Friday, May 1, 2009


I’ve posted before about my affection for the British “folk/rock” movement from back in wayback time, when I was a laddie, ca. late 60s and 70s. I listened to them all: Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band, Pentangle. In the end (or "the final analysis" or "when all is said and done"), I think my favorite is Pentangle. Perhaps that’s a guitar player’s bias-- focusing on the brilliance of John Renbourne and Bert Jansch. But as I listen again now, I’m amazed at Danny Thompson’s virtuosity on the bass and Jacqui McShee’s crystalline voice, and the musicality of them as a group.

I like this first video because ... well because they are just so cool the coolest little chamber ensemble ever. (The audience on the sidelines look like they're just high and groovin' on the vibe). I love seeing folks sing duets (think Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, or George Jones and Tammy Wynette) -- there's a connection that comes through the eye contact and the intimate listening that's required. I see it here between Bert Jansch and Jacqui McShee. The whole band feels like they are closely listening to each other. Look for the sweet instrumental break at 1:30 (John Renbourne on guitar). Did I mention that the drumming is simply perfect?

Next is one I remember well: "Wedding Dress." Again, they feel like a chamber ensemble. The drumming is not flashy, but absolutely perfect. And listen to what Danny Thompson’s doing with the bowed bass at 1:43. Beautiful!

I'll close with an instrumental piece from 1971, "In Time," in which Pentangle borders on cigarette enwreathed jazziness. Look for Danny Thompson’s bass break at 1:00 and then again at the close around 3:30.

If I'm sounding over-exhuberant here, it's because it's Friday night.


Mead said...

Yes! Pentangle was musically impeccable, and in addition I was often impressed with the scholarship behind their musical choices. I remember being stunned to hear their version of "The Lyke Wake Dirge" -- a timeless culling song -- with its late medieval, Christianized lyrics.

MightyToyCannon said...

Thank you for bringing "Lyke Wake Dirge" to mind. Perfectly lovely -- stunning as you say. So good that I've devoted a new post about that tune.