ELECTRIC CHILDREN: Roots and Branches of Modern Folkrock by Jacques Vassal

ELECTRIC CHILDREN: Roots and Branches of Modern Folkrock

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First published in 1971 in France and recently adapted by translator Barnett, this replay of American folk music spans the years when the hootenanny emerged from garrets and coffeehouses, went ""electric"" and topical, and--inevitably--was absorbed by the commercial mainstream of pop. Vassal goes back to Woody and Leadbelly and on to the ""delirious vocabulary"" of Dylan and his folkrock siblings. The book suffers from a certain time lag: Vassal leaves Dylan in his limpid, gentle in-between years before the musical rebirth of Blood On The Tracks and Desire. A Frenchman chiefly concerned with ""lyrics and ideas,"" Vassal tends to downgrade Country sounds and the steamroller impact of early rock. On the other hand, his cultural warp allows for generous inclusion of Malvina Reynolds, Ciseo Houston, Tom Paxton, Pat Sky, and other lesser lights of the Sixties. Ironically, Vassal is especially devoted to the self-deprecating, satirical, political broadsides of Phil Ochs whose recent suicide marked the sad finale of ""protest"" songs. A bit more than just a random garland of appreciations, Vassal's book grapples with the relationship between traditional, anonymous folk music and its middle-class, commercial permutations. It doesn't reach any grand conclusions, but it's enjoyable.

Pub Date: July 14th, 1976
Publisher: Taplinger