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4.6 out of 5 stars17
4.6 out of 5 stars
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It is perhaps surprising that I have only recently started listening to Bert Jansch's solo work. I have long been a devotee of Pentangle and John Renbourne, as well as artists such as Dylan, Fairport Convention and the like. But up until now I have never really dipped my toe into the world of Jansch. And now that I have I regret that I have spent so long without this sublime music in my life.

I recently listened to the great `Romsemary Lane', and decided to try this album next based on the highly scientific principle that I love the title and cover art. Anyone who uses one of my favourite Escher drawings as the basis for a cover is bound to get my attention. A Rare Conundrum is a traditionalish folky album, released in 1977 at the end of his tenure with the Charisma label. It is produced by Lindisfarne alumni Rod Clemens, who contributes some bass and guitar. The drummer is Pick Withers, who a year later would shoot to fame as the drummer with Dire Straits. Stylistically it is rooted in folk, but as with so many of the artists of the time Jansch uses a much wider musical palette, introducing elements of jazz, blues and a tinge of rock. There are also large elements of country to be found here with some delicious banjo work. It has moved on quite a way from the bluesier albums of his earlyier career, and the more folky material of the Rosemary Lane years, though it still retains huge elements of both. It shows an artist growing, assimilating new styles, but not changing direction or forgetting his past.

Jansch is lauded as a master technician on the guitar, and he really shows why here. Playing with a depth of skill that is breathtaking, he delivers vivid emotional imagery just with a few plucks of a guitar string. But at the same time he is singing, and the melding of voice and guitar, the balance between the two is just perfect. He delivers ballads and love songs with real grace and clarity.

This is what music should be. It enters the soul and lodges there, driving feelings and emotions and evoking real passion. I just love this record and am looking forward to hearing more from Jansch's back catalogue.
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on 28 January 2011
Where do I start with an album like this, a classic yes, good songs yes, great instrumental playing most definitely and a lovely relaxed feel throughout, these words would sum up the album A Rare Conundrum from Bert Jansch. When I first bought the vinyl version on it's original release in 1977, I was immediately struck by the good production values, which provded good clear sound and separation of all the instruments and vocals found here, this new remasterd CD improves all this and still maintains a warm feel to the music. The musical arrangements are simple and Bert is in fine form, whether he is playing guitar or banjo, as on the song Doctor, Doctor. There is also some lovely violin playing on Daybreak and other songs from Mike Piggott with Rod Clements(ex-Lindisfarne), playing bass, guitar or mandolin,while Ralph Mctell (harmonica) appears on 2 tracks. The subject matter of songs varies from death in 1 to a 100, folk clubs as in Daybreak and 3 Chord Trick, American folk song in Pretty Saro and Doctor, Doctor, Irish folk song in The Curragh of Kildare and Poor Mouth and instrumentals like Instrumentaly Irish and St.Fiacre. This CD also includes 3 bonus tracks, of which 3 Dreamers is a great song, while Bert offers an interesting reggae version of the old Gay Davis blues number Candyman. Throughout this album Bert's playing is fluent and smooth and his vocals are as good as they get, there does seem to a joy about the music that suggests how much he must have enjoyed making it. As for favourite songs, too many really, so my advise is take the album as a whole. If you want to hear Bert Jansch's songs, folk song interpretations or simply his lovely guitar playing at it's best, then this is a really good album to start with.
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on 22 July 2009
Back in the late seventies I had the Danish variation of this album called "Poor Mouth". After I sold my LP's ten years later i expected a reissue on CD, but to no avail. Now after more than 30 years, Bert's Charisma albums are finally being reissued. I could not wait to get hold on "LA Turnaround", an album I sincerely missed. I bought the other two Charisma albums of course, and to my supprise I found "A Rare Conundrum" on par with "LA Turnaround". It is a very stripped down affair and reminds me a lot of Berts albums from the sixties. Rod Clements from Lindisfarne is the producer and he also contributes fine bass playing all over the album. The sound is crisp and Berts voice and playing is relaxed and brilliant. There is no need to select the best tunes, since they're all very good. This was the last masterpiece before the release of "When the Circus Comes To Town" some eighteen years later!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 19 January 2013
Bert sounds unusually happy on this reissue of a 1977 record, his third and last for the Charisma label (which begs the question of why any label would let such a rare find go at all).
These songs are mostly Jansch originals and remind me, in their melodic generosity and variety, of a later and favourite album of mine, When The Circus Comes To Town.
He`s joined on some tracks by bassist Rod Clements, percussionist Pick Withers, Mike Piggott on violin, and even, on the Flann O`Brien-inspired Poor Mouth, folk veteran Ralph McTell on harmonica.
This reissue, in excellent sound, comes with an eight-page booklet, with notes and full track listings.
Bert Jansch shouldn`t be dead, it just doesn`t seem right. That bitter-sweet voice, both world-weary and wry, capable of warmth and humour, and his immaculate guitar playing... Thankfully we now have his life`s work on disc, and it`s a surprise to me to realise just how many albums he made in his career. There`s a lot, and I`m enjoying collecting them. I haven`t been disappointed with any of them either, even his late collaborations with younger talents.
This has three very welcome extra tracks, the first of which is a typically fine, memorable song by Bert called Three Dreamers. There was ever something dreamy and almost ethereal about his voice. Soulful too.
The whole thing ends with a `tropical` version of the trad song Candyman, and very tasty it is.
This is Bert Jansch - unlikely national treasure - at his most open-hearted, in a collection of songs as enjoyable and eclectic as anything he recorded.
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Bert Jansch has always been more of a folk musician even though he has used elements of jazz, blues, country and rock in his recordings. His early albums were more folk blues, and in the seventies the palette did widen.
There were three albums recorded on the charisma label, L.A Turnaround, which is excellent, and Santa Barbara Honeymoon which was one of the poorest of his albums, and finally this albums which is as good as L.A Turnaround but largely overlooked.

