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Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music by [Young, Rob]
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Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Length: 675 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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An authoritative account of British 20th-century folk music that is packed with obscure and delightful details. -- The Times

Electric Eden comes into its own as folk-rock capers over the horizon in the mid-1960s ... There are excellent accounts of the rise of bands such as Pentangle, The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention, alongside pen-portraits of a stream of neglected figures ... Electric Eden makes a persuasive case for folk-rock s essentially liberating nature, and ingeniously links it with the utopian dreams of Britishness of earlier generations of 20th-century folk-revivalists. --
Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, Financial Times

In the face of British folk s sprawling diversity, Young s greatest achievement is to locate a real sense of continuity, a unifying flow that underpins decades, if not centuries, of artistry ... Prepare to wander down countless previously unpondered highways and byways. And prepare to consider Britain s satisfyingly strange and surprisingly hardy indigenous musical heritage afresh. A treat.
Phil Harrison, Time Out Book of the Week *****

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

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

Consistently absorbing ... After decades of opportunistic reportage, the modern publisher s catalogue positively crawls with big, serious and thoroughly well-intentioned books about English pop . This is one of the best. --
D J Taylor, Independent

Here is a masterpiece ... nothing less than a magical exploration of transcendent 20th Century British folk music and the folk imagination ... a book that, like the subject itself, redraws the map of cultural Britain, awakening long-dormant protectors, radical spirits and utopian dreamers. Like the revered and forgotten texts Young himself unearths, Electric Eden possesses the power to haunt and enchant for many years to come. --
Andrew Male, Caught by the River

What an incredible trip Rob Young takes us on through time, landscape and music in Electric Eden ... Young s immense narrative is both educative and gripping. -- Allan Jones, Uncut

Young is a fine writer ... [his] substantive achievement is to render folk Britannia as a thing of alluring, durable enigma a fecund, autonomous culture flourishing, for the most part, beyond the cold-hand of commerce and technology yet whose influence bleeds inexorably into the pop hegemony. Obligatory reading for anyone headed into Britain s green festival fields this summer. -- David Sheppard, MOJO *****

Perfectly timed, perfectly pitched alternative history of English folk music. It is wide-ranging, insightful, authoritative, thoroughly entertaining.' --Toby Litt, New Statesman

'A multitudinous, fascinating and beautifully written account of certain mainly short-lived but haunting developments in folk music ... Equally good to dip in and out of and just be carried along in, it describes commensurately what looks increasingly like another heroic age.' --Michael Hofman, TLS


"Rob Young's ambitious "Electric Eden" presents a flip side to the well-known story of the evolution of electric rock in Britain in the 1960s, a story of the rediscovery of England's native folk music in the early 20th century by the likes of William Morris and Cecil Sharp, who went from town to town recording and notating the music that would hold great sway with those musicians who became associated with England's less loud, more earthy music--the likes of Vashti Bunyan, Davy Graham, The Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, and many others would each deploy traditional folk music to their own ends in various recombinant ways, writing new songs laced with the idealism of the exploding sixties youth culture, while paying homage to the spirit and traditions of old. Eventually the tide of this music swelled to inspire some of the most influential names in electric rock, from the Beat

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10329 KB
  • Print Length: 675 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0865478562
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (19 Aug. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0042JSPRU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #190,492 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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This is a fine companion to Dave Laing & co's Electric Muse:The Story of Folk into Rock. Both use anecdote and much research to explain the genres' contributions to what fairly lately has morphed into a branch of world music, drawing on heritage, folklore, paganism & poetry. It's all to easy and indeed, lazy to round up acoustic music with the genuine article, and this good read gives us permission without judgement, explaining nonetheless the difference. Rob Young writes with enthusiasm, never assuming or talking down to the reader. It's a must, a worthwhile addition to your music literature library and thoroughly enjoyable.
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I'm just re-reading "Electric Eden" after enjoying it on a first "dip in and out of" read couple of years ago. Finding it "unputdownable" with some fascinating personal histories, ranging from Vaughan-Williams to Sandy Denny, and a compelling study of why we enjoy music, and the link between music, the "land" and spirituality. But 2 things that stand out for me now, on this re-reading, on the nagative side, are these: Why call the sub-heading a "Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music". Surely this should have been termed "England's Visionary Music" and not "Britain's"- there is hardly a mention of music from the Celtic nations apart from some pages on Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" and an acknowledgment of the Incredible String Band's Scottish roots. Nothing about Welsh music, whose history is markedly different from "English" folk music. And the other thing- the indexing is awful!
Otherwise still a very good read, especially for anyone with any interest in the roots of English folk/rock music of the late 60's and early 70's.
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Now I must confess that I'm still only part way through the book but I can see both sides of the reviews listed. I too was disturbed to see the errors about the Donovan recordings and took the trouble to write to Rob Young about the errors that I'd found. I am, afraid to say, old enough to have bought the original albums at their time of issue!
That said, I do like the way that the works of Arnold Bax, Granville Bantock and others of the period is linked into the exploration of the folk influence. So I'm prepared to give the author the benefit of the doubt as I am definitely enjoying the book and it has got me thinking even if I don't necessarily agree with every word.
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By emma who reads a lot TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a handsome, heavy book, but don't worry, it's delightful reading that speeds by. English music is the subject matter, but one strain of English music in particular: the folky, countryside-ish music which spans the arc between Vaughan Williams, Kate Bush and Julian Cope. Rob Young has written extensively on the subject, most notably for Wire, and he has a lovely, idiosyncratic style of writing, bringing in elements from outside music and weaving together a wonderful tapestry. John Michell and his leylines, for example, in the chapter on Vashti Bunyan. Ssections pondering the influence of the country retreat on bands such as Traffic. A long meander into the world of William Morris. (In fact, one of the few criticisms I could make of the book would be that sometimes, he'll concentrate on social and cultural stuff at the expense of talking more about the music.)

As well as the main text, there's a carefully-chosen, interesting-to-argue-with-in-your-head discography, a fantastic index and copious footnotes. Highly, highly recommended.

(PS I should mention that for those who really want a book about folk, there is also plenty on Sandy Denny, Comus, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, etc.)
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Format: Paperback
Have you ever had this experience? You really want to read a certain book; you look for it; you spend a certain amount of time investigating obscure titles; in the end you decide that the book just doesn't exist. Perhaps you even consider writing it. Then one day it turns up on the shelves.

I've been looking for years for a good volume on British folk music, which took the tradition from the first, Edwardian revival right through to the present, with a particular emphasis on the revivals of the 50s/60s and 70s. Even better if it could link them with that strain in British culture which turns naturally towards the past, and is also interested in everything from ley lines, Wicca and folklore to real ale, self sufficiency and the preservation of rural crafts.

Well, here it is. Rob Young has done us all an enormous favour. This is a fabulous book, and, in the current climate, is destined to attract huge attention. One of those sprawling works that truly deserve the description `panoramic survey', it takes us from the early collecting activities of Cecil Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams and the Edwardian collectors, through to the rediscovery of folk in the 50s and 60s (Davy Graham, Shirley Collins, Pentangle/Jansch/John Renbourn, Martin Carthy etc) and its metamorphosis into folk rock and acid folk (Fairport Convention/Sandy Denny, Steeleye Span, Incredible String Band, Mr Fox, Trees etc). Along the way different chapters take us off into such diversions as modern witchcraft and the free festival movement. The trip is exciting, interesting and enlightening.

As a guide to this material, Rob Young has got to be hard to beat.
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