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Baker's Dozen

Is This Music? Norman Blake's Favourite Albums
Julian Marszalek , July 28th, 2021 13:06

From the overlooked influence of Throbbing Gristle to an enduring love of The Velvet Underground, via Broadcast, The Rolling Stones and more, Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake picks the thirteen records that shaped him


Sandy Denny – Listen, Listen: An Introduction To Sandy Denny

People rarely choose compilation albums for these things but in terms of Sandy Denny’s work, I think her solo albums really didn’t do very well. There are so many great things on them that I think that this idea of distilling them down to this great collection of brilliant songs which she wrote. She’s one of our great unsung songwriters; she was a brilliant, brilliant songwriter and singer, too. I love her voice.

This is a tastefully-put compilation because the albums were sort of all over the place. I think that by the time you get to Rendezvouz, you had this slick looking sleeve. The songwriting was still amazing and it’s an album that’s been much maligned because I think some of the production on it is good, but a lot of people aren’t into it. It’s funny – I looked up a review that spoke of ‘cumbersome strings and bloated lead guitars’ and I’m thinking, the guitar solo on ‘No More Sad Refrains’ is absolutely mind-bogglingly brilliant! I mean, come on! But it’s funny how people can have a different take on the same thing. I suppose also, at the time, she pretty unfashionable at this point. On that album there’s also a burst of ‘Candle In The Wind’.

I really love her and I think she’s brilliant and because of what happened to her [Denny died in 1978 at the age of 31], this music has an extra poignancy. A lot of the songs are very, very sad because she’d had a troubled life in terms of alcohol and problems with her relationships. But to me, I listen to the music and it’s sublime.

She’s a highly underrated songwriter. Her and Rod Temperton are the two most maligned British songwriters because no one knows who Rod Temperton is either and people don’t really talk about Sandy Denny but she wrote all these incredible songs. People should take a chance on her and this is a great introduction.