FOTHERINGAY Fotheringay 2 (Stamford Audio) 

Fotheringay were the band formed by Sandy Denny on leaving Fairport Convention, the quintet completed by former members of Eclection and Poet And The One Man Band. They released one eponymous album in 1970, became a regular live fixture (presciently inviting fledgling talents such as Nick Drake and Elton John to support them) and disbanded during sessions for a second album, Denny opting to pursue a solo career instead. 37 years later, the three surviving members of the band pieced together and completed the scattered, tattered fragments of those sessions, releasing the results as “Fotheringay 2”. Even without allowing for the fact that the original vocals were intended only as guide vocals, later to be replaced, the results are remarkable. Apart from the odd suspicion that recordings of varying levels of quality have been brought together in the construction of some of these tracks, it’s pretty much impossible to hear the joins.

Musically, “Fotheringay 2” is perhaps a slightly rockier, more progressive version of a Fairport Convention caught midway between “Unhalfbricking” and “Liege & Lief”, folk-rocking through both traditional and contemporary material. Although Richard Thompson isn’t present, his influence looms large over the guitar work (the solo on “John The Gun” being a prime example), and Sam Donahue’s sax solo on that track seems to occupy similar timbral territory to Dave Swarbrick’s fiddle.”Knights Of The Road” is a quaintly English trucker anthem (namedropping Lichfield, of all places), and Dylan’s “I Don’t Believe You” is performed robustly. It’s the quieter, gentler moments, inevitably those that showcase Denny’s voice, that make this album special, though. “Wild Mountain Thyme” is almost luminous with beauty, “Silver Threads And Golden Needles” an exquisite study in sadness and a cover of The Strawbs’ “Two Weeks Last Summer” sounds like the sleeve of the first Traffic album made song.

Stamford Audio has done a lovely job preparing this album for vinyl release. The gatefold sleeve is stuffed with notes and photos, and the 180 gram pressing sounds very fine. The whole package is enfolded with the kind of loving care this long-lost music deserves.

Fairport Convention