Pentangle (or The Pentangle) are a British folk-jazz band with an eclectic mix of folk, jazz, blues and folk rock influences. The original band was active in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and a later version has been active since the early 1980s. The original line-up, which was unchanged throughout the band’s first incarnation (1967–1973), was: Jacqui McShee (vocals); John Renbourn (vocals and guitar); Bert Jansch (vocals and guitar); Danny Thompson (double bass); and Terry Cox (drums).
The name Pentangle was chosen to represent the five members of the band, and is also the device on Sir Gawain’s shield in the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight which held a fascination for Renbourn.
In 2007, the original members of the band were reunited to receive a Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and to record a short concert that was broadcast on BBC radio. The following June, all five original members embarked on a twelve-date UK tour.
Solomon’s Seal is an album recorded in 1972 by folk-rock band Pentangle. It was the last album recorded by the original line-up, before the band split in 1973. Jacqui McShee has stated that it is her favourite Pentangle album. The album title refers to the Seal of Solomon — a mythical signet ring with magical powers, sometimes associated with the pentagram symbol adopted by Pentangle.
Solomon’s Seal was recorded at Sound Techniques studio, London, between February and March 1972. Pentangle’s contract with Transatlantic had expired and, amid a dispute with Transatlantic over royalties, the band had switched allegiance to Warner/Reprise, who had been their U.S. distributor. The album was released in September 1972, to coincide with the start of Pentangle’s new tour. However, by the start of 1973, the band had split and sales of the album were disappointing, leaving the band members still paying off their debts, against the album’s advance royalties, into the early 1980s.
The album opens with their version of Cyril Tawney’s song of a sailor’s lost love: “Sally Free and Easy”. Unlike its usual rendition as a sea shanty, Pentangle treat this to a slow bluesy rhythm.
Retrospective reviews generally described Solomon’s Seal as a low point for Pentangle. Allmusic commented that “Ultimately, there’s nothing seriously wrong with the record, other than a certain complacency and lack of the fiery inspiration and risk-taking that had fueled their greatest previous heights.” They added that “none of the individual tracks would rate among their best.” Colin Harper wrote “Solomon’s Seal is a record of people’s weariness, but also the product of a unit whose members were still among the best players, writers and musical interpreters of their day.” (wikipedia)
Terry Cox (drums, percussion, finger cymbals, vocals)
Bert Jansch (guitar, dulcimer, harmonica, banjo, vocals)
Jacqui McShee (vocals)
John Renbourn (guitar, sitar, banjo, recorder, vocals)
Danny Thompson (bass)
01. Sally Free And Easy (Tawney) 3.56
02. The Cherry Tree Carol (Traditional) 3.02
03. The Snows (Cox/Jansch/McShee/Renbourn/Thompson) 3.45 (*)
04. High Germany (Traditional) 3.14
05. People On The Highway (Cox/Jansch/McShee/Renbourn/Thompson) 4.42
06. Willy O’ Winsbury (Traditional) 5.53
07. No Love Is Sorrow (Cox/Jansch/McShee/Renbourn/Thompson) 2.45
08. Jump Baby Jump (Cox/Jansch/McShee/Renbourn/Thompson) 3.10
09. Lady Of Carlisle (Traditional) 4.44
Live at Guildford Civic Hall, November 1972:
10. When I Get Home (Cox/Jansch/McShee/Renbourn/Thompson) 4.39
11. She Moved Through The Fair (Traditional) 5.14
12. Train Song (Cox/Jansch/McShee/Renbourn/Thompson) 3.52
(*) “The Snows” is listed as a Pentangle composition but is actually a traditional song, previously recorded by both Archie Fisher and Anne Briggs.