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Nick Drake

Rob Young's 'Electric Eden'

Rob Young's 'Electric Eden'

Rob Young's "Electric Eden" is a rich, overgrown garden of a book. Subtitled "Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music," its ostensible purpose is to chronicle the late 1960s/early 1970s heyday of British folk rock: artists such as Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan, Pentangle, Shirley Collins and Richard Thompson, who captured something powerful and strange even as they failed to dent the U.S. charts. Many of them came to tragic ends as well — suicide, sudden loss of voice, decades of wandering in the artistic wilderness.

But the book's mission is far broader: Young connects these artists and others to Britain's Celtic and pagan past, their...

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