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All This Remains
October 5, 2011 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Folk guitar legend Bert Jansch has passed away aged 67.

Founder member of folk rock group Pentangle, he also recorded (at least) 25 solo albums between his 1965 eponymous debut and the 2006 Black Swan.

He was arguably the most influentual acoustic guitarist of his time. Neil Young said Jansch was to acoustic guitar what Hendrix was to electric. Jimmy Page was obsessed with his work and stole the Jansch arrangement of 'Blackwaterside' wholesale for the Led Zeppelin tune 'Black Mountain Side'. Johnny Marr said Jansch was the only guitarist whose arrangements he ever tried to work out (and discusses him at length here).

Listen:
posted by motty (47 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
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Light Flight was a recent discovery.
posted by artaxerxes at 7:03 AM on October 5, 2011


Oh, wow, that's a real loss!
posted by OmieWise at 7:03 AM on October 5, 2011


. Wow. A Giant.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:06 AM on October 5, 2011


Damn. I saw him supporting Joanna Newsom in Dublin in July. He could still play like a mofo.
posted by kersplunk at 7:10 AM on October 5, 2011


Damn, 67, that's too young.

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posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:11 AM on October 5, 2011


I just became aware of Bert five or six years ago and it's been a wonderful journey picking up his albums and discovering the wonderment of his whole catalog. It Don't Bother Me and the two albums with John Renbourn are absolute faves. When I heard he was still touring I was looking forward to getting a chance to see him live.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:20 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:24 AM on October 5, 2011


Way too young.
I was very fortunate to see him open for Neil Young at Massey Hall a few months ago.
He certainly influenced a lot of music.
posted by chococat at 7:34 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by box at 7:43 AM on October 5, 2011


I saw him a few solo a few times. His shows were very informal. I remember once, he started a song, and was not pleased with how he'd started it, and, about 6 bars in, stopped and explained that he'd screwed up and started it again. The other thing I remember was that he was playing a Yamaha, which looked like one of the inexpensive models that people learned on.
posted by Danf at 7:47 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by Mister Bijou at 8:01 AM on October 5, 2011


A brilliant guitarist.
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posted by rocket88 at 8:03 AM on October 5, 2011


Truly great.
posted by Abiezer at 8:16 AM on October 5, 2011


Oh man. Brilliant musician, got to see him a few years ago. A true classic.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:19 AM on October 5, 2011


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Just listening to him last night.
posted by kenko at 8:26 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by cookie-k at 8:28 AM on October 5, 2011


Apparently he could be found playing in pubs in Edinburgh, though I never saw him.
posted by fraac at 8:29 AM on October 5, 2011


Terribly sad news. A fairly well-known musician friend introduced me to Jansch's work about 8 or 9 years ago. They were working together at the time and he told me he thought Bert's stuff would be right right up my alley. He was right. I got to see him play a few months later and was drawn into the music in a way I seldom am.
posted by item at 8:34 AM on October 5, 2011


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He will be missed. I particularly love The Black Swan.
posted by brand-gnu at 8:36 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by peterkins at 8:48 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by seldomfun at 9:03 AM on October 5, 2011


Oh, man, his work with John Renbourn on those first few Pentangle records - open, jazzy, psychedelic genius folk music - is some of my favorite stuff from the late 60s. Thanks, Bert, for such great music.
posted by mediareport at 9:06 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by El Brendano at 9:22 AM on October 5, 2011


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Had the great good fortune to be dragged to him playing at Bumbershoot a few years ago. Utterly, utterly mesmerizing.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:25 AM on October 5, 2011


I am a huge Bert Jansch/Pentangle fan and this is a great loss to the music community. Now he can make beautiful music in musician heaven. Thanks for all the great songs, Bert.
posted by Lynsey at 9:25 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by mneekadon at 10:10 AM on October 5, 2011



Neil Young said Jansch was to acoustic guitar what Hendrix was to electric

This is no exaggeration. No one played like that before Jansch, but once he made the scene, everyone wanted to play like him. Weird, wild, imaginative playing that nevertheless fit within traditional structures.

A great loss, even diminished by the usual showbiz dissipations and long-time chronic arthritis.

I still have my copy of Lucky Thirteen, his first US release. It's one of my most beat-up LPs that still gets played. Here's my favourite from his very first: "Angie", composed by Davey Graham. Nice job working Nat Adderley's Work Song into it. How many guitars does this sound like to you?

Thanks Bert.

