Sandy Denny — 19 Rupert St
(Witchwoood Media WMCD 2053, 1967/2011, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-05-03This is about as intimate a performance as you can get. Sandy Denny visited friend and fellow folk singer Alex Campbell at his home at 19 Rupert St in Glasgow on 5 August 1967, and they spent at least part of the evening sitting around, drinking whisky, playing and chatting. The remarkable thing is that Carsten Linde, a Danish acquaintance of Campbell's, was also visiting and had a quarter-track tape recorder with him. In 2005, Dave Cousins heard a copy of it and set in motion a series of events that led to the tape getting transferred to digital and cleaned up for us all to hear. And while it's certainly not pristine studio quality, if you put on headphones and close your eyes, you are there in the room with a group of friends old and new, joking and singing and messing around with guitars. The flaws in the recording are due to the whisky, not the passage of decades on magnetic tape. Mostly you stick to songs you know, whether traditional or by other folk singers. Patsy Campbell, Alex's wife, jumps in on harmonies from time to time. They run through "Trouble in Mind," "The Midnight Special," "She Moves through the Fair," and others. Just a month earlier, Sandy had been in Copenhagen with the Strawbs and recorded a song of her own called "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" so she shares it with the group. After a while, the Campbells' two young boys are awakened by the noise and come into the room, so some kid tunes finish out the session. Even in this casual setting, Sandy's voice is riveting, capable of melting hearts at twenty paces. And since you're much closer than that, you have no chance of escaping the effect. This is probably not the best place for a Sandy Denny novice to start, but for those already familiar with her magic, 19 Rupert St is a treasure beyond price.
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