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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie) Never heard of Alex Campbell (237* d) RE: Never heard of Alex Campbell 22 Apr 18

What more is there to say on this thread that hasn't been said already? My own 2p worth went in ages ago, and I don't have much to add to it now. Except for this...

To anyone who wasn't around in Alex's best years - between the rise of British Skiffle and the acceptance of 'Folk' and 'Folk-Rock' as a niche product in the entertainment industry - to all of you youngsters, I warmly recommend Billy Bragg's new book 'Roots, Radicals and Rockers'.

The phrase 'you had to be there' is often used to explain why recordings of artists who were revered in their own day sound unimpressive to modern ears. Sometimes it's just a cop-out, but in this case, I believe it's true. To appreciate how much performers like Alex (and a few others) meant to their audiences back in the day, you need to understand the world we lived in then. Billy's book captures the grim, grey, gritty monotony of post-WW2 Britain, and contrasts it with the hopes for a brighter (and more just) future that seemed to be promised by the Skiffle craze of the 1950s, and then by the folk-club boom of the '60s.

All of that is history now. How much impact it had on the 'real world' is a matter for historians to argue over. But for better or worse, Alex was one of the key actors in that drama. Along the way, he gave a lot of pleasure to a great many people, while opening their ears and minds to songs and ideas they might never have encountered otherwise. For that he deserves a great deal of credit - more than enough, I believe, to outweigh the consequences of his all-too-human flaws and failings.


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