Thursday, July 06, 2006

56. Bert Jansch - Bert Jansch (1965)

Track Listing

1. Strolling Down The Highway
2. Smokey River
3. Oh How Your Love Is Strong
4. I Have No Time
5. Finches
6. Veronica
7. Needle Of Death
8. Do You Hear Me Now
9. Rambling's Gonna Be The Death Of Me
10. Alice's Wonderland
11. Running From Home
12. Courting Blues
13. Casbah
14. Dreams Of Love
15. Angie


Folksy, bluesy, a little countryish, all-good. Let take the amps down a notch for this next album, the much quieter affair than previous stuff here this is a great album. If you live in the UK you will surely recognise one of the songs, Angie from the BBC adverts for a series of folk music programs they did on BBC 4 TV. My girlfriend had already bought this album then because she was trying to find out what that song was. As is typical of the more assholeish and egocentric type of boyfriend like myself I dismissed it outright. I am now forced to present my most abject apologies.

If I can compare Bert Jansch to anything else it would be to Nick Drake, but Nick Drake with solo guitar, more like on Bryter Later in feel (btw all Nick Drake albums are on this list, so we will get there eventually). In my opinion Jansch isn't as good lyrically or has such a pleasent voice as Drake but who does? Just the fact that a comparison is possible puts him up there, frankly.

Probably the most impressive thing here is the guitar playing, perfect stuff, beautiful and pure. This makes the instrumental tracks not pace breakers but actual as enjoyable if not more than the "songs". The best track in the album is actually the instrumental Angie but the vocal Needle of Death comes right behind it in the quality stakes.

Bert Jansch's eponymous album in nothing short of brilliant, it's new and fresh and there is not much I can criticise about it but the fact that it isn't as good as Nick Drake, which is frankly unfair. Bert Jansch isn't as troubled or morose as Drake and good for him. Definitely buy this album at Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Angie
2. Needle of Death
3. Strolling Down the Highway
4. Running, Running From Home

Final Grade



The main advantage over Drake: he ain't deceased.

From Wiki:

Bert Jansch's musical influences are many and varied: folk (Anne Briggs and A.L. Lloyd); jazz (Charlie Mingus and John Coltrane); early music (John Renbourn and Julian Bream); Indian music (Ravi Shankar) and many others. From these, he has distilled his own unmistakable guitar style.

Some of his songs feature a basic clawhammer style of right-hand playing but these are often distinguished by unusual chord voicings or by chords with added notes. An example of this is his song Needle of Death, which features a simple picking style but several of the chords are decorated with added 9ths. Characteristically, the 9ths are not the highest note of the chord, but appear in the middle of the arpeggiated finger-picking, creating a "lumpiness" to the sound.

Another characteristic feature is his ability to hold a chord in the lower strings whilst bending an upper string—often bending up from a semitone below a chord note. These can be heard clearly on songs such as Reynardine where the bends are from the diminished 5th to the perfect 5th. Like many guitarists, string bends are a feature of his work and are often used to create notes which are just slightly sharp or slightly flat (by bending a little less than a semitone), creating the impression of a modality that does not belong to a diatonic scale.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is the 2nd album on the list (the 1st was the sonics) that i had never heard of before cracking the book and absolutely love.. i'm now a proud owner of this album.