Sandy Denny debut gets the deluxe treatment
The North Star Grassman and the Ravens
2-disc deluxe edition, Universal - June 20th
The North Star Grassman and the Ravens was the first in a sequence of four solo albums which represent Sandy Denny’s claim to be one of Britain’s finest singer-songwriters. Originally released in the autumn of 1971, the album is centred around Sandy’s own compositions, which are distinguished by their elusive lyrics and unexpected harmonies.
Although Sandy Denny had made solo recordings before joining Fairport Convention, The North Star Grassman and the Ravens, marked her true debut as a solo artist. Sandy left Fairport Convention in 1969 after recording the influential ‘Liege & Lief’ ostensibly to develop her songwriting more fully; firstly in the short lived Fotheringay.
Her motives for disbanding Fotheringay may have been mixed but, by 1971, the concept of a solo album had clearly become a major artistic statement with Sandy Denny’s male peers such as Bert Jansch, John Martyn and Roy Harper having already paved the way. In America, female singer songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Carole King were becoming a strong commercial force.
Sandy’s fans had their first taste of her new material when she made her live debut as a solo artist at the Lincoln Folk Festival in July 1971 accompanied by Richard Thompson, Dave Pegg and Gerry Conway. North Star came out two months later in September, and built on the compositional style that she had developed on the Fotheringay album, containing all the stylistic elements that would become the hallmark of her song writing; Highlights included 'Late November', inspired by a dream and the death of Fairport band member Martin Lamble and 'Next Time Around' a cryptogram about former boyfriend Jackson C. Frank.
You can see live performances of songs from the album here http://youtu.be/0Rd_gMrmf6g