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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to watch a master craftsman absorbed in his work, 19 Feb 2007
Nelkin (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: John Renbourn: Rare Performances 1965-1995 DVD (DVD)
Highly enjoyable archive footage of one of Britain's best acoustic guitarists from the last 40-odd years, following his career from his early pre-Pentangle days through to the mid-nineties. There are some real gems in this package. Highlights, for me, are:

* a 1965 home video of Renbourn rehearsing with flatmate Bert Jansch, playing what sounds like an early version of 'Bells' (which later featured on The Pentangle's first album);

* a wonderful 1974 solo performance of something called 'Blues In A';

* reunited with Jacqui McShee in the late '70s, performing as the John Renbourn Group a traditional ballad called 'The Fair Flower of Northumberland';

* duetting in 1982 with Stefan Grossman on the jazz standard 'Round Midnight'.

About half of the material features Renbourn in group / duo settings with The Pentangle, the John Renbourn Group, and Stefan Grossman. Generally, he seems happy wherever possible to let his music do the talking and leave the limelight to others. It's probably fair to say that he's a musician first and a performer a distinct second. There isn't a lot of visual diversion in the solo performances, other than the chance to study those finger movements close-up.

There is, though, with the early Pentangle footage, the amusing little game of trying to guess which drunk -- Renbourn or Jansch -- is most likely to fall off their stool. They both look about ready to go.

My one gripe is that Renbourn's folk-blues repertoire is a little over-represented, at the expense of his ventures into Early Music. There is only one performance, for example, of material from The Black Balloon, which is surely his masterpiece -- a brief 1977 run-through of 'The English Dance'. I imagine, though, that there probably isn't a massive amount of alternative footage they could have used.

You also get a nice little bonus, in the form of a 60-page PDF 'booklet', featuring potted biography, photographs, and music scores and tabs for some of the songs on the DVD. So you really can try this at home.
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John Renbourn: Rare Performances 1965-1995 DVD
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