Game Set Match
||"Jolly Bold Robber"
A confession. Nic Jones is my favorite British Folk singer of
all time. As an interpreter, he is quite simply beyond compare.
Like a more sentimental, less dour Bert Jansch, Jones' ability
to play so fast and loose with his source material, his ability
to be so courageous musically, twisting and turning the historic
and the familiar into something greater, and something all his
own -- this sets Nic Jones far apart from all the rest
of those so called folk revivalists.
To revive. So no longer a trend, the past few years has seen
a revival of the revivalists like three times over at this point.
And shockingly, yet still, you'd be forgiven for thinking, Nic
Jones who!? Out of five records Jones recorded between 1970 and
1980, only an alarming one is in print. That album, Penguin
Eggs, was voted Folk Record of 1980 by Melody Maker,
and many in the cognoscente rank it as one of the greatest folk
albums ever made. It's only a testament to Jones' abilities that
Penguin Eggs isn't even close to his best work in my opinion;
his debut, Ballads and Songs, and '78's unheralded masterpiece,
From a Devil to a Stranger, prove every bit as nuanced
and mind blowing. Even his session work on a record like June
Tabor's classic Airs and Graces is powerful enough to get
you to stop and take note -- that is, if you even knew someone
else was playing on that record with her. And it's an important
point; maybe Jones' modesty in his own music, and as a session
man with others, hurt his career in the long haul. It may be why
so few people recognize him for the great that he is to this day.
Game Set Match is the latest collection of Nic Jones material
to be released on CD. Considering there are already two previous
collections of Jones' material on CD, it's sort of frustrating
nobody will put out the man's full albums already. However,
you need not have read every word of the last two paragraphs to
know that I'm gonna tell you Match is essential. A near-fatal
car accident ended Jones' performing career in 1982, and this
comp. collects some of the man's final, beautiful live performances.
While most of his contemporaries seemed to peak creatively in
the early-'70s, Jones, typical to himself, was the exception,
hitting the height of his powers right around the time of these
performances in '78 and '79. Many of the songs played here are
off the impossible to find From a Devil to a Stranger,
and it's literally breathtaking to hear how seamlessly complex,
and yet emotionally charged Nic's playing was live. The recording
quality is a little iffy at times, which I guess is to be somewhat
expected. Any Nic Jones stuff on CD is a gift. He is a true master.
And one of the few artists whose untapped discography still has
so so much to share with us all. Thank you Topic. [HG]