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Customer Review

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intricate and inspired jazz/rock/pop-flavoured folk., 16 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Light Flight - The Anthology (Audio CD)
I've been listening to folk-rock contempories of Pentangle for many years, the Trees being my favourite group of that scene, but I always steered clear of Pentangle because I was suspicious of the mixture of jazz with folk (jazz has always been somewhat on the peripheries of my musical tastes at best). I'd heard some of Bert Jansch's solo work and not really gotten into it, I had been more taken by my introduction to John Renbourn via The Nine Maidens, but wasn't in a hurry to hunt down more, and would have probably left it at that, had I not heard Pentangle's "Helping Hand" from Reflection, on a very nice acid-folk sampler. All of a sudden I had to hear more, and decided that this collection would be the ideal starting point.

Well, it turns out I'd been missing something very special and distinctive all these years. Pentangle were five alchemists, inventive, ground-breaking and talented. Certain songs on this set completely captivate me each time I hear them, and I discover something new with each listen. The precise and complex clatter and patter of the percussion is ingenius and sensitive to the nuances of the material, the intricate interplay of the two guitars is a real delight, the underpinning bass likewise, and there's some very fine singing.

Looking through the credits I see that most of the standout tracks for me are ones written by the group, "Light Flight", for instance, is an example of a song where I sit back as it closes and think I've just heard something that is completely flawless, a catchy, jazzy and clever piece of pop, full of invention. Other highlights include the gorgeous "Sweet Child", "I've Got A Feeling" and "Pentangling". A few years ago the more wayward jazzy tangents on say "Pentangling" or "Waltz" would have been a distinct turn-off, but now I'm all ears! Of the traditional songs, my two favourites are "Let No Man Steal Your Thyme" and "Sovay" (which make for nice contrasting versions to Shelagh McDonald's and Martin Carthy's respective versions that I'm already familiar with). I find their renditions of the American folk songs to be less compelling than the British ones in general and am guilty of passing them by sometimes, though when I do listen to them there is much to like just in the intricate playing.

On a few particular songs I find I get completely wrapped up in the elegance on display, the crisp sound and jewel-like quality, as if they contain some extra ingredient lacking in most music. I find myself wishing I was there to witness their performance that became the first half of Sweet Child, though it happened before I was born. This anthology makes for a very satisfying introduction to Pentangle for me, I think it would have benefited from two or three selections from the final album of their classic era, Solomon's Seal, to make for a more complete document, but all the more reason for me to go and get me a copy of it too sometime!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jan 2010, 16:39:19 GMT
Mr. Mungo says:
I saw them live at The Lyceum on their reunion tour in 2008 and they're still captivating!
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