Part 3 in an implausible yet mesmerising and delightfully entertaining series.
This series of books comprises a major social and cultural history of Britain, reflected through the prism of music — mostly folk music. It amounts to a hidden history of both Britain and music, and is part oral history and part incisive criticism, with a fair amount of humour thrown in.
The ten part series is based on the life of 90-year-old Bill Leader, the prolific sound engineer and producer, who was the first to record Bert Jansch, the Watersons, Anne Briggs, Nic Jones and Connollys Billy and Riognach, and among the last to record Jeannie Robertson, Fred Jordan and Walter Pardon. Bill straddled the golden age of traditional singing and the folk revival. He agreed to the biographical treatment if due prominence be given to colleagues who may have since slipped from the world’s eyes.
Through the series, a parade of the great and good come and go. These include Paul Simon, Brendan Behan, Pink Floyd and Christy Moore, all recorded by Bill at one time or another. Secrets, surprises and heresies are rife and something jaw dropping happens at least every four pages.
Each book comes with illustrations by PETER SEAL and rare photographs.
VOL. 3 BLURB:
Bill Leader’s big idea, to go where the music is playing and catch it on the wing, is comparable to the moment when technology freed film directors to shoot on location. It gets great results if you don’t mind roughing it. The third instalment of Mike Butler’s voluminous study of the legendary sound engineer, his life and times and our lives and times, is mainly concerned with field trips and traditional music making, but opens with the building of a recording facility on the top floor of the Workers’ Music Association in 1957.
Sounding the Century proposes a new way of writing about music and mixes the methodology of oral historian and music critic. Characters that have crossed Bill’s path are given pen portraits – from E.P. Thompson to Bob Dylan – and the writing is strong on the thrill of discovery. Mike Butler has even been compared to H.G. Wells…
‘In any number of books H.G. Wells goes into great detail explaining and describing the main character’s youth, upbringing, the world around him, his growing political awareness, alliances, disillusionments, etc. In a not dissimilar fashion to you. But yours is even more comprehensive and fascinating’ – Andy Nagy.