Anthems In Eden — The Journey of Folk into Rock

in Daily Programme, Radio Riel Main

by Elrik Merlin on Wednesday, 26 September, 2012

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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