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Fotheringay - Fotheringay CD (album) cover




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3.69 | 39 ratings

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5 stars This was Sandy Denny's breakaway album from FAIRPORT CONVENTION--before she went on a solo career--and amazing record it is! She is joined by four stellar musician/vocalists--male--in ECLECTION's Trevor LUCAS on guitars and Gerry CONWAYon drums and POET AND THE ONE MAN BAND's Jerry DONAHUE on guitars and Pat DONALDSON on bass. This is a deceptively powerful album due to its rather soft, slow, and laconic song starts. But you need only follow Ms. Denny's incredibly emotive storytelling and the way the band joins in to build toward each song's climax before you will find yourself hooked. Only three songs are penned by Denny and they are jewels but the male-lead vocal songs are quite good as well. What makes Fotheringay such a powerful album is the amazing recording and powerful emotions in both Sandy Denny's vocals and lyrics but also all of the accompanying musicians. I just love the clarity and feel of the mix of the guitars, piano, and drums. Each and every song is artfully done, with subtle flourishes and idiosyncracies that make them so delightful to listen to time and time again. If there's a weakness in the album, it's in the recording of the vocalist's voices--especially in songs which try to display the band's singing in harmony like 'The Ballad of Ned Kelly' (3:36) (7/10) and, to a lesser degree, 'Peace in the End' (4:03) (8/10). But the listener can easily get past this as, let's face it: there have not been many vocalists in the history of recorded music with the gifts that Sandy Denny had.

Favorites: Denny's three: 1. 'Nothing More" (4:39) (10/10),'2. 'The Sea" (5:33) (9/10), and 'The Pond and the Stream' (3:20) (8/10); the most proggy tune on the album, 9. 'Banks of the Nile' (8:04) (10/10); the wonderful harmonized vocal approach to Gordon Lightfoot's 'The Way I Feel" (4:45) (9/10), and;'the delicate 4. 'Winter Winds' (2:13) (8/10)

1. "Nothing More" (4:37) a Sandy Denny-penned song that is one of the most shining examples of Prog Folk perfection you'll ever come across, Sandy Denny is something so special and this is a great band. The only song on the album on which piano appears as the lead accompanist of the vocalist and band. (10/10)

2. "The Sea" (5:32) another Sandy Denny song that is built upon by her amazing band so that it sounds like the foundation for one of THE ALLMAN BROTHERS' best songs with comparisons also appropriate for bands like JONI MITCHELL and SEALS & CROFTS. Outstanding musicianship of this gorgeous, many-layered composition. (10/10)

3. "The Ballad Of Ned Kelly" (3:34) a song created by guitarist-vocalist Trevor Lucas and sung by Lucas in his Kris Kristofferson-like voice. A now-famous song that fails to impress (me; but then, I'm not a lyrics guy). (8/10)

4. "Winter Winds" (2:13) a third Sandy Denny song that opens with guitars and bass and Sandy's plaintive voice. Drums join in for the final stanza. (8.5/10)

5. "Peace In The End" (4:02) written by Sandy and Trevor strummed guitars, thick C&W bass, pedal steel guitar, choir vocals with a male in the lead, later alternating with Sandy. The chorus approach feels church-based--definitely oriented to a sing-a-long crowd-appeal. (8/10)

6. "The Way I Feel" (4:46) a Gordon Lightfoot song that opens with fast arpeggio from guitar, fast strumming from another, bass and drum lines potent with latent power waiting to bust out. Beautiful choral vocals with perfected harmonies carry this song from start to finish. Again, the little instrumental flourishes and nuances added here and there are so cool--they remind me of the sophisticated layering of peak LYNYRD SKYNYRD. (9.5/10)

7. "The Pond And The Stream" (3:20) multiple picked guitars with bass and drums in gentle support of Sandy's solo voice. A true folk song, very JONI MITCHELL-like. (9/10)

8. "Too Much Of Nothing" (3:55) a male-voiced cover of a Bob Dylan song that is delivered in a very Country & Western style and sound; the whole thing sounds like something from THE BAND, the MARSHALL TUCKER BAND, or HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH. Smooth and memorable. (9/10)

9. "Banks Of The Nile" (8:04) a Fotheringay/Sandy Denny arrangement of a traditional folk song, the key is, once again, Sandy's amazing vocal delivery. Great simple and sparse support from the guitar, bass and cymbals over the opening four minutes allows Sandy and the story to have the listener's full attention (as it should). Still, this is a Prog Folk song with a more rock'n'roll musical support in the second half. Full of subtleties and nuances that add greatly without distracting or detracting from Sandy's story delivery. Gorgeous outro to fade over the last 30 seconds. (13.5/15)

Total Time: 40:03

In 2008 Jerry Donahue released an album entitled Fotheringay 2 using previously unreleased material from the band's original 1970 recording sessions'some of which had seen the light of day on 1970s releases by FAIRPORT CONVENTION and SANDY DENNY. It is an equally wonderful album--definitely worth checking out! Check out "Nothing More" (4:39) (10/10), "The Sea" (5:33) (9/10), "Banks of the Nile" (8:04) (13.5/15), "The Way I Feel" (4:45) (10/10), and "John the Gun" (5:06) (8/10) (from their second album of songs recorded in their 1970 recording sessions but only released as the album Fotheringay 2 in 2008).

Five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music and a wonderful display of diverse Prog Folk.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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