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All Our Own Work

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Album Review

In 1967, folksinger Dave Cousins heard a young woman named Sandy Denny singing at a club in London, and was so impressed with her voice that he immediately invited her to join his group, the Strawbs. Before the year was out, Sandy & the Strawbs landed a deal with a small label based in Denmark and recorded an album, though a few months after it was released, Denny parted ways with the Strawbs and joined Fairport Convention, replacing founding vocalist Judy Dyble. Denny's short tenure with the Strawbs made their album together, All Our Own Work, something of an orphan in both of their catalogs, but it's a fine record that shows both Denny and Cousins to their advantage. While Cousins was the principal songwriter on All Our Own Work, Denny recorded her signature tune, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes," for the first time on these sessions, and it sounds like an immediate classic, while Denny's vocals, strong, clear, and wise, leave no doubt she was already a talent to be reckoned with, both as a lead singer and harmonizing with her bandmates. And if the Strawbs are somewhat outclassed by Denny on this album, here Cousins is a more than capable singer, a splendid guitarist, and a strong tunesmith who offers up gems like "I've Been My Own Worst Friend," "Tell Me What You See in Me," and "Two Weeks Last Summer." (Cousins' bandmates Tony Hooper and Ron Chesterman also shine on the instrumental features.) Both Denny and the Strawbs would move on to bigger and more ambitious projects in the years that followed, but All Our Own Work is a lovely souvenir of their short-lived collaboration that shows they made the most of their time together.


Born: 06 January 1947 in Wimbledon, London, England

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Maddy Prior, Jacqui McShee, and June Tabor all give her a run for her money, but the late Sandy Denny remains the pre-eminent British folk-rock singer. In addition to recording several albums of her own, Denny was an integral force behind the best work of the most respected British folk-rock band of all, Fairport Convention, and also contributed mightily to recordings by the Strawbs and Fotheringay. It's impossible for words to fully evoke the haunting, spectral presence of her powerful and penetrating...
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