×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

North Star Grassman and the Ravens
     

The North Star Grassman and the Ravens

by Sandy Denny
 

See All Formats & Editions

One could argue Sandy Denny left Fairport Convention at just the right time -- her final album with the group, 1969's Liege & Lief, was both a masterpiece and a millstone, a brilliant work they would never top -- but her instincts were not as keen in terms of launching her solo career. Denny not unreasonably wanted a showcase for

Overview

One could argue Sandy Denny left Fairport Convention at just the right time -- her final album with the group, 1969's Liege & Lief, was both a masterpiece and a millstone, a brilliant work they would never top -- but her instincts were not as keen in terms of launching her solo career. Denny not unreasonably wanted a showcase for her own songwriting, but after leaving Fairport she opted to join Fotheringay, a talented folk-rock band but one that was neither as interesting nor as visionary as Fairport. Fotheringay splintered during the recording of their second LP, and Denny seemed to still be finding her footing as she set out to make her first solo album. The North Star Grassman and the Ravens was co-produced by Denny, fellow Fairport alumnus Richard Thompson and John Wood, and the interplay between Denny's vocals and Thompson's understated but striking lead guitar work is one of the best things about the record. With a gifted crew of U.K. folk-rockers backing her up, the sessions confirmed that Denny was still one of the most gifted and thoughtful vocalists to emerge from the British folk community, and she was also a talent to be reckoned with as a songwriter: "John the Gun," "Late November," and the title tune are only a little short of brilliant. But as good as the original songs were, and as compelling as Denny's vocals may have been, The North Star Grassman and the Ravens feels tentative and uneven. While Denny had the strength to do rock-oriented material, the covers of Bob Dylan's "Down in the Flood" and Brenda Lee's "Let's Jump the Broomstick" sound sloppy and meandering, and as sympathetic and expert as the production may be, the deference to Denny's vocals leaves the music a bit pale in comparison, while most of the tracks lack the personality they deserve. By any standards, The North Star Grassman and the Ravens is a fine album full of great songs and inspired vocal performances, but considering the excellence of Denny's music in Fairport Convention, it was a genuine disappointment, and seems pale in comparison to her next two solo efforts, Sandy and Like an Old-Fashioned Waltz. [In 2011, The North Star Grassman and the Ravens was reissued in a deluxe two-disc edition, and it's a genuine improvement on the original. Disc one features a remastered version of the original 11-song album along with four bonus tracks, but disc two is where the greatest treasures lie, leading off with five unreleased demos and following with seven live performances from the BBC archives. On most of these tracks, Denny performs solo, accompanying herself on guitar and piano, and where the album sometimes sounds uncertain and unfocused, here Denny is brimming with confidence and dramatic force. Even for those fans who don't care for The North Star Grassman and the Ravens, the bonus material makes this a must for anyone who loves Sandy Denny's voice and music.]

Product Details

Release Date:
09/20/2011
Label:
Hip-O Records
UPC:
0600753340585
catalogNumber:
5334058

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sandy Denny   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Guitar (12 String Acoustic)
Richard Thompson   Acoustic Guitar,Accordion,Bass Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals,12-string Guitar,Guitar (12 String Acoustic)
Jerry Donahue   Electric Guitar
Trevor Lucas   Acoustic Guitar,Background Vocals
Tim Renwick   Electric Guitar
Gerry Conway   Drums
Pat Donaldson   Bass Guitar
Barry Dransfield   Background Vocals
Robin Dransfield   Background Vocals
Ian Matthews   Vocals
Tony Reeves   Bass Guitar
Ian Whiteman   Piano
Royston Wood   Background Vocals
Roger Powell   Drums

Technical Credits

Sandy Denny   Arranger,Composer,Producer
Bob Dylan   Composer
Richard Thompson   Producer,Duet
John Wood   Sound Effects,Producer,Engineer
Ernest Tubb   Composer
Paul Griffin   Producer
Ian Matthews   Composer,Producer,Duet
Harry Robinson   String Arrangements
Patrick Humphries   Sleeve Notes
Traditional   Composer
Charles Robbins   Composer

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews