The Pentangle – 1968

This is just a preview of what’s coming up. The Pentangle’s “Traveling Song” my track of the day, signals the shift of Britain’s folk groups from mere mimicry of traditional music. This shift would take traditional music, and reimagine it as a current form of expression.

Formed in 1967, this group led by guitar gods Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, initially tried to use this band as an extension for their duo work. Their early collaborative albums were already steps in this direction. Those albums had melodic imagination but lacked a certain oomph to make a definitive statement. I can tell what they were grasping at. It was a Medieval or knightly sound that could be mutated with modern influences.

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Luckily for them, they happened about some of the greatest English musicians that ever lived, who were relative unknowns back then: bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Terry Cox. Danny was a jazz cat through and through, and a devout Charles Mingus aficionado. Terry, a remarkably tasteful drummer who would shuffle, rather than pound beats. Together with the sweet thoroughly Saxon voice of Jacqui McShee they created a proper template for other future bands to follow.

Sweet Child album cover.

Somehow, in Sweet Child, the album this track was off of, they realized that there was a way to show that some kind of ancient, English music had a lot in common with the modern ideas of free jazz, improvisation and sonic experimentation. I guess you could say that they realized that looking back at Wyrd England one could go beyond simple psychedelia. Anyway, this is just a taste of what’s coming and not the last I’ll write about them…

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