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Rob Young was born in Bristol in 1968. He has worked as a music writer and editor since 1993, when he joined the staff of The Wire magazine. He was Editor of the title between 2000-04 and continues to be a Contributing Editor and co-owner. He edited the collections of Wire articles, 'Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music' (Continuum 2002), 'The Wire Primers: A Guide to Modern Music' (Verso 2009), and a selection of newly commissioned pieces on a legendary musical genius, 'No Regrets: Writings On Scott Walker' (Orion 2012).
He also wrote the first two in Black Dog Publishing's Labels Unlimited series of illustrated record company biographies: 'Warp' (2005) and 'Rough Trade' (2006). In 2010 he published his 650-page history of folk music and the British imagination, from the late 19th century to the present, 'Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music' (Faber and Faber).
He has contributed to many publications including Uncut, Sight & Sound, The Word, The Guardian, Frieze and Art Review, as well as art catalogues on Jeremy Deller, Carsten Nicolai and Seb Patane.
Blog: electriceden.net Twitter: @polyalbion
"Young weaves a poetic, philosophical tapestry as rich and heady as the songs he champions." --"A.V. Club "on "Electric Eden"
--This text refers to the
Collection of pieces on enigmatic genius Scott Walker.
Enjoying the book so far although I haven't yet read every section (I'll update this review when I get round to that!).
On the whole it has a fairly casual journalistic tone which is easy to read and usually informative and insightful without getting too bogged down in needless critical theory spiel. As to be expected each of the writers tend to be gushing over Scott Walker and their love and passion for the music comes through.
I enjoyed reading The Walker Brothers section written by Anthony Reynolds which helped me to put those early records into a context and make sense of them in the greater scheme of things. I really love having the full transcription of the Wire interview from 2006 which finds Scott in a surprisingly open and enthusiastic interview with Rob Young around the release of The Drift, an album that is definitely worth being happy about! Stephen Kijak, director of 30th Century Man, has a section devoted to recounting the making of the film which is, again, a great read which adds light to the film.
I didn't care much for Nina Power's relatively short section on Scott 1 and 2, she makes some fairly interesting points throughout but they oddly come across a little hollow and unnecessary academic and at the end of the day I don't feel she really does the albums justice and it comes across less illuminating than the other pieces in the book that I've read so far... sadly. Derek Walmsley's piece on Scott 3 and 4 by contrast was a nice read although he seemed totally infatuated with It's Raining Today, a beautiful song for sure and also a very important one for Scott to write, but it stops him from writing much about the rest of the tracks on these fantastic albums.Read more ›
A friend of mine bought the book and I needed to return it, but I wanted to read it more fully, so I bought it to support the effort of publishing a niche title. Sometimes it seems that writing about a cult figure gives some writers the licence to 'go on a bit', writing pieces that seem to be like album liner notes that are about 20 pages too long, or PR excerpts badly in need of an editor. That and the fact that Scott doesn't talk to the press much doesn't help, so writers come up with their own ideas. Putting in lyric quotes that seem incorrect doesn't help either. Maybe Laurie Anderson was right with her quote in regard to writing about music.
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This book is worth buying for Ian Penman and David Toop's essays alone. I say 'alone': the first of those must be 20,000 words long, and it's as incisive and creative as music writing gets, very powerful stuff in places. No mean feat when you're writing about the 'lost years' most people neglect. The second brings 'The Drift' alive by drawing your attention to a surprising set of musical styles, books and films from across various cultures and eras, and seamlessly back to its subject again. I guess the ever-elusive Walker is the ideal subject for good writers like these to get stuck into, cause they're free to let rip.
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