The record I bring to you today is one of those things I have loved for decades but only put my hands on in vinyl form very recently.
I probably knew of the Pentangle for close to 40 years, but only started to investigate their music in the mid-80s when I first got into Nick Drake, and then on into UK folk rock of the 60s and 70s.
I made the direct conection of the Pentangle via one of their two amazing guitarists, the brilliant Bert Jansch, and first hear ‘Light Flight’ on a UK folk rock comp sometime in the late 80s.
The tune stood out because it was at once wholly of its time and also unmoored to the sound of 1969.
Pentangle formed in 1967, when Jansch and John Renbourn were already established on the folk scene as performers and recording artists.
They joined up with vocalist Jaqui McShee, bassis Danny Thompson (who would go on to record with Nick Drake) and drummer Terry Cox.
They were – like Fairport Convention – at least as Jefferson Airplane-y as they were mystical British Isles folk, with Pentangle also bringing in an element of jazz to their sound.
‘Light Flight’ originally appeared on the group’s 1969 LP “Basket of Light’ and was also used as the theme to a BBC TV drama called ‘Take Three Girls’.
It is a fascinating piece of music, as it is simultaneously jazzy (thanks in large part to Terry Cox’s drumming), dancing around the periphery of psychedelia and almost entirely acoustic which associates it with the folk scene without really being ‘folk’ music at all.
There is a waltz-time at the heart of the piece, with Thompson’s bass and the guitars of Jansch and Renbourn dancing around each other.
McShee’s vocal is hypnotic, especially when she is double-tracked duetting with herself.
It is a very groovy, and very unusual 45.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you all next week.
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