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VARIOUS ARTISTS in tribute to BERT JANSCH "People on the Highway
A Bert Jansch Encomium" (2CD) MSMCD106

When L.T. asked me to review this album I was delighted - not least because I had already bought it and was playing it daily. It is an album in tribute to the music of Bert Jansch, a delight since we are so blessed that this revered artist is still recording and performing regularly among us. The album is a double CD with 26 different artists performing 24 songs that were written or arranged by Jansch. It is fairly priced and feels like a labour of love by all contributors. The accompanying booklet is excellent, the chosen songs a great cross-section of 35 years work and the album generally captures the brilliance, the sound and the feeling of Bert Jansch. It also demonstrates not only the style of Jansch's guitar playing but more so the outstanding quality of his writing which is perhaps the less appreciated aspect of this legendary artist.

Brought out to coincide with the first Jansch biography by Colin Harper (excellent), the artists involved are a mix from the singer/songwriters of the 60's (Ralph McTell, Donovan, Roy Harper, Wizz Jones etc) and those heavily influenced by Jansch from a later generation such as Bernard Butler, Johnny Marr, Eleanor McEvoy and Kelly Joe Phelps.

Any compilation with 26 songs will have weaker pieces on it and to me these are limited to the few songs, which try to venture too far from the original version by Jansch. But this is being fussy. Overall, a terrific album, essential to anyone devoted to Jansch's work or indeed interested in the hugely influential singer/songwriter school of the 60s & 70s. To highlight an exceptional few songs the stunning 'Dreams of Love' - Rab Noakes, 'Soho' - Al Stewart and the close to the album, 'Morning Brings Peace of Mind' by Bert's son, Adam. A treat!

Neil Brown.

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This album was reviewed in Issue 41 of The Living Tradition magazine.