Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Fotheringay Essen 1970

Garden of Delights/Thors Hammer THCD006 (CD), THLP002 (vinyl)

Release date: 20 June. This is the first release of a newly discovered recording of Fotheringay live at Grugahalle, Essen, Germany, on 23 October 1970. Currently only available from amazon.de, but I’m told it should be with Amazon UK in the coming weeks. Remastered by Jerry Donahue. Booklet essay by moi.

That, at least, may be something to get excited about” (Clinton Heylin, 2011).


Dave Leeke said...

Sounds interesting, Philip, what about the Fairport Convention Ebbets Field Live 1974 cd being touted on Amazon?

Having bought a pirate cd a few years back of Fotheringay I'm loath to waste money on stuff that should have remained left in a closet somewhere (or maybe that's just where all my old tapes of my old folk rock band should remain. Or as landfill).

An expert opinion, please, before I part with the readies would be very welcome.

Don't ask CH, though . . .

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

This i think will be worth getting- you can hear a clip of 'Nothing More' on the Sandy Denny Myspace, and its clear from the get-go that this is probably the best performance we have of this song from Sandy. This is officially santioned so a certain quality can be guaranteed - it's alot better than some of those gruesome sounding Fotheringay boots!


ps I personally would avoid the Fairport Ebbetts field 74' although Jerry D does his best on the mastering etc.

Dave Leeke said...

Thanks for that - I'll save my money! By the way the Beeb have done a fantastic job on RT with the new box set.

Hans Valk said...

Andrew: I'm sorry, but I disagree with you on 'Nothing More'.
Of course it is all a matter of taste, but I think Sandy's singing on the studio-recording of this song is much superior to her performance on the 'Essen'-recording. There's a certain slur to Sandy's singing on the latter one. It's just not as crisp and pointed as the studio version.
That doesn't mean it's not interesting, though.
It's true that some of Sandy's live performances are better than the studio versions of the same song, but not in this case, IMHO.

Rob-in-Brevard said...

I really do *wish* I liked this recording better. Before listening, I was quite prepared to like it, looked forward to it eagerly after placing my order.

I've listened to it twice all the way through, and the performance often feels lacklustre to me, with the playing a bit too slow and rather "ropey." Sandy doesn't sound at her best much of the time and the recording itself sounds rather distant.

All this makes me hope a Fotheringay at the Beeb release will appear one day, since many of the performances that would be contained therein far surpass the ones on "Essen 1970."

I actually hope others are enjoying their listens; perhaps I will feel differently in the future!

Malcolm said...

Talking Elephant now have stock of the Live in Essen CD & Vinyl in their HTD store

Jacques Evrard said...

I bought it and doesn't like it at all: so so performance and very poor sound quality.

Saying "recorded semi-professionally" and "elaborately re-mastered by [...] Jerry Donahue" is really misguiding in my opinion. The poor sound quality should be clearly indicated.

I agree with Sandy's friend Miranda Ward about Sandy' perfectionism and have no doubt she would have been ashamed such recordings are released. She doesn't deserve that.

So C.H. was wrong one more time about this particular recording, but maybe not about the problem per se.

And, yes, Philip Ward's notes are well done and interesting, but that's not the point.


N.B.: please, note that English is not my first language.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rob,

I'm really surprised at some of the negative responses to Essen, and whilst we all wish the sound is better i think this is a strong performance i'm amazed anyone could call it so-so or lacklustre. To my ears it clearly surpasses Rotterdam. I'm not sure all the BBC performances are better, perhaps in some instances; but i have to say I've checked everything in the BBC vault and so little of the Fotheringay BBC sessions survive in master quality recordings, and almost nothing from the first album, so i'm not sure a Fotheringay BBC sessions is possible especially given the negative response to the Essen 1970 sound; the BBC off-air recordings are far more gruesome in quality; so fans will only complain!

