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SUGGESTED ALBUMS: Fotheringay, “Fotheringay” (Fledg'ling Records, re-released 2004) & Fotheringay, “2” (Fledg'ling Records, 2008) BY MIKE WILSON

SUGGESTED ALBUMS: Fotheringay, "Fotheringay" (Fledg'ling Records, re-released 2004) & Fotheringay, "2" (Fledg'ling Records, 2008) BY MIKE WILSON
This review by
Mike Wilson has been published by Green Man Review. All rights reserved by the author and published by kind

Photo by Linda Fitzgerald Moore, 1970

There are mixed feelings amongst fans of Sandy Denny about Fotheringay, the band she formed after leaving Fairport Convention, following their 1969 genre-defining album, Liege & Lief. Some consider that Fotheringay will forever languish in the shadow of Fairport, whilst others consider it an unnecessary diversion for Sandy en route to the beginning of her solo career. The inclusion of Denny's husband-to-be, Trevor Lucas, in the line-up is also an issue that still evokes much raw emotion, and debate over the influence he was to hold over Denny's career in music.
For me, setting the past and future to one side, Fotheringay stands alone as a remarkable recording. Originally released in 1970 by Island Records, it captures some of Sandy Denny's finest song writing efforts, and certainly one of her finest contributions to traditional repertoire with the epic "Banks Of The Nile." As a band they work well together. The rhythm section of Pat Donaldson's bass and Gerry Conway's drums is tighter than any other you will hear, providing some pulsating interplay on the album's up-tempo moments. Jerry Donahue's lead guitar soars elegantly on tracks such as Denny's "The Sea," yet also provides convincing brawn on the heavier numbers, such as Lucas' "The Ballad Of Ned Kelly."
Denny and Lucas both contribute acoustic guitar, providing the sonic backbone of the album, and lending much warmth and resonance to the band's overall sound. They also both share lead vocals, and it's this juxtaposition of these very distinctive, different voices that makes the band something of a paradox. On the one hand you have Denny's poetic balladry, sung in the most beautiful crystalline tones, then alongside you have Lucas' gravelly, nasal drone, sometimes seeming to shrink away from notes that he might not quite hit. But it does work. It sits well together on this album -- Denny playing the sublime English rose to Lucas' itinerant antipodean.
Where everything comes together so well for me, is on Gordon Lightfoot's "The Way I Feel." The duetting vocals of Denny and Lucas find unity on a middle ground that seems to suit both voices equally, set against some of the most mesmerising guitar, drums and bass from Donahue, Conway and Donaldson -- the faux ending of this song and the way the band then creep back in to build to a final spine-tingling crescendo is possibly one of my all-time favourite moments in music.
Lucas himself demonstrates proficiency as a song writer with "The Ballad Of Ned Kelly," a swaggering ballad, celebrating the iconic Australian folk hero. Elsewhere, Lucas takes the lead on a robust reading of Bob Dylan's "Too Much of Nothing," though notably Lucas' single co-write with Denny, "Peace in The End," provides maybe the album's weakest spot.
Fotheringay contains four original Denny classics, and the band really knew how to do them justice. In fact, here is a rare opportunity to hear Denny's songs in a coherent band setting, before she would be drenched in sugary strings on her subsequent solo ventures, that to my ears never really benefited from the quality and consistency of production that they deserved. On "The Sea" and "The Pond And The Stream" Denny's lyrics are typically obtuse, evoking vivid imagery, with the former having somewhat apocalyptic undertones, whilst "Winter Winds" has a distinctly English feel to it, with its musing on the changing seasons. All could be considered amongst Denny's best work, in terms of both writing and performance. Vocally, Denny's crowning glory here comes in the form of the traditional ballad, "Banks Of The Nile." This is an eight-minute vocal performance of staggering control and nuance, with the band laying down the gentlest of melodic undercurrents to further enhance the brooding atmosphere.
This remastered re-release benefits from an additional four live tracks of varying quality that act as a welcome souvenir of this short-lived band.
Having started to record material for a second album, Fotheringay was disbanded in 1970, and this eponymous début was to be the last we'd ever hear from them... until some thirty-eight years later, that is...
There have long been rumours that there was enough material from various demo and practice sessions for Fotheringay's never-completed second album, that could be finished off for release. It was however, some thirty years after the untimely passing of Sandy Denny and around twenty years after Trevor Lucas' similarly untimely death that 2 would finally see the light of day.
Under the watchful eye of Fotheringay's guitarist Jerry Donahue, the master tapes of the sessions that took place to prepare for a second album were gathered together, with the best performances selected for this release. Working with the remaining band members, Gerry Conway and Pat Donaldson, Donahue started to piece together the fragments of the existing material, filling in the gaps with newly recorded parts as necessary. And he's done a grand job! The sound quality isn't one hundred percent throughout, but then you'd expect that, and I'd have accepted a lot less just for the chance to hear Sandy Denny back in these surroundings, as I believe Fotheringay were particularly attuned to just what was needed to illuminate Denny's voice and songs.
One thing that is noticeable when comparing 2 to the band's debut is that the chasm of quality between Denny and Lucas had widened somewhat. Whilst Denny continued to deliver her haunting and poetic songs with vocals of utmost beauty, it is less easy to see what Lucas contributed, sometimes appearing more like a sideshow than an integral part of the band. It would be unfair to levy this accusation to all of Lucas' contributions, but there are some here that just don't pass muster, and simply don't fit in. In this context it becomes a little more obvious why some individuals were pushing Denny towards a solo career, though, with retrospect, that this would necessitate the demise of the whole band seems somewhat nonsensical and a great shame.
There are four traditional tracks to be found on 2. Sandy takes the lead on a breathtaking version of "Wild Mountain Thyme," with a much more mature, expansive sound than could be heard on their previous album. "Gypsy Davey" is covered with typical Denny aplomb, and provides an opportunity for that mighty rhythm section to shine once more, with Donahue's lead guitar adding both suppleness and strength. Lucas' strongest contributions to the album come in the form of the two remaining traditional numbers: "Bold Jack Donahue" finds Lucas returning to another Australian folk hero, whilst "Eppie Moray" is a thunderous romp through an old Scottish ballad, where Lucas turns in a blistering vocal and the rest of the band also get ample opportunity to stretch their legs. The last couple of verses of "Eppie Moray" are sung by Denny, and it's tempting to think what might have been had she taken on the entire lead vocals -- this would certainly have had the potential to be another "Matty Groves" or "Tam Lin."
There are actually only two Denny originals to be found here, both of which would later appear on her début solo release, The North Star Grassman And The Ravens. The version of "John The Gun" that appears here is far superior to that which would eventually grace Denny's solo début, benefiting from a much more feisty arrangement, fleshed out by the inclusion of a moody and menacing tenor saxophone. "Late November" has appeared on various releases with a very similar arrangement and is another prime example of Denny's undeniable grasp of language, her lyrics burning an intense image in the mind's eye. Denny takes a gentle waltz through "Silver Threads And Golden Needles," before closing the album with a sublime reading of Dave Cousin's "Two Weeks Last Summer."
Lucas' self-penned "Restless" is a contemplative piece that is actually rather enjoyable, but appears quite ordinary when sandwiched between Denny's "Late November" and her reading of "Gypsy Davey." Lucas' other contributions, his own "Knights Of The Road" and another Dylan cover, are largely forgettable, though.
I'm so glad that this album finally saw the light of day. It's a testament to the esteem in which the band were held that this project has been completed almost four decades after it was first conceived. Jerry Donahue has done a formidable job in bringing this together and it stands as a fitting tribute to the memory of Denny and
Photo by Linda Fitzgerald Moore, 1970
Mike Wilson]
Track Listings
1. Nothing More - Fotheringay, Denny
2. The Sea - Fotheringay, Denny
3. The Ballad of Ned Kelly - Fotheringay, Lucas
4. Winter Winds - Fotheringay, Denny
5. Peace in the End - Fotheringay, Denny
6. The Way I Feel - Fotheringay, Lightfoot
7. The Pond and the Stream - Fotheringay, Denny
8. Too Much of Nothing - Fotheringay, Dylan
9. Banks of the Nile - Fotheringay, Traditional
10. Two Weeks Last Summer - Fotheringay, Cousins
11. Nothing More - Fotheringay, Denny
12. Banks of the Nile - Fotheringay, Traditional
13. Memphis Tennessee - Fotheringay, Berry

