From the Outside has never featured much in Jansch's work, given that its original 1985 appearance was on a tiny Belgian label. This version, which is radically different from the 1993 CD version, ditches two songs from the original vinyl and adds another from the sessions ("Blackbird in the Morning") that had previously been unreleased, along with two newer tracks, "River Running" and "High Emotion," while "I Sure Wanna Know" had been on the original vinyl, but not the first CD release. To be fair, the recording didn't come at the best time in Jansch's career. He could still pick a wonderful guitar and sing, but this wasn't the happiest time in his personal life, as he was drinking heavily; songs like "Change the Song" were his cry from within to try and change. There's a definite starkness to the songs here, and not just the delivery -- which is just Jansch himself, no other musicians with him, unusually, playing banjo on the opening "Sweet Rose." Highlights are "Blackbird in the Morning" -- how it ever failed to find release before is a mystery -- and the album's two instrumentals, "From the Outside" and the hanging closer, "From the Inside." They fit well with what's essentially a very introspective set, sometimes almost maudlin ("Time Is an Old Friend") or self-pitying ("Why Me?"). The angry young man of the '60s still rails on "Read All About It," but it's a voice tempered by time and reveals itself fully on the bluesy "I Sure Wanna Know." It's hard to call this classic Bert Jansch, but then again, it's not bad either -- how can it be, it's Bert Jansch?
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson