He is to folk music history what butter is to bread, what cakes are to Dawn French – what drugs are to… Hunter S. Thompson? He is of course Rob Young. Though hardly a household name, the editor at The Wire magazine has transferred his book on the history of folk, Electric Eden, to a CD compilation of the same name.
Electric Eden successfully encompasses British folk music from its early incarnations up until the present day through 36 songs, split into 2 CDs. CD 1 is Acoustic Eden whereas CD 2 is Electric Albion, so, depending on preference, listeners can choose to bask in the peaceful yet sprawling acoustic only CD or throw some shapes to its electric counterpart. Or, for diehard folk purists there is sure to be a bin ready to receive Electric Albion with all its silly amplification business – heaven forbid folk music incorporating technology.
The more obscure mingles with folkie staples like John Martyn, Fairport Convention and, oddly enough, even ‘Black Country Rock’ by David Bowie makes an appearance. This may be one of the few compilations of its kind that doesn’t include a Bob Dylan slowie, I therefore admire Rob Young’s foresight to exclude any predictable Bobby D homages and promote lesser known acts of the genre instead.
In short, the difficult process of selecting this folk retrospective has paid off. Electric Eden has surprises in store for folk enthusiasts, however would not intimidate any listeners wanting to dip their toes into the water.