John Renbourn

The Transatlantic Anthology

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John Renbourn is one of the great British acoustic guitar players. He's one of the few whose playing easily and naturally runs the gamut from traditional folk to blues to Celtic and Renaissance music and sounds masterly wherever he goes. As part of Pentangle, he broke down a few barriers between folk and jazz, and his solo career has shone for more than 35 years. The work that made his reputation, however, was done for the Transatlantic label, both solo and as a part of Pentangle, and this collection covers those years in very convincing style. The band, quite justifiably, gets a fair shake, with a gorgeous rendition of "Willy O'Winsbury" and the tortuous "In Time" being particular standouts. But all facets of Renbourn's capabilities are on show. "Lady Nothinge's Toye Puff" and "The Earle of Salisbury" showcase his love of medieval music, delicate dances that are exquisitely performed, while the blues side shines with "Faro Annie," "Kokomo Blues," "Come on in My Kitchen," and others. "Tic-Tocative" comes from his duet album with Bert Jansch (also a Pentangle member), and offers a perfect illustration of the way they expanded the horizons of folk in the mid-'60s. And, inevitably, there's a version of Jackson C. Frank's folk standard "Blues Run the Game," a de rigueur cover for any aspiring singer and guitarist in '60s London. The oddest thing, however, might be "My Sweet Potato," where Renbourn does Booker T. & the MG's -- unlikely, but it works like a silver charm. If you want to discover John Renbourn, this really is the perfect introduction.

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