It is a shame since this is a great album from 1977 and offers us a more Folk rock sort of album. Everything gets back on track after the mess of Santa Barbara. The songs are by Jansch and they are really good.

The album has guest musicians who contribute greatly to a smashing album indeed.
Rod Clemens on Bass, mandolin guitar and vocals. Ralph McTell on Harmonica and vocals, Mike Piggott on violin, Pick Withers on drums and Bert on vocals and guitars.
There is one Traditional piece Curragh of Kildare but the whole album has a lovely folk feel to it and is definitely one to collect.
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on 11 July 2014
In the early 70s Bert Jansch cut three albums for the Charisma label . LA Turnaround is widely held to be Bert's best album . Santa Barbara Honeymoon is held to be a mess . A Rare Conundrum was ignored . Initially the label let it gather dust for about a year before releasing it on vinyl . One of the many benefits of the birth of the CD is that the record companies , driven by pure greed , began to empty their vaults into the new format . The three Charisma albums are thus available . For this recording Bert formed a band with a rhythm section of Rod Clements and Pick Withers . Mike Piggott played violin . This is an album of no frills well played folk rock . The highlight is a beautiful Irish song of unrequited love called Curragh Of Kildare - the Pogues were later to borrow the haunting melody for White City . It all moves along nicely and is well worth a listen .
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on 21 August 2009
Having had this album on vinyl since the mid seventies i can only say the cd version is superb.A great mix of berts own songs and great arrangements of traditional songs.His versions of pretty saro and the curragh of kildare are highlights of an album packed with highlights.Berts own Daybreak and One to a hundred are as evocative has anything he's ever written.Couple this with some great playing from bert and rod clements et al and you've got a very fine album indeed.Buy it and see why we still rave about him after over forty years of playing
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on 8 December 2011
Absolutely my favourite album from the late and eternally great Bert Jansch. A great selection of songs together with the guitar and banjo virtuosity that made Bert so exceptional. Buy it!
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on 29 January 2013
Everything that has characterised Bert's muse is best represented here. Gentle songs of love and hope, pride and place accompanied by stunningly understated guitar and ensemble playing form a stellar cohort of familiar folk.
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on 14 April 2014
Too perfect for words !
One of Bert's best. A very sad day when he passed away.
Would recommend to anyone who enjoys music.
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