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The Pentangle - Open The Door CD (album) cover

OPEN THE DOOR

The Pentangle

 

Prog Folk

3.92 | 21 ratings

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SteveG
4 stars Fifteen years is a long time for a follow up album, but Pentangle's 1984 reunion album Open The Door, while not a direct follow up to the group's 1969 pinnacle Basket Of Light, is just that.

Basket Of Light was immediately followed by three disappointing Pentangle studio albums, Cruel Sister, Reflection and Solomon's Seal, that went away from the group's original folk/blues/jazz fusion songs and concentrated instead on traditional folk tunes or originals that were in the same vain, the others having a distinctive country vibe.

Reasons for this are speculative, but it's safe to assume that Bert Jansch's displeasure with the treatment the band received by both it's record label and it's then manager that was in sharp contrast to that of fellow Pentangle guitarist John Renbourn was a key factor. Further differences in the two guitarists playing styles and changing musical preferences led to the Open The Door reunion album being recorded without Renbourn (who decided to pursue a music degree), with Mike Piggott drafted in to replace him. Piggot is also an accomplished electric guitarist as well as an excellent fiddle player.

The result is that Open The Door, while still lacking in overt jazz references, is extremely fresh sounding, as if the reconfigured group was shot with a much needed dose of enthusiasm. The album is, ironically, nearly bracketed by two traditional folk songs with much of the newer material placed in between.

Standout tracks include the trad songs Open The Door and Yarrow, with originals like Dragonfly, Child Of Winter, Lost Love, Sad Lady and Taste Of Love revealing once again solid songwriting and execution from this once venerated group. These songs are again in the folk vain, but still feature a bluesy, and sometimes occasional jazzy undercurrent, while closing track Street Song lets double bass great Danny Thompson and drummer Terry Cox cut loose to do their jazz thing one last time, as this being the great rhythm duo's last album together as Thompson was not present for any following albums. Long time original members Jacqui McShee, Thompson, Cox and Jansch are all in fine voice or playing ability and this album features the welcome return of Jansch's familiar string snapping playing style that was such a fixture and trademark on the band's first three classic albums. Piggott adds tasty low volume country style electric guitar licks at times, and his fiddle playing is meant to invoke mood and atmosphere and never strays into a Fairport Convention foot stomping "hoe down" style.

Open The Door is a refreshing reminder that Pentangle were a world class band and deserved their formally exalted reputation, and the pastoral album cover sets up this material quite well. 4 stars.

SteveG | 4/5 |

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