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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delectable, especially if read interactively!, 28 July 2009
This review is from: The Ballad of Britain (Paperback)
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This is an enchanting and educative stroll through folk and storytelling British music. Hodgkinson, who has a prose style which is conversational and not at all dry, has written a highly informative and educational book, which is great fun.

He takes as his premise that there is a tradition of folk music, which was linked to a way we told stories, an oral rather than a written tradition, often particular to region. He embarks on a journey through pockets of England, in his clapped out patchwork Astra. He's examining the music which individuals, often wonderfully eccentric individuals, are making about their roots. Armed with a Zoom recorder he sets out to record the music, whether it's the jingles of Morris dancers bells and thwacks of their sticks outside a pub in Headington Quarry in Oxfordshire; the early, Dylanesque style warblings of Chatham based/sometime Greenwich village resident folkie Pete Molinari, rather dangerously received on the street in Chatham (I suspect residents of Chatham may be feeling a little murderously towards Hodgkinson as he paints a far from appealing picture of the majority of locals!); or accounts of Romany Travellers magically singing and dancing in the woods in deepest Sussex.

So what's the Interactive nod in my title? Well I was so entranced and engaged by Hodgkinson's amusing and warmly observant accounts of a whole raft of rather quirky musicians that I read a lot of this in front of my PC, logged into last.fm searching for the artists and playing 'their' radio (If you don't know last.fm its a great site to get to hear artists etc who may not always be available to stream/hear samples from on Amazon) So, I now know what Thistletown, Clive Palmer, Billy Childish and many more names which were unfamiliar to me sound like.

His description of a particular island strain of melancholy in our make up, as evidenced by much of our musical history, from Vaughan Williams to his citing of Pink Floyd lyrics from a track on 'Dark Side of the Moon' : 'hanging on in quiet desperation is the English Way', also struck quite a profound chord. If you listen, for example to some Spanish or Slavonic traditional music, there's at times a deep grief, a visceral darkness running through it - our own folk music often tells dark stories of murder, tragic loss and mayhem, but the quality of loss is held in what he calls a 'controlled sadness' .

And yes, I hadn't ever considered Pink Floyd as a folk band, or Led Zeppelin either, but if you read this book you may find Hodgkinson redefines folk music, its origins, what is has been, and what it really is, for you!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Jul 2010, 15:25:22 BST
Mr. Ianjcook says:
His interview with Townsend is excellent. There always was a strange personal dichotomy in The Who and this explains why.
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