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4.9 out of 5 stars
10
Moonshine
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 16 October 2017
This was the irreplaceable Bert Jansch's seventh LP, recorded in 1972 and released in '73. It followed the gentler Rosemary Lane, and is as hauntingly compelling in its own way as that masterpiece.
Produced by bassist {and fellow Pentangler} Danny Thompson, with Bert's voice very much to the fore, it has several often unexpected guest musicians, not least Mingus alumnus Dannie Richmond on drums on a lovely version of the traditional song Rambleaway ~ a song that could have been written for/by Jansch.
Other guests include Tony Visconti on bass and recorder, and his then-wife and hit songstrel Mary Hopkin, whose always musical voice is heard on The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, a song Jansch had earlier played as a brisk instrumental. Here the two voices interweave to hypnotic effect.
Veteran Scottish fiddler Aly Bain and Fairport's marvellous drummer Dave Mattacks also contribute to some of the tracks, as does Gary Boyle, heard to good effect on electric guitar, particularly on the closing track. Even Ralph McTell plays harmonica on another original, Brought With the Rain.
One of the loveliest songs is Bert's own title track, with classical clarinettist Thea King joining a small band on one of his most subtly satisfying songs. And what a very fine songwriter he was, right from the beginning to his sad death in 2011.
Another Jansch composition, Oh My Father, closes this wonderful set of nine songs. Another highlight is Dave Goulder's The January Man which Colin Harper's characteristically excellent booklet notes tell us was a song which Bert considered to be 'one of the best ever written'.
I have nicely the presented 2001 CD reissue on Sanctuary, but whichever edition you have, you can be sure this is vintage Jansch, which is the same as saying there's nothing else like it. The man was unique, and is much missed.

An essential classic.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 May 2012
This delightful 1973 album is the eighth solo release from Scottish folk guitarist extraordinaire, the sadly late and missed Bert Jansch.

It is a beautiful album, full of brooding, gentle songs that really tug at the heart. Jansch was a master with the guitar, and complex melodies seem to trickle and flow effortlessly from his fingers. All the while his earthy voice hovers just above the music, leading us through tales of love, regret and life.

It's a definite progression from some of his earlier work, with a wider musical palette to draw on and some richer arrangements. The backing is deceptive, it seems spare and restrained, but in reality is a rich mixture of fiddle, harp, flutes and harmonica which provide a gorgeous background texture for Jansch to paint his pictures on.

Its music that just reaches down to the soul and touches you with its beauty.

This 2008 Sanctuary release boasts a good clear remastering, and some interesting liner notes. No extra material from the vaults though, which would have been nice. All in all a decent release for an excellent album. 5 stars.
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on 22 May 2012
Bert Jansch, one of those musicians that I first heard of years ago and never really got around to listening to. If only I had sooner, I would have been more enriched yet at the same time I am glad that I waited as this is a mature persons take on folk music.I first heard the name in connection with a Led Zep track that seems to copy a certain melody that Jansch recorded in the sixties but the similarity between the two end at that point. Jansch is not Dylan, the former being a man of words and chords the latter a musician of effect and mood. Jansch is the mature Donovan, take away the simple melodies and the longing for English song subjects and you are left with Jansch, a scot who hides nothing of his heritage. Much of the music is modal, or at least a theme based on a drone, all enriched with crafted guitar work that goes beyond the vocabulary of most classical guitarists let alone folk players. With Jansch the melodies are haunting and the words secondary, it is the tune that evokes again and again our folk past. This album is without the greatest folk album I have heard, and I have heard a few. I put it past both Donovan and Dylan because it is so absolutely uncompromising and real. Jansch is a musician, not a poet and certainly not a self publicist. He embodies the spirit of folk, from one person to another, one like minded soul to another.
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on 22 May 2015
good
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on 19 August 2014
A real legend. The British Bob Dylan. One of his finest albums. I highly recommend the song RambleAway
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 6 July 2015
Moonshine is a very interesting album in many ways. It is the eighth studio album from Bert Jansch and sounds rather different from his previous albums.
The album was recorded in 1972 but not released until 1973. It was released around the time of the break up of the band Pentangle.
It is an interesting album because it has a wider sound board than previous albums. And yet it still has the quality of songs that you would expect from Jansch as well as his expert playing.
The arrangements are richer than on previous albums. The album has a fusion mix of folk, baroque, electric, acoustic and folk rock.
Joining Bert in the recording is Danny Thompson on bass, Tony Visconti on electric bass and percussion, Gary Boyle on electric guitar, Aly Bain on fiddle, Ralph McTell on Harmonical, Skaila Kanga on Harp, Laurie Allan on drums, Dave Mattacks on drums, Dannie Richmond on drums, Mary Hopkin on vocals.Marilyn Samson on cello, Thea King on Clarinet Richard Adeney and the Les Quatre Flute a Bec Consort on flutes.

