on 19 August 2001
I confess my bias: Pentangle struck right into my DNA and blew it open like no other music when their first album reached my 14-year old ears in 1967. I could never quite decide whether "1st" or "Sweet child" was the greatest, but had to concede that they gradually lost freshness, vitality and uniqueness on later albums before their phase petered out. This reissue solves my dilemma: The greatest songs and instrumentals from "1st", witness "Let no man steal your thyme", "Bells" and "Waltz", are all included in generous bonus sections, as live versions with even more looseness and drive than on the studio versions. Much has been written about the Renbourn-Jansch interplay. I will not add to it, suffice it to say that 35 years on it sounds fresher than ever, each note leaving the eager anticipation - what comes next? Jacqui McShee was at this point more an instrument than a voice, to incomparable effect, before she later mysteriously changed into an average folksinger, losing the strange objectivity her voice carries on these early tracks.This concert makes it clear that their rhythm section played a both larger and more important part in the group than they are often given credit for. Danny Thompson is a giant in his own right, but these tracks also bring Terry Cox`s melodic and creative drive to the fore, bringing forth the question of whether his relegation to ordinary backing folk-rock drummer may have been one factor in the strain of listlessness that crept into their playing on later albums. No one can accuse the material presented here of listlessness: A quiet intensity simmers and shimmers around and above the whole presentation, leaving each new musical turn meaningful. Folk, blues, jazz, early classical - a radical amalgam of styles and influences that never feels contrived, overacademic or unnatural. This music shines like an unpolished precious stone, and I can only kick myself at not having been present at the 1968 concert that most of the pieces are taken from. I understand that amazon.com does not offer 6 stars, but why not a rosette for records of special merit, like "Penguin guide to classical music". In the present inflation of 5-star reviews on the website, I am aching to give my first rosette after many reviews - to this record.
on 6 April 2007
This could be Pentangle's best album - 'Basket of Light' is the only other contender, but this one has much more material on it.
The first disc was recorded live in 1968 and the second is from the studio. The live show is great, with a mix of folk standards, originals and instrumentals showing great dexterity and skill from all involved. Bert Jansch and John Renbourn's version of Mingus' 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat' is a standout instrumental tune - very relaxing and melodic. The studio set is a strong album in its own right, with highlights (for me) being the guitar duel of 'In Time', the morality tale 'Sovay' and the grooving 'I've Got A Feeling', which borrows the chord sequence from Miles Davis' 'All Blues'.
This expanded edition is a treat, fleshing out the concert to give what I believe is the complete show (minus tune-ups) plus a few alternate versions of the studio songs.
All in all, a monster package that should delight fans of the group as well as fans of acoustic music in general.
It was 1968, and the group Pentangle had already had massive success with their debut album The Pentangle earlier in the year. It had been a busy time for all the members of the group both on their individual projects or collectively as a group and that was to continue as they recorded this second album for release at the end of the year.
Sweet Child is quite frankly an outstanding release. It was a double album. The first disc contained a live concert recorded at London’s festival Hall back in June. This was welcome since it also contained new songs by the group.
The album begins with the brilliant Market Song written by all the group members collectively. This is followed by the Traditional tune No more my lord. There is a cover of the Lewis song Turn your money green and then a cover of Haitian Fight Song by Mingus. After a new live version of the Jansch song A woman like you we get another live version of another song by Mingus, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. A piece that John and Bert had recorded before as a duo. Track seven is brilliant. It echoes the material visited on John’s album Sir John Alot from earlier in the year. We get a medley of three tunes. The first is by composer C Gervaise, the second is Traditional and the third is by Byrd with the Earl of Salisbury.
We then get two traditional pieces that have outstanding arrangements. These are Watch the stars and So Early in Spring with McShee singing in a beautiful A cappella part. We finish the original first disc with a new version of No exit by Jansch and Renbourn, The time has come by Anne Briggs and a live version of Bruton Town.
The CD version continues with some extra tracks which is just excellent since it continues the rest of the concert that could not fit onto the original vinyl record.
Next track is Hear my Call, a live version of the song they recorded on the debut album The Pentangle. This is followed by a live version of Let no man steal your Thyme. This also had appeared on the studio debut album. The same goes for the next track Bells. There is a new live version of Travelling song by Jansch, Renbourn and McShee. Then two more songs given the live treatment that first appeared on the debut album, Waltz and way behind the Sun. Finally we get a live version of the John Donne Song by Renbourn. This is words by Elizabethan poet John Donne set to a tune by John.
As live albums go this is an exceptionally good one. The CD sound is excellent and this Re master is better than ever.
The second disc is the Studio album. We begin with the group created title songs Sweet Child.and I Ioved A Lass.
After a great song by Jansch and Renbourn we get a really good version of the Traditional song Sovay.
Other highlights on this album are I’ve got a feeling, a song by the group to a melody by Miles Davis. And there is a new vocal version of The trees they do grow high, a piece that featured in the instrumental album Sir John Alot by John Renbourn released the same year.
