Friday, 23 March 2018

"Another Monday" by JOHN RENBOURN (April 2002 Castle Music CD Reissue - Andy Pearce and Sean Magee Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Gonna Blow My Blues Away..."

After the shaky but promising start of his debut "John Renbourn" in February 1966 - along came album No. 2 "Another Monday" in December of that amazing year and things really started cooking for Marylebone's finest Acoustic Guitar virtuoso.

This seriously hard-to-find album is still only listed at £30 in the 2018 Edition of The Record Collector's 'Rare Record Price Guide' but try finding one in any condition for that money. With this CD reissue hovering at around four to eight quid - I suppose these days we're a little blasé as to just how rare this record is – but what is for sure – via digital Joe Public has access to a great rarity that would have been otherwise out of their reach.

At a piddly twenty-eight minutes exactly, Renbourn's second is hardly guilty of Prog excess when it comes to playing time, but it does 'throw its arms around you like a circle around the sun' as the great man sings in "I Know My Babe". "Another Monday" is a beautifully even-handed album - a cool breeze listen all the way through and I for one love his voice even though there were those at the time that slagged it off and would have paid him good money to never open his gob again (one went ballistic generous, taking all of his might to describe JR as a 'pleasant enough singer'). That cruel assessment was balls IMO because when you listen to his three duets with future Pentangle leading light Jacqui McShee on "Lost Lover Blues", "Can't Keep From Crying" and "Nobody's Fault But Mine" - the combo of their voices produced magic to my ears. Throw in the instrumental "One For William" where he accompanies himself on Oboe of all things using the ponderous pseudonym 'Jennifer d0e Montforte-Jones' and you get some trippy Acid Folk moments that also touch on a slight Jazz vibe. There's so much to love here - let's get to the weeklies...

UK released April 2002 (re-issued March 2008) - "Another Monday" by JOHN RENBOURN on Sanctuary/Castle Music CMRCD436 (Barcode 5050159143627) is a straightforward CD transfer and Remaster of the original 12-track 1966 Stereo LP and plays out as follows (28:00 minutes):

1. Another Monday [Side 1]
2. Ladye Nothinge's Toye Puffe
3. I Know My Babe
4. Waltz
5. Lost Love Blues
6. One For William
7. Buffalo [Side 2]
8. Sugar Babe
9. Debbie Anne
10. Can't Keep From Crying
11. Day At The Seaside
12. Nobody's Fault But Mine
Tracks 1 to 12 are his second studio album "Another Monday" - released December 1966 in the UK on Transatlantic Records TRA 149 (unreleased in the USA). Produced by BILL LEADER - it didn't chart. NOTES: All tracks written by Renbourn except 3, 5, 8, 10 and 12 which are Traditional Song and Blues covers. Tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 11 are instrumentals; Renbourn sings Lead Vocals on Tracks 3 and 8 and duet vocals with Jacqui McShee [later with Pentangle] on Tracks 5, 10 and 12.

The 12-page booklet has wonderfully informative liner notes from COLIN HARPER author of "Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch And The British Folk Blues Revival" from 2000 (Bloomsbury Books). There are some photos of a beardy John looking suitably pensive (one on a chair with his acoustic miked-up and ready to take the English music scene by the scruff of the neck), a two-page advert spread for Sanctuary's reissue program for Renbourn and the band he would be most famously associated with. Speaking of which - on Page 8 is a photo of the 'blond-haired' singer Jacqui McShee – a Folky on the scene since 1960 and introduced to Renbourn in 1965 - thereby beginning a musical partnership that blossomed with Danny Thompson, Terry Cox and Bert Jansch into the mighty Pentangle.

But the big news here is a gorgeous Remaster from two fave Audio Engineers of mine – ANDY PEARCE and SEAN MAGEE. Pearce has done wads of great transfers across a large set of genres - Rory Gallagher, Free, Spooky Tooth, Wishbone Ash, ELP, Uriah Heep, Status Quo, John Renbourn, Pentangle, Budgie, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, The Bible and many more. Magee has been involved in the prestigious and much-praised Beatles Remasters as well as Lennon solo reissues. This is a lovely sounding CD – warm and inviting and as much of it consists of simple acoustic instrumentals – songs ping out of your speakers with real clarity.

It opens with two short instrumental originals - "Another Monday" and "Ladye Nothinge's Toye Puffe" - loveliness that flows over you sweetly (he revisited "Ladye..." on "The Nine Maidens" album in 1985). Renbourn sings "I Know My Babe" - a Blues Traditional that James Taylor based "Circle 'Round The Sun" on when he covered it too on his 1968 Apple Records debut "James Taylor". Renbourn's picking, his warm-toned vocal delivery and the "...sun's gonna shine..." lyrics all combine to make a fast-paced Acoustic mini masterpiece out of "I Know My Babe". But of all the instrumentals on the LP - his own "Waltz" is by far the most hair-raisingly brilliant - feeling like some lost Blues Speeder on some forgotten Folkways LP of the early Fifties (and you can so hear where Page nicked a few licks for Zeppelin). A cover of Blind Boy Fuller's "Lost Lover Blues" becomes the first of three featuring Jacqui McShee on duet vocals with Renbourn - sure ain't got no lovin' baby now. Combined with Renbourn moonlighting as the po-faced pseudonym Jennifer de Montforte-Jones the 'Oboe' player - the Acid Folk instrumental of "One For William" ends Side 1 on a high.

He advises in the rear-sleeve liner notes that Side 2's "Buffalo" is from the repertoire of Davy Graham - yet it’s credited as a Renbourn original on the label. "Sugar Babe" is another Blues Traditional that he admits is a thinly disguised "Lost Lover Blues" where our poor chap has to leave on the morning train (woman troubles you know). "Debbie Anne" is an instrumental picker that precedes the second Jacqui McShee collaboration - a Blues Traditional called "Can't Keep From Crying" taught to Renbourn by Mike Rogers. As he speeds up and down the frets - she hits a low chorus duet vocal that works perfectly. At only 1:11 minutes "Day At The Seaside" is very short but also very lovely. And it all comes to a wicked finishing line – John on the bottleneck guitar as he slides through the Blues Standard "Nobody's Fault But Mine" with Jacqui on her final vocal contribution. If the poor girl singing the song doesn't read her Bible - her soul will be lost and it'll be... Well I'm not so sure about that - but I love the way it finishes "Another Monday".

Sometimes albums aren't overly flashy or chock to the monkey-nuts with obvious zippy-lick brilliance - sometimes they're just sweet and good on the brain - and yes – on the soul too. The quietly lovely "Another Monday" is one of the records.

"...The sun's gonna shine on my back door someday..." - Renbourn sang on "I Know My Babe". Let in this ray of light shine into your home someday. And remember sinners - if you don't - it ain't "Nobody's Fault But Mine"...

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