‘Unpentangled: The Sixties Anthology’, from Cherry Red at a mere £23, is a 6CD set collecting John Renbourn’s three 1966-68 solo LPs, his two LPs with Dorris Henderson (1965 & 1967) and 1966’s ‘Bert and John’, with Bert Jansch, under one roof. It includes the handful of bonus outtakes that were previously added to Sanctuary CDs of ‘John Renbourn’ and ‘Sir John Alot’ and the three Dorris/John singles sides, plus ‘Lucky Thirteen’ appended to ‘John Renbourn’ and ‘The Waggoner’s Lad’ appended to ‘Bert and John’ (both of these being Renbourn/Jansch instrumental collaborations originally found on Jansch LPs of the period).
Progressive small-group jazz of the Horace Silver/Charles Lloyd variety was a big influence on Renbourn in this period, alongside other influences such as medieval music, British and Celtic folk song, and blues. These albums show together how John assimilated all of these influences into the style he brought to the Pentangle and later refined as a solo artist in the 70s.
David Wells has written and excellent essay and I supplied a load of period ads, pics and reviews to the 24-page booklet. Oli Hemingway did the mastering, which is excellent, and I asked him how he felt the sound on this release differed from previous releases:
Oli: ‘I wouldn’t say these masters were *significantly* different from previous ones, as sonically the audio was already of quite a good standard. Some albums required more restoration than others, but the audio quality and loudness on these has generally been raised to match today’s standards, with restoration work also being done to remove some extraneous musician and instrument movement noise throughout. I would say these are an update on what were already quite acceptable masters.’
If the set sells well, there may be future Renbourn collections from Cherry Red. Potentially, two sets could meaningfully collect his John Renbourn Group and solo releases, plus scattered rarities (and potentially BBC material) spanning 1970-82.