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THE PENTANGLE

Prog Folk • United Kingdom


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The Pentangle biography
PENTANGLE was formed in 1967 by John Renbourn and Bert Jansch two guitarists who had both already recorded as solo artists since 1965. Both musicians had recorded together 'Bert and John' in 1966 for 'Transatlantic'. Jacqui Mc Shee who joined the band on vocals had already worked with John Renbourn on his first solo record. The rhythm section was formed by Danny Thompson on double bass and Terry Cox on drums and percussion, both former sidemen of Alexis Korner in his band ALEXIS KORNER BLUES INCORPORATED.
PENTANGLE played a mixture of Jazz and Folk with Blues-elements, influences that the band integrated in their debut record 'The Pentangle' which was produced by Shel Talmy. The same year PENTANGLE released their second record 'Sweet child' a double LP consisting of live and studio tracks and containing among others two compositions by Charlie Mingus 'Haitian Fight Song' and 'Goodbye Pork Pie hat'. In 1969 they released their masterpiece 'Basket of Light' , a commercial success including the single 'Light Flight' which served as the theme song to the UK television series 'Take three girls'. PENTANGLE released three other records, 'Cruel sister' in 1970, 'Reflection' in 1971 and 'Solomon's seal' in 1972, before breaking up in 1973. While Bert Jansch and John Renbourn continued as solo artists, the latter with singer Jacqui Mc Shee in the JOHN RENBOURN BAND, Danny Thompson and Terry Cox returned to session work. The original line up reformed in 1982 for a European and Australian tour. John Renbourn left before the release of the 1985 record 'Open the door' and was replaced by Mike Piggott. For the next ten years the band continued to record with changing outfits, 'So Early in the Spring' (1988), 'Think of Tomorrow' (1991), 'One More Road' (1991) and a live record in 1994 'Pentangle Live 1994'. In 1995 Jacqui Mc Shee recorded together with Gerry Conway, Spencer Cozens and guest musicians 'About Thyne. This record was the starting point for JACQUI MC SHEE'S PENTANGLE a refreshed PENTANGLE that released 'Passe Avant' in 1989, the live record 'At the Little Theatre' in 2000 and 'Feoffee's Land' in 2005.

The PENTANGLE records recorded between 1968 and 1972 are highly recommended.

: : : Martin 'Alucard' Horst, FRANCE : : :

The Pentangle official website

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THE PENTANGLE shows & tickets


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THE PENTANGLE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE PENTANGLE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.88 | 37 ratings
The Pentangle
1968
3.60 | 34 ratings
Sweet Child
1968
4.10 | 82 ratings
Basket Of Light
1969
3.40 | 42 ratings
Cruel Sister
1970
3.43 | 22 ratings
Reflection
1971
3.00 | 20 ratings
Solomon's Seal
1972
3.91 | 14 ratings
Open The Door
1984
3.43 | 8 ratings
In The Round
1986
2.69 | 8 ratings
So Early In The Spring
1990
2.69 | 8 ratings
Think Of Tomorrow
1991
3.30 | 7 ratings
One More Road
1993

THE PENTANGLE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Live At The BBC (aka On Air)
1995
3.00 | 3 ratings
The Lost Broadcasts 1968-1972
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
One More Road & Live 1994
2006

THE PENTANGLE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.98 | 4 ratings
Captured Live
2003

THE PENTANGLE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 6 ratings
Pentangling
1973
3.00 | 4 ratings
A Maid Deep In Love
1974
3.05 | 3 ratings
The Collection
1988
3.73 | 13 ratings
The Time Has Come: 1967-1973
2007

THE PENTANGLE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

THE PENTANGLE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Pentangle by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.88 | 37 ratings

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The Pentangle
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by SteveG

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 finger pulls 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.

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 Sweet Child by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.60 | 34 ratings

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Sweet Child
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Pentangle's second album of 1968 is perhaps my favourite of the albums I've heard by the band to date. Double albums are usually tricky to justify, but here Pentangle avoid that issue by not making this a double *studio* album. Whilst the second disc consists of new studio tracks, the first disc is a release of a warm, intimate performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Ably teasing out the electric folk, traditional folk, and jazz influences on their sound both in the live performance and in the studio. the Pentangle treat the listener to a true tour de force here.

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 The Time Has Come: 1967-1973  by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
3.73 | 13 ratings

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The Time Has Come: 1967-1973
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'd say Pentangle is one of the rarest of british folk-groups. Not in the sense their albums are rare to find but rare meaning outstanding. Their blend of progressive, folk and rock sensibilities are unmatched, as far as I'm concerned. The first six albums they made are all worth having, containing utterly beautifl, haunting and engaging music.

If you're looking for simply a compilation I'd recommend Light flight, a great collection of some of their best material. But if you're alreadya serious fan like me this box set is mandatory. It walks the thin line between the greatest hits and rarer stuff, like live recordings and music from the screen. Now, I'm not sure about devoting one entire disc to one single concert. I'd rather have seen more live stuff from their entire career but there you go. Is that any reason to complain? No, not really. The box is easily worth 4,5 stars. Besides, the box is visually stunning and really gives me goose bumps just looking at it. Wondrous stuff!

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 Basket Of Light by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.10 | 82 ratings

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Basket Of Light
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Easily the bestalbum they made, though I feel all albums from the 70's are worth at least a listen, lest you're like me obsessed with british folk and Pentangle in particular, wanting to own them all. "Basket of light" is THE album where everething merged together. The traditional folk meets rock and prog like never before. My particular favorites being "Hunting song", "House carpenter" and well... The entire album is my favorite songs. It's a masterpiece of utter beauty, grimness and haunting tales, instrumentation to die for and vocals of un-earthly qualities. If you want one single folk album from the early 70's, this is the one.

