The Pentangle




Lyrics and information available on Music Graffiti:
The Pentangle, Sweet Child, Basket Of Light, Cruel Sister, Reflection, Solomon's Seal, The Lost Broadcasts, Open the Door
Lyrics / Albums / Links / Discography / Album's covers / Pictures / All the songs / Pre-Pentangle Albums / Reunions' Albums




The_Pentangle, during their first and short period of activity (1968 - 1972) was among the first band to explore the opportunity to merge different genres, English and Scottish tradition, jazz, blues, country, rock echoes, playing acoustical instruments only. Their sound is therefore still very valid. 

The group has initiated the activity on 1967 starting from the nucleus formed by two well known guitarists, and friends, the Scottish Bert Jansch and the Englishman John Renbourn. They had already issued an album together (the remarkable Bert and John, 1966) and several solo albums.

To complete the group it was necessary a female voice (Jansch was already an excellent singer) and a rhythmic section. The vocalist was Jacqui McShee, that already has been in collaboration with Jansch; she has a powerful and extended voice, remarkably clear and tuned, and became soon one of the key elements of the Pentangle, maybe the principal one.
To form the rhythmic section two very much appreciated jazz players joined the Pentangle, they were the double bass player Danny Thompson and the drummer and percussionist Terry Cox.

Even if their first albums were clearly different from the other production of that time, the market answer was quite good. It must be noticed that the rhythmic section played with different times, as usual in jazz music, creating a sound unusual for ears used to listen the metronome rhythm of the rock bands, and the sound was acoustic, in an era totally dominated by the electric guitar. 

Hence the Pentangle gathered a good success in UK in the early 70s, mainly with the album Basket Of Light  (1969), containing their single Light Flight (used as the theme in a popular English TV program called Take 3 girls) that was alto an hit (#5 in UK charts).

After the remarkable album Solomon's Seal (1972) anyway the five musicians decided to close this experience; probably they were between two opposite ways: they were a group with some chance in the market but still not enough known, and simultaneously five purist musicians interested in their personal research, with the disadvantages of both the options. They decided so to continue their musical research separately.

During the 80s, anyway, four of the original Pentangle members (without Renbourn) started again their way in the musical world, proposing the same interesting mix of their first years, in a global context clearly much more receptive.


The Pentangle's Lyrics


Most_of_the Pentangle's albums do not contain printed lyrics (excluding Cruel Sister and Solomon's Seal), both on LP than on CD. This is not an unusual situation, but very often, for other groups, the lyrics were transcribed by fans or included in official website and made available on Internet. This is not the case for the lyrics of the English group, and for this reason this site started some years ago to collect available lyrics and to transcribe and add the others.

The Pentangle's songs can be divided in a) English or Scottish traditional songs; b) original songs; c) blues, rhythm & blues and pop songs selected among Pentangle's members favourites.

Lyrics of traditional tunes are usually available from anthologies and they are often available on Internet, even if the words are sometimes different, as usual in folk songs. Songs c) are also sometimes available, while those written by Pentangle's musicians were completely unavailable until the appreciable initiative of Doug Johnson in his site (no longer available), that has transcribed a selection of their song.

Now, after a work of many years and the contribution of many visitors, with a special mention for Nicole D'Eliso, all the songs of the Pentangle's albums are available to not English speaking visitors (and also for all, being sometimes the lyrics not clearly understandable, because of the particular voice and of the way of singing of Jacqui McShee).

In this site, Music Graffiti (the english version of the well known Italian site Musica & Memoria) are gathered the information about all the six albums of the first period of the English group, all the lyrics available, annotation about them (both in English than in Italian) a list of the songs, the covers and pictures of the musicians.



During their first period the Pentangle edited six albums, one of which was a double LP (one side live and one in studio) with 22 tracks. A very important musical heritage, since all the six albums show a high quality, interesting and surprising solutions, and the absence of these "filler tracks" so usual in the CD era. The songs follow each other in a succession of styles, and also the traditional tunes are arranged in always original ways.

The reviewers do not agree about the best album of the quintet, it could be Basket Of Light, their main success, or Cruel Sister (the album with only traditional songs and the electrical guitar for the first time), but probably the best synthesis of their peculiar style is contained in Reflection, the album that includes their remarkable cover of the traditional tune Will The Circle Be Unbroken.




Jacqui McShee

Bert Jansch (by Bert Jansch Foundation)


Discography in summary



The Pentangle (Reprise)

LP and CD

Their first album contains some composition of Jansch and Renbourn.


Sweet Child (Reprise)

Double LP and CD (single and double)

Double LP. The first album contains live recordings (1968, June 29th, London Royal Festival Hall), the second one studio recordings. 
First CD issue, on a single diskette, don't include all the tracks (last two ones and Good Bye Pork Pie Hat). A later issue was on two discs and included several bonus tracks.


Basket of Light (Edsel) 

LP and CD

Group's main success, it includes the single Light Flight.


Cruel Sister (Reprise)

LP and CD

The disc containing only traditional tunes, and in which the Pentangle utilized for the first time the electric guitar on the long cover (one entire side) of Jack Orion.


Reflection (Reprise) 

LP and CD

The LP in which Pentangle's peculiar mix reaches the top, and that includes the cover of Will The Circle Be Unbroken?


Solomon's Seal (Reprise)

LP and CD

The last one of the first period, a very remarkable one, indeed. For years it was unavailable and not reissued, a loss of the original masters was often reported, but recently (2004) the album was reissued on CD.


History Book  

LP only, never reissued on CD

An interesting anthology, issued on 1973, containing also tracks from solo album of Pentangle's members.

1969 1972

Live at BBC (Band Of Joy)


A CD issued on 1995 containing many sessions recorded live between 1969 and 1972 at UK radio (BBC).

1968 1972

The Lost Broadcasts (Hux Records)


A double CD issued on 2004 containing other remarkable live sessions at BBC, that were believed lost, and even some taken from off-air recordings of a fan.


Pre-Pentangle albums


John Renbourn
1965 John Renbourn (Reprise)
1965 There You Go (Columbia)
1967 Another Monday (Transatlantic)
1967 Bert And John (Transatlantic)
1968 Sir John Alot of Merrie Englandes Musyk Thyng & ye Grene Knyghte (Shanachie)

1971 The Lady and the Unicorn (Shanachie)
1972 Faro Annie (Reprise)

Bert Jansch
1965 Bert Jansch (Transatlantic)
1965 It Don't Bother Me (Transatlantic)
1966 Bert and John (Transatlantic)
1966 Jack Orion (Vanguard)
1967 Nicola (Demon)

1969 Birthday Blues (Demon)
1969 Lucky Thirteen (Vanguard)
1969 Sampler (Transatlantic)
1969 Stepping Stones (Vanguard)
1971 Rosemary Lane (Reprise)
1972 Box of Love (Transatlantic)


Pentangle's Reunion Albums


1985 Open the Door (Varrick)
1986 In the Round  (Sanctuary)
1990 So Early in the Spring (Green Linnet)
1991 Think of Tomorrow (Green Linnet)
1993 One More Road (Permanent)
2016 Finale (Topic Records)

Jacqui McShee's Pentangle
1999 Passe Avant (Park)
2005 Feoffes' Land (GJS)

See also: Albums' covers  / All the songs


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Music Graffiti - February 2003 / October 2004 / January 2005 / May 2005 / June 2007 (New lyrics available) / March 2008 (All lyrics now available) / April 2008 (Open the Door lyrics, discography pre and post Pentangle) / September 2008 (all lyrics finally available) / February 2017 (Finale Album)



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