Friday, April 25, 2014

Blues Masters 1 of 2 (+playlist)

Bert Jansch (1943 – 2011) (Pentangle)

Herbert "Bert" Jansch was born in Glasgow in 1943. He grew up in Edinburgh (West Pilton) and learned to play on a homemade guitar as a teenager. Bert became interested in folk music and frequented the pubs and club of Edinburgh. There he met Archie Fisher and Jill Doyle who introduced him to the music of Big Bill Broonzy, Pete Seeger, Brownie McGhee and Woody Guthrie. Bert moved to a flat in Edinburgh which he shared with Robin Williamson. Determined to become a full time musician he supplement his income as a novice performer at the Howff before playing one-night stands in British folk clubs for a couple of years. During this time he was influenced by many of his fellow musicians including Martin Carthy and Ian Campbell, but especially Anne Briggs. In 1963 he took two years out to travel and hitched across Europe living on earnings from busking. On his return he settled in London where he quickly established himself as an acoustic guitarist, as well as a singer-songwriter. He recorded the album Bert Jansch (1965) which included the protest song "Do You Hear Me Now" later recorded by Donovan. The album also included "Needle of Death", a stark anti-drugs lament written after a friend died of a heroin overdose. Jansch followed his first album with two more, produced in quick succession: It Don't Bother Me and Jack Orion contained his first recording of "Blackwaterside," the arrangement was heavily influenced by his friend Anne Briggs. Later Led Zeppelin recorded a version of the song retitled "Black Mountain Side". Jansch continued to tour the folk circuit and met many innovative acoustic guitar players. He shared a Kilburn flat with John Renbourn and together they developed intricate interplay between their two guitars, often referred to as 'Folk baroque'. The Bert and John album was recorded in 1966 but tired of touring they took up residence at the Horseshoe pub in Tottenham Court Road. The duo gigged with several musicians and singers including Sandy Denny and Jacqui McShee. They were often joined by Danny Thompson (string bass) and Terry Cox (drums) and formed Pentangle with Jacqui McShee. The name Pentangle was chosen to represent the five members of the band. The band signed up with Transatlantic Records and their debut LP was released in 1968. Their first major gig was at London’ s Royal Festival Hall, and recordings from that concert formed part of their second album, Sweet Child . The group embarked on a demanding schedule of touring the world and recording. Jansch played a number of instruments including, accoustic guitar, banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, recorder, concertina, and occasionally electric guitar. They reached their highest point of commercial success with the release of Basket Of Light in 1969. The single, Light Flight was used as the theme music for a BBC TV drama series Take Three Girls . In 1970, they recorded a soundtrack for the film Tam Lin, but their follow up album Cruel Sister (1970) which included traditional songs bombed. Two further albums followed but failed to attract much interest. The band was strained from touring and Pentangle split in 1973 after the release of of their final album, Solomon's Seal. Bert took a few years' break from music industry returning in the late 1970s to work on a series of projects with other musicians. He joined a reformed Pentangle in the early 1980s and remained with them as they evolved through various changes of personnel until 1995. The original band formally reformed again in 2008. They undertake a UK tour, including a return to the Royal Festival Hall, where they recorded the Sweet Child album forty years earlier. In 2011 the original Pentangle played some limited concerts but by this time Bert was ill with throat cancer. He continued to work as a solo artist up until his death in 2011. Jansch's was an inspiration to a generation of musicians including Paul Simon, Neil Young, Nick Drake, Gordon Giltrap, Tsuneo Imahori, and Donovan among many others.

Worth a listen
Angie (1965)
Tinker’s Blues (1965)
Needle of Death (1965)
Do You Hear Me Now (1965)
Blackwater Side (1966)
First time I ever saw your face (1966)
Nicola (1967)
Miss Heather Rosemary Sewell (1968)
Blues (1968)
M'Lady Nancy (1971)
Bird Song (1971 )
The Road to Dundee (1990)
Black Cat Bones (2005)

Bert Jansch and John Renbourne

Tic-Tocative (1966)
After the dance (1966)

Light flight (1969)

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Nazareth was formed in 1968 in Dunfermline, Scotland. The lineup consisted of Dan McCafferty (vocals), Manny Charlton (guitar), Pete Agnew (bass) and Darrell Sweet (drums). The band were previously called The Shadettes but changed their name to suit their style of progressive rock music. Nazareth refers to the Band’s opening line of The Weight. At first the group felt constrained being limited to play covers of singles in the UK Top Thirty only by local ballroom managers. Ironically some of their most popular music included classic reinterpretations of the music of others. The group based in Scotland also felt alienated and estranged by a London centric music industry. In 1970 they left the Belleville Hotel and Kinema Ballroom of Fife and moved to London and released their first album to general indifference. Under the management of bingo magnate Bill Fehilly they released Exercises in 1972, and played support on the Deep Purple UK tour and Rory Gallagher on his European leg. Gradually their fan base grew and when they released Razzmatazz (1973), the album spawned two UK Top Ten hits, "Broken Down Angel" and "Bad Bad Boy". Loud 'N' Proud followed soon after with their cover version of Joni Mitchell's song "This Flight Tonight" giving Naz another single success. Their record company Mooncrest was eager for more singles’ sales but the band preferred albums as was the trend of all progressive rockers. Rampant, was release in 1974, but the single "Shanghai'd in Shanghai", failed to chart in the UK. The band released My White Bicycle which became a Top 20 hit in the UK. Hair of the Dog was released in April 1975 and was produced by Manny Charlton. The title track of that album became a staple of 1970s rock radio. In the US the album contained a version of The Everly Brothers’, "Love Hurts", the US album went platinum and the single was a resounding international hit. Throughout the next two decades the lineup changed several times as the band continued to record and tour. Manny left the band in 1990 as their popularity dwindled in the US and UK. Despite this the group maintained a strong following in Germany and Eastern Europe where they continued to have hits. In 1999 founding member and drummer Darrell Sweet tragically died suddenly from a major heart attack. Lead singer Dan McCafferty eventually retired in 2013 due to ill health leaving Pete Agnew as the only original member of the group. The band continues to perform and record with Linton Osborne as its front man.

Worth a listen

Dear John (1972)
Broken Down Angel (1973)
Bad Bad Boy (1973)
This Flight Tonight (1973 )
Shanghai'd in Shanghai (1974)
My White Bicycle (1975 )
Love Hurts (1975 )
Holly Roller (1975 )
I don’t want to go on without you (1976 )
Dream on (1982 )