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The Pentangle - Cruel Sister CD (album) cover

CRUEL SISTER

The Pentangle

 

Prog Folk

3.41 | 57 ratings

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SteveG
3 stars Left turn, Clyde.

No early Pentangle album split fans as much as 1970's studio offering titled Cruel Sister. After the relative success of 1969's Basket Of Light that featured the British chart hit Light Flight, several member's of the group were actually disturbed by their relative success, as if Basket Of Light with it's stunning interplay of jazz rhythms, acoustic guitar pyrotechnics and exquisite singing was no more than a bubblegum pop album. As silly as that sounds and owing to the rival success of Fairport Convention's 1969 hit album Liege and Leif, The Pentangle decided to go in FC's pure English folk rock direction and jettisoned their jazz influences and dynamic acoustic guitar interplay, which had been a staple of the group up until that time. Indeed, this is the first studio album to feature John Renbourn on electric guitar, albeit in a very toned down delivery.

This resulted in the quick departure of uber producer Shel Talmy, who was critically influential to the band's recorded sound, as well as helping in editing and arranging the band's songs. Talmy saw no future in the band's new direction and decided to call working with The Pentangle a day.

The result is this self produced album. While critics bemoan the fact that a lot of the traditional songs on this album reek of doom and gloom, with murder, deceit, and mistreatment being the main themes, it's more of the restrained musical and vocal delivery that really lets the album down.

Jacqui McsShee does a good turn on the unaccompanied traditional song (all of the album's 5 songs are traditional English folk songs) When I Was In My Prime. However, It's far from a riveting "is it live or Memorex?" moment. In other words, don't expect any of your glassware to break on this or any of the album's songs.

Lord Franklin is a pleasant song sung by Renbourn in a pleasant monotone, but it easily displays his vocal limitations as does the album's one true progressive rock song, the 20 minute long Jack Orion, of which a majority of the vocal duties is handled by the almost equally limited Burt Jansch. The song meanders into many different themes and is actually quite interesting the first time around. But I'm afraid that's were the interest, timewise, ends.

Cruel Sister is by no means a bad album. It just happens to follow three of the best folk rock albums ever produced by a British band, which just happens to be themselves, and for better or worse, it shows. 3 stars.

SteveG | 3/5 |

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