Broadswords & Fair Maidens

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Although this bootleg is a hodgepodge of TV, BBC, and live material from 1968, 1970, 1972, and 1990, it's of a high-enough standard to be worth hearing by big Pentangle fans who want stuff that didn't make it into official release. Of most interest, perhaps, will be the four songs from their first session for BBC radio on January 29, 1968. These tracks don't appear on the official compilation of 1969-72 Pentangle BBC recordings (Live at the BBC), and while the fidelity on these isn't as good as that of the official CD, it's not problematic to listen to. The songs from that '68 session include the fine "Traveling Song," which at the time only made it out on a non-LP, B-side, and "Soho," which had been recorded by Bert Jansch and John Renbourn back on their 1966 album Bert and John. The four songs presented from a live show in Berkeley, CA in May 1970 are a little below official release audio, but sound pretty good, and present the band at its true peak as a unit, performing some of their strongest tunes ("Light Flight," "The House Carpenter," "Lyke-Wake Dirge," and "Sally Free and Easy," the last of which they wouldn't put out in a studio version until 1972's Solomon's Seal). The four songs from a 1972 Italian TV appearance feature material from later albums with the original lineup, and while four songs from a Portland, OR 1990 show might find the group far removed from their commercial peak, it finds them in pretty good form. Live at the BBC is certainly a preferable starting point for live Pentangle due to its superior sound and packaging (and over-the-counter availability), but if you like Pentangle enough to want a collection like Live at the BBC, you won't be disappointed with this disc either.