Another FIVE STARS to join the constellation for our ‘Man I’d Rather Be’ Collection (Part 1). Big thanks to Andy Gill at The Independent for the support, and this shining review.
Packaging together Bert Jansch’s first three albums – Bert Jansch, It Don’t Bother Me and Jack Orion – along with Bert And John, the collaboration with fellow six-string wizz John Renbourn that sowed the initial seeds that gave rise to Pentangle, this box set represents the motherlode of Sixties folk guitar. Jansch possessed the entrancing ability to deliver knuckle-knotting bouts of bravura fingerpicking like “Angie” and “Black Waterside” with a languid grace that belied the dazzling technique involved: where others’ pursuit of precision sometimes led to stiltedness, his integration of bluesy bent notes and flourishes gave Jansch’s performances a deceptively offhand character, underscoring the tone of weary, scuffed acquiescence in his delivery of songs like “Strolling Down The Highway” and “It Don’t Bother Me”. Initially writing most of his own material, including the delicately devastating drug requiem “Needle Of Death”, by 1966 Jansch began drawing on traditional songs such as “Nottamun Town” for Jack Orion, a crucial catalyst of the British folk-rock resurgence. All in all, a condensed dose of casual genius.