevor Lucas, the compilation included a wonderful mixture of Denny solo material, as well as tracks from her Fairport Convention, The Bunch, Fotheringay and Strawbs catalogs.  The track listing included a healthy number of demos, eight live numbers, and six previously unreleased material. The package was accompanied by a twenty page booklet and a insert with interesting notes on some of the recordings.   In other words, this was the kind of boxed set fans dreamed about.  Yeah, like most folks, I probably would have picked a couple of different tracks (I would have dropped Dylan's 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time' in favor of 'Down In the Flood'), but those are all minor adjustments.  Song for song this was about as good as you could hope for.   And as for Denny voice - I'm not sure I can explain it, but she had a voice that I found instantly appealing - crystal clear, beautiful, haunting, and simply over-running with feeling and vulnerability.  I guess she's hopelessly out of date in this day and age, but compared to Lady Gaga, Madonna, or this week's flavor of the month, Denny easily blows the competition out of the water.  Someday she'll be recognized for the massive talent she was. 

"Who Knows Where the Times Goes?":
(side 1)

1.) The Lady   (Sandy Denny) - 5:08

Recorded in 1977 at a London club, 'The Lady' was a beautiful stark ballad - just Denny's haunting voice and keyboards.  The opening monolog was a wonderful way to get a glance at Denny's humor, charm, and chronic self-doubt.  In spite of her comments to the audience, she turned in a killer performance.   rating: **** stars

2.) Listen, Listen   (Sandy Denny) - 3:57

Showcasing Richard Thompson on guitar and mandolin, 'Listen, Listen' was one of three tracks from the "Sandy" LP.  A likeable folk-rock number. the song kicked up a notch when the bouncy chorus kicked in.   rating: *** stars

3.) Next Time Around   (Sandy Denny) - 4:23

'Next Time Around' has always stuck me as one of Denny's prettiest ballads - with a striking melody built around Denny's piano, the result was a very dark and disturbing feel.  Someone should get the rights to include this one for a film soundtrack.   rating: **** stars

4.) Farewell, Farewell  (Richard Thompson) - 2:38

The first of nine Fairport convention selections, 'Farewell, Farewell' may not be one of the band's best known numbers, but the track served as a wonderful setting for Denny's sweet and vulnerable voice.   rating: *** stars

5.) The Music Weaver   (Sandy Denny) - 3:04

'The Music Weaver' was a raw demo - just Denny and piano.  Another beautiful ballad, the song showcased her frequently overlooked talents at the keyboard.  Shame it wasn't presented in a complete version.  According to the boxed set: "This song is reputed to be about Richard Thompson, although most Sandy's songs which are reputed to be about some in particular turn out to about more than one person or subject."   rating: **** stars

6.) Tomorrow Is a Long Time   (Bob Dylan) - 3:56 

One of the few disappointments on the set, Denny's countrified cover of Dylan's 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time' just didn't do anything for me.  rating: ** stars


(side 2)
1.) The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood   (Richard Farina - traditional) - 5:58

An unreleased Fairport Convention track (Denny also recorded the song for her "Sandy" LP), 'The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood' was mildly interesting, though it was easy to see why the band shelved it.  Very much an atmospheric piece, Denny's vocal was nice enough, but the song never really morphed into anything beyond an atmospheric dirge ...   According to the recording notes: "This track was left off "Liege and Lief" due to the length of some of the other songs and the fact that there were enough quiet tracks.  Also it was neither strictly traditional nor written but one of the group."   rating: ** stars

2.) The Pond and the Stream   (Sandy Denny) - 3:16
Probably the most commercial track from the Fortheringay catalog, the breezy 'The Pond and the Stream' would have made a dandy single.   According to the recording notes: "It is generally agreed that this was written about folk singe Annie Briggs, renowned for her gypsy-like lifestyle."   rating: **** stars

3.) One Way Donkey Ride   (Sandy Denny) - 3:34

The best song off of 1977's "Rendezvous" LP, 'One Way Donkey Ride' had a pretty, mid-tempo melody with a full band arrangement.   rating: *** stars