Dear Jacques, I don't agree that Sandy would be ashamed about the issuing of these recordings; since her death some of the most glorious of her performances have come to light- who would want to be without the demos now? I think Sandy would be chuffed that people value her music and that it continues to reach a new audience. Yes some recordings that have been issued like the Fairport 'Before the moon' cd were perhaps ill-advised but in the main i think posthumous releases actually ENHANCE Sandy's legacy. It's not helpful to go down this route; for example Sandy never liked her early recordings with Campbell and Silvo, and yet heylin worked on re-issuing those,(interestingly he has no criticism for that release!) and we can hear that they are of interest, but Sandy went so far as to re-record them in 1969 she disliked the original ones so much, should they not have re-mastered those recordings because Sandy didn't like them? and then there is The Strawbs etc...


Andrew Batt

Jacques Evrard. said...

Dear Andrew,

I just noticed your reply now.

It's probably my poor English (maybe Ph. Ward could correct that horrible "doesn't" in my previous post?) but I feel you didn't understand my point at all. It seems you believe I don't like any of the new releases, including the demos. Certainly not, that would be ridiculous as I feel a lot of the demos are the best performances we have for certain songs and I consider it reveals a lot of very important things about the career of Sandy Denny. Same with a lot of the live recordings, particularly when Sandy is solo and shows all her mastery.

I've been studying musicology and also making music, playing guitars & C° and singing for more than 40 y., writing, arranging songs, recording, mixing, editing and mastering them for around 30 (mainly as an amateur, I admit). Surely I don't hear the same things as everyone now, but no one can pretend Essen is a decent quality recording. The potential buyer should know that it is not. Same with some parts of Live at the BBC.

The Rotterdam performance is in the same ligue as the one at Essen (I know you don't agree), but it does sound a lot better. I still don't like it anyway.

Now if we had even a very poor quality recording of Sandy's legendary concert at the Howff in Sept. 1973, I would certainly listen to it because of her incredibly amazing performance.

So I never did put all the new releases "in the same bag" (as your arguments seem to pretend somewhat unfairly) and I maintain (with Sandy's best friend Miranda Ward, have I read) there are a lot of questions concerning SOME songs (i.e. Sandy would have been ashamed), including the Essen concert.

I hope it is clearer.

All the best,

Philip Ward said...

Thanks for your comment, Jacques. I've drawn it to Andrew's attention. I think the two of you must simply agree to differ on this one. De gustibus non est disputandum. Chacun à son goût, etc. My own view (for what it's worth) is that Essen is a good performance in poor quality sound, and for that reason I'm very glad it's out there.

No need to apologise for your excellent English, by the way: it's streets ahead of my French! Yours, Philip.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jacques,

I think we must accept to disagree! we all have our own opinions, which is what makes discussing music so interesting. I personally think Essen is a strong performance in not particularly good sound, whilst Rotterdam is in better sound but the performance to my ears is clearly inferior. I don't think releasing Essen in any way diminishes Sandy's legacy, unlike for example the Before the Moon cd. Perhaps the record company that have released Essen should have been more clear about the sound quality, but thats not my department and i have no control there; i think that the scarcity of Fotheringay releases means that this concert deserves an audience, and it is superior to the existing bootlegs both in sound and performance. With the Live at the BBC we made clear that some recordings were 'off-air' and the ones in the poorest sound were infact gathered on a single cd. We felt however that fans would want a more complete collection than the 'strange fruit' release had been. And as for Miranda Ward, she doesen't agree with any of the releases that have come out since Sandy has died...


p.s I am sure one day Sandy at the Howff will turn up!

Robinbrevard said...

Hello Andrew,

Thanks for your reply. I completely respect your opinion and did my best to represent the other side of the spectrum in my review for Amazon:


I am sorry to hear about the state of the Fotheringay at the Beeb sources material. Could none of the extant transcription discs be scrubbed? I think the performances are of a high quality.

Anyway, continued thanks for your work re: Sandy's musical legacy.