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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2011 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2000 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Like fellow Briton Nick Drake, Sandy Denny is one of the rare lesser-known artists whose extraordinary talents have been duly represented on disc over the years. No More Sad Refrains: The Anthology joins or replaces a number of previously available compilations, including an excellent box set, a couple of single disc best-of's, and Attix Tracks, an assortment of archival recordings. Though it may not be as expansive as the multiple disc set Who Knows Where the Time Goes, No More Sad Refrains may be the best introduction to Sandy Denny's career to hit the market: more affordable, while still covering 34 songs over two discs (as opposed to 43 over three), including a few rarities. And though the collections overlap on nearly two-thirds of the songs selected, less than a third are the same recordings, and these have been digitally remastered. The tracks are arranged chronologically from her first record with Fairport Convention in 1969 to 1977's Rendezvous, concentrating on her exquisite songwriting, along with a handful of well-chosen covers ("Banks of the Nile" is curiously the only true traditional song included). And while it may emphasize her solo years, her work with Fotheringay and the one-off rock & roll tribute The Bunch, is given a good overview as well. In regards to her time with Fairport Convention, with the exception of two cuts and an outtake from their seminal British folk-rock record Liege and Lief, it seems to be presented merely as a reference point (one song from each of her first two albums with the group), completely skipping her second time around with the band (only a pair of solo demos from this period are included). Fans who will have a majority of the material included here will be enticed by the previously unreleased demo version of "Stranger to Himself" and rarities such as "Here in Silence" and "Man of Iron," which were taken from the soundtrack to the movie Pass of Arms and issued as a single in 1972. Still, No More Sad Refrains is seemingly aimed more at the uninitiated than devotees, though it does an admirable job of covering a lot of territory and trying to please both. Either way, this is a fine retrospective of a terrific songwriter and what may well have been the most stunningly beautiful voice in British folk and pop. Included is a 22-page booklet featuring musician credits, photos, and informative liner notes by Denny biographer Clinton Heylin (No More Sad Refrains: The Story of Sandy Denny), who is also responsible for compiling a book documenting her recordings Sad Refrains: The Recordings of Sandy Denny. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo

Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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2010's mammoth, highly collectible and very limited, 19-disc Sandy Denny box set was truly a thing to behold, presenting the entirety of her career from studio to stage to front porch. It was a completist's dream, but it came with an exceptionally high price tag, which makes the appearance of 2011's Notes and the Words: A Collection of Demos and Rarities a real gift for fans, especially those who already own the complete studio recordings, whether solo or with Fotheringay, Strawbs, or Fairport Convention. The handsome, limited-edition four-disc box skims the cream from the top of the myriad rarities, BBC sessions, demos, and outtakes that made the previous collection so remarkable (an intimate bedroom recording of Jackson C. Frank's "Blues Run the Game"; an early demo of Like an Old Fashioned Waltz's "Carnival" with previously unheard melodies and lyrics; a blistering alternate studio take of a Dave Swarbrick-less "Sailor's Life," and alternate versions of Fairport classics like "Matty Groves," "Come All Ye," and "Fotheringay"), resulting in a wonderful window into one of English folk music's most magnificent voices. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo

Pop - Released March 4, 2016 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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"[A] hugely satisfying listen as a career-spanning compilation. For the uninitiated, it’s hard to fathom how these songs, in these clothes, couldn’t ignite a curiosity around somebody whose music remains utterly, utterly captivating." © TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1987 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

