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ROCK & POP: NEW RELEASES - Various artists Meridian 1970 emi iiii8

The early-1970s singer-songwriter tradition that Josh Rouse taps into is gracefully summarised here in a collection of tracks from the cusp of that decade compiled by the writer Jon Savage. Subtitled Protest, Sorrow, Hobos, Folk and Blues, it draws together underrated forerunners of today's alt.country scene such as Jesse Winchester and Danny O'Keefe, life-worn, lovelorn troubadours such as Nick Drake, Donovan, Loudon Wainwright and Meic Stevens, and the mature flowerings of veteran West Coast bands such as Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds and Steve Miller Band. These were some of the babies thrown out when punk changed rock's bathwater, and assembled like this, they give the lie to the great canard of punk being a necessary demolition of tired, pompous old modes. This presents a folk/rock scene bristling with diverse, vibrant approaches, from the blues surrealism of Little Feat's "Hamburger Midnight", to the dervish virtuosity of Leo Kottke's "Hear the Wind Howl", to the orchestral pastoralism of The James Gang's "Ashes the Rain and I", one of Joe Walsh's early experiments in broadening rock's tone and texture, before he took The Eagles' shilling. Highly recommended, not least for the inclusion of Danny O'Keefe, an overlooked talent deserving of a serious career reassessment.

Feature, page 19