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Sandy Denny & The Strawbs All Our Own Work - The Complete Sessions Remastered Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

An essential repackaging of a British folk treasure.

Sid Smith 2010

Sandy Denny’s partnership with The Strawbs is usually overlooked in most accounts of her tragically short career. However, this meticulously compiled reissue will ensure that this part of her output will at last get the proper consideration it deserves.

Recorded on a brief stopover during a short tour of Denmark in 1967, the resulting album remained unreleased until 1973. It was then rushed out on a budget label to cash-in on The Strawbs’ sudden success in the singles charts with tracks from their Bursting at the Seams album of the same year.

Legendary folk producer Joe Boyd also had a go at sprinkling a bit of fairy dust on some of the material featured here in the early 90s. However, this is the first time these historic sessions have been released in their entirety, and it should go some way in satisfying the ongoing interest in all things Denny.

There’s a real magic in hearing this first recording of Denny’s enduring classic, Who Knows Where the Time Goes?, and an extra frisson knowing that she was just 20-years-old when she stood before the microphone. There’s a remarkable maturity about the performance. Little wonder that when a bootleg of this recording found its way to Judy Collins in 1968, the American singer was persuaded to cover this most poignant of tunes. In doing so, she secured Denny’s position as a significant artist. 

Yet in the rush to hail Denny’s undoubted genius, it’s important to not forget the work of Dave Cousins: The Strawbs’ frontman composed the bulk of the tracks here. Cousins has a deftly tuned ear for a winning melody and there’s pop and folk-rock gems aplenty, especially the upbeat rapture of On My Way and the Eastern-tinged introspection of Tell Me What You See in Me.

Producer Chris Tsangarides’ careful remastering brings out the warmth of the original album, a record augmented by several outtakes, demos and three previously unreleased items. Considering everything on offer, this is pretty much an essential package.

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