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The Pentangle - The Pentangle CD (album) cover


The Pentangle


Prog Folk

3.88 | 61 ratings

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5 stars Time Stand Still.

While my appreciation of Prog-folk came much later than my baptism into Prog-rock proper, it's artistic merits always seem to be more profound. Perhaps that's is because the artists are doing considerably more with less. More notes, less volume. More style fusions, less instruments . All acoustics, no electrics.

And so it is with Pentangle's 1968 self titled debut. Eschewing the Dylan or Guthrie songbook, the incredible Jacqui McShee, already famous acoustic folk guitar heroes John Renbourn and Bert Jansch together with double bass jazz great Danny Thompson and precision drummer Terry Cox launch into a traditional arrangement of the familiar English folk song Let No Man Steal Your Time. With the song's double entendre still as relevant as ever, you are seduced into thinking this is going to be a museum trip into the folk world of merry old England until the next song Bells appears, an a bluesy instumental with rhythmic circling acoustic guitars that appear separately from the left and right speakers and seem as if they are dueling with each other as the bass and drums are involved in their own separate conversation while keeping astride of the the two guitars.

Wait, maybe this not old folk after all? You think to yourself as Thompson's jazzy descending bass notes introduce the third song, Hear My Call, and McShee's launches into a yearning sultry vocal that will never make you guess in a million years that this sexy siren song is a contemporary spiritual written by the Staple Singers.We are into full blown jazz/folk/blues fusion here and the part is that it's only just started. This will come to a full climax with the following song, the 7 minute long (an eternity for a folk rock song in 1968!) Pentangling, with it's improvisational middle section showing off both Thompsons and Cox's chops to great dramatic effect due again to the excellent use of stereo panning. Sung jointly by McShee and Jansch, the song shift gears near the end from a slow trot to brisk gallop with Renbourn conluding the piece with an electifying flourish. The group then swing into Behind the Sun, a slow paced sultry bluesy number that features McShee crooning about finding a man for some rough bed time fun while Renbourn and Jansch throw smoldering hot guitar notes back forth at one another from speaker to speaker. Then is on to the brief song Mirarge were all members trade licks back and forth again. To give their jazz chops a break and a chance to let their hands cool down, the band revert back to a traditional folk song, Bruton Town, before ending with another clinic to Jansch and Renbourn's acoustics called The Waltz, a song no inspired by Jansch's facination with circular guitar chord rhythms and agan it features his percussive string snaps and any other sounds he get from his strings without actually braking them.

Classified as Folk Rock, this is one of those truly rare albums that is both genre defining as well as being genre breaking and so ahead of it's time that it sounds like something created yesterday let alone 45 years ago. An absolute essential staple for any Prog collection. While the modern rock world is busy putting the petal to the metal, these acoustic giants remain like lost stone monuments just waiting fo new civilizations to rediscover them. 5 stars.

SteveG | 5/5 |


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