The North Star Grassman and the Ravens

The North Star Grassman and the Ravens

Two original compositions from the aborted Fotheringay 2 sessions, ‘Late November’ and ‘John the Gun’ were re-worked for the album and supplemented by a further six self penned songs and two cover versions, Bob Dylan’s ‘Down in the Flood’ and Brenda Lee’s ‘Lets Jump the Broomstick’.

The first songs recorded were the traditional ‘Blackwaterside’ and ‘Let’s Jump the Broomstick’ in March 1971 at Sound Techniques. Sessions continued the following month until the end of May at Island studios, where the album was completed with the cutting of the title track. A number of other songs were attempted and discarded during the course of the sessions including ‘Honky Tonk Women’, ‘Walking the Floor over You’ and the traditional ‘Lord Bateman’. (‘Walking the Floor over You’ was re-recorded during the Like an Old Fashioned Waltz album sessions, and the demo of ‘Lord Bateman’ was released on the Sandy Denny Boxset.)

Sessions had begun for the album with Andy Johns at the helm, but in the end the album was produced by Denny herself, current bandmate Richard Thompson and John Wood. It was John Wood who recommended the film-score arranger Harry Robinson to Denny, and he was brought in to add strings to ‘Next Time Around’ and ‘Wretched Wilbur’; Robinson would also go on to add string arrangements to Denny’s remaining solo albums.

Artists: Sandy Denny
Released:November 1986 (UK)
Recorded:1971
Recorded at: Island Studios London
Sound Techniques London

Length:39:41
Label: Island Records Ltd
Producers: John Wood
Richard Thompson
Sandy Denny

Arranger: Sandy Denny
String Arrangement: Harry Robinson
Engineer: John Wood
Artwork: Keef

All songs written by Sandy Denny except where noted.
Side A

  1. Late November – 4:28
  2. Blackwaterside (Traditional) – 4:07
  3. The Sea Captain – 3:09
  4. Down in the Flood (Bob Dylan) – 3:20
  5. John the Gun – 4:38

Side B

  1. Next Time Around – 4:26
  2. The Optimist – 3:24
  3. Let’s Jump the Broomstick (Charles Robins) – 2:42
  4. Wretched Wilbur – 2:38
  5. The North Star Grassman and the Ravens – 3:27
  6. Crazy Lady Blues – 3:22

Barry Dransfield: backing vocals, violin
Buddy Emmons: pedal steel guitar
Gerry Conway: drums
Ian Whiteman: piano, flute organ
Jerry Donahue: electric guitar
Pat Donaldson: bass
Richard Thompson: accordion, electric guitar, bass, vocals, acoustic guitar, 12-string
Robin Dransfield: backing vocals
Roger Powell: drums
Royston Wood: backing vocals
Sandy Denny: vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
Tony Reeves: bass
Trevor Lucas: acoustic guitar, backing vocals