The Al­bums

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff - Max Bell

Even men­tion­ing the names Terry Cox, Bert Jan­sch, John Ren­bourn, Danny Thomp­son and Jac­qui McShee is enough to send peo­ple of a cer­tain vin­tage into rap­tures. If they get their hands on this seven-CD col­lec­tion of Pen­tan­gle’s first six al­bums

(The Pen­tan­gle/Sweet Child/ Bas­ket Of Light/Cruel Sis­ter/ Re­flec­tion/Solomon’s Seal), the es­sen­tial ones, with lav­ish ex­tras and fab­u­lous notes, joy will be un­con­fined.

The com­bi­na­tion of Bert and John’s mer­cu­rial acous­tic gui­tars, that flaw­less rhythm sec­tion and McShee’s heav­enly vo­cals is one thing but the qual­ity of the songs is the key. The shim­mer­ing Light Flight, the tra­di­tional murder bal­lad Bru­ton Town, the sheer Bri­tish mis­ery of The Snows are mere ex­am­ples of where Pen­tan­gle took folk and jazz, mak­ing them a con­duit be­tween Anne Briggs and Led Zep­pelin. Wildly ex­per­i­men­tal rather than death­lessly au­then­tic they added brass, glock­en­spiel, sitar, dul­cimer – what­ever aided the cause. Al­though they ex­isted in a con­stant state of ten­sion, thanks to their other projects, when they were in har­mony they were un­ri­valled.

The live ver­sions of House Car­pen­ter and She Moved Through The Fair still shred the lis­tener and there are plenty of al­ter­nate ver­sions and un­re­leased pieces like the early Mar­ket Song to jus­tify a fan’s out­lay. Box sets can of­ten be an in­dul­gence. This one is sim­ply es­sen­tial.

At last. A de­fin­i­tive box set from folk-rock’s first su­pergroup.

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