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Sandy Denny - Where The Time Goes

Sandy Denny - Where The Time Goes
Castle Music CMRCD1181

This eighteen-track CD seems like another in a blossoming production of Sandy Denny solo records. However, Clinton Heylin, the writer of the definitive Sandy Denny biography, No More Sad Refrains, and the beautifully assembled inlay to this album, claims this album as 'the final word on Sandy's pre-Fairport studio recordings.'

It seems as though the figure of Sandy Denny is set to go the same way as Nick Drake: a posthumous celebration of the musician's work leading to cult status. Denny, unlike Drake, however, met a large amount of solo success during her short lifetime, and this album of her early recordings serves to remind us that.

The album begins with Sandy's signature tune, of which this album, perhaps unimaginatively, takes its name. For those more familiar with the later recordings of the anthem, this rendition is surprising. It has less dramatic impact, as some of her trademark soaring notes are cut back, most significantly the title line. It is still an epic though; more significantly so when the knowing listener can hear what it was to become later in her career. To begin the album with this seems an unwise choice. As clichéd as it may seem, Who Knows Where The Time Goes, should have been placed at the end of the tracklisting, especially as the album was produced to be the 'final word' on Sandy Denny's folk circuit career.

Perhaps it was a concern that the remainder of the album would be glossed over if the title track were to come last. Castle Music should not have feared this, though; the other early recordings present on the album are so different to the work she is known for that the listener's attention is held; for mere curiosity, if nothing else. Denny, like early Fairport, was influenced by American folk music at the beginning of her career, and so tracks such as 'This Train' and '3.10 To Yuma' have a real American theme which Liege and Lief listeners may well never associate with, in the words of Pete Townsend, 'the perfect British folk voice.' This Train, in fact, sees Denny use such an uncharacteristic volume that her identity could easily be concealed. The track Two Weeks Last Summer does the same, as Denny is found here, described by Heylin as using her 'pop singer voice.'

This album, then, is for the 'fellow fan.' The six 'alternate takes' found towards the end of the album will only be interesting to those who already have her entire back catalogue, but still want more, as could easily be the case with such an icon. Similarly, the inlay and the disc itself contain wonderfully intimate photographs which will enthral the Sandy Denny enthusiast. That is not to say that this album should be reserved only for the hardcore few - its presentation of material not so commonly used is to anyone's benefit - but it is the true fan who will enjoy it most.

Sophie Parkes

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This album was reviewed in Issue 66 of The Living Tradition magazine.