Sandy Denny must surely be one of the greatest singers these shores have ever produced. She was gifted with a voice that seemed to carry an eternal truth. It was and remains a voice you simply could believe in and added depth and weight to any song she sung. A voice that didn't try and sell you the song, but made sure you simply had to listen.
This Friday sees the release of I've Always Kept A Unicorn, a 2CD set of acoustic songs containing demos, live performances, radio sessions and previously unreleased recordings spanning her all too short career. It features Sandy Denny's solo work along with recordings she made as vocalist with Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, The Strawbs and The Bunch. Alongside the 40 songs it also comes with extensive and beautifully written sleeve-notes by Sandy's biographer Mick Houghton.
To mark it's release here's a short list of reasons why everyone should love Sandy Denny. (click over the jump.)
Perhaps Sandy's most famous song which has become a timeless classic covered by the likes of Nina Simone, Judy Collins and Cat Power amongst others. Here's the acoustic version Sandy made with The Strawbs as featured on I've Always Kept A Unicorn.
2 – Her renditions of traditional folk songs.
Sandy's way with traditional material always made things sound fresh and relevant. And revealed each song's power. Check out this version of 'Blackwaterside' from The Northstar Grassman & The Ravens LP from 1971. A stripped down acoustic version of this track features on I've Always Kept A Unicorn.
3 – She helped define a musical movement.
Who could imagine the folk rock movement of the '60s and '70s without Sandy's presence? Check out part one of this great documentary for more info and insights.
4 – John Peel was a fan.
The venerable DJ was a big supporter of Denny's. In this interview from 1974 he likens her new hairstyle to that of footballer Charlie George. Sandy claims it to be more like that of Slade's Dave Hill.
5 – She loved to rock 'n' roll.
Despite being at the forefront of the '70s folk rock movement at heart she was always a rock 'n' roller. She was rock and roll enough to be asked to sing with the mighty Led Zeppelin on 'The Battle of Evermore' on Led Zeppelin III, and was the only guest vocalist Zep ever had. And the rock and roll she loved as a teenager stayed in her heart, as evidenced by this cover of Buddy Holly's 'Learning the Game' made with ad-hoc supergroup The Bunch.
I've Always Kept A Unicorn is released on April 22nd, click here to buy via Amazon.