New Review: Fairport Conventional

A recent reissue of Fairport Convention’s 1974 album Rising For The Moon makes for disappointing listening for long time Sandy Denny fan M. Lý-Eliot

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Sandy Denny is an iconic figure in the history of British folk rock. Despite her short lived career, spanning from 1968 to her early death in 1978, she is one of the most high profile female artists to achieve independent fame for her vocal talents as well as her songwriting.

At her best, such as on her most well known song, ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes’, Denny’s voice is full, textured and highly nimble. At unexpected moments she pushes out her open, husky tones into powerful and moving trills and crescendos that explode the traditional folk tunes she sings with unexpected charge and sexual energy.

Denny, a nursing student from Kingston-Upon-Thames, joined her first band, Fairport Convention, in 1969 as lead vocalist, helping them to make electric covers of traditional songs.

Her writing and vocal contributions, along with guitarist Richard Thompson, are seen as a key component to Liege and Lief, the band’s most successful album. Very soon after, Denny left to start her own band, Fotheringay, and it was then that she gained fame for ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’, as well as continuing to make thrilling, freely interpreted covers of old British songs, like her psychedelic take on ‘Gypsy Davey’.

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Image is the sleeve design accompanying Fairport Convention’s Rising For The Moon album. The sleeve shows a highly stylised portrait of the group depicted in mediaevael style dress seated around a table in what appears to be a dark tavern. Ferns can be seen in the background