When Sandy Denny, probably the greatest folk-rock vocalist of all time, left Fairport Convention in 1969, she didn’t strike out for a solo career but instead formed a new band, Fotheringay, with her husband, the Australian folk singer and fellow Fairport Trevor Lucas.
In the band’s lifetime, Fotheringay released one album in 1970, as eponymous as it was mixed, with a rockier, more conventional sound than that of Fairport, and with Denny’s haunted, melancholy compositions (Nothing More, the Who Knows Where The Time Goes-esque Winter Winds) sitting next to Lucas’s more robust compositions (The Ballad Of Ned Kelly, Peace In The End).
The results, while perfectly fine, lacked the mystery and brilliance of Fairport, and these days the album sounds half ethereal, half meat and potatoes. The band split up while recording the sequel, Fotheringay 2, and Denny went on to a solo career.
This new, comprehensive collection (put together in the wake of Mick Houghton’s imminent Denny biography I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn) features the debut album, the finally completed follow-up, a live DVD and a selection of demos and – best of all – live tracks that show how good Fotheringay could be when everything fell into place.
More than a footnote in folk history, and much more than a curio, these songs represent as much a pulling-away as they do a coming-together, and as some were rerecorded by Denny and Fairport, fill a useful gap. Not a great lost band, but a good one./o:p