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LEON ROSSELSON'S BOOK "Turning Silence Into Song"
Printed at The Alden Press, Oxford ISMN M-9002087-1-2

To be on the receiving end of a Rosselson song-book is a rare but mighty pleasure. He describes this latest offering as "a slim-line offspring" of "Bringing The News From Nowhere", the monster book of 30 years' worth of selected songs he brought out in 1992. As such it lives up to its precursor in a most satisfactory way. The material is drawn largely from his 3 post-Nowhere CDs - "Wo Sind Die Elefanten", "Intruders" and "Harry's Gone Fishing" plus a gathering in of "Late Leaves" (various songs for grown-ups) and "Questions" (songs for children). It's a substantial body of work - thirty-nine songs in all with explanatory notes as revealing as the songs themselves.

The spiral binding works well for guitarists, as do the chord symbols above the melody line of the first verses, though musical illiterates like me have to refer to the CDs for confirmation of the tunes. There are a lot of words - it's what we come to expect from Leon, but as he says at the end of his concise but incisive introduction, "On the page the songs, however well they read, are inert. Only in performance do they come to life. They are there for the singing."

If a more enlightened age ever arrives, historians will look back on the songs produced by the English Folk Revival, see how they were received and appreciated and shake their heads in disbelief . "Poor, ignorant savages" they will murmur, "why didn't they realise the treasures they had?"

Leon is a national treasure. What I suggest is that we find a way of nurturing, supporting, encouraging and celebrating Leon's talent, skill originality and persistence. I suppose we could start by buying his book.

Alan Rose

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This album was reviewed in Issue 54 of The Living Tradition magazine.