Sunday, November 12, 2006

148. Pentangle - Basket Of Light (1969)

Track Listing

1. Light Flight
2. Once I Had A Sweetheart
3. Springtime Promises
4. Lyke Wake Dirge
5. Train Song
6. Hunting Song
7. Sally Go Round The Roses
8. Cuckoo
9. House Carpenter


Ahh back to some quality English Folk, even though Folk purists in 1969 would have killed me for saying this... the same guys who thought Dylan going electric made him a Judas was shit and Nick Drake wasn't worth buying. Pentangle would be another thing on the list.

It's credentials are unimpechable, however, from Bert Jansch in the guitar to the Baez like Jacqui McShee on vocals. But then they introduced jazz and eastern elements to their music, a bit like the Incredible String Band but with less acid. This actually makes them better than the Incredible String Band, the tracks are nowhere are meandering and lost as some of the one in the String Band.

It is basically a great folk album, and folk purists always have been assholes, who cannot concieve the idea of folk evolving like all other music. If they seriously thought that the folk tracks they were playing were unchanged from time imemorial they are not only assholes, but also a bit retarded.

The technical quality here is impressive, they are all masters of their respective instruments and this is fortunately married with beautiful songs, while sometimes great instrumentalist are just attemping do show how good they are, here they work as a cohesive group where all elements are close to perfection. You can stream it from Napster or buy it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. House Carpenter
2. The Cuckoo
3. Sally Go Round The Roses
4. Train Song

Final Grade



House Carpenter:


Basket of Light reached #5 on the UK charts largely on the basis of the single "Light Flight" (#43 UK), the theme from BBC1's first colour drama series Take Three Girls.

"Light Flight" itself is a complex song based on jazz rhythms, somewhat reminiscent of Dave Brubeck's work, switching between 5/8, 7/8 and 6/4 time signatures. Jacqui McShee's layered vocals also draw on the jazz idiom.

"Once I had a sweetheart" is a traditional song, featuring a sitar solo by John Renbourn.

"Springtime Promises" is a Terry Cox composition, sung by Bert Jansch. The album cover states that it was written "after a ride on a number 74 bus from Gloucester Road to Greencroft Gardens on an early spring day".

"Lyke Wake Dirge" is a traditional song arranged for three part vocals with some similarity to the vocal harmonies used by The Young Tradition, in their version of the song, but with distinctive Pentangle instrumentation.

"Train song" is a blues-influenced composition evoking the rhythms of a train. It slows into a more dream-like middle section with McShee's "instrumental vocalization" soaring above the band before picking up speed into an ending featuring Danny Thompson's bowed bass. The title of the album is taken from a line in the song: Love is a basket of light; grasp it so tight.

"Hunting Song" is a band composition, based on the mediaeval story of a magic drinking horn sent by Morgana le Fay to the court of King Arthur. It features Terry Cox on glockenspiel and develops into a central section in three part canon based on the theme of the Elizabethan round "Heigh-ho, nobody home".

'Sally go round the roses' is a Phil Spector composition previously recorded by The Jaynetts in 1963.

"The Cuckoo" is a straightforward folk arrangement of a traditional song. "House Carpenter" is another traditional song, also known as "The Daemon Lover". It features the unusual combination of banjo (played by Jansch) and sitar (played by Renbourn).

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