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John Renbourn - The John Renbourn Group: Live in America CD (album) cover


John Renbourn


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5.00 | 1 ratings

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5 stars John Renbourn's on again off again post Pentangle collective known as the John Renbourn Group made a spectacular live album that also served the purpose of releasing more "new music" by this group. They were even nominated for a folk album Grammy Award for The John Renbourn Group: Live In America. The only British folk or folk artists to be nominated in the era of the 70s and 80s as far as I know.

Pairing up with former Pentangle vocalist Jaqui McShee and old mate flautist Tony Roberts, Renbourn also recruited fiddle player Sue Draham from the Albion Band and renowned tabla player Keshav Sathe to fill out the band's sound. Sathe was an inspired choice as he fills the often used hand percussion role that Pentangle mate Terry Cox filled on many of Renbourn's instrumental guitar albums. The group's first album together A Maid In Bedlam from 1977 was chock full of traditional British folk songs and fit the void left by the beak up of Pentangle quite well, while it's follow up The Encahnted Garden stuck to more moody pre Renaissance fair that was too stiff and stately and therefore was not as exciting as the group's debut.

For the Live In America dates, the group toured with fiddler and vocalist John Molinuex who replaed Draham in The Enchanted Garden sessions. Another inspired choice as the man's basso voice excellently rounds out the vocal mix of McShee, Renbourn and Roberts which is so exquisite on songs like "Lindsey", the unacompanied "Ye Mariners All", "John Dory" and the perenial "So Early In The Spring". Just to distingusih her self from the males, McShee does an acapella version of the "Cruel Mother", itself a companion song to the Pentangle's take on the traditional song "Cruel Sister" and of course the audience is spell bound. Renbourn does a few solo turns on guitar on the incrdible droning and fast as lightning "English Dance" and "Breton Dances" instrumentals before being joined on the psuedo Eastern "Sidi Braham" which features snake charmer flute from Roberts and a tabla solo by Sathe. Molinuex takes a solo vocal on the old trad. song "Farewell Nancy" before the group all join in on a somewhat conjested version of "John Barleycorn" which closes the album. That song is the only misstep in the concert performances as the overlapping vocals by various group members are a bit too sloppy when compared with the studio version found on The Enchanted Garden.

A very good concert recording helps to make this double album a real treat and it ranks with the best that was offered by the Pentangle a decade earlier. 5 stars.

SteveG | 5/5 |


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