ELECTRIC EDEN

UNEARTHING BRITAIN'S VISIONARY MUSIC

A dense, brilliant charting of England’s folk-music tradition and its multiplicity of modern mutations.

The Wire editor at large Young brings considerable acumen to bear in this ambitious critical history. Beginning with cult siren Vashti Bunyan’s quixotic 1971 journey across the countryside in a horse-drawn wagon, the writer explores a “silver chain” of impulses—pastoral, utopian, pagan—running through the indigenous music of the British Isles. Beginning in the late 19th century at the doorstep of writer-artist William Morris, the author probes the pioneering work of such song collectors as Ralph Vaughan Williams and Cecil Sharp. Moving into the age of recorded music, he celebrates key figures in the 1950s folk boom like A.L. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl. The meat of the narrative takes in the ’60s, when England’s folk clubs spawned seminal performers like guitarist Davy Graham, vocalist Shirley Collins and family harmony group The Watersons, who in turn inspired the great folk-rock acts of the era. Young focuses on the major names—Fairport Convention, Pentangle, the Incredible String Band, Nick Drake, John Martyn, Steeleye Span—but he doesn’t ignore dozens of lesser-known performers in tune with the Arcadian muse. After a look at the waning of folk-rock, which coincided with the late-’70s ascent of Thatcherism, Young surveys the works of such latter-day inheritors as Kate Bush, David Sylvian, Julian Cope and Mark Hollis’ Talk Talk. It’s impossible to completely convey the sweep and detail of the author’s work, which reflects a deep knowledge of congruent works in English literature, film and visual arts. He logs the connections between the folk boom and parallel developments in Early Music and world music, and doesn’t ignore its tangential connections with genres like heavy metal. He ties the movement to the English landscape itself in a compelling chapter on festivals that culminates in Glastonbury’s 1971 debut. While the book is massive, it never bogs down in pedantry, and Young’s lyrical, good-humored, bracingly intelligent narrative voice keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. A breathtakingly accomplished, entertaining and illuminating epic.

 

Pub Date: May 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-86547-856-5

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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