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Cruel Sister  performed by  Pentangle  (1970)
Composed by Traditional
From: UK
Recommended by rum [profile] on Tuesday 31st May 2005

A bewitching song about a young woman who, to win the hand of a handsome knight, does her rival sister in. The dead girl then comes back to haunt the “black-haired bride” as a harp fashioned from her breast bone and three locks of her hair. ‘Cruel’ may seem too kindly a description of a girl who when her sister pleads, “Oh Sister, Sister, let me live, and all that’s mine I’ll surely give” says, “It’s your own true love I have and more, but thou shalt never come ashore” before abandoning her body to the rough North Sea. Cruel? Should the sister therefore be scalded for her little… transgression? She’s an evil and monstrous sister, surely? But then this is centuries past, a time when sibling murder and human harps were commonplace. I am not likely to understand in this more civilised 21st century. Which may be why the kids don’t really dig British folk music anymore, or the mighty Pentangle. And it’s a crying shame because this is a stunning track, hauntingly sung by Jacqui McShee. I hesitate to use the term ‘masterpiece’ in case that great oracle of musicaltaste.com, fmars, overhears and tells me that I’m wrong.

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  02 Jun 05 ·konsu: Alright.In your own special way you've convinced me rum. I've been told for years to pick up some Pentangle by certain freinds (the ones who hear me playing Steeleye Span). Surely I must be missing out on something... I will consult the great one.
  03 Jun 05 ·rum: Heh-heh, thank you. I’m certain you’ll appreciate these, you’ve got eclectic taste, you’re not gonna be out for my blood (unlike all those that have begged and borrowed, stolen from their dying grandmothers, to buy Manowar CDs). And they’re no way as folk folk as the Span, they spin out an equally eclectic mix of folk, jazz, blues, rock and Elizabethan dances. It’s time people stopped harping on how great it was that the Velvets, the Stooges, punk etc made you wanna go out and form a band. So simple they sounded. Pentangle are so incredibly talented, so learned, so jazz, but still so unassuming and cool, they make you want pack up the band, trash the guitar, and burn down your house. Or is that Jet? I don’t know now. Well anyway the ‘Sweet Child’ album is the one.


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