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Sandy Denny: Gold Dust: Live at the Royalty

Sandy Denny: Gold Dust: Live at the Royalty (Island IMCD 252)

Gold Dust: Live at the Royalty
Sandy Denny

Island IMCD 252 / 524 493-2 (CD, UK, June 1998)

This CD is a recording of Sandy's last concert at the Royalty Theatre on Sunday November 27, 1977.

Review

Musicians

This is the biggest band that Sandy ever fronted, consisting of
Dave Mattacks: drums;
Pat Donaldson: bass and backing vocals;
Trevor Lucas: acoustic guitar and backing vocals;
Phil Palmer and Rob Hendry: lead guitars;
Pete Willsher: pedal steel;
and Sandy herself on piano and acoustic guitar.

Due to technical problems on the guitar and backing vocals tracks, most of the guitars (except for track 13) were rerecorded by Jerry Donahue and backing vocals were sung by Simon Nicol and Chris Leslie.

Tracks

  1. For Shame of Doing Wrong (4.32)
  2. Stranger to Himself (3.45)
  3. I'm a Dreamer (4.53)
  4. Take Me Away (4.42)
  5. Nothing More (4.15)
  6. The Sea (5.10)
  7. The Lady (3.45)
  8. Gold Dust (3.53)
  9. Solo (4.46)
  10. John the Gun (4.47)
  11. It'll Take a Long Time (4.59)
  12. Wretched Wilbur (2.59)
  13. Tomorrow Is a Long Time (3.57)
  14. The North Star Grassman and the Ravens (3.46)
  15. One More Chance (8.21)
  16. No More Sad Refrains (2.27)
  17. Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (6.38)

All tracks Sandy Denny except
Track 1 Richard Thompson
Track 13 Bob Dylan

Some of these tracks are available in their original form—without overdubs—on The Attic Tracks Vol. 3, The Attic Tracks CD and on the Who Knows Where the Time Goes? boxed set.

You'll find the story behind the making of the Gold Dust album on Karl Dallas' Gold Dust review

Brent W Burhans (<bwburhans@earthlink.net>) added valuable information about the various releases of the Royalty Theatre concert (reproduced with permission):

There have been three releases of SD's last concert:

The first two releases had no overdubs.

  • Gold Dust - Live at the Royalty, the latest, and most complete version, with 17 tracks. So far as I know, this is the complete concert.

The sound quality of Gold Dust is certainly superior to the earlier releases, which is hardly a surprise. I would say that the overall sound and “feel” of the concert is not substantially affected by the overdubs, yet I'm still not convinced that they were necessary.

I mostly compared the tape version to the official CD release, and found many places where Jerry D's guitar is recorded over a perfectly fine original guitar track. The overdubbed guitar parts tend to be recorded at a much higher level than the original tracks, so maybe the “technical problems on the guitar tracks” were that they were recorded too low in the mix. Yet, there are places on the original cassette where the steel guitar is buried in the mix, but mixed right up front on the CD, so if the steel guitar track could be “fixed”, I wonder why the other guitar tracks couldn't be, as well.

However, I'm no audio engineer, and don't know the technical details of the condition of the tapes, so I can only speculate on these matters. None-the-less, my hunch is that the decision to overdub the guitar parts was made as much for artistic reasons, as strictly technical ones.

Having listened again to the original tape release of the concert, I was a little surprised to discover how good the sound was, compared to the official CD. It confirmed, or reinforced, my “purist” preference to have had a “warts-and-all” release, without the overdubs. Any loss in sound quality would have, for me, been made up for by having the true original concert recording. Having said that, I will repeat that I think that the “feel” of the performance has survived the “improvements”, and-obviously-having the complete concert in it's current form is infinitely preferable to not having it at all.

Besides being able to compare the original with the over-dubbed version, another advantage to having either the tape and/or the bootleg is that more of the between-song chat is included. The tape has the added attraction of 14 early home demos and radio sessions, while the bootleg has the four SD vocal tracks from the Swedish Fly Girls soundtrack.

One last point. For those interested, the actual sequence of the concert can be heard by programming your Gold Dust CD thusly: 9, 14, 5, 8, 3, 10, 6, 11, 13, 7, 12, 1, 2, 4, 15, 17, 16. This information was kindly provided me by John Penhallow, after I had compared the original cassette, the bootleg CD, the official CD and Clinton Heylin's “Sad Refrains: The Recordings of Sandy Denny 1966-1977”; and written John asking for the “proper” order of the songs.
- Brent W Burhans

So, according to Brent's notes, the songs were in this order:

  1. Solo
  2. The North Star Grassman
  3. Nothing More
  4. Gold Dust
  5. I'm a Dreamer
  6. John the Gun
  7. The Sea
  8. It'll Take a Long Time
  9. Tomorrow Is a Long Time
  10. The Lady
  11. Wretched Wilbur
  12. For Shame of Doing Wrong
  13. Stranger to Himself
  14. Take Me Away
  15. One More Chance
  16. Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
  17. No More Sad Refrains