Tag Archives: Sandy Denny

Who Knows Where The Time Goes?

17 Nov

CollinsWHoKnows

I’d heard of Judy Collins when I bought this, on vinyl, sometime in the late 1970s but, truth be told, the main reasons for acquiring it were the two songs by Leonard Cohen (‘Story of Issac’ and ‘Bird on a Wire’) and the title track (‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes?‘) by Sandy Denny, lately of Fairport Convention. I suppose, back then I thought of her as a cover artist (of Dylan, Joni Mitchell and, of course her hit single of Steven Sondheim’s ‘Send In The Clowns’).

It’s only as time has passed that I’ve grown to appreciate just what a powerful  and interesting figure she is.  There was clearly something in the water in the USA as the 1950s gave way to the 60s since that period not only saw the birth of the whole Greenwich Village scene that nurtured Bob Dylan, Dave van Ronk and Phil Ochs but also Joan Baez, Judy Henske and Judy Collins.

By 1968, when this album came out (on the Elektra label), Ms Collins had not only established herself as an interpreter of songs, she’d also shown a remarkably  eclectic taste in what to cover.

This album has has nine tracks. None are less than good and four are very good. Part of this is down to the instrumentation – which is pretty classy – featuring James Burton, (guitar/dobro) Stephen Stills (guitar/bass)  and  Van Dyke Parks (keyboards).

The first stand-out (for me anyways)is ‘Hello, Hooray‘ (which between this recording in 1968 and the time I bought it,  had been a big chart success for Alice Cooper – covers by two very different artists must be a feather in the cap for composer  Rolf Kempf)!   The second cracker is Sandy Denny’s ‘Who knows..?‘ which is up there with the composer’s own version.  Given Fairport Convention’s notorious inability to translate talent into cash around this time, one can only hope that royalties from this track helped out with Sandy’s income!

The third  stand-out is Ms Collins’ version of Dylan’s  ‘I Pity The Poor Immigrant’ which (just) avoid becoming too saccarine and the fourth is Cohen’s ‘Bird on a Wire’ (which, co-incidentally was part of the Fairport’s repertoire at the same time – someone should get them to book her for Cropredy!)  I like all the other five tracks too, especially ‘Someday Soon’, which may not be a great song but is the only other one in my collection by Ian Tyson – composer of  ‘Four Strong Winds’ which I have in differently beautiful versions by Neil Young and Johnny Cash!

 

The History of Fairport Convention

21 Apr

historyoffc

This is a great artefact as well as a collection of music! It’s since been re-released as a single CD with a different cover but this review is of the double album issued on Island Records in 1972 when Fairport was taking time out  re-convening before the Rosie album the following year. It was a package put together with real care: a gatefold sleeve, fronted by a Pete Frame family tree, detailing who was in which incarnation of the band between 1967 and 1972 . Inside was a bound-in booklet with an intelligent note about each track and photos and, on the early pressings, even the paper ‘seal’ and ribbon on the cover was real (and yes, on my copy it is blue – others are red or green).

I think I bought it in about 1974 having read about Fairport in Melody Maker and New Musical Express and, not quite knowing where to start, decided to go for an anthology first. Little did I realise that this would be a purchase that would define a large part of my musical landscape  over a period now approaching forty years!

Although there’s nothing from their debut album (which was on a different label back then – now the rights to both their Polydor and Island recordings belong to Universal), it was a pretty good summation of what the band was about at that time. Twenty tracks – some written by luminaries Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny (and less common inputs from Ashley Hutchings, Simon Nicol and Ian Matthews) plus the ever-reliable “Trad. Arr.” which invariably showcase the fiddle of Dave Swarbrick.

Plenty of these still make appearances on today’s Fairport setlist – although not as carbon-copies.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this  as a first purchase for anyone unfamiliar with Fairport – and the abridged CD has less appeal – but if you still own a turntable and ever see a copy of the double album in good nick, snap it up!