Box set: Various artists

Anthems in Eden, SANCTUARY
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The Independent Culture

As folk music becomes more popular than at any time since the late Sixties/early Seventies, this four-CD box offers a timely survey of the modern Anglo-Irish folk scene from its initial mid-Fifties surge to its eventual ebbing as the hippie Seventies drew to a close, swamped by the breaking wave of another strain of urban folk music, punk rock. The four discs are thematically arranged, with the first covering early icons such as Ewan MacColl, The Dubliners and Sydney Carter; the second surveying post-Dylan singer-songwriters such as Donovan, Bert Jansch and Nick Drake; the third tracking the development of British folk rock through the likes of Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Lindisfarne; and the final disc unearthing the roots of the current "Strange Folk" boom in the work of whimsical psychedelic neo-medievalists such as Tyrannosaurus Rex and The Incredible String Band. Though studded throughout with highlights such as Fairport's "Fotheringay" and Nick Drake's "Northern Sky", it's the first disc that proves the most enduring, ranging as it does from the skif-folk of Lonnie Donegan's "Jack o'Diamonds" and the virtuosity of Davy Graham's "Anji" to the resonant polyphonies of The Young Tradition's a cappella "Lyke Wake Dirge"; a range of approaches under a shared interest in traditional modes.

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