Bert Jansch

Lucky Thirteen

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Many fans of the British folk revival hold this as the quintessential Burt Jansch document. While including career highlights in his interpretation of Davey Graham's "Angie" and his own stunning answer song "Veronica" as the introduction and centrifugal instrumentals, the album also contains "Needle of Death," which must be the darkest rumination on drug addiction recorded. The song's blue spirit and ambience has been interpreted by Roy Harper and Wizz Jones, both of whom present the song as an awestruck tribute to the greatly modest Jansch. On Lucky Thirteen, the guitarist swings between his Anglo-inflected circular songs and the blues form that he so loved and later abandoned, not so much replacing it as homogenizing it into his own self-defined style. Titles such as "Rambling's Gonna Be the Death of Me acknowledge his debt to the great blues artists such as Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, while "Running From Home" and "Casbah" expose a great affection for traditional Scottish and Irish music. To call the recording style pragmatic would be an understatement; the intimacy touches on desolation, with an almost overly private air in which gasps of breath and scratching of strings become as much a part of the music as his astonishing technique and exquisite baritone.

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