FOTHERINGAY – Nothing More: The Collected Fotheringay (Universal)

FotheringayBoxSetcoverFotheringay are perhaps less famous for what they achieved than for their unrealised potential. They released a single, ‘Peace In The End’ and ‘Winter Winds’, and an album which was probably one track too short – a reprise of Sandy Denny’s titular song would have rounded it out – and then broke up in the middle of recording a second album. Thus they became a legend.

The history of the band is a convoluted one. Their first choice guitarist, Albert Lee, rapidly became unhappy with the role he was being asked to fulfil and left to be replaced by Jerry Donahue joining the drums and bass combination of Gerry Conway and Pat Donaldson alongside Sandy and Trevor Lucas. There is a feeling that Sandy’s management were not happy with her leaving Fairport Convention to form another band and wanted her to pursue a solo career. She was the only vocalist to guest on a Led Zeppelin album and won the Melody Maker female vocalist of the year award twice in succession. There was an inevitability about her future.

This box set begins with an expanded version of the eponymous first album. Its style was in some ways a return to her years with Fairport. There were covers of Gordon Lightfoot and Bob Dylan, a bunch of songs written by Sandy and Trevor and the magnificent eight-minute ‘Banks Of The Nile’. It could have been Unhalfbricking all over again. The first song we hear is ‘Nothing More’, a portrait of Richard Thompson after Fairport’s motorway crash, and one of many Sandy songs that seem to come from a mythical world. You can believe that she did keep a unicorn somewhere. It’s followed by ‘The Sea’ depicting the disaster of a flooded London from another parallel world.

Lightfoot’s ‘The Way I Feel’ provides a counterpoint to Sandy’s lyricism with the final version giving prominence to Gerry and Pat’s rhythm section and Jerry’s lead guitar and Trevor’s ‘The Ballad Of Ned Kelly’ points in the direction of Fotheringay’s country rock tendencies, as does Dylan’s ‘Too Much Of Nothing’.

There are six demos and alternate takes fleshing out the disc, all titles from the completed work. Any other songs the band worked on may well have been pencilled in for Fotheringay 2 where they subsequently appeared.

By 2008 Jerry Donahue had completed the reconstruction of Fotheringay’s second album, adding guitar parts and, presumably, sequencing the record which, with the addition of six bonus tracks, forms the second disc of this set. It opens with ‘John The Gun’, a song later revisited by Sandy and Fairport Convention, and one of her most powerful and enduring. It’s followed by ‘Eppie Moray’, a traditional Scottish tale of attempted marriage. Trevor sings the main part but he sounds oddly subdued and the track really comes to life when Sandy takes over the narrative.

‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ is lovely and it was at the height of its popularity at the time. The band’s performance stands the test of time but, with the benefit of hindsight, the song hasn’t. ‘Knights Of The Road’ was later taken up by Fairport and still sounded like a filler on Rosie but the trials and tribulations surrounding that record are the subject of another article.

That is followed by ‘Late November’ which later appeared as the first track on Sandy’s solo album The North Star Grassman And The Ravens – the first of several versions to be released. The Fotheringay rhythm track survived as the basis of Sandy’s solo version but Donahue’s lead guitar was replaced by Richard Thompson and Sandy re-did her vocals. ‘Restless’, another Trevor Lucas song, appeared on Rising For The Moon and ‘I Don’t Believe You’ sounds like a Lucas solo cut with a very Dylan-ish organ, uncredited on the 2008 release. Was that Sandy?

Wonderful as it was/is to have these tracks, they sound like the output of a band which had no stake in their future. The bonus cuts include three Joe Boyd mixes of the original tracks and I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I prefer these to Donahue’s – they seem to have the feel of the time whereas Jerry’s seem to bring the weight of years and experience to them. Still, you have to wonder if they knew which way the wind was blowing – Conway and Donaldson were experienced session musicians and I’d be prepared to bet that they were sensitive to atmosphere in the studio.

Also included are two versions of ‘Bruton Town’ – the second of which is by the new incarnation of the band with Kathryn Roberts, PJ Wright and Sally Barker fronting the original trio of Donahue, Conway and Donaldson.

The third disc collects together live performances and radio sessions. Some have already been anthologised but the majority are appearing on disc for the first time. It opens with ‘The Way I Feel’ from the band’s 1970 Rotterdam concert. Immediately we can feel the energy of the band at their best, with Donahue’s choppy guitar solo a highlight. ‘The Sea’ is more lyrical with Sandy sounding so much at ease and ‘Too Much Of Nothing’ is solid country rock giving both Conway and Donahue their heads. Muddy Waters’ ‘I’m Troubled’ was a song Fotheringay hadn’t recorded and they had a whale of time playing it as they did ‘Memphis Tennessee’, seemingly chosen spontaneously by Sandy. ‘Banks Of The Nile’ is pretty close to perfection.

The second part of the disc is a number of BBC sessions previously unreleased on CD. Prime among these is Sandy’s solo ‘The Lowlands Of Holland’ but I’d venture to say that these are amongst the best tracks that Fotheringay ever recorded as their experience of playing the songs met studio technology at just the right time. Can it now be said that they were better live?

