August 03, 2015

RS 2100


My uncle Bill introduced me to the Pentangle in the mid 70s when I was around 10 and it all was still kind of current, but to me at the time 1968 seemed quite ancient, as did the music itself. That was part of the romance of it, and it remains so of course. I'm pretty sure it was the Sweet Child double album, that first one, and I remember it being described as "eclectic" which was a fancy word I'd never heard in any other context and which for some reason I got mixed up with the word "ethereal" -- my side of these conversations was likely quite confused, as I was myself when I read an interview with Frank Zappa in which he described his own guiding light as "eclecticism."

Anyway, over the years by a gradual process the entire catalog absorbed into my consciousness bit by bit, a lifetime project. With typical perversity, I suppose, I latched on to the commercially success-less and universally two-star rated Cruel Sister as the favorite, go-to Pentangle album above all the more celebrated ones. I know that record backwards and forwards, sideways, inside out and down. It plays in my head all the time, for no reason I can justify. Some things just do that. (If I ever were to make the effort to write one of those 33 1/3rd series books, that'd be my most likely candidate, if it hasn't been done already, though I really doubt it'll ever happen.)

The latest bit in this bit by bit process, occurring just this morning, is Solomon's Seal, the generally-panned swan song LP of the band's original, pre-reunion phase. It's a record I was aware of and one I've owned for quite some time without ever getting around to listening to. I'm not sure why this is, though it is possible that I was influenced by the negative chatter about it enough to choose Cruel Sister instead yet again each time when it came right down to it. But I have been known to "save" a work by a favorite artist from time to time, just so I'll know I'll have something to look forward to sometime in the future, and it is possible that Solomon's Seal's blackout years were the result of a pledge of that sort that I've now forgotten having made. (Many of these "saved works" have fallen by the wayside -- Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, E. Nesbit, Robyn / Alfred Hitchcock, Dylan -- which is kind of the general plot of what's supposed to happen eventually. Others remain. There's still one P.G. Wodehouse on the saved list, as well as a Patricia Highsmith, one of the Great Brain Books, a Zilpha Keatley Snyder, an E. L. Konigsberg, a Robert Cormier, an H.P. Lovecraft, a Hornblower, a Father Brown, a Norse saga, a Hemingway, a Thomas Hardy, a Michael Moorcock, a Philip K. Dick, a Barbara Tuchman, a Hammer Horror, a Polanski, a Truffaut, a Free Design, a Flying Burrito Brothers, a Swamp Dogg, a Sweet, and a Mott. Among others.)

So anyway, I'm listening to Solomon's Seal now. It is sounding gorgeous, eclectic, and ethereal.

Posted by Dr. Frank at August 3, 2015 04:52 PM