4.) Take Away the Load (Sandy's Song)   (Sandy Denny) - 1:36

A brief demo (again just Denny and piano), 'Take Away the Load (Sandy's Song)' was a beautiful number that caught your attention via its simplicity.   Quoting the recording notes: "This was later recorded by Dave Swarbrick as 'Sandy's Song' but she preferred her original title.  It is said to be about him (Swarbrick) and his then wife (Denny)."   rating: **** stars

5.) One More Chance   (Sandy Denny) - 7:52

I'd nominate 'One More Chance' as one of the best things Denny ever did with Fairport Convention.  Off of 1975's "Rising of the Moon" it was way more rock-oriented than most of the band's catalog, but the combination of Denny's voice, Dave Mattack's drums, and Jerry Donahue's blazing lead guitar was irresistible.  Should have been a massive success for the band, but of course it wasn't and Denny subsequently left Fairport in order to resume her solo career  rating: **** stars


(side 3)

1.) Bruton Town   (traditional) - 4:47

Recorded during a live 1972 BBC performance, 'Bruton Town' was a stunning ballad - how can anyone sound that clear and confident playing before thousands of people ?    rating: **** stars

2.) Blackwaterside   (traditional) - 4:15

Yeah, it was a traditional song with the kind of heartbreak lyric that seemed so perfect for Denny's voice, but with it's rock-ish arrangement, 'Blackwaterside' was one of my favorite performances off of  her debut LP "North Star Grassman and the Ravens".  I think Thompson was the featured guitarist.   rating: **** stars

3.) Tam Lin   (traditional) - 7:10

Another Fairport track, their version of the ancient Scottish traditional ballad 'Tam Lin' turned the song on its head giving it a cool jazzy-rock swing.  Anyone who didn't think Denny could sing rock only needed to check this one out.   rating: **** stars

4.) The Banks of the Nile   (traditional) - 8:06

With it's pretty, but vaporous melody and feel, 'The Banks of the Nile' has always reminded me of a David Crosby melody coupled with one of those Al Stewart historically inclined lyrics (boy leaves girl in order to join the British Army to go fight Napoleon).   Denny turned in another beautiful performance and the song was definitely worth hearing, but stretching on over eight minutes, it started to drag after awhile.     rating: *** stars


(side 4)

1.) Sail Away to the Sea   (Dave Cousins) - 3:25

'Sail Away to the Sea' was one of two tracks from her days with Dave Cousins and the Strawbs. A touch too folk-ish for my ears, but you had to be impressed by how young and fresh Denny sounded on the song.   rating: ** stars

2.) You Never Wanted Me   (Jackson Frank) - 3:08

A 1968 Fairport Convention BBC live performance, to my ears 'You Never Wanted Me' stands as one of the album's biggest surprises.  I simply had no idea how good these guys sounded in a live environment.  Folk-rock at its best ...      rating: **** stars

3.) Sweet Rosemary   (Sandy Denny) - 2:40

Another demo, (this time Denny and acoustic guitar), 'Sweet Rosemary' again underscored how talented the woman was.  Without any real accompaniment, this one was just breath taking.    rating: **** stars

4.) Now and Then   (Sandy Denny) - 3:45

A Denny original, 'Now and Then' was a 1968 Fairport demo featuring some multi-tracked vocals and pretty acoustic guitar accompaniment from Thompson.  The recording notes say: "Sandy came to the studio at Christmas time 1968 to demo some songs for Fairport.  This and 'Autopsy' were done at the same time and the Fairport chose the latter."  Shame they didn't decided to record this one as well.  It's that good.   rating: **** stars

5.) Autopsy   (Sandy Denny) - 4:19

Another track Denny wrote and auditioned for Fairport, 'Autopsy' appeared on "Unhalfbricking" and is one of the best things the band ever recorded.  I wouldn't called it psychedelic, but it definitely had an acid-tinge to it.    rating: **** stars

6.) It'll Take a Long Time   (Sandy Denny) - 5:14

One of my favorite songs off of "Sandy", 'It'll Take a Long Time' had everything going for it - a great melody that climbed in your head and wouldn't leave, Richard Thompson's killer lead guitar, and another classic Denny vocal.   rating: ***** stars


(side 5)

