• Painting by Marion Appleton for the original album sleeve.
I’ve received the following official announcement of a deluxe 2-CD release of Fairport Convention‘s Rising for the Moon (originally released June 1975), with never-before-released bonus tracks:
UMC is pleased to announce a new deluxe edition of Fairport Convention’s 1975 album, Rising For The Moon, which marked the only studio recordings by the line-up which saw Sandy Denny return to the group in 1974.
In 1969 the “classic” Fairport line-up recorded and released three albums (What We Did On Our Holidays, Unhalfbricking, Liege & Lief) all within a single year, and at the end of that frenetic period Sandy Denny quit the band. Following a spell with the short-lived Fotheringay, Sandy embarked on a distinguished solo career before being drawn back into Fairport. She ‘officially’ re-joined in February 1974 during a four night stint at LA’s Troubadour.
A remarkable live recording by Fairport with Sandy from those legendary shows is finally released for the first time as the second disc on this new edition of Rising For The Moon.
By 26 January 1974, when Fairport became the first rock band to play the Sydney Opera House, the Nine line-up (Dave Swarbrick, Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks, Trevor Lucas, and Jerry Donahue) had been augmented by Sandy Denny, now married to Lucas. The resultant Fairport Live Convention (released in America as A Moveable Feast) confirmed how much the band had benefited from having Sandy back on board. Yet only weeks later, Sandy was more fully integrated into the band and the LA Troubadour dates present Fairport are at the top of their game. Such was the band’s parlous financial situation, they couldn’t afford to purchase the tapes from Wally Heider’s Mobile. Over the years odd selections trickled out but it was only on 2010’s definitive 19CD Sandy Dennybox-set that the tracks featuring Sandy were properly mixed. Now, with the additional performances by Trevor Lucas and Dave Swarbrick included, fans can enjoy this brief but memorable line-up at its absolute best.
The setlist at the Troubadour is also unusual in that it was substantially different to the songs performed on Fairport Live Convention. In fact the recording features several songs the band never performed again including: Trevor Lucas’ ‘Ballad Of Ned Kelly’ originally on the ‘Fotheringay’ album, and ‘Down Where The Drunkards Roll’ (Trevor had sung background vocals on the original version on Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight). Sandy performs a passionate version of Dylan’s ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’ and her own ‘Crazy Lady Blues’ performed here with an added verse. And, dipping into the Fairport back-catalogue, a haunting ‘She Moves Through The Fair’.
Further highlights include ‘Solo’ and ‘Like An Old Fashioned Waltz’ from Sandy’s third album, a spirited cover of Dylan’s ‘Down In The Flood’. Swarb delivers an effortless ‘The Hens March through the Midden’ and a spirited ‘The Hexamshire Lass’. Sandy’s signature ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’; a magisterial ‘Matty Groves’; plus the band rocking out on ‘Six Days On The Road’ and ‘That’ll Be The Day’.
With Sandy back in the band, Island Records made a greater commitment to Fairport’s next studio recording and, to that end, Glyn Johns was brought in as producer for Fairport’s 10thstudio album. Johns’ pedigree was impeccable: Rolling Stones, Beatles, the Who, the Eagles… and he was emphatic that he wanted the new sessions to include only original material and no covers or traditional material for the first and only time on a Fairport album.
The album was recorded at Olympic Studios in two blocks. The first sessions began in December 1974, but during a break in January, Dave Mattacks quit and was replaced by ex-Grease Band drummer Bruce Rowland, who played on the remaining tracks and stayed on for the tours following the album release in June 1975.
The album included songs from all members of the band although seven of the album’s eleven tracks were penned in whole or partly by Sandy. Johns made them rehearse the new material, then sifted through to find the best and, on many levels, Rising For The Moon was indeed a triumph. Sandy is in fine vocal form; the band gels instrumentally and songs like the title track, ‘Stranger To Himself’ and ‘One More Chance’ (featuring blistering guitar from Jerry Donahue) are among Fairport’s best ever. Swarb’s ‘White Dress’ was sufficiently strong to be chosen as the album’s only 7” single.
