12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A superb album - brilliant and haunting,
This review is from: When The Circus Comes To Town (Audio CD)
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.