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Watch: Bert Jansch in the studio with Mike Nesmith recording L.A. Turnaround
- Country /
- Documentary /
A short documentary filmed in 1974 captures the Scottish folk guitarist in the studio.
In the spring of 1974, Scottish guitarist Bert Jansch commenced recording sessions at label owner Tony Stratton-Smith’s house in Sussex, England and, later, Sound City in Los Angeles. A year prior, the guitarist had left the baroque folk band Pentangle, which he had cofounded with kindred spirit and former housemate John Renbourn. As with their beguiling 1966 album of duets, Bert and John, for Pentangle the two musicians drew on ancient British folk guitar techniques and turnings – but they amplified them for contemporary audiences reared on rock, jazz and folk.
A musician’s musician, Jansch was a prolific creator whose long discography includes brilliant studio albums and live recordings. We’re focusing on L.A. Turnaround, a mesmerizing work produced by former Monkee and country rock progenitor Michael Nesmith, which was laid to tape at Luxford house, Sussex on a mobile unit. Legendary pedal steel guitarist Red Rhodes adds beguiling instrumental harmonies.
Luckily, we don’t need to solely rely on words and sentences to convey the spirit of the sessions. During recording, Jansch allowed a film crew to capture the vibe. The result is a 10-minute documentary that time-travels you into the studio – and the dining room for dinner breaks and billiards room for bumper pool. That’s a bearded Nesmith with the Texas accent. (Note: You’re not experiencing deja vu; the below YouTube clip for some reason contains two entire edits of the footage.)
(Tracklist: A1 Fresh as a Sweet Sunday Morning 0:00; A2 Chambertin 3:57; A3 One for Jo; 8:03 A4 Travelling Man 10:42; A5 Open up the Watergate (Let the Sunshine In) 13:30; A6 Stone Monkey 16:10.)
Those interested in tracing Jansch’s evolution would be advised to take time to experience Jansch and Renbourn playing together in 1966, a year before they’d form Pentangle.
Curious to know how younger guitarists internalized Jansch’s style? Though it might not sound like it at first, the Smiths’ Johnny Marr has long acknowledged the guitarist’s influence. In the clip below, he outlines the ways that Jansch inspired his own approach to playing.
And, finally, here’s Pentangle performing Hunting Song, which Jansch introduces as “a sort of 13th century rock ‘n roll song,” on British TV. Prepared to be floored.
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