Folk … Electric folk … Acid folk … What the folk?
So, I asked Pete “what the folk” are all these genres about?
We started with folk music and this is basically how the conversation went:
Folk music probably originated from minstrels who used sing songs telling the news of the day in middle ages. This continued through history; even in Victorian times there are tales of songsters travelling and singing the news. Lots of small communities developed their own local songs which were passed down through the generations. Many of these were never written down. One of the first people to start collecting these songs from around the country was Cecil Sharp who founded the English Folk Dance (and Song) Society in 1911, which Pete’s Dad used to belong to. Cecil Sharp led a revival of English traditional music throughout the early 20th century. Traditional folk records come from collections of these songs performed by various artists. Artists such as Shirley & Dolly Collins, Martin Carthy and Anne Briggs made good recordings of this music.
Some of our favourite LPs that fit into this category are:
Laine and Alan – On an Autumn Day
Anne Briggs – Anne Briggs (Black Water Side – covered by Led Zeppelin
Fairport Convention recorded Liege and Lief in 1969. This is seen by many as the first electric folk (aka folk rock) album where they mixed psychedelic rock sounds into the traditional folk songs. For a sample of this try Matty Groves. One favourite track from Fairport’s Unhalfbricking LP is ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes‘ written and sung by Sandy Denny. We enjoy singing along to both of these tracks in a field during our annual visit to Fairport’s festival in Cropredy every August.
Fairport Convention were a huge influence on many musicians. One favourite of ours is Vashti Bunyan – her album Just Another Diamond Day is a rare collectible record that did not sell well when it was first released. Fortunately Vashti has now started to record music once more and we had the pleasure of seeing her in concert.
Fairport Convention play much of the backing on her original album. Other great electric folk albums in our collection that have the Fairport influence include, Mandy Morton & Spriguns – ‘Magic Lady’, Spriguns – ‘Revel, Wierd & Wild’, Faraway Folk – ‘Seasonal Man‘, Mushroom – ‘Early One Morning‘. There are other electric folk albums that we love such as Fresh Maggots – ‘Fresh Maggots’ and a more recent LP from the early 2000’s from the Norwegian band Gate who have sadly split up.
At around the same time as Fairport were making folk electric, Incredible String Band had change their traditional sound and recorded ‘Five Thousand Spirits or the Layers of the Onion’ which some would say is another strand of folk development, occasionally referred to as Acid Folk. For one of our favourite ISB tracks, listen to Painting Box. This influenced bands such as Doctor Strangely Strange, Comus and Mark Fry. A typical acid folk sound would be the track Diana, by Comus.
Around 1970, some bands were mixing progressive rock with folk to create another style of music. Examples of this style are Fuchsia – ‘Fuschia’, CMU – ‘Space Caberet’, Might of Coincidence – Why couldn’t people wait’ (have a listen to the wonderful track, ‘And Here We Are Again‘) and Dulcimer – ‘And I Turned as I Had Turned as a Boy’. Other sounds have emerged from mixing jazz or other ethnic sounds into folk, such as Davy Graham – Folk Blues and Beyond, Pentangle – The Pentangle, Magic Carpet – ‘Magic Carpet’, Oriental Sunshine – ‘Oriental Sunshine’
This is just scratching the surface and our views. So let us know what you think……