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Electric Folk: The Changing Face of English Traditional Music Hardcover – January 13, 2005

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195158786 ISBN-10: 0195158784 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Sweers has compiled a fascinating examination of electric folk- or folk rock- in the UK since the 1960s." --CHOICE


--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author


Britta Sweers is Junior Professor in Ethnomusicology at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Rostock (Germany).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195158784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195158786
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,883,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Bratman on June 30, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is apparently the first book about English electric folk in thirty years, and the first ever to take an ethnomusicological approach to the subject. Most books about British folk music, or about "folk-rock" (a term usually taken to mean an American genre of slightly earlier date) don't distinguish the electric folk bands or else relegate the whole idea to a corner.

But Sweers puts front and center four bands: Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Pentangle, and the Oyster Band, with plenty of discussion of acoustic performers allied to electric folk (e.g. Martin Carthy, Shirley Collins) and some excursions into "Celtic lounge music" (Clannad, Enya) and American bands doing English electric folk. Nor is this a casual anecdotal history. Despite some occasionally sloppy writing and copyediting (what has happened to the OUP, anyway?), Sweers has delved deeply into primary sources and interviewed almost everybody, and written a good analysis of how the "scene" developed, what it meant to the people performing and listening to it (even discussing social class issues), and into what the music is actually like and how it got that way. I especially appreciated the meaty technical sections, like the chart showing some of the unusual chord progressions that characterize these songs (Fairport's "Tam Lin", for instance, is i-VII-III-i).

One might also learn a lot. Every history and interview of these performers says that many of them came out of "the folk clubs," obviously venues where folk music was performed, but Sweers is the first to actually describe these things.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Britta Sweers, in her dissertation expanded into a book, offers a refreshing change from the usual thesis packaged between harder covers. Her own experiences as a curious listener drew her in to the electric-folk British scene. Her training as a musicologist allowed her to chart the innovations the musicians brought to this fusion of rock attitude and folk sensibility. Or vice versa. This conundrum generates the contents of her study and the tension of the genre.

Added to this, as the first reviewer explains, are interviews with many of the key players. This is valuable, as informants like Ashley Hutchings, Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson, and especially Maddy Prior share their memories-- or such as survive as they readily admit. Added to this is Sweers' best touch, for me. She trawls Melody Maker & Sounds (less so NME as she explains) for mentions of folk-rock as Fairport began to be marketed beyond the limited folk scene, and the counterculture took up the freak folk flag more readily by the time of "Liege & Lief." The analysis Sweers constructs shows how with less heralded (compared to Sandy Denny & Richard Thompson in hindsight!) Dave Mattacks on drums crafted the signature sound that enabled a genre to flourish, traditional material played by those who had grown up with rock and pop. Out of the folk club ghetto Prior captures in her comments so well, her Steeleye Span and its comrades pursued success into American stadiums and amplified concerts and grand productions on record. This phase, the earlier 70s, Sweers re-creates effectively from the point of view of the band.
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Format: Hardcover
A scholarly exploration of English folk-rock and its historical context has been long overdue, and Britta Sweers offers a comprehensive assessment of the diversity and iconoclasm of this curious and extraordinary postwar phenomenon. Thoroughly buttressed with extensive research, including some enlightening interviews with surviving artists, Electric Folk will undoubtedly become an indispensable work of pop culture criticism.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By WhattheDickens! on April 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yes, it should have been great, but...

It reads more like a Ph.D candidate trying to impress the academic supervisor with academic register and form rather than just getting on with it and telling the story. A tough, really tough read.
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