Dec 15, 2010
PENTAGLE - SOLOMON'S SEAL (REPRISE 1972) Jap DSD mastering cardboard sleeve
It was the last album recorded by the original Pentangle 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 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. The remainder of the album is divided between traditional songs and the band's own compositions.
It includes some thoughtful arrangements (the use of sitar and recorders in "The Snows", for example) and displays production values of ensuring that every instrument is audible but balanced in the whole sound. However, it lacks some of the riskier features of early Pentangle albums: there are no improvised jazz duets between the two guitarists and no double bass solos, for example. As such, it could be praised for being a very "polished" sound or criticised for lacking the exciting creative edge of earlier Pentangle work. 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."