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Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival Paperback – April 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury UK (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747587256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747587255
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,192,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'An excellent biography of one of folk's cult figures ... Harper's narrative is first-rate at putting the man and his influence in perspective. It is especially evocative when describing the folk underground which burgeoned in the UK in the 1960s and early 1970s' Independent on Sunday 'A work of considerable importance ... intuitive and informed' Q Magazine 'The legendary musical outsider described as "a dextrous guitar player, footloose and fancy-free" shines like a rare, uncut diamond in this biography, which captures his rise as a musician in the British folk and blues scene of the 1960s, from the coffee houses of Soho to friendship with The Who's Pete Townshend ... Past glories make Dazzling Stranger a feast for anyone interested in Jansch or the 1960s' Scotsman 'This is a book that needed to be written, and for folk, blues, and beyond enthusiasts, one that's required reading' Glasgow Herald

About the Author

Colin Harper was born in Belfast in 1968. A professional writer on music between 1994-2001, contributing regularly to Mojo, the Independent and the Irish Times, he is currently a librarian at a Belfast music college. Recent projects have included co-authoring, with Trevor Hodgett, Irish Folk, Trad & Blues: A Secret History (Collins Press, 2004) and creating two wildlife charity albums (www.thewildlifealbum.com) for the benefit of the WWF and Ulster Wildlife Trust.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
We really get to know the man thru this book & I thank the author for his fine work.
Donald H Krantz
It has been an important book for me and I recommend it highly to anyone who is interested in great acoustic folk music.
Paul Anderson
If you are into the British folk and blues scene of the early 60s, then this is the book for you.
Penguin Egg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Penguin Egg on October 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
If you are into the British folk and blues scene of the early 60s, then this is the book for you. It vividly describes the burgeoning Edinburgh folk scene of the Scottish revival where Jansch developed his unique guitar style, drawing heavily upon such blues stylists as Big Bill Broonzy and Brownie McGee. London had its own burgeoning folk scene, dominated by larger than life personalities like Ewan McColl, A.L.Loyd, Dominic Behan, and Davy Graham, who was furrowing a similar furrow to Jansch. Jansch drifted down to London where he met the English folk singer, Annie Briggs. They struck up a close relationship. He learnt a large part of his repertoire from her, to which he would apply his own blues oriented stylistic approach. This would bloom with his third album, "Jack Orion", where he approached traditional English folk songs as if he were a blues artist. For instance, "The Gardener" is sung in a wordless vocal similar to Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was The Night-Cold Was The Ground," while on the title track, he extends phrases and repeats them over and over again for a hypnotic and spellbinding 9 minutes. There had been nothing like this in folk music before. With this album, he extended and fully realised the folk-boroque style, which drew upon folk, blues, and jazz, and which was pioneered by Davy Graham.

Jansch was not only a unique and masterly guitarist and singer, but an excellent songwriter. Steering clear of politics, to the disgust of McColl, he honed in on the personal. He celebrated personal independence with "Strolling Down The Highway" and "Rambling's Going To Be The Death Of Me." He wrote incredibly moving love songs such as "A Dream, A Dream, A Dream" and "Oh How Your Love Is Strong.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David Evpak on December 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Anyone with an interest in Scottish born guitarist Bert Jansch will know that author Colin Harper has been collecting material for this biography for some years now. Colin has collected interviews with friends, fans and family and those involved in the "business affairs" of Bert's past and present and has wove them into an in -depth, objective volume on the respected and, to many, awe -inspiring musician. Covering Bert's introduction to folk song and blues as a young man in Glasgow, to the 60s London scene, through difficult "health problems" during the 80s and the Bert "renaissance" of the 90s, Colin treats his subject with objective respect and just a touch of the fan enthusiasm one would hope for to make this a wonderful read. Well done Colin!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Schuman on January 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
Colin Harper is a judgemental librarian and he writes like one. That makes this book very informative but that made it difficult for this reader to read it all the way through. I read it after reading Joe Boyd's White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, which is less informative but much better to read. Boyd's book is a fast-paced and clearly subjective account of one man's experience as a music businessman.
Harper's book aims to be as comprehensive and "objective" as a history textbook, which means that it values information more than style. Harper writes in a passive, dry manner that, fortunately, fails to dull its colorful characters.
Its interruptions of Bert's life story to provide historical accounts of different folk clubs is sometimes annoying, but I can't really criticize it because, on another hand, if I do want to know about Les Cousins, all I need to do is look it up in the index. It does not make a good novel, but it does make a good encyclopedia, and, when I decided to treat it that way, I really got to like it.
So, it's dry, encyclopedic quality is ultimately not a fault, but it is something that a reader should be prepared for.
There is, however, one true problem with the book, and that is its criminal downplaying of the originality and influence of the late Davy Graham. A reader who is only slightly familiar with Graham would walk away from this book with the impression that he was merely a spark that appeared before Jansch started a revolution, when the truth - as Jansch himself has said in interviews - is that Graham was an enormous influence on his playing and on all music that followed.
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I was lucky to hear about Bert Jansch in the early days (mid-60"s) and have been a fan of his ever since. This read starts in the 50's & sets up the background to the 60's folk era in England -Scotland ,etc.. I knew of the "Watersons" and have one of their albums ; also the Pentangle (albums) & John Renbourn & Bert's duo albums . So many other names in this book I never heard of....never knew Davey Graham was the first to use DADGAD tuning or Anne Briggs taught Bert Blackwater Side. Never knew Bert worked his way thru alcoholism & struggled with the "music business" two areas I can understand being there myself. We really get to know the man thru this book & I thank the author for his fine work. D.H.Krantz
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