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The Pentangle - The Pentangle CD (album) cover


The Pentangle


Prog Folk

3.88 | 52 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Superb Jazz-Folk Debut

When I listen to the Pentangle's debut album, I am consistently impressed that this is just amazing music. My love of acoustic Led Zeppelin led me to the band, and though I've searched through quite a few hippy bands both new and old, no other band produced music of this quality and depth. Every single member of the band has master-level skills, and their styles compliment in a sublime way.

Bert Jansch was the most direct model for Jimmy Page's acoustic work, and lovers of "Black Mountain Side" and "White Summer" will find that sound in a much more mature and well-realized form in Jansch's work. And yet in the Pentangle, he has found an equal foil in John Renbourne. The two had already put out an album as duo, with intertwining parts as their signature. This already rich sound got added to the jazzy rhythm section of Danny Thompson and Terry Cox to create easily the most musically proficient group ever to be labeled "folk-rock." In fact there is little "rock" about this music. Instead, the double bass instantly evokes jazz, and the drums follow the internal (often odd) rhythms of the songs rather than a back beat. Jacqui McShee's vocals were perhaps the most typical of the era, but her interactions with the two male vocalists again brought the music to a higher level. Interestingly, I hear vocal inflections that Robert Plant almost certainly "borrowed" just as his partner did from Jansch.

The Pentangle's sound was already fully realized on their debut album. Initially quite short, numerous bonus tracks have been added to the point that my download version has 15 tracks compared to the initial albums 8 songs in half an hour. But the original tracks are the jems, with the bonus simply icing. McShee transforms the Staples Singer's "Hear My Call" into a swinging joy. "Bruton Town" is a textural masterpiece, with great guitar work both in lead and accompaniment. "Way Beyond the Sun" is an upbeat stomper that sees McShee digging into her voice and the rhythm section humming.

While not prog in any traditional sense (no keyboards, not intentionally complex), the Pentangle's extreme musicianship, expert combination of different styles, and general ambition made them certainly progressive. What's more, though the ideas have to be taken in their 1968 context to be considered revolutionary, I would argue that no band has matched the execution of those ideas in the 40+ years sense.

If you like folk with some added spice, Pentangle is Essential. In fact, fans of the classic psychedelic age, fans of jazz, fans of English folk, all should have this band on their shelves in my opinion. Their debut is their prototype. Buy it, love it, learn it.

Negoba | 5/5 |


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