Finally we have a DVD of four songs recorded for the German TV show Beat Club. Two of these, ‘Nothing More’ and ‘John The Gun’ were not broadcast and only ‘Too Much Of Nothing’ has been readily available.

So, everything Fotheringay ever did – as far as we know that is – together with rare photographs and sketches for sleeve art by designer Marion Appleton. It’s perfect but there is a sense of looking for what might have been but never was. Sadly, there is nothing more.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of Nothing More: The Collected Fotheringay, download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

Artists’ website: http://www.fotheringay.com/

‘Gypsy Davey’ – the Beat Club recording:

Eve Selis Releases FAMILY TREE

To support the UK release of FAMILY TREE, Eve Selis and her full band will be touring the UK during June and July 2012. Venues include The Met in Bury, The Sage in Gateshead and Norwich Arts Centre. Eve and the band will also be playing at the prestigious Maverick Festival in Suffolk and also at the Americana International Festival at Newark County Showground. For the full list of tour dates please see the attached document.

“Eve is a deeply creative, caring artist who gives everything to her craft. As a live performer she is awesomely powerful, as a recording artist she is both sensitive and strong. I love her spirit and I love her music. She deserves to shine.” Bob Harris-BBC Radio2

As winner of 7 San Diego Music Awards in Americana and Adult Alternative, Eve Selis is no stranger to Roots music. Her newest CD FAMILY TREE features 14 sturdy tracks drawn from the dark, rich soil of American music. From the swamp-rock of Rubber and Glue to the plaintive country heartbreaker Don’t You Feel Lonesome to Leonard Cohen’s majestic masterpiece Hallelujah, Selis and her band dug deep to create a towering opus of interconnected musical branches, all dripping with Selis’s indelible “honey chipotle” voice.

“This CD sums it all up for me,” Selis explains. “I got to explore all the different styles of music I love; I got to co-write with all my favorite songwriters (Marc Intravaia, Kim McLean, Calman Hart, Rich Wiley, Doug Crider); I got to sing wonderful songs about the things that mean the most to me — loss and love, sadness and joy, hardship and triumph, faith and family; I got to record with the best band in San Diego, with the best studio team I’ve ever worked with…I couldn’t be happier about this CD.

FAMILY TREE was recorded at San Diego’s premiere recording facility, Big Fish Studio in Encinitas, under the guidance of Grammy® winning producer, Steve Churchyard. Recording “old school” to 2-inch analog tape, Churchyard captured the warmth of Selis’s unique style, both explosive and tender, allowing him to recreate the natural sound of her live performance. Musical partner, Marc “Twang” Intravaia remarked: “…we hadn’t recorded to tape in 20 years.”

After final takes, the tracks were then brought into the digital world by transferring them to ProTools on a Mac for overdubs, where Churchyard took advantage of all the latest digital tools to create a 21st-century record that sounds like it could have been recorded in the musical heyday of the ’70s.

The recording of the CD was financed entirely by fans of the Eve Selis band via the crowdfunding web sites Kickstarter and PledgeMusic. A video appeal on both sites asking everyone to be a part of her “record label” brought in donations from $10 to $10,000. This allowed Selis to not only record at Big Fish with Churchyard but to hire renowned musician Albert Lee, described by Eric Clapton as “…the greatest guitarist in the world.” She also brought in acclaimed sidemen, Dennis Caplinger on fiddle, mandolin, dobro and banjo and Rick Schmidt on steel guitar.

Mastering was done in Nashville by Best Engineer Grammy® Award winner Richard Dodd, known for his work with The Dixie Chicks, Big and Rich, Martina McBride, Brooks and Dunn, Tom Petty and many more.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

 For futher information see www.eveselis.com

BILL WYMAN’S RHYTHM KINGS: LIVE COMMUNICATIONS

Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings have, since the redoubtable Bill convened the combo in the early 1990s, carved themselves an awesome reputation as one of the most reliable, honest-to-goodness good-time combos of the last decade or so.

Taking a broad sweep, cherry-picking from the wealth of popular music styles of the twentieth century, Bill and his incredibly adept crew put together a set that incorporates Blues, Jazz, Jump Band Boogie, old-school R&B, Country and full tilt rock and roll.

It’s all played with a technical skill but undeniable warmth and feel for the music.

Amongst the stellar cast of musicians featured on Live Communication, the latest, fascinating instalment of Bill’s post –Rolling Stones history are the brilliant guitarist Albert Lee, Van Morrison / Nick Lowe piano ace Geraint Watkins, former Doctor Hook vocalist Dennis Locorriere, as well as regular Rhythm Kings stalwarts Beverley Skeete (vocals), Graham Broad (drums) Terry Taylor (guitar and vocals) and Nick Payn (saxophone).

The material is drawn from the likes of Willie Dixon, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Joe Tex, and a great version of the hoary Chuck Berry chestnut, Johnny B Goode, like you’ve never heard it before.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.