Pentangle – A Great Yet Underrated English Folk Rock Band

Pentangle are a great and very important British folk rock and classic rock band which was originally formed in London, United Kingdom in 1967. The original line-up of the band, which revolved around talented and charismatic female frontwoman as well as lead vocalist Jacqui McShee and was active throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, became one of the most well established folk rock acts in the United Kingdom during this period of time. Aside from lead vocalist and frontwoman Jacqui McShee, the band’s original line-up included exquisite guitarists John Renbourn and Bert Jansch (who were also co-vocalists and already popular musicians on their own and as a folk rock duo prior to joining the band), Danny Thompson (on acoustic bass), and Terry Cox (on drums). The music of the band is a mixture of folk rock, folk baroque, and folk jazz, all with a blues twist very early on.

Pentangle performing live in 1969. Image source: Commons Wikimedia

The name of the band represents all its five constituent members (a pentangle being a star in 5 points, also known as pentagram, an occult symbol used since ancient times, firstly attested in ancient Greece or Babylonia). The name Pentangle was also chosen given guitarist John Renbourn’s fascination with the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (part of the Arthurian legend) wherein the pentangle is depicted on Sir Gawain’s shield. The group has been signed with Transatlantic, Warner Bros., and Reprise. The band was initially active between 1967 and 1973 when it disbanded. It reformed in 1981 and has been continuously performing since. Their discography spans from 1968 to 2023. Their highest-ranking studio albums on the British charts were Basket of Light (released in 1969, ranked on number 5), The Pentangle (their debut studio album which was released in 1968 and was released in 1968, ranked on number 21), Cruel Sister (released in 1970, ranked on number 51).

Pentangle and Bert Jansch in particular influenced Led Zeppelin early on in their musical journey, especially so when it comes to ‘Black Mountain Side’ (originally ‘Black Waterside’, a traditional song, adapted but not rightfully credited on Led Zeppelin I). It’s very interesting for me to reminiscent over the fact that I actually discovered both Bert Jansch and Pentangle through Led Zeppelin or, shall I better put it, through some controversies regarding some of the songs by Led Zeppelin. Regardless, I am very grateful and happy that I have been able to listen to their great music to this very day. Pentangle and Bert Jansch have had a profound impact on me and it’s crystal clear that they influenced me, being a major part of my life. Below you can listen to a selection of their finest songs, according to my personal opinion, that is. I truly hope you will like listening to them because they are certainly well worth your time! All the best!

A very, very long time ago (and I was very lucky indeed):

A medieval rock song, if you will:
A traditional English ballad, adapted in an exquisite folk rock manner:
Moral of the song: your thyme is your thyme alone! Just about the same way as your time is your time alone as well!

The trees they grow high and the leaves they do grow green (they do, indeed):

Below you can watch a very interesting documentary on the band from the German television:

And, last but not least, here’s a great concert by the band from 1968 (very early on in their career) from the Norwegian television/NRK:

In conclusion, I feel very grateful, privileged, and happy that I have been able to discover, listen to, and further analyse (to the best of my capabilities, that is) this wonderful folk rock band which has plenty of fantastic gems in their discography (very much unfortunately I dare say, rather underrated at the same time). Thank you very much for stopping by, for your time, attention, and readership! It means much to me indeed and I am very grateful to you! All the best and rock on!

Documentation sources and external links:

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