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John Renbourn - The Attic Tapes CD (album) cover


John Renbourn


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5.00 | 1 ratings

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5 stars Compiled from his earliest known but never released recordings, "The Attic Tapes" is important because it illustrates one of the key influences of the Pentangle sound, the striking "folk baroque" style of finger picked acoustic guitar playing of co-founding member John Renbourn. While often overlooked due to the sheer innovation of folk legend Davy Graham, who slightly predated him, and the charismatic personality of Pentangle co-member Bert Jansch, Renbourn is without a doubt the virtuoso of this trio. His lighting fast combination of finger picking, walking bass lines and bluesy leads and accents, augmented by a battery of alternate open tunings, is as jaw dropping now as it was when Renbourn first appeared on the British folk scene in the early 1960s. This compilation of early Renbourn material that was compiled just months before his passing is as musically enjoyable to listen to as is it's historical importance to understanding the development of British folk music.

First off, from a great sounding private tape recorded in 1962, is an electrifying version of Davy Graham's "Anji" that was recorded a few months before even Graham committed the song to vinyl and even outshines the celebrated version played on Bert Jansch's debut album from 1965. From there, Renbourn does a clinic of presenting many American influenced folk blues numbers made almost into standards by American blues travelers in the UK and Europe at the same time such as "Candy Man", "Buffalo", "Cocaine (Blues)", and "I Can't Keep From Crying Sometime". Indeed, Josh White, Bill Broonzy, Jack Elliott and even banjo player Daryl Addams are filtered through Renbourn's playing along with a smattering of British blues standards such as "National Seven" and driving instrumental "Train Song".

Renbourn's pleasant but limited vocals don't oversaturate this material as several guests such as Beverly Martyn (John's wife), and follow folk traveler Mac MacLeod break up the Renbourn monotony. There's even a fantastic appearance by Davy Graham singing the old American standard "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" with Renbourn adding dreamy fluid leads to cap off the song.

The mastering of these great sounding early tapes is first rate resulting in sound quality that is so good that "The Attic Tapes" can easily be played alongside any of the Pentangle albums that were originally issued by Transatlantic Records in the late 1960s. 5 stars for this definitive and great sounding historical document from the late great John Renbourn.

SteveG | 5/5 |


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