Strange to think that it’s taken two years for this to come about – the very idea seems like a no-brainer. In 2010, Rob Young’s Electric Eden book followed the streams and tributaries of old weird Britannia back to their source in the folks songs collected and documented by Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Disc One of this collection, Acoustic Eden, begins with Peter Bellamy’s a cappella Oak, Ash And Thorn, a starting point that might well approximate the performances Sharp and Williams documented in the early 1900s.
Both this disc and its Electric Albion companion, however, focus largely on the late 60s and early 70s turning point in British folk/folk-rock. While Fairport Convention and John Martyn, naturally, feature on both discs (the former’s A Sailor’s Life marking the first time drums were used on a traditional folk song; the latter’s Glistening Glyndebourne occupying a spectral realm where the more interesting examples of the music lie), there’s plenty of lesser-known names to immerse yourself in. Disc One in particular embraces Meic Stevens, Bill Fay, Comus, Dr Strangely Strange and COB: spooky, intangible, compelling stuff that somehow always remains hidden in half shadow. Electric Eden the album shines a little light in through the cracks.