Sandy Denny

No More Sad Refrains: The Anthology

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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.

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