Anthems In Eden — The Journey of Folk into Rock

There are a cou­ple of books that trace the devel­op­ment of British folk music from the tra­di­tion­al to the folk-rock era.

The clas­sic is The Elec­tric Muse: The Sto­ry of Folk into Rock by Dave Laing, Karl Dal­las, Robin Denselow and Robert Shel­ton, pub­lished in 1975, writ­ten, inter­est­ing­ly, while it was still hap­pen­ing. Accom­pa­ny­ing the book’s pub­li­ca­tion was a mul­ti-album com­pi­la­tion that did an excel­lent job of pro­vid­ing musi­cal exam­ples to illus­trate the sto­ry. The album ver­sion had sev­er­al incar­na­tions, final­ly end­ing up in the form of no less than two triple-CD sets titled The New Elec­tric Muse I & II, issued by Cas­tle Music in the mid-1990s and now out of print.

More recent is Rob Young’s excel­lent book Elec­tric Eden (2010), which runs from the Vic­to­ri­an era to more or less the present, although the focus is once again on the peri­od between the mid 1960s, when elec­tric folk music start­ed to become pop­u­lar, and the mid 70s when punk threw the baby whole­sale out with the bath­wa­ter. That also spawned a com­pi­la­tion album with the same title.

The name Anthems In Eden was giv­en to a sem­i­nal work by Shirley and Dol­ly Collins. Released in 1969, it con­sists of a sin­gle song cycle cen­ter­ing around the First World War and fea­tures the musi­cians of the Ear­ly Music Con­sort with the late David Munrow. It is now avail­able on CD (if you look hard) paired with the 1976 album Ama­ranth. It’s also the title of anoth­er mul­ti-album folk his­to­ry com­pi­la­tion, also from Cas­tle Music, and this is where the title of today’s pro­gramme orig­i­nates.

Togeth­er, these com­pi­la­tions trace a fas­ci­nat­ing musi­cal his­to­ry, and we’ll hear tracks from all of them today, along­side some of the orig­i­nal albums from which tracks were tak­en for the com­pi­la­tions, and many more. Let us take you back to the times when unac­com­pa­nied folk music gained first acoustic instru­ments and ulti­mate­ly elec­tric ones, as we trace the jour­ney of folk into rock in the UK.

Elrik Mer­lin notes: Today’s pro­gramme is ded­i­cat­ed to friend and DW col­league Ais­ling Sin­clair, with­out whom this pro­gramme would have been unlike­ly: lots of best wish­es and hop­ing you get bet­ter very soon.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

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