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Talking Elephant Records

We all know that Sandy Denny was taken from us far too early. At Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, every year, she is honoured in someway and fondly remembered by all those that knew her. Since that awful day in 1978, there have been many posthumous releases, most of them excellent, all of them adding to her legacy, the clear leader when it comes to nominating the ‘Voice of British Folk music’.


Carla Fuchs, a highly musically educated multi-instrumentalist from Germany, is a fan and has been inspired by Sandy’s music for some time. Having wrote and recorded a song called Songbird, she sent it to Sandy’s daughter, Georgia, who then asked Carla to write more music for lyrics discovered in Denny’s notebooks being used for an CD boxset. Songbird, the album is the result of that collaboration.


Now, before I go into the music, a very important point needs to be made: Carla is not trying to be Sandy. We will never know if the lyrics Sandy scribbled down were finished or random jottings to be finished at a later date but either way, they remain untouched and not added to. Carla, has taken them and written music around them and in doing so, she has uncannily captured the spirit of Sandy. In the liner notes, there is a line that says ‘we believe that Sandy would have approved…’, I will go one stage further and say that if you believe in such things, somehow, Sandy guided Carla. Yes, really.


Nine songs have come out of the collaboration, the tenth on the album being the aforementioned Songbird. Interestingly, that song doesn’t appear out of place on the album and goes with the flow of the other nine. Each song is gentle on the mind, soothing and comforting; this is how Sandy would like to be remembered and usually is. The music is a beautifully packaged in a simple gatefold sleeve which also houses a delightful twenty-eight-page booklet. This is a treasure trove on its own with reproductions of Sandy’s original hand-written lyrics, sketches and contributions from Georgia as well. All in all, this album comes across as a labour of love rather than a commercial venture. Again, exactly what Sandy would have wanted.


Sandy lives on, the evidence is right here to prove it and I can think of no better way of saying it so I will let Clare Harner do it for me. She wrote a poem in 1934 called Immortality, the first two lines of which read:


Do not stand
By my grave, and weep.

I am not there,
I do not sleep—

Track List


Go West


Simply Falls Apart

If You are Free

Charm & Patience


Half Way Home

Winter Elms

Winning Of The Game

Merry Hell Let the Music.jpg


Merry Hell Music

Compilation albums can be tricky. They are often put together by a label just to sell at a specific time such as Christmas when there is a plethora of Greatest Hits albums released or they are a contractual obligation album used to fulfil a contract. These ‘Best of’ albums are usually compiled by an unknown record company employee and are what said employee considers the ‘best of’. Merry Hell have gone against both those reasons and come up with their own. Not only is it not a seasonal cash-in, they let their fans choose the songs to go on it and the reason they did it was that they noticed that people wanting to hear the tunes from their live shows, couldn’t afford all six of their releases. A twenty-eight track, very reasonably priced double CD, solved that problem and I will add that there is no ‘Remastered’ or ‘Previously unreleased live versions’ sales gimmickry and that the packaging is as simple and eco-friendly as you can get.


Chronological order has been ignored. The tracks are arranged in an order that represents their set list. What that gives you as you play through both discs is just how much fun this band are live and how diverse they are. They easily switch between the rousing Drunken Serenade to the party singalong Bury Me Naked, onto the heartfelt Lean On Me, Love and then the political stance of Stand Down. You can dip into it and play the odd track here and there and get a different message as each song stands up in its own write. We all know the teacher they sing about in Pendle Hill, all feel the passion they write of in Come On, England!, all have a friend like the woman in Violet and whilst any one of those taken on their own can bring out a variety of emotions in you, as a whole, from beginning to end, this set is as uplifting as you can get. Put it on while preparing dinner and you will catch yourself swaying while chopping the carrots; on buses, you’ll find yourself smiling at people who can’t hear what you are listening to.


Has there ever been a better title for a compilation album? I doubt it so I will end here and let you discover below why Merry Hell are one of the finest Folk bands in the UK. Their music really does speak for itself.


Track List

Disc 1

Drunken Serenade

Let’s Not Have A Morning After (Until We’ve Had A Night Before)

Loving The Skin You’re In

Bury Me Naked

Lean On Me, Love

Rosanna’s Song

Stand Down

Let The Music Speak

We Are Different, We Are One

Coming Home Song

Nobody Knows Me

Over The Border

The Baker’s Daughter/Soldier’s Joy (live)

Pendle Hill

Disc 2

We Need Each Other Now

Come On, England!

There’s A Ghost In Our House

Leave It On The Ground


Man Of Few Words

The Gentle Man

Three Little Lions

Rage Like Thunder


When We Meet Again

No Place Like Tomorrow

Drunken Serenade featuring The Banshee Reel

Emergency Lullaby

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