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Now hate me ...
on October 6, 2010
Gee, friends, I've honestly tried and tried and tried, but I'm truly sorry ... I really don't get it. What is so wonderful about Bert Jansch? Now matter how much effort I put into it he still sounds to me as if he'd rather hit you on the head with a wooden plank than waste his time playing music to you. If he really doesn't bother, then why does he do it at all? I'm sure it would be so much easier to go on the dole and sit in the corner of a bedsit all day staring hard at the moldy spots on the wallpaper. And please tell me, is the guy half-deaf? Can't he hear that his guitar is extremely badly set up, the way it buzzes and squeaks? Doesn't he know you need to press those strings down just a bit harder to get a decent sound? Can't he hear his singing is way out of tune half the time? And that's not even the worst part of it. The worst part is the way he pulls the strings to make them slap against the instrument. That really cuts me like a knife. I have a feeling this is the embryonic version of all the idiotic and pointless guitar-slapping we hear so much of these days and which, honestly, there should be a law against. If they can seriously talk about making the slapping of children a police matter, then surely this kind of abysmal behaviour must take an even higher priority. Bring it before the international courts, that's what I say. The least they can do for the consumers is to label it under "circus act", not "music".
Okay, I know. There are people in this world considerably more musical than I, who think the sun shines out of this man's very backside. People whose opinions I very much respect, musicians I admire deeply, some of whom have even had substantial collaborations with Jansch over the years. Then again, there are probably also a few people out there who think and feel about Bert Jansch the way I do - people who realise there's something here they just don't get, however much they try and however much they'd like to.
So there it is. Now I've said it and you can hate me if you like, or you can be constructive and put in you comments and tell me what I have to do to understand the wonder of Jansch. I'm all ears - though perhaps that's actually the problem: I focus on the stuff he does wrong from a formal point of view, and it blocks my way into his music. Perhaps, but what can I do? You have to be honest in these reviews, and I really don't like this record at all.
Finally, I'm normally praising the Transatlantic CD reissues for being very well sounding. In this case, however, some pretty scruffy master tapes have been used. There are dropouts a-plenty (though with it being a mono record that problem could have been very easily sorted out) and other problems too, particularly with the bonus tracks.
(Next week: Neil Young.)