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No More Sad Refrains--The Anthology

Sandy Denny
No More Sad Refrains--The Anthology
A&M Records

A two-CD set memorializing Sandy Denny is a strange idea: How could people ever forget her? That's my opinion, but the truth is that the death of Sandy Denny at 31 in 1978 was a loss that the world of folk rock has yet to comprehend, let alone to recover from. While there are English folk rockers by the score today, most of them wouldn't ruffle a tea-shop crowd. Denny was a great tragedian whose murmuring voice could rise into a weapon, ready to rattle the bones as well as chill the spine. Rock fans will remember her skirling vocals dueling with Robert Plant on the Led Zeppelin song "Battle of Evermore." On No More Sad Refrains is much material from Denny's stint with the path-finding, jinxed group Fairport Convention, including the wistful yet blistering "Fotheringay." Also included is the title track from Denny's solo album, The North Star Grassman and the Ravens, and her best-known tune, "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" (later much sweetened by Judy Collins). Mostly, I'm floored by Denny's long, slow version of a trad ballad titled "The Banks of the Nile" illuminating a memory (it couldn't possibly be fiction) of a pleading woman, a departing soldier and a stupid war far away. Get this CD just to hear Denny's voice flicking like a whip around this song's next-to-final verse about a battlefield "And the silver trumpets sound so loud/to hide the dismal cries." (Richard von Busack)

Nothing Personal

Delbert McClinton
Nothing Personal
New West Records

This rocking Texas-bred bluesman has been on the honky-tonk music circuit for upward of 40 years. McClinton has a reputation among musicians for being one of the best harmonica players in the world, and in 1962 he gave a then-unknown John Lennon a few tips on playing the mouth harp when the Beatles were opening for Bruce Channel--the results of which were first heard on "Love Me Do." McClinton probably reached his commercial peak in 1992, when he won a Grammy Award for his duet with Bonnie Raitt titled "Good Man, Good Woman." On his first new album in four years, he took his time over the course of 11 months to put his heart and soul into a recording he could call his own. The result includes 13 solid tracks of roadhouse rock and blues ("Livin' It Down," "Squeeze Me In," "All Night Long" and "Nothin' Lasts Forever"), slow country honky-tonk ("Birmingham Tonight"), gritty blues ("All There Is of Me"), Bourbon Street-styled jazz (Watchin' the Rain") and south-of-the-border-styled heartbreak ("When Rita Leaves"). While McClinton demonstrates a Dylanesque flair for storytelling on "Baggage Claim" and "Desperation," his ballad "Don't Leave Home Without It" sounds like something Eric Clapton might lend his skills to. Musically proficient and with rather droll lyrics, as an artist McClinton falls in the same league as acclaimed songwriters like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. (Sarah Quelland)

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From the January 18-24, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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