Sandy Denny & The Strawbs - All Our Own Work 2xLP
Between Twickenham and Teddington, in the southwest corner of London just a stone’s skip down the Thames from Eel Pie Island and a dingy cradle of British rock called the Chisnall Club, grammar school mates David Cousins and Tony Hooper came of age in the mostly horizontal urban area known as Strawberry Hill. And in the shadow of Hill House—famed correspondent Horace Walpole’s stately Gothic Revival villa—Cousins and Hooper saw light in both American bluegrass and the sound of skiffle sultan and British folkie Lonnie Donegan. Just across the river, in Kingston on Thames, London native Sandy Denny was feeling her way onto that same burgeoning folk circuit. “I met Sandy Denny at the Troubadour in Earl’s Court in late 1966,” Strawbs vocalist, guitarist, and banjoist David Cousins said. “I dropped in late one night to hear an angel singing. Sandy was sitting on a stool, wearing a white dress, a straw hat, and playing a Gibson Hummingbird guitar. When she came off stage, I introduced myself and asked if she fancied joining a group. ‘Who are you?’ she said. ‘Strawbs,’ I replied. ‘OK,’ she said. I went to the pay phone and called Tony Hooper to tell him we had a girl singer.”
Following a BBC World Service session in February 1967, the group was booked across the North Sea for a fortnight, with an option to record what would be their only album. spent days in a makeshift studio set up on the theatrical stage of Vanløse Bio, breaking down the Tandberg three-track reel-to-reel in time for the movie theater’s evening screenings before heading off to their nightly gig. In all, a dozen original songs were set down, including Denny’s recently completed “Who Knows Where The Time Goes.” From the moment Sandy Denny hesitantly delivered her original “Across the purple sky...” lyric, the song took wing toward canonization. But the world would wait another two years before hearing it, on Fairport Convention’s 1969 masterpiece Unhalfbricking. Only after four more subsequent years did the Copenhagen recordings come to light.
The quartet returned to London in August 1967 and parted ways shortly thereafter. “During the summer of ’67, I got to know Sandy,” future producer Joe Boyd recalled. “She felt that she’d gotten as far as she could go doing the circuit of folk clubs, and she liked the idea of being in a group, but she wasn’t sure that the Strawbs were the right outfit for her.” Cousins put in overtime trying to hitch the Tivoli tapes to a UK label, and got bites from Polydor and Phil Solomon’s Dublin-based Major Minor, but disagreements amongst Sandy and the Strawbs caused the project to rot.
While Sandy Denny’s career and that of the Strawbs reached pinnacles in parallel, Karl-Emil Knudson followed along. Tapes for the scrapped Denny/Strawbs album were pulled from storage, and a deal was struck with premiere UK budget imprint Hallmark Records. All Our Own Work hit the marketplace midway through 1973 in a cheap sleeve with brief, offhand notes from Cousins and fell out of print by the end of the decade. This 2014 vinyl issue collects the original 12 track album, plus a series of outtakes from the Vanløse Bio sessions previously unavailable on vinyl.