23. Bert Jansch and John Renbourn – Soho (1966)

At the end of the 1960s, music in England either got very, very loud (Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin) or else it got very, very quiet (the “folk baroque”). I grew up as a fan of the ear-shattering bone-shaking stuff; I used to write off all the plinky-plunky folkie music as hippie nonsense.  After all, even Dylan went electric in ’65 — and five years later these people were still playing mandolins? And uilleann pipes? And hurdy-gurdys? And even [shudder] recorders? What the hell was wrong with them?

Plus, the bands had names like “Fotheringay” and “Pentangle” and “Lindisfarne.” Those are terrible band names. Terrible.

But eventually, I suppose I got a little older and a little more open-minded. Or, if I’m honest, I just got differently closed-minded. I still hate a lot of stuff. Whatever the case may be, I will now propose, with only minor embarrassment, that there is some strange and heavy music that came out of the late 1960s British folk revival. And there is some utter crap. But let’s listen to some of the good stuff, shall we?

Here are Bert Jansch and John Renbourn (who would later go on to form “Pentangle”) — two roommates living in London, both about 22, with a track about Soho recorded in a friend’s apartment in Camden Town. Crank it up.

The literary-minded among you might also want to have a look at Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” alongside this lyric — maybe some interesting parallels?

Bert Jansch & John Renbourn

Bert Jansch & John Renbourn

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