Saturday, 2 July 2016
"Rosemary Lane" by BERT JANSCH (2001 Sanctuary/Castle Music CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...
"...Your Heart Is Filled With The Pain Of True Love..."
Given the predominately 'Rock and Prog' musical landscape of May 1971 when it was released (George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" in February, "The Yes Album" by Yes in March, "Sticky Fingers" by The Rolling Stones in April and Mountain's "Nantucket Sleighride" in May) - is it any wonder that no-one on either side of the pond paid any attention to a purely Folk-Acoustic album on Transatlantic Records by BERT JANSCH (resplendent in its stippled-effect sleeve or not).
"Rosemary Lane" was an LP out of time in Blighty's May 1971 and the Ex Pentangle guitarist saw his seventh studio album sink without a ripple or a lifeboat. Yet I'd argue it's a total gem in a sea of noise (great noise mind you) - a beautiful, romantic and peaceful thing that's ripe for rediscovery. And this dinky little CD remaster of it from Sanctuary Records of the UK (part of Castle Music) - is an overlooked gem. Here are the dulcimer details...
UK released December 2001 - "Rosemary Lane" by BERT JANSCH on Sanctuary/Castle Music CMRCD335 (Barcode 5050159133529) is a straightforward 13-track CD Remaster of the 1971 album and plays out as follows (37:28 minutes):
1. Tell Me What Is True Love?
2. Rosemary Lane
3. M'Lady Nancy
4. A Dream, A Dream, A Dream
6. Wayward Child
7. Nobody's Bar
8. Reynardine [Side 2]
9. Silly Women
13. Bird Song
Tracks 1 to 13 are his 7th studio album "Rosemary Lane" - released May 1971 in the UK on Transatlantic TRA 235 and in the USA on Reprise RS 6455. Produced by BILL LEADER - all songs written by Bert Jansch (a co-write with John Renbourn on "Peregrinations") except the English Traditional covers of "Rosemary Lane", "Reynardine" and "Sylvie" - with "Alman" by British 16th Century Lute player Robert Johnson and "Sarabanda" by Italian violinist Archangelo Corelli.
The 12-page booklet has warmly written and informative liner notes from COLIN HARPER - Author of "Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch And The British Folk And Blues Revival" on Bloomsbury in 2000. There are several black and white snaps of Bert in his flat making tea and tuning his guitar. Beneath the see-through CD tray is a photo of the battered Transatlantic Records Master Tape Box and we get a truly beautiful Remaster by SEAN COTTER and ANDY PEARCE done at Masterpiece Mastering. The album is entirely acoustic and requires the deftest of touches and that's what you get - clarity and warmth and air around the gentle strums and guitar plucks. It's a top job done...
Keeping it simple yet interesting is a hard thing to get right - but that's where "Rosemary Lane" wins. None of the songs feature anything more than Acoustic Guitar and Voice - so the songs have to be strong to hold your attention let alone stroke the old soft machine. It opens with a firm fan fave-rave - the lovely "Tell Me What Is True Love?" It's followed by another gorgeous melody sung in that minstrel twang by Jansch - "Rosemary Lane" - a tale of a service man who meets a sailor and the maid "Pretty Polly" and that's when his misery began (oh dear).
"M'Lady Nancy" is the first of three instrumentals on the album - another being "Peregrinations" - a co-write with that other great stalwart of English Folk - John Renbourn. The Italian Violinist Archangelo Corelli penned "Sarabanda" way back in 17-hundred-and-something and provides us with the third instrumental. Another of my poisons is the lovely Traditional "Reynardine" which is so simple - so beautiful - a rambler song. His own "Bird Song" finishes the album on a quietly magisterial note...
A deeply old-fashioned LP rooted in the oldest of Traditions - one man, his guitar, his voice and his interpretations of old and new songs. "Rosemary Lane" is as lovely as it sounds. And well done to those Remaster Engineers (Sean Cotter and Andy Pearce) for making it sparkle anew...