Tuesday, September 25, 2012

#592: More good folk

Jeanette Leech's SEASONS THEY CHANGE (2010) is a solid, warm, detailed history of psychedelic-folk music (or what some people today would call "freak folk"), from its origins in the mid-1960s 2 the acts that R still performing off-beat folk music today. It makes a fine companion 2 Rob Young's ELECTRIC EDEN (2008) -- reviewed below under the head "In Progress."
In fact, the only "problem" with Leech's book is that it covers summa the same ground as Young's -- but that's not her fault. I'm sure I read the 2 books 2 closely 2gether....
Here again is your chance 2 trace the histories of summa '60s folk's biggest acts -- Donovan, Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Shirley & Dolly Collins, etc. + a ton of folks who shoulda received more attention -- Comus, Mellow Candle, Trees, Forest, Dr. Strangely Strange, Trader Horne, Vashti Bunyan, & many many more, many of whom I'd never heard of. Leech continues the story right up 2 folk-influenced acts of today like Joanna Newsom & Animal Collective.
If nothing else, you're gonna end up with a huge list of new bands 2 investigate after reading this book.
In places where Leech covers some of the same artists as Young, she adds more details or follows their histories farther, offers more perspective -- or picks up the story 30+ years later when artists like Comus & Vashti Bunyan start recording again after years of neglect.
As with ELECTRIC EDEN -- a 600-pg book that tries 2 encapsulate the entire history of British folk in a search 4 a "lost Britain" -- I admit I didn't read every word of SEASONS THEY CHANGE. Leech didn't try 2 cover as huge an area. There were some artists & details I wasn't that intrested in -- especially the section on the virtual "disappearance" of freak-folk starting around the mid-'70s.
But that doesn't mean I won't eventually get 2 that section -- I'll B keeping this book around 4 awhile. & tho Leech's book is only about 1/2 as long as Young's, I think I'll probly end up getting just as much good info out of it. & so will you.

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