It’s perhaps hard to imagine in today’s pop landscape, but back in the 1960s there was a definite insurrection happening in the folk milieu, a drawing of battle lines about what ‘folk music’ could be. The mindset of the folk revival of the previous decade, one of a reverence for tradition and purism, had fossilised into a stilted dogma of conservatism.
Many of the younger singers and musicians breaking through chafed against what they saw as a parochial and out-of-touch clique.From this unrest rose a triumvirate of folk bands whose musical explorations played a part in causing folk music to slip its traditional shackles and become, in the words of Rob Young in his book on modern British folk music Electric Eden, a “floating signifier to be plucked from the air and appropriated by anyone who could find a suitable framework”.
In one corner there was Fairport Convention, who grafted UK folk to a US country rock sound. In another, you had the likes of The Incredible String Band, whose hippy meanderings across north Africa and Asia resulted in strange instruments, new sounds and a positively kaleidoscopic freak scene of psychedelia.But probably the most beguiling and inscrutable of them all is Pentangle [ . . . ]
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