Just finished reading the Kindle edition of this captivating book by Rob Young.
Electric Eden tells the historical story of British Folk music, a mystical, magical journey through time introducing us to, apart from the music, some fascinating, eccentrically colourful characters, some deep thinking, troubled souls & primitive ideas & Religion. Taking us along a dirt track out of the City & into the wild, painting a sepia tinted picture in your mind of the British countryside & all that evokes it.
It tells the story from the beginning, a similar tale to the beginnings of the US folk music scene. It took a handful of dedicated, obsessive personalities to unearth the songs of the people, the country folk & the working classes. These people scoured the length & breadth of the country, out to the sticks, collecting songs, poems & folklore tales from the few people that had them handed down to them.
The story then shifts from these dusty narratives to explain how these original unaccompanied songs then became the folk music we know so well from the early 1960s. Music by artists such as Davy Graham, Bert Jansch, The Watersons.
We are then turned onto how the genre developed through that decade & beyond, to incorporate psychedelia, the Occult & the fuse of other musical genres, such as Jazz & US country music & how this in turn inspired the mainstream to contrive some of the classics of our time. Sgt pepper, Piper at the Gates of Dawn et al.
The book gives us in depth write ups of recommended albums, a track by track guide by picking out the instruments used, the conflicts between band members, and the significant lyrics & what they could have meant to it’s authors. All presented in a very welcome, finicky fashion.
|Author Rob Young. has written for Uncut & The Wire|
It tells of the inspiration behind a lot of these albums & of the places where the songs were conceived & recorded. Throwing you right into the Studios & country retreats alongside the artists, or in the case of 1970s band Heron (shown on the cover above) out in the fields & plonked on a log by their makeshift open-air recording studio.
The book is a hefty companion & a recommended read, even for those who don’t particularly like some of the artists or albums featured within. The stories are all educational & interesting none the less. Not too sure why the book swings dramatically towards the end to include in depth chapters on Kate Bush, Talk Talk, David Sylvian. You can’t help but feel that the author was looking for an excuse to force in a few personal favourite bands of his generation. Despite having little to do with Folk music as we know it & wandering off & away from the general feel of the book, these pages still make for interesting reading.
If you can’t afford a Holiday this year, then just stay home & read this. You’ll be transported away from work & the stresses of everyday life & into the carefree countryside as often as you like. And all for the price of a book.
Review by fuZZdandy