Monday, 28 March 2011

Bert Jansch & John Renbourn - Bert And John (1966)

I want to talk a little about this record. I picked this up for 50p in a charity shop in Muswell Hill, (one of my better chazza shop buys as Record Collector values it at £12). It's a short record, mainly instrumentals featuring the magical acoustic meanderings of the Pentangle boys, the odd vocal here and there. Probably recorded in an afternoon session with a basic set-up - a couple of mics, teabags, a kettle and some rolling baccy.

One thing I really love about it though is the cover. They're sat by a window with the murky brown curtains half drawn, playing the ancient Chinese game of Go. If you're not familiar with this game it's very simple to learn, but richly strategic. I think it's actually considered a martial art in Korea with Dan style gradings of ability. There's tea on the side, and fags about to be sparked up. For some resason I always think they're nursing a hangover, it's probably the half drawn curtain. And that they're having a wake-up game of Go before getting round to quickly recording the LP, so that they can get out on the lash again for that hair of the dog pint and whisky chaser. That probably speaks volumes about my lifestyle at the time of acquiring this LP. I'd moved to to London a couple of years previously and shared a room (actually even a mattress) with my elder brother for a year or so of sowing wild oats, getting outrageously drunk, smoking plenty of cigs and generally partying too hard. eventually common sense and/or exhaustion intervened and we both calmed down and became more or less respectable (and healthier).

Somehow though, everytime I look at this sleeve I see myself and our kid, at a time in our lives when everything was new and fun, tomorrow was not to be thought or cared about. It was perhaps the only time I've ever truly been a ramblin man. (In truth I was no doubt a complete prat but let's stick with the romantic version).

Over to Bert and John...