1.) Two Weeks Last Summer   (Dave Cousins) - 3:50

Ever wondered what Denny would have sounded like doing a Joni Mitchell cover ?  Well, 'Two Weeks Last Summer' might serve as a good approximation.  Kicked along by a catchy little guitar figure,  this unreleased Fotheringay track had a nice jazz-rock vibe.   Interesting tidbit from the recording notes: "This song was recorded for the "Sand and the Strawbs: LP in 1967 and revived for the ill-fated second Fortheringay LP in 1970.   rating: **** stars

2.) Late November   (Sandy Denny) - 4:31

'Late November' demonstrated the power Denny could muster when needed.   Great Telecaster solo ...  "This was also intended for Fotheringay 2, but the group broke up before it was completed.  The original mix of this was included on an Island Records sampler back in 1970 intended as a preview of forthcoming albums.  Later the track was reworked for inclusion in "North Star Grassman".    rating: *** stars

3.) Gypsy Davey   (traditional) - 3:53

Another unreleased Fortheringay track, 'Gypsy Davey' was a bit too English-folkie for my tastes.  rating: ** stars

4.) Winter Winds   (Sandy Denny) - 2:10

Taken from the "Fortheringay" LP, 'Winter Winds' was one of those songs that initially didn't make much of an impression on me.  Denny sounded like she was simply trying a bit too hard on this one.  Still, that crystal clear voice coupled with Jerry Donahue's beautiful acoustic guitar eventually got to me.   rating: *** stars

5.) Nothing More   (Sandy Denny) - 4:56

A live Fortheringay performance recorded during a date in Rotterdam, Holland, 'Nothing More' demonstrated Denny and company could handle a conventional rock tune.  A surprisingly taunt performance with Jerry Donahue turning in some blistering lead guitar.  rating: **** stars

6.) Memphis   (Chuck Berry) - 4:00

From the same 1970 Rotterdam concert, Denny's cover of Chuck berry's 'Memphis, Tennessee' was one of the album's biggest surprises.  Sounding like something she might have recorded with The Bunch, this was just straight-ahead rock and roll fun.  rating: *** stars



- Sandy Denny does rockabilly ?   Yeah, hard to believe it, but 'Walking the Floor Over' showed she could handle the genre without any problem.  From the recording notes: "This was intended for various solo albums and tinkered with several times but was never completed to Sandy's satisfaction;"   rating: *** stars

-  I'm normally not a big fan of Everly Brother remakes, but The Bunch's laidback, breezy cover of 'When Will I Be Loved?' was charming with Richard Thompson adding a nifty little guitar riff that you couldn't shake our of your head.   "The Bunch" included Richard Thompson, Trevor Lucas, Linda Thompson (the Peters), Gerry Conway and others.  It was basically a jam on a lot of old rock 'n roll songs and A&M released it in the US."   rating: **** stars

- 'Whispering Grass' was another isolated disappointment - in this case a meandering slice of cocktail jazz.  Very '30s influenced and just not my personal taste.   rating: ** stars

- An easy-going keyboard-propelled ballad, 'Friends' had one of Denny's sweetest vocals, made even more poignant by a beautiful backing arrangement and some tasty wah-wah lead guitar.  "This is supposed to be about a famous rock star who courted Sandy briefly but intensely in the early '70s"   rating: **** stars

- A Fairport performance recorded at a 1974 L.A. performance, 'Solo' was interesting but in this incarnation suffered from a slightly lackluster performance and sub-par sound.   " ... recorded during Fairport's tour of Australia and America in 1974.  Sandy had not yet officially joined but would come out during the set and do a few songs and join them for the finale."   rating: ** stars

- The liner notes show 'After Halloween' with a 1972 date which makes you wonder why this track didn't make it on her "Sandy" album.   Hard to imagine that Denny accompanied by a single strumming acoustic guitar could sound so good.   rating: *** stars

- Written by Richard Thomas, 'For Shame of Doing Wrong'' may have been the most contemporary sounding track on the set - an outright rocker, Denny literally sang the hell out of this one .  Thompson provided the lead guitar and  I think Stevie Winwood was featured on  keyboards.  Curiously, on the parent "Rendezvous" LP the song was entitled 'I Wish I was a Fool For You (For Shame of Doing Wrong)'.    rating: **** stars

