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The Pentangle

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The Pentangle Solomon's Seal album cover
3.32 | 44 ratings | 9 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sally Free and Easy (3:55)
2. The Cherry Tree Carol (2:57)
3. The Snows (3:43)
4. High Germany (3:15)
5. People on the Highway (4:46)
6. Willy o' Winsbury (6:50)
7. No Love Is Sorrow (2:41)
8. Jump Baby Jump (3:10)
9. Lady of Carlisle (4:41)

Total Time 35:58

Line-up / Musicians

- Jacqui McShee / vocals
- Bert Jansch / acoustic guitar, dulcimer (6), banjo (4,9), vocals (1,3,5,7,8)
- John Renbourn / acoustic (2,6,9) & electric guitars, sitar (3), recorder (3,4,6), vocals & harmonica (9)
- Danny Thomson / double bass
- Terry Cox / drums, percussion, finger cymbals (5), vocals (9)

Releases information

Artwork: Chris Ayliffe

LP Reprise Records ‎- K44197 (1972, UK)
LP Reprise Records ‎- MS 2100 (1972, US)

CD Castle Music ‎- CMQCD555 (2003, UK) Remastered ?
CD BMG ‎- BVCM-47021 (2004, Japan) Remastered ?

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy THE PENTANGLE Solomon's Seal Music

THE PENTANGLE Solomon's Seal ratings distribution

(44 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE PENTANGLE Solomon's Seal reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Last of the classic Pentangle line-up album, and maybe a good warning that it was time for them to call it a day as far as studio recordings were concerned, because there are hints of loss of inspiration and they chose wisely to stop before becoming a spent force! I personally have yet to see this album in CD format but I was told it existed. Certainly one of their better artwork sleeve though.

Don't get me wrong, all the usual qualities of a Pentangle are still pleasant and the album is still very worthy of your acquisition but get it in the case you have the previous five. Among the highlights is a rather strange version of standard folk Sally Free And Easy and The Snows (with some cool flute parts over sitar lines) but also People On The Highway. High Germany is also of interest!

Anyway this album is nothing special and will not bring anything new to the Pentangle palette but will certainly not disappoint the unconditional fans either.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Signed (off), sealed and delivered

Perhaps the only disappointing aspect of the Pentangle's career was the fact that the end was too close to the beginning. Recorded in 1972, just 4 years after their debut, "Solomon's seal" was to be the final album recorded by the original classic line up. At the time of its release, the album quickly became something of a rarity, the print run being very limited. It then remained a sort of holy grail for fans for many years, only seeing a general release on CD in 2003. The album title is a loose reference to the visual similarity between the mythological Seal of Solomon and the band's 5 pointed logo.

Musically, "Solomon's seal" retains all the qualities of the band's previous albums, while generally following a more downbeat, reflective path. The song selections are the usual mix of band compositions and interpretations of traditions material plus a couple of covers. An early highlight is Jackie McShee's wonderful singing on "The cherry tree carol", the rendition being superbly accompanied by twin acoustic guitars. Sadly, McShee is afforded few opportunities to flex her fine voice alone, being accompanied (or replaced) by Bert Jansch on the remaining tracks.

The songs are kept brief and true to their folk roots, with little embellishment or development. There are of course the usual overlaps with the acoustic sides of bands such as Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, the boundaries perhaps being more blurred here than on any other Pentangle album. The longest track is "Will O'Winsbury" at a shade under 6 minutes. This traditionally structured narrative song is based on an 18th Century Scottish ballad, telling the tale of a heroic warrior who becomes responsible for the pregnancy of the daughter of the king. As with a number of Pentangle's songs, this one was introduced to them by friend of the band Anne Briggs.

As Pentangle albums go, this is one of the less exciting. By their own high standards, there is an element of going through the motions here, the results being a pleasant but generally unremarkable set of folk songs. The album is far from devoid of merit though, as the musicianship is of the usual excellence, and the overall experience is very enjoyable.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars The long īlostī Pendragon album! Salomonīs Seal was the last collective efford recorded with the original line up, when the cracks were starting to show. The band was falling apart and the when the original LP faced dismal sales and critic response it was quickly withdraw. It was said during many years that the masters tapes were destroyed, so a CD version was very unlikely. But in 2003 it appeared in the market. Apparently it was taken from a (good) vinyl copy. I was not able to get one, but a friend had a rare LP version that he borrowed me. As a big fan of the band, I was glad I had finally had the chance to hear it.

