Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Gold Dust: Live At The Royalty Theater
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock
Such a voice: warm, inviting, and mysterious, like a lamp glowing in some dark, distant window. When Sandy Denny died in 1978, she left unfinished one of the most intriguing chapters in the history of rock & roll and folk ... more »
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Such a voice: warm, inviting, and mysterious, like a lamp glowing in some dark, distant window. When Sandy Denny died in 1978, she left unfinished one of the most intriguing chapters in the history of rock & roll and folk music. This concert, recorded five months before her death, is a suggestion of all the power her voice and vision promised and a picture of Denny at her musical and vocal peak. While her final studio albums for Island possessed fine songs, the production and arrangements were mostly unfocused. But on this night in London, everything falls into place. Denny's vocals are expressive, verging into jazz complexity; the band, including the remarkable Dave Mattacks on drums, Pat Donaldson on bass, Pete Wilsher on pedal steel, and Trevor Lucas and Jerry Donahue on guitars, is sympathetic and rocks when necessary. And the set list features the cream of Denny's compositions. Quite simply one of the most exciting records of the year. --Roy Kasten
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Music critic Karl Dallas tells the untold story of this CD
firstname.lastname@example.org | Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK | 06/01/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Prospecting for Gold Dust - the untold story It's a miracle this album ever came out. The story begins with Marcel Rodd, whose Saga records label had been the first to feature the then undeveloped but already exciting voice of the young Sandy Denny. In the 70s I was publishing Folk News, and Rodd approached me to ask if I could help him find some of the exciting new folk talent everyone was telling him about. He turned down every one of the fairly trad performers I recommended to him, until I remarked that Sandy was emerging from pregnancy and childbirth to go back on the road, and would be concluding her tour in London in November. Sandy's decade-long deal with Island Records had come to an end, and so she might be available. He jumped at the chance to get her back on to his label, and asked me to set it up. I hired the Fairport recording genius, John Wood, to master the concert and one Sunday night he was ensconced in the Island mobile off Kingsway, getting it all down. But when we played back the tapes . . . disaster! There was a nasty whistle right across every track. Where it had come from, nobody could say. Woodsie assured us he could remove it, but Rodd was adamant: he wasn't going to pay for them, so the tapes languished. I had the monitor mix of the event, with all the dropping in and out as Woodsie punched his buttons, and I came to love it, warts and all. Because it's got to be admitted that these performances weren't Sandy's best. She'd had a bad cold for most of the tour, and at this final concert she was very, very tired. Her voice showed it. Her relationship with Trevor, always stormy at the best of times, was not going well, and she wasn't happy. However, Sandy had always been able to sublimate her emotional feelings into her music, and this event was no different from others, when she could tear out of her very soul music to touch the heart like no one ever has, before or since. But after her death, when Trevor was assembling the excellent 'best of' album, I urged him to include at ! least some tracks from the concert. He persuaded Island to buy the tapes, gave them a listen, and rejected them as not being good enough to stand as a memorial to her work. I thought he was wrong then, and I still do, on listening to this very cleaned-up and slightly 'improved' (with overdubbed backing vocals from Simon Nicol and Chris Leslie) CD. Frankly, my grotty monitor mix has Sandy's voice more prominent (whatever happened at the beginning of I'm a Dreamer, in which she sounds as if she's singing the theatre foyer?) Even so, listening to them again still makes my blood run cold, and the hairs stand up at the back of my head. Singing, just singing, was never meant to be as intense as this. I can hardly bear to listen. When I was assembling The Electric Muse (the original four-album set with the Shirtsleeve Studio artwork, not the travesty 're-release' put out last year by Castle Communications), David Betteridge of Island gave me privileged access to the Island vaults, to listen to a whole lot of unreleased product (including the never-released Maverick Child single from Fairport VI, with Roger Hill on the vocals). Alongside brilliant alternative readings of stuff like the inevitable Sloth and a great Calvary Cross, were some traditional renditions of ballads like Lord Bateman, with a whole range of backings, including Steve Winwood on keyboard on one version. Unfortunately, Sandy's was merely a guide track for the musicians, not even properly on mic. I urged her several times to go back and record the vocals properly, but she said she regarded it as past history, something she couldn't get to work. However, those tracks are still there, somewhere, wherever Polygram (or Seagram's whisky, the label's new owners) have stashed them. Who knows, someone might be able to work a miracle and bring her vocals to centre stage. They can do wonders with electronics, these days. Oh well . . . perhaps not."
I Had No Thoughts Of Flaws
Steven P. Tidwell | Raleigh, North Carolina United States | 07/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Obviously, as you can gather from the other reviews here, some major reconstructive studio and electronic magic had to be conjured to even bring this concert to us at all. When you add in the caveats about Sandy battling a bad cold and a failing marriage (and a complaint I heard elsewhere about her chain smoking already starting to do to her voice what Joni Mitchell has lived long enough to do to hers), it's a wonder this is even listenable. And yet I think it is a triumph and I would hardly have noticed it's shortcomings unless someone had gone to great lengths to point them out to me. I'm old enough to remember when live performances by most of your favorite bands or artists usually sounded absolutely awful in person and even worse on tape or vinyl. I once tried recording gigs for a rock band in Austin--a likely deservedly long forgotten and unlamented group whose major distinction was that their biggest competition for work was from Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother--in the very early 1970's using a 2-track Radio Shack 909A reel-to-reel tape recorder, and had more luck than most major bands had during the same years. So I've never expected live recordings to be anything but fraught with glitches and sub-par performance, muffed notes, etc. But if the essence of the artist was strong enough, even those poor quality recordings could be transfixing, and this concert is, at least to me, one such performance, and the problems with it minor compared to what we get from it--a portrait of one of the best singer-songwriters of our times, who voice even when ravaged could melt your heart effortlessly. The fact that it sounds halfway decent is just pure gravy. As a long time fan of Sandy's I can only be humbly thankful to the people who managed to bring us this recording, and even more grateful that is sounds as good as it does. Their work honors hers."
A TREAT FOR HER FANS
Scott T Mc Nally | ORLANDO, Fl USA | 03/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was not really expecting a great sounding recording after reading how the the old master tapes from Sandy Denny's final performance had deteriorated over two decades. I have to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised when it arrived. Great care was taken to add new guitar and backing vocal tracks. The sound is wonderful with the exception of the first verse on "I'm A Dreamer" She sounds like she's singing about 20 feet away from the microphone. Her voice is a bit strained on a couple of tracks, (She was battling a nasty cold at the time) but there are some moments here where she outshines the studio renditions. "The Sea" is spellbinding and the version of "John The Gun" is even better than the one found on "Live Covention". "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" is absolutely haunting.
If you have not yet had the opportunity to listen to this wonderful singer/songwriter I would recomend that you start with the import "Sandy" or perhaps one of the Fairport Convention albums that feature her. If you like any of that then I'm sure you will be drawn to this"