Fotheringay Box

From: Ibell, April 26, 2015

I've given the new Fotheringay collection a few listens, and here are some comments
 about contents.  But please skip this if you're not interested in these types of details.
 Overall, I love the collection, and it sounds wonderful.

Disc 1 includes the original LP, generally as remastered for the big box, although there are
some differences in volume for some tracks.  The six bonus tracks on this disc are the first 
six tracks on Disc 14 of the big box. However, there is a nice surprise with the last song
 on the disc, "Winter Winds." This is remixed in stereo whereas the box set version was mono.
 The preceding track, "Banks of the Nile," also seems to have been remixed, and the stereo 
is perhaps a bit wider than on the box.

Disc 2 contains Fotheringay 2, an exact copy of the original release.  The six bonus 
tracks are the last three tracks of Disc 5 of the big box, followed by two from Disc 14.
 The final one, "Bruton Town," is the version that appeared for download in 2013.  This 
is Sandy's solo performance from 16 March 1972, with instrumental tracks added recently
 by members of Fotheringay.  I love the original, but I like this one very much also.
 This track is unfortunately lossy like the originally released mp3.

Disc 3 pairs remixed recordings from the June 1970 Rotterdam concert with some of 
the surviving BBC recordings of Fotheringay. 

The Rotterdam recordings are still essentially mono, with a little reverb to the sides.  
The quality is a bit better overall.  Three tracks have their first release here:
 "The Way I Feel," "Too Much of Nothing," and "Ballad of Ned Kelly."
 Regarding the other tracks, some chat bits are different on this release compared
with the big box, sometimes contradictory, and it is difficult to tell which are
unaltered and which have been rearranged.  For instance, introducing "The Sea,"
on the big box Trevor says "We're going to start with a song called 'The Sea'", 
but here he says "This song is called 'The Sea'".

A few other examples of remix differences (by no means a complete list):

- On "Nothing More" the start is different from the box set version, with the
 version here adding some acoustic guitar but omitting some piano.

- "Two Weeks Last Summer" is a little longer at the start, and includes Sandy's spoken 
intro.  The strummed acoustic guitar, present on the big box mix, is missing from the 
mix here for about the first minute.

- "Banks of the Nile" is a dozen seconds shorter, by way of a couple of edits during the
last instrumental minute.

Note that the song "I'm Troubled" was titled "Trouble in Mind" on the big box, but the
title used here is correct.  "Trouble in Mind" is a slow blues, and appears on the
19 Rupert St CD.

The BBC recordings are one highlight of the set.  No off-air BBC recordings are included 
here; they all originate either from surviving tapes or from BBC Transcription LPs.
 The quality is excellent.  The first three tracks apparently survive as mono recordings,
and here have some tasteful added effects (such as reverb) to create some headroom and 
give a slight stereo effect.  The final four are true stereo.  To the best of my
knowledge, the session dates for these tracks are:

13 Apr 1970: Interview / The Sea

12 Nov 1970: Lowlands of Holland, Eppie Morrie

15 Nov 1970: John the Gun, Bold Jack Donahue, Gypsy Davey, Wild Mountain Thyme

Two other BBC tracks exist on transcription LP: "Gypsy Davey" from 12 Nov 1970, and 
"The Way I Feel" from 02 Apr 1970.  Ten or so additional songs also exist, but (as
 far as we know) only as off-air recordings.

Disc 4, the DVD containing video of the November 1970 recordings in Bremen, is the 
jewel here.  A must-have.  I never thought I would see this footage, and it's as
good as i could have hoped.

Thanks to everyone involved with this release.  It's a fine celebration of this
 wonderful but short-lived group.

From: Steve Shutt, April 26, 2015

Thanks, lbell (sorry, I do not know your name) for those technical comments.  I am terrible about stuff like this.  I enjoyed the box so much on the one day I devoted to listening to all the discs and have had some follow-up listening that gave me great joy.  I love the look of the box with the sketches on the outside and the beautifully produced booklet that comes with it.  It's just great to have so much of the surviving photos and tracks all gathered together in one place.

A friend sent me a rough scan of a MOJO trashing of the box and that was very sad to see.  For me this box is maybe my favorite Sandy release to date (though I did not get to buy the megabox, a friend did show some of it to me and played some of the tracks so I could hear them).  I have a rather different view of Sandy's Fotheringay period from that commonly put forward in critical writing.  I see it as a magical time in her creative life, highlighted by some of her most brilliant songwriting and performances.  I think this incredibly fruitful time may have helped stimulate further some of the brilliant writing over the releases of the next couple of years, North Star Grassman and the Ravens and Sandy in particular.  I also think the Fotheringay arrangements are my favorite treatments of Sandy's work, from an aesthetic point of view.  I think the reason behind all of it is precisely the harmonic coherence of vision shared by everyone in the band and the formation of a kind of "group mind" with a strong focus on Sandy's songwriting.  Trevor had his own work to share but I actually find it an interesting counterpoint to what Sandy was producing during that year.

Of course a lot of it comes down to musical taste and/or personal loyalty to specific individuals-I wasn't in the scene over there (I was 12 when the band broke up and living in suburban Maryland) so I simply react to what I hear.

Interesting that MOJO also printed an excerpt from Mick Houghton's work on the Liege and Lief period of Fairport which in some ways laid the ground for Fotheringay.  I have not been able to get hold of a copy of the mag or of the Houghton book (I think it is currently import only here in the US).

Cheers,  Steve Shutt
Boston, Mass.

From: mskobac@... , April 26, 2015

I noticed on intro for the Rotterdam live "Nothing More", where Sandy says she "never met this piano before, it’s a new friend", the punch line "or enemy" is cut out. It appears on the version on "Who Knows Where the Time Goes".

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