There are some interesting bonus tracks added to the CD version here and the whole studio album is an excellent follow up to the debut album.
Together the Live and Studio discs make a great release from the group Pentangle. The Picture art work on the front cover came from Peter Blake better known for his design of The Beatles Sgt Pepper Album cover.
Also there was art work for each of the songs provided by Bert’s wife Heather who was an artist.
This is definitely a must have release for any fan of Pentangle, Bert Jansch or John Renbourn.
on 26 April 2015
When I first heard this in the late 70s after the demise of Pentangle I much preferred the later albums Basket of Light and Solomon's Seal. Following John Renbourn's death I've listened to quite a few of his solo, duet and group recordings and decided I should re-appraise Sweet Child as the Pentangle's best reviewed album. I'm glad I did, and all I can think is that when I heard it before I wasn't ready for the diverse influences of jazz (Mingus and Miles in particular), blues, gospel and early music on an album filed as 'folk': the clarity of the remastered sound also helps.
The first disc is live, complete with spoken introductions and enthusiastic applause, which never get in the way of the music. The seven live bonus tracks from the same London concert result in a well filled disc which gives a real concert feel, and includes live versions of some standout tracks from their debut LP. The second Disc is studio recordings and the bonus tracks are alternate versions of four tracks already heard (interesting and enjoyable but not essential listening). Throughout there is music making of the highest order whether it's the full band or solo or duo items: Danny's solo bass on Haitian Fight Song, Terry's drum and vocal solo Moondog, Jacqui's unaccompanied So Early in the Spring all show Pentangle were not just about Bert and John's guitars. There's not a bad track on either CD and it's impossible to suggest anything as highlights . Although their other LPs had a handful of standout songs like Light Flight and Franklin, Sweet Child is a better introduction to their music than any compilation.
on 2 December 2015
I've just given a live album from another band a so so review, saying it doesn't compere to the Whos' Live at Leeds.
This doesn't compere either, but then again it shouldn't.
The live side of Sweet Child is amazing.
This is probably my favourite Pentangle album and, as such, I'm not going to say anything except buy it.
on 17 April 2012
I became interested in The Pentangle after hearing one their songs played on Radio 2's `Sounds of the Sixties'. I checked out their albums on the Amazon site and decided on this one. It is a gem! The Live CD actually improves on the original vinyl release as it has much more of the concert. I love folk/jazz sounds and wonder if this sound influenced the likes of Jefferson Airplane and Later Joni Mitchell recordings
This 2008 release is a beefed-up 40th anniversary offering of Penangle's November 1968 album, which featured a lot of live-on-stage material from the Royal Festival Hall concert on 29th June, mixed with studio recordings.
The sound quality on the RFH material is fresh and surprisingly crisp, especially the acoustic guitars and vocals.
Pentangle combined trad folk with blues (particularly evident here on `Woman like you' and `Goodbye Pork Pie Hat') and jazz, with Renbourn's classical interests audible throughout the repertoire. It's a rare combination never really replicated by any other band in quite this way, and they pull off the trick with style. Jacqi MacShee proves she can deliver perfect pitch, unaccompanied, in front of a live audience and set your spine a-tingle.
This is a nice, fresh-sounding album with some short, delicate numbers to balance out the jazz-rock groove which this band were so consistently good at. Check it out.
on 25 April 2010
Complex. Simple. Pure. Breathtaking and deeply satisfying. Surely one of the best, if not the best, example of a live recording by the very best acoustic musicians combining together. Ego-free, balanced, crafted with enormous skill. Listening to it is like basking in sunshine on a summer's day. The emotional power and clarity of Jacqui McShee's voice is stunning.
on 15 May 2009
I have known this album since I was a child, but have only just replaced it with the CD. The running order is the same with a number of bonus tracks (either live tracks omitted from the 'live' LP, and alternative takes from the 'studio' LP.)
The album shows an extraordinarily gifted set of five individuals coming together to form a group that managed - against the odds - to be even greater than the sum of the parts. Not true of all 'supergroups'.
Sweet Child looks both forwards and backwards, with experimental pieces nearing jazz, and traditional folk tunes. Also thrown in are bluesy numbers, solos for all members of the band (more promising that it sounds!) and even a chance for Renbourn to give his early music readings an outing.
The span of music represented here is matched by the versatility and imagination of the band, using their virtuosic gifts to the full.
The bonus tracks include a couple of absolute gems, so it was well worthwhile me upgrading from my old worn LP double set. Although just rediscovering this wonderful album again was more than reason enough for the purchase!
on 11 January 2013
Two albums in one - live plus studio. The live album has a more instrumental focus, and is perhaps more laid back. Pentangle's music is generally apparently simple on the surface and gentle on the ear, but underneath there's plenty going on to satisfy the music lover with big appetites. Although there are many highlights on both albums, the "Sweet Child" album title was the most appropriate as this track is simply stunning - a beautifully-worked composition of male and female vocal both playing against and reinforcing each other. Absolute genius!