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Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music [Paperback]

Rob Young
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
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Review

'A passionately researched, carefully written and compulsively readable map of the leys and songlines of an oral culture with its roots in pre-Roman times and its branches in the charts ... Young s grasp of context is enviable, his knowledge encyclopaedic ... Electric Eden constructs a new mythography out of old threads, making antiquity glow with an eerie hue. It can sit proudly on any bookshelf beside Alan Lomax s The Land Where Blues Began, Greil Marcus s Invisible Republic, Nick Tosches Where Dead Voices Gather or Jon Savage s England s Dreaming. If Mr Young never writes another word, he can count this epic book as the fruit of a beautiful labour.' --Peter Murphy, Sunday Business Post<br /><br />Beginning with a striking riff on how music and image open up wormholes into past times, Electric Eden joins a multiplicity of dots. Moving from the folk revival of the early 20th century onto what the author calls Albion-centric, historically resonant folk-rock of the 60s and 70s, music fans will enjoy comprehensive analyses of Fairport Convention, Comus, Nick Drake and many others. Where Young takes more esoteric flight is when he convincingly works such disparate concepts as the free festival scene, Bagpuss and The Wicker Man into his meditations on an agrarian past that survives in the imagination. Fascinating. --Ian Harrison, Q Magazine<br /><br />Stunning ... The thread of mapping modern instruments on to traditional folk tunes leads Young from Peter Warlock to Bert Jansch, Steeleye Span and the Aphex Twin, via the bucolic psychedelia of the Incredible String Band, the Beatles and Pink Floyd. This is no easy path to navigate but Young rarely wavers. --Bob Stanley, Sunday Times

'A comprehensive and absorbing exploration of Britain's folk music, which serves, too, as a robust defence of the genre ... What [folk music] emerges as, in this impassioned and infectious rallying cry of a book, is a musical tradition that is about so much more than morris dancing and a determination to hold onto the past. Folk, be it traditional, mystical, mythical, radical or experimental, is a living, breathing form, Young believes. It is everywhere, in all the music we hear, in every song we sing. Electric Eden defies you to disagree.' --Dan Cairns, Sunday Times

'Hugely ambitious ... What keeps it consistently readable is the happy marriage between Young s incisive observation and his talent for a vivid phrase ... A thoroughly enjoyable read and likely to remain the best-written overview [of the modern British folk phenomenon] for a long time ... I ve already made several precious musical discoveries thanks to this book and I expect to make more.' --Michel Faber, Guardian Book of the Week

Book Description

A seminal book on British music and cultural heritage, that spans the visionary classical and folk tradition from the nineteenth-century to the present day.

About the Author

Rob Young graduated in 1989 and was the editor of The Wire for 4 years up to 2004. He has recently been series editor of Black Dog's stylish monographs of influential record labels - including books on Warp Records and Rough Trade. He is currently in the middle of a novel based on the life of 17th century Jesuit polymath, Athanasius Kircher.
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