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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 185 - 10/12/11

Sandy Denny
19 Rupert St
Witchwood Media

We announced this release in last moonth's Fotheringay review and I feel obliged to give it a spin and report if it's worthwhile to investigate. It is. If the Fotheringay recording was semi-professional, this one has to be a really professional recording. It isn't. It was recorded live in the living room of Patsy and Alex Campbell's apartment in 19 Rupert Street in Glasgow one Saturday evening of August 1967.

Sandy was a friend of the Campbell family, she recorded half an album's worth with Alex, and paid them a visit while she played some gigs in Scotland. Another friend of Alex', Danish Carsten Linde, and his girlfriend showed up at the front door of 19 Rupert Street at the same time. Carsten had just bought a reel to reel tape recorder and had one empty tape. One evening when Sandy had a day off, the host, hostess and guests spent a nice evening in the living room. A bottle of whiskey was brought forward, guitars as well, songs were sung, lots of laughs and Carsten started his tape recorder.

Of the twelve tracks here, six are Sandy solo, more or a little less. She and Patsy take the lead on "Willie Moore" and "The Sans Day Carol" and Sandy sings her heart out now and again along with Alex on three. Here are a few Sandy standards of the time: the beautiful "Milk And Honey", by her boyfriend Jackson C. Franks, that is most probably written about her according to the liner notes. Of course Sandy's own "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" is given a go, as well as the standard "She Moves Through The Fair". They were immortalised on Fairport Convention albums the following two years. Another standard, originally American, "Trouble In Mind" is not the same as the one Fotheringay performed live three years later.

The quiet songs work best. The two aforementioned duets with Patsy are great. And the opening traditional ballad "The Leaves Of Life" sends shivers down my spine. The melody and especially the guitar work reminds of Sandy's own "Fotheringay" (the song, not the band), one of her very best. My favourite here is the quietest of them all "Fairy Tale Lullaby" by John Martyn.

Since this probably was the first recording by Carsten Linde, the sound is far from perfect, even though post-producer Dave Cousins of The Strawbs took the tape to Abbey Road Studios to have it digitally transferred and doing the best out of it. Sometimes the guitar is too loud compared to the vocals. In the louder parts the sound is distorted, especially on "The Midnight Special" and "Trouble In Mind" with Alex in command. The playing is not perfect either, and Sandy's guitar is slightly out of tune on "Who Knows..." even though she tunes it before she starts. But what the recording lacks in technical perfection it gains in charm, spontaneity and intimacy. At the start of "She Moves Trough The Fair" a train can be heard through the open window. During "Jimmie Brown The Newsboy" Alex even persuades Sandy to play a guitar solo, probably her one and only during her entire recorded career.

The final song was recorded the following evening. It's a medley, sort of, by the younger Campbell generation, Patsy's and Alex's two sons. "Chuffa Chuffa Chuff", "Oh My Darling Clementine" and "Jesus Loves Me" are given a go. My only real objection about this release has to be that it's credited to Sandy. It should have said Sandy with the (entire) Campbell family. And if you should have any doubts; this is not the album if you want a proper introduction to the recorded world of Sandy Denny. Then her first three albums with Fairport Convention or first two solo albums are the ones to seek out. But for fans, 19 Rupert St is a most welcomed addition. If there ever will be a second vast Sandy Denny box, it probably ought to include at least 25 discs...

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