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So Early In The Spring
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2009
The late 1970s was when digital recording started to move into the rock and folk idiom with artists such as Ry Cooder ("Bop Till You Drop"), Jim Pembroke ("Party Upstairs") and also this, a 1979 recording made in Japan with John Renbourn. Since in those days you couldn't edit or mix digital recordings, everything had to be done very much "live" in the studio. With regard to sound quality it is commonly agreed that digital has come a long way since then, but I really don't think this recording - nor the others mentioned in the above - are any less perfect than what we get from digital recordings today. It seems that the improvements have mainly been in mass production and domestic equipment.

It is a great shame that this album was initially only available in Japan (on vinyl), but at least it's now out in the rest of the world, too. It really is a fantastic disc. John Renbourn has always been well worth listening to, but the 1970s in particular was the time he made a series of truly amazing studio albums. It was also a time during which he gradually sang less and less on his studio recordings, but he still performed many songs at his shows, and since this is very much a "live" in the studio presentation of stage material there is fair amount of vocals on it. He is not the greatest singer in the world, but if you listen to the voice not in isolation but as an integrated part of the whole thing it makes an awful lot of sense. There are many moments on the CD that make your hair stand on end and give goose pimples. It is modern music deeply rooted in several traditions, quite outstanding, always perfectly melted together. If I have any critisism it is that Renbourn occasionally stumbles through the material at such a breakneck pace it doesn't have time to shine with all its indisputable beauty as much as it could. I would also have loved to hear more of the material from his masterpiece "The Hermit". But these are only minor personal issues compared to the fact that this is a set of very moving and superbly accomplishes performances by possibly the greatest composer for the acoustic guitar in our time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2009
This album was released in 1979, and in Japan only. To my knowledge it is the first studio recording of "Lindsay" by JR, a song that has become an all favorite live tune. It is a mix of familiar folk and renaissance music. As you can imagin, this was very hard to find on vinyl. A must have for all you people who's into British folk and great guitar playing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The second half of the 1970s was a very busy and prolific period for John Renbourn, He had recorded a solo album The Hermit, recorded some pieces for TV and film, recorded an album with friends as the John Renbourn group and the album A maid in Beldam, teamed up and recorded an album with Stefan Grossman as well as performing in concert.

This next offering from 1979 saw John pop into the Nippon Studios in Tokyo to record some of his current repertoire. The album was recorded in two days with live session.
It is a great album and at one time was only available in Japan. Thankfully this CD version is brilliant and a great addition to the John Renbourn collection of albums.

Track one is a Traditional piece from Scotland, So early in spring. Track two is a great song by Archie Fisher. Lindsey is a wonderful song of the fiddler on the road. Track three is The mist covered mountain of home/The orphan. Both of these pieces would be re recorded on the album Black Balloon.
The next track is To Glastonbury. This is a piece by John. He had recorded it once before back in 1973 for a planned album that got shelved. This album sees its true debut. That original recording from 1973 would later appear on the album Lost Sessions in the 1990s.
The next track English Dance is Traditional and would be re recorded for the album Black Balloon.
Track six, The bank of sweet primroses is a Traditional piece from the south west of England and learned from the Copper Family and then track seven is a cover of the Jackson C Frank song Blues run the game. This had been recorded by John before and was a popular folk standard of many performers. Track eight is called Great dreams from heaven and is a piece learned by John from Joseph Spence.
The next track, Peacock Rag is an American Traditional song. Then the track If you haven’t any hay was made popular by Country Blues musician John James and a firm favourite of John Renbourn.
After another Traditional piece with The young man that wouldn’t hoe corn, we get a cover of the Bob Dylan song Bucket of Rain.

This CD version of the album is just brilliant and should be in any collection of John Renbourn albums.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This 1979 album, John Renbourns eleventh solo release, is a great follow up to his previous two releases, the classics `Hermit' and `Black Balloon'. Something pretty amazing was needed to follow up those two albums, and something special was what he produced.

It's an album firmly rooted in the traditions of English folk and baroque music, with a few other influences thrown in as Renbourn delights us with suites of stately and meaningful music that stir the soul. It's a pure delight to listen to, 5 stars.
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