- Off of "Rising for the Moon", the martial 'Stranger to Himself' has always been one of my favorite Fairport performances.  For her part Denny employed a deeper than normal timbre, while Jerry Donahue provided the guitar, and Bruce Rowland the drums.   rating: **** stars

- Another track off of "Rendezvous", 'I'm a Dreamer' was a sappy, hideously over-orchestrated ballad that almost sounded like it had been crafted for mid-1970s radio play.  Probably the worst performance on the album.   I laugh every time I hear the mention of Kentucky.   rating: ** stars

- Another track that shows Fairport were more than just a bunch of English folkies ...  Penned by Denny, this live version of  'John the Gun' (recorded at a performance at Sydney's Opera House) had a rock edge that should please any self-respecting rock fan.      rating: **** stars

- Recorded at a 1977 performance at L.A.'s Troubadour Club, but not included on the resulting "Live at the L.A.Troubador" album, this live version of  'Knockin' On Heaven's Door' was simply one of the best Dylan cover's I've ever heard.  I didn't even mind Dave Swarbrick's screeching fiddle.  Probably my favorite previously unreleased track on the boxed set.   rating: **** stars

- A 1975 Denny demo, 'By the Time It Gets Dark' was another beautiful, 12 string-powered ballad.  Playful and catchy, you had to wonder what a fully realized version of the song would have sounded like.   rating: **** stars

- With so much quality material on the boxed set, the ballad 'What Is True' was reduced to also-ran category.  Again, Denny's performance was pretty and heartfelt, but this time around nothing really stood out.   rating: ** stars

- From "Fortheringay", 'The Sea' was a breezy, mid-tempo number highlighting some tasty Jerry Donahue jazzy lead guitar.  One of that LP's highlights.   rating: **** stars

- Recorded during the "Rendezvous" sessions, but never released, 'Full Moon' was a heavily orchestrated ballad that had some radio potential.  Unlike the earlier 'I'm a Dreamer'. Denny didn't seem on automatic pilot on this one, rather the track served as a nice platform for her special voice.  Hard to imagine I'd ever say this, but the clarinet solo was great.   Per the recording notes: "It was felt "Rendezvous" had too many ballads and not enough "rockers", so it was left off.  In retrospect it seems to be one of Sandy's greatest songs."

- As underscored by her opening comments, the title track was clearly a song near and dear to Denny's heart.  Originally written and recorded as a Denny solo number and then re-recorded for The Strawbs, this version of  'Who Knows Where the Time Goes?' was taken from a 1974 L.A. date, but never released.  Shame since Denny's calm, restrained performance was mesmerizing.  One of the album's standout performances on a collection literally weighted down by great material.  rating: ***** stars


A wonderful boxed set, but don't try to take it all in at once - it will simply overwhelm you.  Rather,, treat it like a great wine and enjoy it at your leisure.  A performer I bet many of us wish we'd had an opportunity to see live - guess this is about as close as we'll get.


(side 6)

1.) Walking the Floor over You   (Tubb) - 4:17
2.) When Will I Be Loved?   (Everly) - 3:10
3.) Whispering Grass   (Fisher - Fisher) - 3:56
4.) Friends   (Sandy Denny) - 3:31
5.) Solo   (Sandy Denny) - 5:01
6.) After Halloween   (Sandy Denny) - 2:57


(side 7)

1.) For Shame of Doing Wrong   (Richard Thompson) - 3:42
2.) Stranger to Himself   (Sandy Denny) - 2:50
3,) I'm a Dreamer   (Sandy Denny) - 4:43
4.) John the Gun   (Sandy Denny) - 5:11
5.) Knockin' on Heaven's Door   (Bob Dylan) - 4:30


(side 8)

1.) By the Time It Gets Dark   (Sandy Denny) - 3:20
2.) What Is True?   (Sandy Denny) - 3:44
3.) The Sea   (Sandy Denny) - 5:25
4.) Full Moon   (Sandy Denny) - 4:30
5.) Who Knows Where the Time Goes?   (Sandy Denny) - 6:37




In 1991 the set was reissued as a three-CD set.  The main difference was the CD set was packaged in a green LP-sized box. (Hannibal catalog number HNCD-5031).