Live bonus tracks on the Fledg'ling CD:
These four tracks were recorded live at the Holland Pop Festival, Rotterdam, on June 28, 1970. Both
Nothing More and Memphis Tennessee were already available on side 5 of the Who Knows Where the Time Goes? box set. The bonus tracks from the Hannibal CD were left out as they will be included on the Fledg'ling CD Fotheringay 2 scheduled for September 29, 2008.
Two Weeks Last Summer (4:28)
Nothing More (4:35)
Banks of the Nile (7:38)
Memphis Tennessee (3:47)

Track 10 Dave CousinsTrack 11 Sandy DennyTrack 12 trad. arr. FotheringayTrack 13 Chuck Berry

Fotheringay's lost second album release
Fotheringay, broke up during the recording sessions for their second album. The surving tapes they recorded for second album in the early 1970's which never saw the light of day . The tapes have now been discovered, and the album released. Thirty eight years later the surviving members of the group mixed them to finally complete this remarkable album..
1. John The Gun 5:06
2. Eppie Moray 4:44
3. Wild Mountain Thyme 3:50
4. Knights Of The Road 4:10
5. Late November 4:39
6. Restless 2:48
7. Gypsy Davey 3:41
8. I Don't Believe You 4:45
9. Silver Threads And Golden Needles 4:30
10. Bold Jack Donahue 7:38
11. Two Weeks Last Summer 3:50

Dedicated to the memory of Sandy Denny(6.1.1947 - 21.4.1978)

Alexandra Elene McLean Denny was born in London, England on January 6, 1947 and died on April 21, 1978. She was one of Britain's finest and most talented singers ever. She was the lead singer of Fairport Convention and Fotheringay, played with The Strawbs, and also recorded several remarkable solo albums.

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