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Light Flight

A TV drama brings folk rock to the mainstream.

Fact title Fact data
First released:
October 1969
Written by:
Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Danny Thompson, Terry Cox, and Jacqui McShee
First recorded by:
Pentangle

Synopsis

interested in folk. Guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn were both equally well-schooled in jazz and blues, while bass player Danny Thompson had played sessions with everyone from Donovan to Freddie and the Dreamers and Tubby Hayes. It was this diversity of influences (combined with the wonderfully non-denominational mindset of the late ‘60s) that allowed Pentangle to forge what was possibly the country’s first instance of ‘folk rock’: folk with a beat that dared to include jazz chord structures and time signatures.

Let's get away, you say, find a better place, miles and miles away from the city's race
'Light Flight'

The band’s first two albums were confections of traditional and contemporary folk numbers mixed in with material as varied as a Furry Lewis blues number and even two Charles Mingus tunes. ‘Light Flight’ comes from their third album, Basket Of Light (1969) and was the song that helped propel them and the album firmly into the charts. The reason for this was the song’s adoption as the theme tune to Take Three Girls, a drama series on BBC1 between 1969 and 1971 about the lives of three girls sharing a flat in London. The programme was notable not only for being BBC1's first colour drama series but for featuring other material by Pentangle, making folk rock a new inclusion to the prime time diet of mainstream Britain.

What had been a grass roots movement based for years in the small clubs now was more widely appreciated. With other bands such as Fairport Convention melding rhythm to tradition the nation began to reconnect with its past, with students and hippies finding that the return to simpler values (albeit ones that came electrically assisted) fitted the laid back vibe of the times.

‘Light Flight’, with its odd, jazzy time signature, prominent drums by Terry Cox and earthy upright bass tones set against Jacqui McShee’s more ethereal voice singing of getting away from the ‘city race’ perfectly sums up the ethos of folk rock. This was a very modern form of ruralism…