The Best of Sandy Denny is a fine 16-track collection that has an excellent cross section of her best solo recordings, including "Listen, Listen," "One Way Donkey Ride," "It'll Take a Long Time," "Farewell, Farewell," "Late November," "Solo," "The Sea," "For Shame of Doing Wrong," "Stranger to Himself," "I'm a Dreamer," and "Who Knows Where the Time Goes." © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Sandy Denny's second post-Fairport solo offering, produced by then-future husband Trevor Lucas, is a beautiful blend of the traditional style with which she is most often associated and a slightly more lavish sound that would become more prevalent in her later work. Lucas does an excellent job of balancing the two and creates an exquisite backdrop for Denny's gorgeous songs and majestic voice. Nearly every track has the radiance and timelessness of her best Fairport work, along with an accessibility she had merely hinted at prior to this. "Listen, Listen," with its soaring chorus and bed of strings and mandolin, the lovely "The Lady," and the layered a cappella vocal arrangement of Richard Fariña's "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" (featuring Dave Swarbrick's haunting solo violin coda) are perfect examples of Denny's enormous talents, and only a few of the many pleasures found here. Touches such as lush strings, Allen Toussaint's horn arrangement on "For Nobody to Hear," Sneaky Pete Kleinow's steel guitar and former Fairport partner Richard Thompson's guitars and mandolin bring out the many dimensions in Denny's music without obscuring it. Sandy also boasts her best collection of original material, as well as terrific covers of Dylan's "Tomorrow Is a Long Time," featuring Linda Thompson Peters on backing vocals, and the aforementioned "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood." If you're simply looking for a quick introduction to a wonderful songwriter and one of the finest voices in popular music, go for the single-disc best-of collection, but if you would like to hear Sandy Denny's definitive (solo) musical statement, search out Sandy. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
CD$10.49

Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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. © Mark Deming /TiVo
CD$10.49

Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Sandy Denny's second post-Fairport solo offering, produced by then-future husband Trevor Lucas, is a beautiful blend of the traditional style with which she is most often associated and a slightly more lavish sound that would become more prevalent in her later work. Lucas does an excellent job of balancing the two and creates an exquisite backdrop for Denny's gorgeous songs and majestic voice. Nearly every track has the radiance and timelessness of her best Fairport work, along with an accessibility she had merely hinted at prior to this. "Listen, Listen," with its soaring chorus and bed of strings and mandolin, the lovely "The Lady," and the layered a cappella vocal arrangement of Richard Fariña's "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" (featuring Dave Swarbrick's haunting solo violin coda) are perfect examples of Denny's enormous talents, and only a few of the many pleasures found here. Touches such as lush strings, Allen Toussaint's horn arrangement on "For Nobody to Hear," Sneaky Pete Kleinow's steel guitar and former Fairport partner Richard Thompson's guitars and mandolin bring out the many dimensions in Denny's music without obscuring it. Sandy also boasts her best collection of original material, as well as terrific covers of Dylan's "Tomorrow Is a Long Time," featuring Linda Thompson Peters on backing vocals, and the aforementioned "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood." If you're simply looking for a quick introduction to a wonderful songwriter and one of the finest voices in popular music, go for the single-disc best-of collection, but if you would like to hear Sandy Denny's definitive (solo) musical statement, search out Sandy. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
CD$7.49

Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

With Like an Old Fashioned Waltz, Sandy Denny expands on the more polished moments that her previous work, Sandy (1972), had suggested. The tone throughout most of the record is melancholy and personal, with gentle piano, rich strings, and barely a trace of her British folk roots. "Solo," one of her best songs, opens the album with a sense of apprehension and yearning, while cuts such as the beautifully vivid title track, the longing "At the End of the Day," and the evocative closer "No End" nicely follow suit. The Ink Spots covers "Whispering Grass" and "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" break the mood a bit, but it's a testament to the breadth of Denny's talent that she's able to make this sort of jazz-inflected pop work for her. These two songs seem to hint at a new direction that never really materialized in her final years, though an entire album of Ink Spots tunes was actually rumored at one point. As Sandy Denny's last solo work for four years, Like an Old Fashioned Waltz remains an intimate and moving record. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Island's single-disc Sandy Denny compilation does its best to offer a compact overview of the iconic singer's work. Focusing on the four records completed before her death in 1978, the 17-track Listen Listen winds comfortably through career highlights like "The North Star Grassman and the Raven," "Blackwaterside," and the gorgeous title track. Fans will contest the omission of tracks like "Carnival" and "It Suits Me Well," but for such a slim collection -- considering Denny's invaluable work with Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, and the Strawbs -- Listen Listen is a fine introduction to the artist's later days. Fans and non-fans alike would do better to pick up 2000's excellent double-disc career-spanning No More Sad Refrains: The Anthology. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
CD$8.99

Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Gold Dust: Live at the Royalty captures Sandy Denny's final concert. The show (performed on Sunday, November 27, 1977) was intended to be the first date of an 11-city tour, but it turned out to be her last show ever. It certainly wasn't the way anyone wanted Denny to leave the stage, but it remains an affecting, surprising farewell. There are familiar items, to be sure, but the concert also finds her breaking new ground and moving away from traditional folk-rock to an edgier sound. These are subtle distinctions that only hardcore fans will notice, but those fans will find Gold Dust a minor treasure. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

With Like an Old Fashioned Waltz, Sandy Denny expands on the more polished moments that her previous work, Sandy (1972), had suggested. The tone throughout most of the record is melancholy and personal, with gentle piano, rich strings, and barely a trace of her British folk roots. "Solo," one of her best songs, opens the album with a sense of apprehension and yearning, while cuts such as the beautifully vivid title track, the longing "At the End of the Day," and the evocative closer "No End" nicely follow suit. The Ink Spots covers "Whispering Grass" and "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" break the mood a bit, but it's a testament to the breadth of Denny's talent that she's able to make this sort of jazz-inflected pop work for her. These two songs seem to hint at a new direction that never really materialized in her final years, though an entire album of Ink Spots tunes was actually rumored at one point. As Sandy Denny's last solo work for four years, Like an Old Fashioned Waltz remains an intimate and moving record. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
CD$11.49

Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

With a sublime voice and a catalog full of beautiful songs, Sandy Denny left an indelible mark on British folk and popular music in her 31 years. Released in 1977, less than one year before her untimely death, the overwrought Rendezvous unfortunately stands as her final musical statement. Producer Trevor Lucas' use of cumbersome strings, backup singers and bloated lead guitars weigh things down and bury some otherwise fine writing. One of her best, "I'm a Dreamer," is nearly ruined by the chorus of singers and anthemic guitar at the end, while the heartfelt "One Way Donkey Ride" and the poignant "Full Moon," though more successful, never seem to quite reach their potential. Even some choice covers -- including Richard Thompson's "I Wish I Was a Fool for You" (aka "For Shame of Doing Wrong"), Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," and a somber working of "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" -- lack the impact she brought in the past to works by the likes of Thompson, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Richard Farina and Buddy Holly, as well as the many traditional tunes that she made her own. Few, if any of the exquisite touches that Lucas brought to Denny's superb 1972 release Sandy are evident here. Originally released by Island Records in the U.K., and not available in the U.S. until the mid-'80s, Rendezvous seems to be a flawed attempt at gaining a wider audience, by an artist who deserved better and was capable of the best. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 1, 2002 | A&M

Sandy Denny's plaintive voice, haunting songs, and folk-rock style live on in the popular music of the 21st century, particularly in the recordings of Natalie Merchant, who so much resembles her in vocal timbre and overall approach, but also in her influence on other singer/songwriters, male and female. Denny never got her due in the U.S. during her lifetime, with only her third solo album, 1973's Like an Old Fashioned Waltz, and her final album with Fairport Convention, 1975's Rising for the Moon, even making the American charts. Rather, she achieved her greatest recognition stateside for her song "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" in Judy Collins' 1968 recording and her guest appearance on "The Battle of Evermore" on Led Zeppelin's fourth album in 1971. She was, however, revered in folk circles, especially in the U.K., and with good reason. This discount-priced sampler, beginning with the 1969 Fairport Convention version of "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" and concluding with "I'm a Dreamer" from Denny's fourth and final solo album, 1977's Rendezvous, is a good short collection of some of her better compositions, among them "Solo" and "Listen, Listen." Denny's albums have not been easily available in the U.S., and her previous compilations have been expensive, comprehensive packages, but this one is perfect for the folk-rock fan who has heard her name but isn't really familiar with her work. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo