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When The Circus Comes To Town
Format: Audio CDChange
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2005
Although I was familiar with the name Bert Jansch, I had not listened to any of his material until I was invited to a live performance in the North East of England several years ago. I went expecting a pleasant and relaxing evening, and certainly nothing special. I was, thankfully, wrong.
Bert Jansch is a wonderful performer - his guitar style was revolutionary in the 1960's and still feels fresh and exciting today. His fluent, rolling style combines some superb licks with a brilliant sense of phrasing and a unique approach to melody. His style has made him an inspiration to three generations of guitarists, including Jimmy Page and Neil Young, and more recently Johnny Marr and Liam Gallagher. His vocals are passionate, dark and intimate, and his voice is better described as beautiful than pretty.
This album combines a number of solo pieces, where Bert simply sings and accompanies himself, with sevral pieces arranged for a larger group, including drums, bass and backing vocals. The solo pieces are superb almost wihout exception - "Open Road", "No One Around" and "Born with the Blues" are the standout tracks for me, honest and emotional music that gets straight to the point, and filled with the musical invention that makes Bert Jansch so distinctive and important.
The group numbers are a bit more a mixed bag in my opinion. The title track is a brilliant upbeat blues with tremendously evocative lyrics, and the band swings nicely. "Just a Dream" is also excellent, featuring perfect backing vocals and some beautiful fiddle from Mike Piggott. "Step Back" has an easy country vibe, with sparkling acoustic guitar, violin and slide guitar layered to great effect, and the lyrics are a lament for the state of the modern world. Some of the other group numbers seem too pretty and over-produced, particularly "Back Home" and "Summer Heat" although the latter features some excellent soprano sax from Mark Ramsden. That said, there is nothing really wrong with them, but they seem somehow a bit pointless, since no group can ever accompany Bert Jansch as well as he can accompany himself.
Overall this is a fantastic album, packed full of songs that will stay with you for a long time, powerful and haunting and yet easy to take. Despite the one or two average tracks, there is enough classic material here for two or three 5-star albums, and I can recommend this to anyone who likes blues, british or american folk music or just great guitar.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 2 March 2011
Bert Jansch has one of the sleepiest, slurriest, most melancholy voices in all music. He could sing Bring Me Sunshine and find the shadows in it, or a hymn of praise and still sound more like Doubting Thomas. He makes Randy Newman or Nick Drake sound like bushy-tailed optimists.
I love Bert Jansch`s voice.
I can`t claim to have heard all BJ`s albums, though I know quite a few, but to my mind this is, excepting one or two of his very early efforts, his best work. Each and every song registers, stays with you after only one or two hearings, and sounds like an old friend from then on. I`ve always had the feeling, since I bought it in `95 on its release, that BJ put his whole heart into this collection of songs.
I can`t pick favourite tracks, they`re all great songs. Bert has always allowed the music, and that laconic, after hours voice, to do the talking, which they do here with style, wit and a stream of melody almost embarrassing in its richness.
Oh, and boy, can he play the guitar!
If you`re looking for an unassuming, wholly likeable, musically inventive, lyrically strong set of delightful folk-tinged songs - let me assure you, the circus has very definitely come to town.
I`ve been playing (as well as reviewing) this at around the same time as Paul McCartney`s glorious album, also from the mid-70s, Flaming Pie. They have more in common than you might think. Two guys obviously mightily inspired giving their all melodically, lyrically, vocally.
And Neil Young loves him too. What are you waiting for?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
You would think that after a long career of recording many albums as solo artist and in a group that by his nineteenth album When the Circus came to town, Bert Jansch would be a bit stale in his output.
Far from it. This new album recorded in 1995 is as good as ever with some great new songs.
This is a great album and definitely one to get. There is the familiar Folk Rock and blues sound but the songs are new and some of the best of his career.
Tracks like Lady Doctor form Ashington, Walk quietly by and no one around, show that Jansch is still a good story teller.

Helping out on the album is Colin Gibson on bass, Liam Genockey (Steeleye Span) drums, Mike Piggott on violin, Mark Ramsden on soprano saxophone, Bobby Barton on slide Guitar, Tony Hinningan on strings and Maggie Boyle on backing vocals.

This is a strong album of meloncholy blues like folk songs with a great arrangement on all tracks.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 19 March 2001
This was a birthday present from my brother and a particlarly fine one. The album swings along with strong melodies that have their roots in english folk and american blues. The majority of the album is mellow and melancholy with a few enjoyably stark, upbeat tracks. The general feelings inspired? Well it's like windy country days in fields of barley - spent alone with your thoughts. Wholesome. Beautiful. Rough at the edges. You get a real sese of wide open space with this album.
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on 16 July 2014
Recorded in 1995 with a band including violinist Mike Piggott . Songs are good but nothing is outstanding - The Lady Doctor From Ashington is an instrumental dedicated to the medic who saved his life upon the operating table . Jansch virgins should go for Moonshine or Jack Orion or LA Turnaround or Birthday Blues or Rosemary Lane . Whatever you do , avoid the beastly Nicola like the plague .
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on 12 June 2015
Excellent
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on 15 July 2014
great
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