As far as the songs go the album begins with Yarrow a Traditional piece. Jansch also arranges another Traditional piece for track two called Brought with the rain. There are two more Traditional pieces that Jansch gives a unique and interesting treatment. Ramble away and Twa Corbies.
There is three songs by Jansch, Night time blues, Oh my father and the title track Moonshine. The album also offers a completely different sound to the Ewan MacColl classic The first time ever I saw your face.
This is a good album all round and there is something new for the Jansch fan here. The CD presentation is very good indeed.
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on 6 July 2014
This is from 1972 and is almost Bert's forgotten album . A sought after collector's item for years , it is heartening to see it available at a bargain price . Every song is beautifully played and sung . The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face shows Brit folk at it's unique eclectic best - in what other genre could you find Aly Bain , Gary Boyle and Dannie Richmond in the back up ? As a one time insomniac I find Night Time Blues the best ever song on this subject . LA Turnaround may be Bert's best ever album but I would not like to try and argue a case against this gem on the merits .
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on 11 March 2001
I learned of Bert Jansch & his song "Angie" (later covered by Paul Simon on Sounds of Silence from a chance friend while working a summer job in D.C. in '69. I encountered this one off the discount shelves in a record joint in Walla Walla, WA in '77, when i had broken my leg & lost my high school sweetheart. "Moonshine" healed me. It was Bert's gentle intricacies and his mournful/soulful singing that spoke to my shattered heart. His songs seemed to stem from the depths of British folk and all of the feeling and resignation that comes from universal dilemmas: loss, longing, alienation and loneliness. Since my cassette of it died long ago & I have yet to hear this reissue, I'm going by memory & recollecting songs like "january man" which seemed so right to hear and again rehear. His guitar work is, as always & of course, sheer mystery. It blends and uplifts the very words and leaves one transfixed by the effect. With "Twa corbies," one can just imagine the encounter on a wind-swept heath on a British ridge--the ragged sleeve of his electrified solo, punctuating the story. One only wishes that Bert would take a state-side tour & show us all what Neil Young reportedly meant by saying that he was the Hendrix of the folk guitar. Awesome, if you already know his vein of deep folk from Pentangle--somewhat of a challenge (but worth it) if you're seeking something genuine. His voice is not easily understood with his throwaway delivery, but it's of a piece w/his style.
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on 14 March 2007
This is one of many of Bert's 'best' albums.. and there are a few of those but every track (almost) is a classic example of his unique treatment of tone and key, and an evocative, dark, brooding style which completely sums up the traditional song in raw human terms. No one else can deal with the pain of love lost, anguish, revenge, and folklore mystery as Bert can.

Having a natural affinity for his invented and almost atonal tunings, and a similarly gravel edged vocal style, I still however struggle to get anywhere near this good.Bert constantly amazes and the tracks here are wonderfully dark, full of mystery myth and adventure.. and he is very much at his mature best here.. a classic album. Bert has an effortless and distinctive guitar style, which many have admired, and in acoustic terms he is unrivalled in this dark traditional genre. He even manages to make something completely different out of the ballad-ish First Time Ever I Saw Your Face treating it to a tuning and timing that only Bert could come up with, reminiscent of his version of Blackwater Side, same as he does on a later album with Heartbreak Hotel !

I've seen Bert perform all these songs and he creates serious magic when he combines a brooding baroque edged voice with a guitar style and chords that are all his own.
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on 15 November 2008
This is a weird , strange and magical release which seems to come from some deep and dark place in Berts soul . Absolutely impossible to get a true handle on this , its been fascinating and beguiling me for ages.
An absolute classic.
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