Monday, 15 August 2016

"L.A. Turnaround" by BERT JANSCH (2009 EMI/Charisma 'Expanded & Enhanced' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Let The Sunshine In..."

After eight years with Transatlantic (1965 to 1971) and a brief flit with Reprise Records for "Moonshine" in 1972 - Pentangle's gifted Guitar Player and perennial folky BERT JANSCH recorded three albums with Tony Stratton Smith's Charisma Records - all beloved, revered and absent from CD for decades - 1974's "L.A. Turnaround", 1975's "Santa Barbara Honeymoon" and 1977's "A Rare Conundrum".

All three of these rare and sought-after UK vinyl originals have been given a digital dust-up by Charisma (now part of EMI) and reissued/remastered with Bonus Tracks and Enhanced CD Video. And what a tasty job they've done too. In fact I'd argue you need the lot (never enough Bert in our house) - but if I was to zero in on just one for the house-is-burning-down arm pile - then you'd have to say that this melodic peach should be singled out. Here's one to let the sunshine in...

UK released June 2009 - "L.A. Turnaround" by BERT JANSCH on EMI/Charisma CASCDX 1090 (Barcode 5099996486306) is an 'Extended & Enhanced' CD Remaster with Four Bonus Tracks and an 'ECD Section' (three of the Bonus and the 13:12 minute movie are Previously Unreleased). It plays out as follows (49:28 minutes):

1. Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning
2. Chambertin
3. One For Jo
4. Travelling Man
5. Open Up The Watergate (Let The Sunshine In)
6. Stone Monkey
7. Of Love And Lullaby [Side 2]
8. Needle Of Death
9. Lady Nothing
10. There Comes A Time
11. Cluck Old Hen
12. The Blacksmith
Tracks 1 to 12 are his 9th studio album "L.A. Turnaround" - released September 1974 in the UK on Charisma CAS 1090 (no US release - didn't chart in the UK).

BONUS TRACKS (see Notes for 13, 14 and 15):
13. Open Up The Watergate (Alternate Version)
14. One For Jo (Alternate Version)
15. The Blacksmith (Alternate Version)
16. In The Bleak Midwinter - non-album A-side to a December 1974 UK 7" single on Charisma CB 240 (the album cut "One For Jo" was the B-side). Produced by Ralph McTell

L.A. Turnaround...The Movie (13:12 minutes)
Contains: There Comes A Time, Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning, Travelling Man and One For Jo.
Filmed during the making of "L.A. Turnaround" at Tony Stratton-Smith's home, Luxford House in Sussex.
Features Bert Jansch, Mike Nesmith, Red Rhodes and others

NOTES: Tracks 13, 14, 15 and the ECD Section are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

The 8-page booklet shows the lyric insert that came with original British LPs (centre pages) and is complimented by superb and informational liner notes from noted music writer and lover - MICK HOUGHTON. There's even a footnote from the man who signed him and ran Charisma - Tony Stratton Smith. There's a 'mad hatter' Famous Charisma Records repro label on the CD, a shot of Jansch and acoustic guitar during recording beneath the see-through CD tray and stills from the 'boys in the country' film that's part of the ECD Section. But the big news is a gorgeous CD Remaster by BERT JANSCH and PETER MEW at Abbey Road Studios - the whole album (and its previously unreleased outtakes) sounding sublime...

Very Folk orientated with a dash of Acoustic Rock thrown in here and there – surrounded by Yes, ELP, Genesis, Led Zeppelin and Roxy Music - "L.A. Turnaround" was decidedly downbeat and maybe even 'too simple' for late 1974. And yet it’s beautiful because of that. Produced by Pentangle's John Renbourn in Paris in 1972 - the four-minute "Chambertin" with just Jansch on Acoustic Guitar is a good example – the kind of swirling, rolling, finger-picking work-out that gives Instrumentals a good name (beautiful audio on this highlight). Equally tasty is his cover of John Renbourn's "Lady Nothing" – another pretty melody that feels almost spiritual in its 'just the music' warmth. As some of have already mentioned the 'bird chirping' that opens "Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning" is AWOL - and without explanation either (couldn't get copyright on nature). But in truth - the song is so lovely, so soothing and bathed in beautiful Pedal Steel Guitar work from Red Rhodes – that bluntly I’m not that bothered.

"One For Jo" feels like an ancient English folk song - but it's a modern-day tale of dreamer that Jo clearly loves despite Bert's worries that he's all mouth and even a bit 'slow'. Politics rears its ugly head in the decidedly upbeat "Open Up The Watergate (Let The Sunshine In)". With Jesse Ed Davies playing  superb slide guitar - Klaus Voorman on Bass and Danny Lane on Drums - it sounds more like Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance than the Bert Jansch we know (it's one of my faves on the album). Mike Nesmith of The Monkees plays Guitar on "Stone Monkey" while Red Rhodes puts in Pedal Steel - it's the kind of song that took me a while to like.

No such problem with Side 2's opener - the beautiful "Of Love And Lullaby" - a gorgeous lilting folk ballad you can't help thinking that both Robert Plant and Jimmy Page would have given up a gonad to pen. Drug abuses seeps off the dark "Needle Of Death" - while the ghosts of a 1970 Matthews Southern Comfort permeate the whole of "There Comes A Time" - again aided and abetted by Mike Nesmith and especially Red Rhodes on the Pedal Steel. Kansas man Byron Berline brings his ex Dillards fiddle and mandolin to "Cluck Old Hen" - a song that feels like a Fairport Convention/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hybrid. Doc Watson's "The Blacksmith" ends the LP - a wickedly upbeat song dominated by Mike Cohen's beautifully complimentary 'electric' keyboards (Cohen wrote "Mary, Mary" for The Monkees and was part of Mike Nesmith's band).

After a nice album - I wasn't expecting much from the Bonus Tracks - but I agree with Mike Houghton's assessment that the Pedal Steel variant of "Open Up The Watergate" and Mike Cohen's use of Acoustic Piano rather than electric is just as fab as the released version - if not better. Crisply produced by Ralph McTell – Jansch’s 2:22 minute cover of the seasonal Traditional "In The Bleak Midwinter" keeps a beautiful melody simple – bolstering it up towards the end with male and female Christmas voices like a soft-spoken Colliery Choir. Sweet as...

PS: see also reviews for CD Remasters of "Rosemary Lane" (1971) and "Avocet" (1978)

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