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Bert Jansch - Jack Orion (w/ John Renbourn) CD (album) cover

JACK ORION (W/ JOHN RENBOURN)

Bert Jansch

Prog Folk


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3 stars A good 3.0.

When I look at the different track listings of this album on PA, Windows Media Player, and Wikipedia, I can't help myself but ask this question: "Why does this obscure folk work have different running orders on different sources?" Let's just discuss the music itself.

Spoiler alert: you won't hear any prog. But don't lose all of your faith in this album if you are still looking for some good music and you haven't found it yet, unless you are not into folk. Half of the record is a set of my personal favorites. 'Waggoner's Lad' is a traditional folk piece played on a banjo by the legend himself, Bert Jansch, who is backed by his future Pentangle buddy John Renbourn. The whole thing sounds so darn catchy and has a good beat. Just think back to Led Zeppelin's 'Bron-Y-Aur Stomp' if you still remember that one. If you want some more traditional folk, there you have it in the face of 'Black Water Side', where Bert's technique and vocal melodies won't let you down. Again, think Led Zeppelin. Does 'Black Mountain Side' ring any bells? After that comes my biggest favorite, as you can see that in the ratings below. 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' is Bert's rendition of an old Ewan McColl song, and this cover sounds pretty similar in melody, rhythm, and tempo to 'Black Water Side'. But what is it that makes this one so different from the previous track? 'The First Time Ever' is played in a different key and the melody is a tiny bit different, and that makes all the difference for me. By the way, have you ever heard an inebriated gardener? Well, Bert was one of them on 'The Gardener'. The way he sings with that slight growl on occasions is just so remarkable. As for the music, it sounds somewhat similar to the previous tracks. Who said that 'tis a sin to recycle own music? If J. S. Bach used to do that, why couldn't Bert? As for the rest of the album, the tracks sound very much alike and there isn't that much variety in texture. At least the music isn't over the top. Check out 'Pretty Polly' and 'Henry Martin' where the buzzing guitar sounds like a saw.

Ratings/comments (if you have to ask):

1. 'The Waggoner's Lad' - **** ; 2. 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' - ***** ; 3. 'Jack Orion' - ** ; 4. 'The Gardener' - **** ; 5. 'Nottamun Town' - ** ; 6. 'Henry Martin' - ** ; 7. 'Black Water Side' - **** ; 8. 'Pretty Polly' - ** ; 9. '900 Miles' - ** ;

Stamp: "I like it."

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Send comments to Dayvenkirq (BETA) | Report this review (#718324)
Posted Monday, April 09, 2012 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Digging to the Source

My love of acoustic guitar sprang largely from a little boy named Jimmy Page. His slightly exotic and Celtic flavors on the Led Zeppelin albums always appealed to me, and one of the most impressive outings was a little piece from LZ I called "Black Mountain Side." I have never really been able to nail this piece, but I've certainly tried. Over the years, I finally found that the piece is essentially ripped straight from the English Dylan, Bert Jansch. As I've combed through Jansch's works, it is clear that this album, JACK ORION, is one that Page must have listened to over and over.

For me, the big track initially was "Black Waterside." Anne Briggs gave Jansch this tune during an earlier collaboration, and he arranged the iconic guitar part that Page lifted. But Jansch also uses the same rolling rhythm and style on "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" and "The Gardener." However, the great opener "The Waggoner's Lad" was also accessed liberally by Pagey most notably on "Bron-y-Aur Stomp." "Lad" is a great duet with Jansch playing banjo and John Renbourne playing lead guitar. Both guitarists learned at the foot of the legendary Davy Graham, with Renbourne becoming the more schooled player and Jansch the more moody. This contrast works extremely well musically. The pair really shine on "Henry Martin," creating a shimmery sound that I've really found nowhere else.This would foreshadow the duo's fantastic group Pentangle. Renbourne helps on several other tracks and in fact Jansch recording will officially be under the duo.

Jansch's voice is fairly melancholy and languid which is great for this style of folk, but may not be everyone's cup of tea. He does kick it up a notch for "Nottamun Town." Clearly, Jansch's forte is his guitar work, which is quite fresh and energetic here. This album is not really prog in any classic sense, but Jansch's advanced technique and sound went on to infuse a number of bands that we think of as prog folk. Jansch himself has more "progressive" records.

Thus, I am giving this a good but non-essential rating despite its excellent quality. If you like English folk guitar, this may be a near essential recording.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#742979)
Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 | Review Permalink

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