Ok, here we go, and firstly, it does not seem fair to review a 337 page tome with just a paragraph or two, but we will try.
Jeanette Leech may be familiar to stateside readers of the UK rag Shindig. She usually reviews things with a fresh perspective, a keen eye, and in particular, all matters of a distaff relevancy. Your reviewer always looks forward to her columns in Shindig. And lord knows, the British can and do take their music criticism seriously. Very seriously. So, how much do you want to know about the roots of psych folk from the early, early days of pre-Incredible String Band, with stops in the USA for Pearls Before Swine and Holy Modal Rounders, then back across the pond for Dando Shaft, Mark Fry, Dr. Strangely Strange, and then back across the ocean for Michael Hurley all the way through Devendra Barnhart, Joanna Newsome and the Espers? If the answer is tons, then your wait is over. For the rest of us, there is some heavy going ahead.
Your humble reviewer prides himself on both his navigation of the nooks and crannies of all strains of rock music, as well as his interest in all of rock, but “Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid And Psychedelic Folk” did get too esoteric for even me. I have to concede that some of these artist were new to me, and that, as much as, I love Ms. Leech’s prose, this book at times was a bit of slog at parts.
It is all in here…everything that you could ever want to know about psych folk. And I wonder how many of you there are who have that need there is. She does a wonderful job of tying it all together, but without a soundtrack, you really have to want to care (and care a lot!) Sometimes, since she would be writing about a band that within the scope of three pages would get together, argue, get crushed and break up, it’s hard to get excited if you are not familiar with them.
We realize that this was a specialized subject matter to begin with, but an entire book about a sub genre of this nature might be asking too much. Read it if you wish dear reader, but be prepared for some heavy, heavy going. Look, if you love this stuff, then you will be in nirvana. I guess the good news, is that if every artist mentioned in the book was to purchase it just for the trainspotting value, the sale of 1,000 copies might just be realized.