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Monday, 29 January 2018
"A Man I'd Rather Be (Part 1)" by BERT JANSCH (January 2018 Earth 4CD Book Set with 2015 Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...
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probably going to disappoint a few BJ fans with this review (I'm let down
myself) - but I'm absolutely dumbfounded by the lacklustre presentation of this
Book Set from 'Earth' and the fact that it contains nothing I couldn't get
elsewhere - and frankly cheaper. It does have great points - namely the amazing
Audio - but again that's available elsewhere too and in better presentation
also. But let's get into the nitty gritty of this 4-Disc reissue first...
released Friday, 26 January 2018 (2 February 2018 in the USA) - "A Man I'd
Rather Be (Part 1)" by BERT JANSCH on Earth EARTHCD023 (Barcode
809236102324) is a Limited Edition 4CD 'Book Set' that contains his first four
albums on Transatlantic Records from 1965 and 1966 (two in each year). Volume 2
is released 26 February 2018 and contains the following four. There are also
4LP VINYL variants of these releases. It plays out as follows...
1 - "Bert Jansch" - 39:32 minutes
Strolling Down The Highway [Side 1]
Oh How Your Love Is Strong
I Have No Time
Rambling's Going To Be The Death Of Me
Needle Of Death
Do You Hear Me Now? [Side 2]
Running From Home
Dreams Of Love
1 to 15 are his debut album "Bert Jansch" - released April 1965 in
the UK on Transatlantic Records TRA 125 in Stereo (No US Issue). Produced by
BILL LEADER - all songs written by Jansch except "Angie" which is a
Davy Graham cover. Jansch plays Acoustic Guitar only.
2 - "It Don't Bother Me" - 44:07 minutes
Oh My Babe [Side 1]
A Man I'd Rather Be
It Don't Bother Me [Side 2]
Harvest Your Thoughts Of Love
As The Days Grow Longer Now
So Long (Been On The Road So Long)
Want My Daddy Now
1 to 14 are his 2nd album "It Doesn't Bother Me" - released December
1965 in the UK on Transatlantic Records TRA 132 in Stereo (No US Issue).
Produced by NATHAN JOSEPH - all songs written by Jansch except "Lucky
Thirteen" by John Renbourn, "So Long (Been On The Road So Long)"
by Alex Campbell and "900 Miles" - a Traditional. John Renbourn plays
guitar on "My Lover" and "Lucky Thirteen".
3 - "Jack Orion" - 32:38 minutes
1.The Waggoner's Lad [Side 1]
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
The Gardener [Side 2]
Black Water Side
1 to 8 are his 3rd album "Jack Orion" - released September 1966 in
the UK on Transatlantic Records TRA 143 in Stereo (No US Issue). Produced by
BILL LEADER - all tracks are Traditional Songs arranged by Bert Jansch except
"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" which is a Ewan MacColl song.
Jansch plays Acoustic Guitar on all songs as well as Banjo on "The
Waggoner's Lad" with Guitar accompaniment from John Renbourn on four songs
- "The Waggoner's Lad", "Jack Orion", "Henry
Martin" and "Pretty Polly".
4 - "Bert And John" - 26:32 minutes
East Wind [Side 1]
Goodbye Pork Hat
Red's Favourite [Side 2]
Along The Way
The Time Has Come
After The Dance
1 to 12 are his 4th album credited to BERT JANSCH and JOHN RENBOURN - released
September 1966 in the UK on Transatlantic Records TRA 144 in Stereo (No US
Issue). Produced by BILL LEADER - all songs are Jansch and Renbourn originals
except "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" and "The Time Has Come" which
are Charles Mingus and Anne Briggs covers respectively.
there's no mastering credits anywhere (amazingly lax) - it's clear to me that
these are the 2015 '50th Anniversary' Remasters done by BARRY GRINT in Alchemy
for BMG and issued in digipaks with 12-page booklets (Earth have licensed that
material). "Bert Jansch" was issued April 2015 on TRACD 125 (Barcode
5414939917516) – with the other three in September 2015 - "It Doesn't
Bother Me" on TRACD 132 (Barcode 5414939921483) - "Jack Orion"
on TRACD 143 (Barcode 5414939921513) and "Bert and John" on TRACD 144
(Barcode 5414939921544). These four reissues are still available on Amazon for
approximately six quid each (same tracks no extras) and I mention this because
here you don't get any artwork or notes really. The blurb on the sticker tells
you that you get Keith de Groot's original back-cover liner notes for 1965's
"Bert Jansch" as well as Jansch's own notes for the other three LPs
which were also on the rear sleeve. Well - the first LP is here but the other
three aren't. You don't even get the LPs front or rear artwork repro'd
anywhere! I suppose my biggest gripe is that the book's minimalist approach
ends up looking like a cop-out instead of a visual hurrah.
supposed new notes from BILL LEADER (Producer of three of the albums) runs to
about 4 short pages and he spends much of his time apologising for the poor
sound on the 1st LP and doesn't discuss the recording of the following three at
all. In fact most of the page-leaves are taken up listing the tracks. There are
some new outtake photos for the first record and the "Bert and John"
collaboration - but other than that - bugger all else – no memorabilia – no
concert tickets – hell the blurb in the Amazon description runs to longer (the
essay you do get doesn’t contain any comments from any famous musical
admirers). The incredibly rare and desirable September 1966 5-Track EP called
"Needle Of Death" had two exclusives - "Running From Home"
and "Green Are Your Eyes (Courting Blue)" - but despite the
ludicrously short playing times on Disc 3 and 4 - they're AWOL. There's no
extras or unreleased either - the 1993 Transatlantic/Demon reissues had those -
AUDIO is however spectacular - with even the notorious lo-fi debut coming out
smelling of clean roses (it was recorded with a Guitar, a Voice, a Microphone
and in a less-than-studio like Camden Flat). Both "Jack Orion" and
especially "Bert And John" are fabulous to hear - the duelling
instrumental guitars of "Bert And John" pinging in both speakers with
lovely warmth and clarity. You have to say that the music is beautifully
rendered - much like what was done by Island Records for the Nick Drake
catalogue in 2000. And speaking of influential "Stepping Stones" to
the ninth-degree - you can 'so' hear why singer-songwriters like Tom Paxton and
Paul Simon loved Jansch for taking Folk past the realms of merely strummed
instruments and into something new (almost early Folk Rock) and why
mega-guitarists like Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page obsessed on the man and his
techniques ("Black Water Side" famously turned up on "Zeppelin
1"). Other gems include his "Lucky Thirteen" duet with John
Renbourn - just sublime - and that version of Anne Briggs' "The Time Has
Come" still has the power to move too (I’d go on record in saying that I
love his voice – expressive and emotive in a way that English Folk needs). The
last two Acoustic instrumentals on the "Bert And John" album -
"Stepping Stones" and "After The Dance" have some
hair-raising duetting – the notes slapping and strings squeaking like their
dancing a dervish. In fact some 50+ years after the event – it’s still shocking
as to how good these albums are and how they’ve stood up. Wow...
you have the four 2015 '50th Anniversary' CD reissues with their tasty
digipaks, 12-page booklets and gorgeous remasters from original tapes - then
disappointingly this near 30-pound Earth Records Book Set from January 2018 is
a waste of your time and money (it really isn't that pretty to look at either).
I'm afraid I'm seriously thinking of cancelling my pre-order for Volume 2.
if you don't own them - well then you may want to consider ordering this
especially with the stupendous Audio on offer. I just wish "A Man I'd
Rather Be (Part 1)" actually had been a must-buy celebration of Bert
Jansch the man and his huge musical legacy instead of a visual ho-hum...