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A timely reissue of a timeless album
on 23 September 2004
Fotheringay's sole album was another one of those British folk-rock classics which had become almost impossible to locate on CD so top marks to Fledgling Records for finally making this album widely available again.
I'm guessing that you know that Fotheringay were the band that Sandy Denny formed after leaving Fairport Convention. Presumably she was unhappy with the band's forays into pure traditional music since 'Fotheringay' sounds a lot like 'Unhalfbricking'. The music is beautifully mellow and dominated by Sandy's crystal-clear singing and Jerry Donahue's tasteful, understated and skilful guitar playing. The album includes two of Sandy's finest compositions, 'The Sea' and 'Nothing More'. The former, in particular, is a masterful performance. There is also a traditional song, 'Banks Of The Nile', one of those slow ballads that suited Sandy's voice so well. However, not everything on the album is so good. Sandy's then-boyfriend, later husband, Trevor Lucas was given high prominence and two of his tracks, a rather indifferent Bob Dylan cover and the self-penned 'Ballad Of Ned Kelly' bring the standard right down. The latter, released on single to coincide with with the execrable Mick Jagger movie, is an absolute stinker, in fact. Having said this, the Lucas / Denny composition 'Peace In The End' is a great number in a hippy-singalong sort of way and Lucas's brooding reading of the Gordon Lightfoot song 'The Way That I Feel' is, to me, the highlight of the album.
This is quite a decent reissue, better than the old Hannibal one. The booklet is the usual high quality production that you expect from Phil Smee with some great photos and memorabilia but, surprisingly, no history. The live bonus tracks are a welcome surprise, although the recording quality is not the best. It is particularly interesting to hear 'Two Weeks Last Summer', a Dave Cousins song dating from Sandy's days with The Strawbs. I was a bit annoyed that they didn't include 'Late November', a song from a never-finished second album which appeared on an Island sampler called 'El Pea' (and various Sandy compilations since), as that would have finished the package off nicely. Finally, the sound quality is good enough, but far from audiophile with hiss noticeable in some of the quieter moments. Perhaps the CD was mastered from a vinyl copy.
'Fotheringay' is a quite excellent album and the absolute highlight of Sandy's post-Fairport career. I recommend this unreservedly.