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Singing from the Floor: A History of British Folk Clubs Paperback – 6 Mar 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (6 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571305458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571305452
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'What a great story this is . . . JP Bean has put together something definitive.' (Mojo, * * * * *)

'There are tales a-plenty . . . of penury and hardship, of sleeping on couches, floors, under tables and bridges, in doorways, even the most celebrated of the scene's performers often living like dossers . . . "It was magic, an astonishing moment," recalls Martin Carthy, without overstatement.' (Uncut, 9/10)

'An impressive list of contributors . . . In true folk tradition, a story worth handing on.' (Q, * * * *)

'Takes the reader from the revival's earliest stirrings to gigs at the hipsterish Magpie's Nest in present-day East London . . . there is a telling story or unforgettable vignette on almost every page.' (Guardian)

'Summons up the mottled charm of a different era . . . this was a time when the English Folk Dance and Song Society had Princess Margaret as a president. When singer Ian Campbell told her he lived in Birmingham, she replied: "How unfortunate." ' (Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

The remarkable history of British folk clubs, brought to Faber by Editor-at-Large, Jarvis Cocker.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steve Mansfield VINE VOICE on 29 Mar 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This oral history of the British folk club is a fascinating collage of testimony from those who were there. Organised into roughly chronological order, and presenting an overview and/or context at the start of each chapter, 'Singing From The Floor' uses the highlights of what must have been hundreds of hours of interviews with the musicians at the heart of the folk club movement, from its birth out of the skiffle scene of the early 60s through the steady decline since.

As one who was too young to be there and came to folk music when the archetypal club model was already in decline, the history outlined and the tales told in 'Singing From The Floor' are endlessly rewarding and fascinating. Not all reputations survive unscathed - there is a good deal of criticism, for example, of Ewan MacColl, although Peggy Seeger is also represented to give her side of the story. The role of also Bert Lloyd is made more peripheral than might have been thought from other sources (notably Dave Arthur's fascinating recent biography of Lloyd, 'Bert').

Bean has made a fine continuum out of the multitude of voices he has amassed; there is great skill throughout the book in the way the story is progressed through multiple viewpoints of the same events or strands of the tale. It is to be hoped that the raw material of all those interviews is available for future researchers, because the very effect of such skilful and light-touch editing is that other stories must remain to be extracted from the source interviews. There are also individual contributions that are striking - one that particularly remains with me is John Tams' evocative and consciously semi-mythologising account of Tony Capstick's funeral.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Davies on 20 Mar 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I haven't even finished reading this book yet but it's 'unputdownable'. The way Bean has organised the contributions of his huge collection of interviewees makes each chapter feel like a conversation.

The book confirms some things that I did know and tells of many things I didn't know and puts it all into perspective. Obviously, it tells of the Folk Club scene but it's also a marvellous record of Britain's social history from the 50s, too.

I'm only 20% through and can't wait to read the rest. Brilliantly put together and a 'must' for anyone who was around 'back in the day'. I have a feeling it would also be of interest to the current crop of young folkies, too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By martin on 15 Mar 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A chance to wallow in nostalgia as JP Bean uses the words of the top performers to tell the story of the network of folk clubs that developed throughout the country in the 50s, 60s & 70s. It really brought it all back & made me realise how lucky I was to be around at that time. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 April 2014
Format: Paperback
I read it from cover to cover in 24 hours, So many of the quotes resonated with me, and I knew a lot of these people personally. I first sang in folk clubs when I was still at school in the late '60s and helped run a club in the '80s and 90's, I felt part of a privileged group of very special people, with good honest values, insulated against the mass commercialisation that had taken over popular music,

I'm surprised though that in the comments about the future of folk clubs, nobody mentioned the purely practical issues of trying to run a club these days. It's not just that the organisers are getting too old or can't cope with newcomers. The venues are disappearing as pubs close down or turn their function rooms into restaurants, or meeting rooms with carpets and drapes which ruin the acoustics. Then there are the public entertainment licences, PRS fees, health & safety assessments and countless other bureaucratic hindrances to anyone wanting to run a music venue these days.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John McGovern on 8 April 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a very good read with some interesting stories by the people who were actually there,though i have to admit it would have been a five star review had there been more emphasis on the clubs themselves,in particular the organisers who,by and large ran these clubs on a voluntary basis,happy days!It would deemed harsh and stereotypical to describe folk fans as beared trainspotters with pewter tankards and Aran sweaters,even if that appeared to be the image that was portrayed.Its a pity that the eighties folk scene was not heavily featured,even the folk club 'heyday'was in the 50's and 60's,when the new wave folk acts such as The Oyster Band,The Pogues and Billy Bragg came to prominence.I was not present at the time,but does anyone remember seeing The Pogues perform at the Oxford Folk Club in 1984?Surely a few anecdotes from those who were there that night would have ensured that this book would have got that extra star from this reviewer as well as my appreciation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. C. Horsfall on 30 Mar 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For those with memories of the folk clubs and so many of the performers interviewed for this book (some now dead but many still touring) this is a must have book. A vivid reminder of some often hilarious times and great musicians and singers. Some newspaper reviews have been less than enthusiastic but the reviewers weren't there and it is easy to see that reminiscences of people they have never heard of about music they don't know could be tedious. But if you are an old folkie this is a book for you.
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