Sandy Denny Sampler

After working on the London folk club circuit, Sandy Denny had her first break when she appeared on the 'Folk Song Cellar' program on the BBC in 1965. After several appearances on the program and with a growing reputation gained from playing live, she made her first official recording in 1967. These were released on the albums 'Alex Campbell And His Friends' and 'Sandy And Johnny' (with Johnny Silvo). The tracks from 'Sandy And Johnny' were re-recorded and along with the recordings from 'Alex Campbell And His Friends', were released in 1970 on the album 'It's Sandy Denny'. During this time (1968), she successfully auditioned for the vacant singing position with Fairport Convention.

In her first spell with Fairport Convention, she was credited with being the main influence for them changing their style and direction away from American west coast to what was to become folk rock. Her influence had a knock on effect, with other bands following the Fairport Convention style and this resulting in the exponential rise of folk rock throughout the 1970s. Her solo career and song writing are to be both admired and respected, having written some timeless pieces and had so many noted performers covering her songs. Her reputation as a singer is second to none and she was much sought after as a performer. One of her most memorable recordings is her duet with Robert Plant; to this day, the only guest singer to appear on a Led Zeppelin album when she sang on the Led Zeppelin lV album track 'Battle Of Evermore'. Her tragic and sudden death at the age of 31 cut short what was destined to become a long and very successful career as a song writer and performer.

The eight song Sandy Sampler CD contains a very nice mixture of unreleased tracks, an alternative versions of 'Gold Dust' and 'Solo', the original version of 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes?' and three demo songs. Its a taste of the 19 CD box set released on Island that includes complete studio recordings (including solo recordings and some from her time with Fairport Convention), home demos, studio outtakes, and over 100 unreleased recordings. The set also includes some fascinating memorabilia and a 72 page book.

Taken from the Fairport Convention album 'Unhallbricking', the original version of 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes?' opens the CD. Her voice on here is both melodic and gentle, drifting seamlessly along to gentle and a very atmospheric backing. This is a classic Sandy Denny/Fairport Convention song and was voted Favourite Folk Song Of All Time by Radio 2 listeners. Astonishingly, this is one of the first songs that she ever wrote and despite this shows a lyrical maturity and sensitive, magical mood.

Whilst on tour of the US, Sandy recorded a stripped down version of the 'Like An Old Fashioned Waltz' track 'Solo'. This is the second song on the sampler and exposes a near perfect addictive vulnerability in her voice; the crystal clear vocals soaring over the melancholic instruments; magical.

Track three, 'The Optimist' is an unreleased acoustic demo of a track from her first album and features Richard Thompson on guitar. This is a timeless piece and the acoustic take on the song works so well at all levels; the clarity in the voice enhanced by the simplicity of Thompson's backing. Another unreleased song, 'Listen Listen' is a demo from her most successful album 'Sandy'. Only recently discovered in the Island vaults, the song is an acoustic folk anthem that is addictive from start to finish. It's interesting to hear this demo and can only imagine how it might have developed into the released album version.

'It Ain't Me Babe' is an unreleased home demo and is the first Bob Dylan song that she covered. It's another great find, this time from reels of her mid 1960's recordings that were found. The song is haunting and always mesmerising, sung with a grace and emotion; truly magical.

The unknown song, 'Lord Bateman' is next. This is the legendary 'lost song' which has only recently been discovered. The song is very traditional and sees Sandy singing with great depth and impeccable timing; a timeless piece. The unreleased alternative version of 'Gold Dust' follows. This is the original version of the title track proposed for her last album; after rejection, it was later re-recorded. The sound is full with full band backing. There's more of a blues feel to this track, enhanced by the sublime organ and heavier arrangement.

The final track is another unreleased demo 'Makes Me Think Of You' which is the final track that Sandy ever recorded. Delivered with her customary feeling and emotion, the timeless melodies of her voice and musical arrangement are simply soporific.

The full box set promises to be the definitive Sandy Denny reference and is a must for all folk, folk rock and Sandy Denny lovers everywhere.