REVIEW

 

SANDY DENNY
Live At Eltham Well Hall, London, May 8, 1972 (1CDR)

A sadly muddy recording of a pristine live show. Denny sounds as though she's singing with her mouth full, and the band is little more than a rhythm heavy clunk in the background. There's also sufficient background noise to suggest that the source of this particular recording was a hand-held microphone, taping another tape entirely. You actually hear somebody winding a clock at one point, before they walk across the room whistling.

The performance itself, on the other hand, was perfect. Sandy admits, very early in, that "we're a bit cobwebby today, because we haven't played for a long time" (in fact, this was the final date of her latest UK tour, but with only eight shows in as many weeks, she may have had a point). But that's not the problem… the band's uncertainties manifest only in the protracted gaps between songs; the performance itself must have sounded stunning on the night, and the set is one of the strongest Denny ever took on the road. Find a pristine recording of this show and it would be one of the best Denny documents around - and so it should be, with a band built around Richard Thompson, Pat Donaldson, Timi Donald and, popping up to duet on "Crazy Lady Blues" and "When Will I Be Loved," Linda Peters.

The set is heaviest on material from the then-forthcoming Sandy album - six songs introduce the new record to the audience. But a clutch of old Fairport favorites make it in as well, including a dramatic "Matty Groves," while the encores include a startling a capella "Rigs Of The Times." All in all, then, it's an excellent show. Just don't expect to hear it all properly! - Dave Thompson

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