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L.A. Turnaround: Bert Jansch - an album as fresh as a sweet Sunday morning
on 8 May 2012
It comes as an amazement to me that I haven't got into the music of Bert Jansch until recently. I am a huge fan of the folk rock movement (from both sides of the Atlantic) of the late sixties from which he emerged promethean like, I really should have heard his solo music sooner. I really regret not having the chance to see him performing live. His skill with guitar and the beautiful music he made put him head and shoulders above the likes of Dylan, Paul Simon or Fairport Convention.
Anyway, enough rambling, down to the album in hand. This is the 2009 Virgin reissue of a 1974 album recorded for the `Famous Charisma Label' (to quote the label on the disc). It was his ninth solo album, and released in the year following the break up of Pentangle. Produced by ex-Monkee Mike Nesmith, it sounds like a very personal album, somewhat removed from the material he was making a year previously with Renbourne, McShee and co in Pentangle.
It is, to put it simply, beautiful. Melodies and tunes ripple and flow from Jansch's guitar like water in a stream. You get washed along in the eddies and currents of the music, and as soon as the CD ends you feel washed up on the shore and have no option but to press play again and dive right back in.
Rooted in British folk, there is a flavour of West Coast Americana in this album, introduced no doubt by Nesmith, who as well as producing also play on a few tracks. There are distinctly Hippie flower power overtones and rhythms, along with some Country stylings. These are blended by Jansch with consummate ease to make a record of gentle beauty. It's gentle, with a slight jaunty air, and perfect music for relaxing to.
Jansch wasn't the greatest of singers, but always seems to have chosen or written material suited to his voice. Here we have classics such as `Open Up The Watergate' and `Needle of Death', two contrasting pieces of very different tone but both delivered with an expressive vocal that conveys the meaning clearly.
This 2009 reissue is a decent affair. The original album is presented along with 4 bonus tracks in a nice and clear remastered sound that just springs out of my speakers full of life and colour. There is a short film (playable on PC) filmed at the time of recording, and shows 5 of the tracks featured on the album. There are liner notes discussing the genesis and recording of the album and full lyrics.
It's an excellent release of a simply beautiful album. 5 stars.