All hail you beer swilling hellions and buffoons, welcome to the world of 70’s folk rock.
There is something truly awe inspiring in the audacity to take ancient tunes, electric them up and then go hell for leather in the dancing and leaping department. Legendary dancing moments and liver damaging excesses galore as the man who started it all probably, Ashely Hutchings, looked on in his fringed suede jacket and smiled, or smirked.
Those psychedelic chaps had there lysergic insanities and the metal heads had their speed, it was less risky for a working class lad to put his elbow in his ear and become sensory deranged by Owd Roger and Old Peculier and dance the night away to the jiggery and reelery of Fairport Convention the Albion Bands and Steeleye Span and their like, there was also the sensitive side with Harper and McTell and Stewart, the brilliance that burned too bright of Jackson C. Frank and you could also get it together in the country with John Barleycorn and Traffic or just be bemused by how great John Martyn could and would be.
All you had to do was avoid Ewan MacColl and his cod working class elitism about the purity of folk like some authenticity supremacist while he wrote about the gasworks.
The big plus side was that girls enjoyed this stuff too. So if the beer and barley wine was flowing you may get to dance with a young woman without begging although you may get walloped for saying the wrong thing, not that that ever happened to a silver tongued devil like me.
So here on the Electric Muse you have four albums romping through the late sixties and early seventies folk-rock boom. Most of the important bands are here and it’s a pretty good collection, although as with any compilation like this there are omissions, although this was probably more to do with licensing than choice. There’s nothing too challenging although it does remind me why I need more Bob and Carole Pegg or Mr Fox in my life and I should go find a Davey Graham album one day.
This type of music was pushed aside by punk much more than any prog rock band, or was it just driven back to the clubs and pubs that it came from where it flourished grew and erupted late as the Mumford phenomena.
There have been whole books written about the folk revival and the rocking up of it, there are also a plethora of collections, this however may have been the first.