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 Basket Of Light by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.10 | 82 ratings

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Basket Of Light
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Pentangle - Basket of Light (1969)

After the momentum of songwriters folk music of the mid sixties the second halve of the sixties would facilitate a wave of traditional and rock influenced folk groups in England. The Pentangle is one of those groups, reinventing and rewriting folk classics and writing new songs with intelligent arrangements.

The Pentangle uses mainly string-instruments, but sometimes we can hear the pleasant glockenspiel. The band focusses on English traditional folk, but the use sitar and other eastern string-instruments sometimes evokes the feel of world music. Some tracks have a pastoral feel, are more like up-tempo folk tracks. All tracks dwell in a layer of reverbs, as if the album was recorded in a church.

Female vocalist Jacqui Mc Shee has a voice reminding us of Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, but she sings a bit more 'noble' - the reason for which my brother gave me this record; "folk should be folky and for the people". And indeed, it's all very serious. The male vocals on some tracks sound a bit Canterbury like, reminding me of Caravan.

On this particular record of The Pentangle the arrangements very well developed, evoking that intelligent progressive feel. It also makes the record quite intensive to listen to and not as accessible as other folk rock albums. The multiple layers of guitar lines and bass sound a bit like how Gentle Giant would later arrange its folk parts.

Conclusion. Great folk rock album that's recommended to those interested in the more traditional sounding acoustic folk rock. Let's not forget that this is a very early effort and it's quite far ahead for it's time. Four stars.

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 Cruel Sister by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.40 | 42 ratings

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Cruel Sister
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I thought that BASKET OF LIGHT was an instant breath of fresh air in the prog-folk realm; have a strong folk base but allow jazz and rock to creep into the structure of the band giving a fresh and progressive take on an otherwise very traditional genre of music. The followup CRUEL SISTER doesn't feel quite as fresh, but still a tremendous album nevertheless.

What I don't like about CRUEL SISTER is how the jazz and rock framework from the previous album gets marginalised here. Other than Denny Thompson's basslines, we're mostly in the folk business here. And I understand that Jacqui McShee is a good folk singer, but the acapella piece ''When I Was in My Prime'' is unnecessary.

There's a lot to like about CRUEL SISTER, like the cold and haunting title track whose bassline is rather chilling. ''A Maid That's Deep in Love'' and ''Lord Franklin'' are good enough folk songs for what they're worth. But a lot of the weight of this record is on the sidelong epic ''Jack Orion'', an epic that more than delivers on its length. The pacing of the piece is near perfect, seamlessly flowing from one idea to the next yet giving the audience ample time to digest each theme properly. There's no going overboard with this piece; it's better than advertised.

I still find CRUEL SISTER to be a slight letdown from its predecessor immediate, but that doesn't stop it from being a fantastic folk album in its own right.

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 Think Of Tomorrow by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.69 | 8 ratings

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Think Of Tomorrow
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Baby, now it's over?

Out of the five albums that the re-united Pentangle produced since their return to the music business in 1984, Think Of Tomorrow is the least interesting to my ears. The opening track sets the mood, which is slow, lazy, and lacking in energy. I miss the rockier side they showcased on the other albums from this period. What they did in the 80's and 90's is generally electrified and a much rockier affair with a broader instrumental palette than anything they did in the 60's and 70's. I might be quite alone in my opinion, but I definitely prefer the more recent incarnation(s) of Pentangle over the early incarnation. Put the present album is rather weak in comparison with 1984's Open The Door and 1993's One More Road, for example.

Those who enjoy Folk Rock in general, and likes bands such as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, will be well advised to check out Pentangle's 80's and 90's output, but make sure you don't start with the present album.

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 Reflection by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.43 | 22 ratings

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Reflection
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The rock elements return somewhat on this album, after receding a bit in Cruel Sister, resulting in what might be my favourite Pentangle album. Including a wonderfully gentle and moving rendition of the old country standard Will The Circle Be Unbroken does not indicate a move to country territory - in fact, it's one of several songs which take advantage of the lush, rich sound the band achieves in their first recording in a 16-track studio. It's a shame it took them this long to come to grips with the latest recording technology, because I do wonder what it would have allowed them to achieve on albums such as Basket of Light if they had access to it. Perhaps they'd have done the material on that album more justice.

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 Cruel Sister by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.40 | 42 ratings

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Cruel Sister
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Maybe I'm alone on this one, but I actually strongly prefer this one to Basket of Light, which I found kind of, well, lightweight. I felt that album tended to straddle the fence between folk and rock without actually effecting an interesting fusion of the two, so I greatly prefer the approach this time around - which is much more rooted in folk, in particular folk music from times of history, with old and out of fashion instruments and delightful songs about murder, suicide, bloodshed and madness set to beautiful acoustic tunes.

There are of course rock touches here and there, such as the instrumental workouts and occasional eccentric touch that spices up the sidelong epic Jack Orion, and a little electric guitar creeping in here and there to add a little accent, but by and large this is just good meaty folk music performed well. You can keep your Basket of Light; this sinister folk Sister is much more to my tastes.

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 Basket Of Light by PENTANGLE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.10 | 82 ratings

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Basket Of Light
The Pentangle Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Given a big boost by Light Flight being used as the theme music to an otherwise forgettable TV drama, the Pentangle's Basket of Light is a grab-bag of folk originals as well as traditional standards, all given a mild twist - a jazz rhythm here, a bit of rock and roll energy there, and some occasional light psych touches. Pleasant enough, and if you are very into traditional British folk you might find it a rewarding experiment, but if you aren't especially into folk the album doesn't deviate from the folk style sufficiently that it'd likely appeal to you. It almost seems as though the mild experimentation with other genres is merely there to add flavour to the folk, rather than being a genuine attempt to blend genres. Three stars.

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