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posted by Herodios at 10:12 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by obloquy at 10:22 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


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Bert Jansch - Needle of Death

Neil Young - Ambulance Blues

Neil - "I was especially taken by Needle Of Death, such a beautiful and angry song. That guy was so good… And years later, on On The Beach, I wrote the melody of Ambulance Blues by styling the guitar part completely on Needle Of Death. I wasn’t even aware of it, and someone else drew my attention to it."
posted by porn in the woods at 10:42 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


An odd and sad coincidence for me, since only two weeks ago have I finally started delving into Pentangle, and have been listening to almost nothing but them for that time. And I don't want to listen to anything else right now - they're marvelous.

I'm happy that there's so much more of Jansch's music that I have not yet discovered, but sad that there will be no more.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2011


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posted by omnidrew at 11:07 AM on October 5, 2011


The other thing I remember was that he was playing a Yamaha, which looked like one of the inexpensive models that people learned on.
posted by Danf at 3:47 PM on October 5


Yamaha make some good acoustics.
posted by Decani at 11:13 AM on October 5, 2011


i probably haven't heard as much of him as i need to, but he was a great guitarist who was influencial on many guitarists i have listened to, including young and page - at least neil was gracious enough to admit what he copped from him

much of the pentangle stuff is truly great

and once you've heard him do blackwater side, you won't be back to hear mr page do it
posted by pyramid termite at 12:37 PM on October 5, 2011


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posted by smithsmith at 12:47 PM on October 5, 2011


I grew up with two parents who were both huge Jansch/Renbourn/Pentangle fans. His music was some of the first I heard – or at least the first that stuck in my memory – and some of the first music I truly fell in love with. Jansch seemed to play like a spider; as Herodios said up above, listen to his version of Angie, and it sounds like the work of two or three people.

I've been trying to track down a transcript of when I interviewed him, and I'm buggered if I can find it. I was nervous and approached meeting him with trepidation; this was the first time I'd interviewed someone whose work I had loved since being a small child. I needn't have worried. We sat in a quiet Edinburgh pub on a weekday afternoon and chewed the fat for an hour, and he was sweet and shy and modest (unnecessarily so, I think, in the case of the latter, which is putting it mildly). I did find a copy of the article that resulted, though, from which the following exchange is taken:

Me: Can you imagine doing anything but music?
Jansch: Well, I keep trying to build cupboards, and I'm fairly successful at that.

RIP, Bert. I'll miss you, and so will my dad, who is currently in a pretty bad way, and was further floored by the news today.
posted by Len at 3:01 PM on October 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm jealous of everyone who saw him because, well, I never did get around to it. Amazing guitar player. RIP, dear sir.
posted by sleepy pete at 5:07 PM on October 5, 2011


Always loved his version of "Katie Cruel," with Beth Orton on vocals, from Black Swan. RIP, Bert.
posted by Rangeboy at 5:08 PM on October 5, 2011


And just as an aside, I really love this cover of "Needle of Death" by, of all people, Yo La Tengo. It could be that I love Georgia's voice, though. OK, off to listen to Sweet Child.
posted by sleepy pete at 5:13 PM on October 5, 2011


Bert Jansch's Lucky Thirteen was one of the eye-openers in my life. His music (the title track, Needle of Death, The Wheel) was so different from what I had been listening to up to that point. I was introduced to this LP by a guy in Waskesiu Lake, Saskatchewan, in the summer of 1970. Thanks for the music, Bert. And Ian MacKinnon, if you see this, thank you too.
posted by dmayhood at 5:14 PM on October 5, 2011


My favourite Bert Jansch song is Poison.
posted by ovvl at 5:28 PM on October 5, 2011


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Yet another reason to wish I had a time machine, (this is all IIRC territory): he did a gig with my (at the time) boss at Perth library. And I kinda skipped it, because it was easier just to go home, and he was just some old folk dude (ironically I had Pentangle on vinyl, and loved the arse of it, just didn't click that he was actually that guy - the path of least resistance and all that).
posted by titus-g at 6:05 PM on October 5, 2011


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posted by Obscure Reference at 6:12 PM on October 5, 2011


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posted by Adventurer at 6:45 PM on October 5, 2011


Pentangle - House Carpenter with Bert on banjo and vocals

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posted by captain cosine at 8:17 PM on October 5, 2011


Been listening to Pentangle all evening. Forgot how much I enjoy this music and Bert's unique voice alongside Jaqui McShee's. Thanks for the music-- it's timeless.
posted by Heretic at 8:53 PM on October 5, 2011


The lovely 1992 documentary Acoustic Routes follows Bert Jansch's story and features many of the musicians who were close to him, including Davey Graham and the elusive Anne Briggs. BRownie McGee, one of Jansch's heroes, also appears. Billy Connolly, part of the scene himself, presents. Part 2, part 3, part 4,, part 5, part 6, part 7.
posted by Mellon Udrigle at 2:59 AM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


wow!
posted by incontri at 4:47 AM on October 6, 2011


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