Salomon Sealīs a good work, but not their best or most inspired. It was far from being bad or even weak either. It has the usual fine selection of originals and traditional songs arranged and performed with great skill. The tracklist is keeping their high standards with only Jump Baby Jump sounding like a filler. However it was also clear they had little else to say by the time the LP was recorded. Only vocalist Jaqui McShee seems to be really motivated, singing as good as ever. The overall feeling is that their hearts were not really on it.

If youīre a fan of the band, then Salomonīs Seal is a good pick. The chemistry between them still works and The Pentangle still delivered the goods, even if not as good as on their first three releases. The magic still lingers on, after all. Rating: 3 to 3,5 stars.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars While it's hard for me to get enthused about the somewhat tight-lipped and dated folk rock of PENTANGLE, it's also hard for me not to acknowledge their timeless tastefulness, not to mention their plucky playing, Jacqui McShee's gorgeous voice, and did I mention Danny Thompson's delectable double bass?

I guess where I have the most trouble is in listening to trad tunes here that were done so much better by my favourites - "Sally Free and Easy" which sounds sloppy in comparison to the prior ALAN STIVELL version, and "Higher Germanie" and "Willy O'Winsbury", which are so similar but finally inferior to what CLANNAD would accomplish a few years later, albeit piggybacking on but then finally pummeling PENTANGLE's achievements. That Irish family was often accused of being too tight lipped and restrained, but PENTANGLE were the originals to take this to a high art, for better and worse.

Each track gets a guarded seal of approval, even the country-ish "Jump Baby Jump" adorned with charming harmonies and the psychedelic country of "Lady of Carlisle", I am as reserved as the group as far as glowing recommendations go, especially to prog fans but even to those who are looking for adventurous and emotional British Isles folk rock. I wouldn't start here unless you are a chronological purist.

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars In some ways the Pentangle's 'Solomon's Seal' can be compared to Fleetwood Mac's 'Mirage' that would release a decade later. Sure, their musical styles are almost diametrically opposed, but in both cases we see bands at the apex of their careers from the standpoint of technical ability, yet both were struggling financially despite huge commercial success and broad public appeal. Both were on the verge of breakup; both delivered studio work that was palatable but lacked the sort of creative experimentation and risk of earlier efforts; both had to reach deep in their bags of tricks to come up with enough material to complete full-length albums. And both were on the Warner label, although that I suppose is nothing more than trivial coincidence.

While Mac dipped into material from solo projects and castaways from prior studio sessions for songs, the Pentangle leaned heavily on traditional folk tunes along with a contemporary cover of the Cyril Tawney song "Sally Free and Easy" for more than half the album's material. All are decent renditions, and the band were certainly not strangers to either traditional or cover material, having recorded more than a dozen each in prior years. But in most of those cases the stellar musicianship and creative arrangements of Renbourn, Jansch, Cox and McShee took these offerings to new places. Not so much here, particularly with the traditional songs which are mostly delivered verbatim with not much more than hints at the band's interpretive potential.

There are exceptions to be sure, my favorite being "High Germany" with its liberal use of percussion, Jansch's dulcimer and Renbourn's recorder. Jacqui McShee's voice is as angelic and folkishly perfect per usual. And the rather mainstream-sounding original tune "People on the Highway" hints at a direction the band might have pursued had they managed to hang on into the mid-seventies.

But not much else stands out, at least not for me. "Willy O'Winsbury" lacks conviction or panache, and the last two tracks ("Jump Baby, Jump" and "Lady of Carlisle") seem perfunctory at best. In all this is a fairly weak end, especially considering the immense talent possessed by the five members of the band.

