Bert Jansch

The Best of Bert Jansch

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This collection proves that Bert Jansch isn't only one of the great guitar players, but also a writer of astonishing depth and complexity. "Needle of Death," "Running, Running From Home," and so many others have added to the canon of British folk songs, going on to become part of the standard repertoire of singer/songwriters. He is also a superb interpreter on an instrumental level, taking Davy Graham's "Angi" to heights its composer never imagined, and making the Irish song "Blackwaterside" (learned from girlfriend Anne Briigs) into a classic that would be transmuted by Led Zeppelin into "Black Mountain Side" -- which speaks volumes about the extent of Jansch's influence (Jimmy Page use to come and watch him play in London folk clubs, studying his technique). While this focuses on his solo work, which has continued to be a mainstay of his long career, his duets with John Renbourn and his work in Pentangle have made him into an icon (albeit with feet of clay, given the alcoholism he eventually beat). Few can match his delicacy on the fretboard or his somewhat wistful way with his voice -- casual, almost tossed-off on "It Don't Bother Me," then ruminating and caressing on a cover of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Here, then, are all the facets of Bert Jansch -- the singer, the writer, the player, the interpreter. He is indeed a man of many facets, each one glittering and gem-like. For once, this is a best-of that truly lives up to its name, and someone who truly deserves one.

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