Even Sandy – though happy with the finished album – recognised that the financial and personal strain it had put on the band made a split inevitable and by the end of 1975, first guitarist Jerry Donahue, then Sandy and Trevor decided to leave the group. The original Rising For The Moon is now ripe for reappraisal whereas at the time it raised the question was it a Sandy Denny album or a Fairport album? Of course it’s both and, whichever way you look at it, one of Fairport’s andSandy’s best and most underrated records.
Now enriched on this Deluxe edition by 21 additional tracks – including a beautiful, previously unreleased performance of ‘White Dress’ discovered in the LWT archive, there is also an alternate mix of ‘Dawn’; a studio demo with Sandy and Trevor of ‘What Is True’; and Sandy’s home demos of ‘After Halloween’, and ‘King And Queen Of England’, the latter written for the album but never recorded.
The album reviews at the time were largely positive. TheGuardian judged the album “their best for six years… it ought to re-establish Fairport as a significant British band.” In the end it wasn’t to be, the rigours of touring and financial problems essentially driving the band to split. A truncated Fairport went on to record their final album for Island, Gottle O’ Gear, in 1976, Jerry Donahue went off to work with Joan Armatrading; Trevor produced Sandy’s 1977 album,Rendezvous; but within a year Sandy was dead. Despite her solo success, the Sandy many of her admirers remember with most fondness is the lady who fronted Fairport Convention during their glory years. So here then, are the beautiful songs she wrote and the music she made with the band second time around.
01: RISING FOR THE MOON ( 4.08 )
02: RESTLESS ( 4.01 )
03: WHITE DRESS ( 3.44 )
04: LET IT GO ( 2.00 )
05: STRANGER TO HIMSELF ( 2.51 )
06: WHAT IS TRUE ? ( 3.33 )
07: IRON LION ( 3.27 )
08: DAWN ( 3.42 )
09: AFTER HALLOWEEN ( 3.38 )
10: NIGHT-TIME GIRL ( 2.56 )
11: ONE MORE CHANCE ( 7.58 )
12: WHITE DRESS ( 3:24 ) Live on LWT – 9/8/1975
13: DAWN – ALTERNATE VERSION ( 4:11 )
14: WHAT IS TRUE ? – STUDIO DEMO ( 3:16 )
15: AFTER HALLOWEEN – DEMO ( 3:00 )
16: THE KING AND QUEEN OF ENGLAND – HOME DEMO ( 3:12 )
DISC TWO – LIVE AT THE LA TROUBADOUR
01: DOWN IN THE FLOOD ( 3:13 )
02: BALLAD OF NED KELLY ( 3:59 )
03: SOLO ( 5:40 )
04: IT’LL TAKE A LONG TIME ( 5:35 )
05: SHE MOVES THROUGH THE FAIR ( 4:09 )
06: THE HENS MARCH THROUGH THE MIDDEN & THE FOUR POSTER BED (3:17 )
07: THE HEXAMSHIRE LASS ( 2:44 )
08: KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVENS DOOR ( 4:33 )
09: SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD ( 3:38 )
10: LIKE AN OLD FASHIONED WALTZ ( 4:19 )
11: JOHN THE GUN ( 5:10 )
12: DOWN WHERE THE DRUNKARDS ROLL ( 4:14 )
13: CRAZY LADY BLUES ( 3:54 )
14: WHO KNOWS WHERE THE TIME GOES ( 6:54 )
15: MATTY GROVES ( 7:05 )
16: THAT’LL BE THE DAY
MY COMMENT: When is UMC/Island going to release Sandy’s version of Lord Bateman I heard in the Island archives while researching the Electric Muse compilation? Though Sandy’s guide vocal is off mike, it’s a unique session, with Steve Winwood on keyboards. Possibly her voice could be electronically enhanced.
- Above, a rare demo of Rising for the Moon (I don’t know if this will be on the new release).