I suppose another Fleetwood Mac comparison fits here as well. Both bands were in a sense on the verge of musical obsolescence given changing tastes and trends. For the Mac the days of MTV and later grunge would overshadow their slick West-Coast shtick for most of the rest of that decade. And for the Pentangle the folk revival was playing out both in Europe and on the American continent, being supplanted quickly by trite pop, disco and even the fledgling whispers of punk circa garage rock. And since both bands were essentially being positioned by their respective management as popular music acts these changes spelled doom without some sort of drastic shift in style, so perhaps the collapse in both cases was for the best. Jansch would leave after the supporting tour fizzled shortly after this release, and the Pentangle would cease to exist for a decade. Again like the Mac, Pentangle would reform a few times with various lineups including at times the original members, but never again wielded the same sort of magic they held in their heyday. All things indeed must pass.


Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars continues to expose the world to the extraordinary talents of jazz-oriented bass player Danny THOMPSON and his friend Victoria (the name he gave to the Gand stand up double bass that he has used almost exclusively throughout his much lauded career). In fact the presence of that bass playing alone renders this album unique in my listening experience (it is only my second Pentangle album)--I can think of no other folk or prog albums up to this time (1972) that use the double bass in this fashion. Then throw in the wonderful lead vocal work of Bert Jansch and Jacqui McShee and the delicate and selective interplay of the other strings (acoustic guitars, banjo, and sitar) and you have a full band of virtuosi weaving their weaves in quite a masterful way. And I did not even mention the amazing work of percussionist Terry Cox. I do not know of many bands even in the jazz fusion sub-genre who weave together their songs so intricately. How this album goes so poorly rated I do not know. It is a masterpiece by my standards--one that never ceases to make my jaw drop with every listen. The musicians are so accomplished in their instrumental play and Jacqui McShee is at her very, very finest. I find it mystifying. This album was apparently the last of the original "classic" Pentangle lineup. I see a bit of a parallel to the course of the band RENAISSANCE during a phase of their career in which one of their final "prog" albums (Novella) feels "tired" to many listeners. Well, I don't hear it. They sound like they're at the top of their games (except the weak male vocals on "Snow" and "People on the Highway." And I know that these amazing musicians all went on to continue producing top-notch music for years after this album.

Favorite songs: 1. "Sally Free and Easy" (3:56) (10/10); 7. "No Love Is Sorrow" (2:47) (10/10); "The Cherry Tree Carol" (3:04) (9/10); 4. "High Germany" (3:19) (9/10); the incredibly emotional, delicate 6. "Willy O' Winsbury" (5:56) (9.5/10), and even; 5. "People on the Highway" (4:45) (8/10), the Bert Jansch lead, "The Snows" (3:48) (8/10), "Jump, Baby, Jump" (3:13) (7.75/10), and the Mississippi harmonica bluesy "Lady Carlisle" (4:45) with the surprise move of having Jacqui in the full lead (7.75/10).

Total Time: 35:58

Wonderful sound, wonderful arrangements, wonderful instrumental performances with the highlight, for me, being the incredibly creative musicianship of Danny Thomson on the double bass (though the crystalline voice of perfection that Jacqui McShee possesses is also quite mesmerizing).

Four stars; an excellent contribution to the lexicon of progressive rock music for this "classic" of the folk/prog folk world.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The final album of Pentangle's original incarnation gets short shrift, but I actually quite like it. Yes, the band sound weary here - and it's not hard to imagine why if you know about the interpersonal strife within the group and the legal and contractual issues they were having - but I actually think the weariness adds something to the sound of the album, a sort of wistful sadness shot through with the occasional hot dose of bitterness which adds texture to the proceedings. Otherwise, it's business as usual, competently delivered and tastefully accomplished. It wasn't enough to save the band, but it's more than enough to keep me happy.

Latest members reviews

4 stars This final album featuring the original Pentangle lineup of Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Jaqui McShee, Danny Thompson and Terry Cox is not a bad album, and in fact is quite enjoyable taken on it's own merits. Gone forever, however, is the astounding guitar interplay between Jansch and Renbourn an ... (read more)

Report this review (#2538256) | Posted by SteveG | Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Salomonīs Seal is one of the most underrated albums by Pentangle. I have no idea why, but I do remember that it was close to impossible to pick up on vinyl (it was never re-pressed by Reprise). So mybe itīs because few people actually heard it that explains it rather poor status. Now, when it ... (read more)

Report this review (#250683) | Posted by Dr Pripp | Sunday, November 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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