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Bert Jansch: Reissues

Folk-rock gold from the late, great writer/guitarist.

Recorded just weeks after his celebrated self-titled debut entered the marketplace, December 1965’s It Don’t Bother Me (710) is a raw but compelling snapshot of Bert Jansch’s exceptional talent in the ascendant.

Unsettling confessional Want My Daddy Now revisits the childhood trauma of parental desertion and a stunning reworking of Alex Campbell’s So Long (Been On The Road So Long) blues original confirms his interpretive genius.

John Renbourn accompanies on two highlights, the tumultuous My Lover and the mesmerising instrumental, Lucky Thirteen, Jansch’s first recorded outing on banjo. The presence of Jansch’s Pentangle sparring partner Renbourn is felt even more strongly on the two following 1966 albums.

The pair’s contrasting styles are given free rein over four songs on the magnificent Jack Orion (810), including the darkly thrilling title track and folk standard Pretty Polly. Blackwaterside would become the record’s most famous track, introduced to Jansch by folk doyenne Anne Briggs, this work of imaginative digital dexterity had a key impact on emerging guitar god Jimmy Page.

Clocking in at just over 27 minutes (and, like all the albums here, released without extra tracks) the largely instrumental Bert And John (810) is a slim but refined joy. Jansch’s uneasy bluesy tones underpin the skittish yet intricate lines that Renbourn favours. Swinging easily between Charles Mingus’s rhapsodic *Goodbye Pork Pie Hat *or the deft observation of Jansch’s Soho it’s an ear-kissing masterclass full of sly nuance and captivating atmospheres.

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.