Bert Jansch

Birthday Blues/Rosemary Lane

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It's no accident that Jansch's 1969 album sounds like a modified version of the Pentangle. Jansch was a member of the great British folk-rock group at the time of this album's release, and he's backed by the Pentangle's sterling rhythm section of Danny Thompson (bass) and Terry Cox (drums), with occasional touches of harmonica (played by British blues singer Duffy Power), alto sax, and flute. The effect is akin to hearing an unbalanced Pentangle, with no John Renbourn on dueling guitar or Jacqui McShee on vocals. That's not at all a bad thing -- Jansch was one of the group's main motors, and can still be a compelling writer and performer on his own. It's a pleasant effort, but not his best work, either as a solo performer or within a group context. Although rated very highly by many Jansch fans, Rosemary Lane -- also on this two-fer -- isn't quite as striking as his best albums of the '60s either. It's more of a delivery of all the attributes listeners had come to expect of him by 1971 -- excellent acoustic guitar work, imaginative interpretations of traditional material and well-constructed originals in the same vein, and committed vocals -- than a step forward, or even sideways.

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