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The Pentangle - In The Round CD (album) cover


The Pentangle

Prog Folk

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Tarcisio Moura
3 stars In The Round was my first entry into the reformed Pentangle after their 'classic' l line up had broken apart in the early 70's. The sound changed a lot, with new guitarrist Mike Piggott coming in since the previous CD and, most important, welcoming Nigel Portman-Smith on bass and keyboards. I should warn Pentangle's fans of the early incarnation that the sound changed A LOT! Gone are the almost all acoustic format and mostly of their jazz and heavy blues overtones. On the other hand the music became less pretentious and less intricated. Still they retained their folk credentials, their fine musicanship and added some colour to their sound.

Some would go on to say some songs on this record are almost pop, but I will desagree. Even at their most accessible moments, they are still too sophisticated to be classified as such. This is obvious a transitional record, but a good one. The major fault being the fact that some pieces sound too much like a Bert Jansch solo album (The Open Sea, Saturday Movie) and break the album's continuity, but when Jacqui Mcshee sings lead or duos then the band really shiness. No wonder they record at least three more studio CDs in such direction.

All in all it's a very good CD. The good songs are very memorable, while the weaker tracks are at least listenable and will certainly satisfy Bert Jansch solo career fans.

Report this review (#87591)
Posted Friday, August 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Pentangle sheds its somewhat twee folkie eclectic image for a more honest rocking eclectic approach.

We are still in the company of Jacqui McShee and Burt Jansch and that should and does speak to the quality. "In the Round" can be compared with some of Clannad's mid 1980s modernizations although Pentangle remains more grounded and earthy. In fact some of the best tracks are supported in a manner more muscular than the group's pedigree might dictate. Yet even there an unhurried jazzy and bluesy undercurrent runs through "Chase that Devil Away", "Sunday Morning Blues", and "Let me Be", like we might expect if Fleetwood Mac had been grafted upon the Pentangle. Nothing quite so cloying, mind you, as sentimentality is not what comes to mind on the catchy "Playing the Game", featuring Jansch's great hook on banjo, and the haunting "When the Night is Over". "Circle the Moon" is like a subdued Sally Oldfield both in sound and subject matter.

Interestingly, it is the more traditional folky material that gets short shrift, with "She moved through the fair" and "Suil Agrar" sounding lifeless; clearly the Pentangle heart is not in it. Nonetheless this is a well rounded album from one of British folk rock's most venerable acts. 3.5 stars rounded up for effort.

Report this review (#160018)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars And now for something completely different.

Well, perhaps just a bit different. This reconfigured version of the British band Pentangle sees the departure of stand up bassist Danny Thompson replaced by guitarist Bert Jansch's friend Nigel Portman-Smith on electric bass, as the group exercises their penchant for American Country and Western music by creating some great country songs of their own.

What Pentangle only hinted to in the past on covers of such songs as Cold Mountain and Will The Circle Be Unbroken, comes to full fruition on bluesy country tinged originals like this album's opening track Play The Game, Sunday Morning (which has lyrical echoes of the Johnny Cash classic Sunday Morning Coming Down) and the sublime jazzy Chase That Devil Away.

Bert Jansch, strangely, as he was by his own account deeply in trouble with alcohol abuse around this time, is in extremely fine voice and penned three his finest and most introspective songs The Open Sea, The Saturday Movie and the fantastic Let Me Be. Jansch's tunes go away from the country vibe of this album and add an air of disunity, but also a welcome respite.

Vocalist Jacqui McShee absolutely shines in singing this material and is still a revelation. Drummer Terry Cox forgoes his more percussion based playing style for that of a straight up but effective rock drummer and meshes perfectly with Portman-Smiths fretless burping bass style.

The only down side that I can find with In The Round is two pedestrian covers of the traditional folk songs She Moved Trough The Fair and Suil Agrar, which I feel were done to keep their hard core folk fans happy. None the less, 4 stars is in order.

Perhaps this album is a bit of a guilty pleasure for the Prog-Folk fan, but it's irresistible ear candy and quite a refreshing return to quality from a band that had been plagued with personal, as well as professional, problems up until this point in their on again, off again career. 4 stars.

Report this review (#1428737)
Posted Saturday, June 20, 2015 | Review Permalink

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