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BOB COPPER - Songs & Southern Breezes: Country Folk & Country Ways 

BOB COPPER - Songs & Southern Breezes: Country Folk & Country Ways 

Bob’s first book, A Song For Every Season, has never been out of print since it was first published in 1971. The same cannot be said for this follow-up book from 1973 which has not been available for many years.

This is a serious omission, for the quality of Bob’s descriptive writing is equalled in both books and, in some ways, the subject of this book - song and dialect collecting for the BBC in 1950s Sussex and Hampshire – has even greater relevance to the folk enthusiast and scholar with its in-depth accounts of how Bob went about the task that so clearly delighted him.

This was a third re-reading of this book; the previous one being more than 30 years ago. What stood out in the memory was all the encounters, how they came about, how they were conducted – what had slipped was the sheer excellence of Bob's descriptive powers and his storytelling. From Bob's pen, his informants (great characters like Turp Brown, Enos White and Ned Adams) really come to life, and it is great to learn more about the three people that had been personally encountered through Bob; they became more rounded characters (particularly Len Page) and this added a great deal. What also added to the delight of the original publication was the 17 tracks of the vinyl album of the same name (Topic Records 12T317 LP, UK, 1977), enabling reading about a singer to be followed up by listening to a track of the singer. Would even a limited reissue be possible to enchant newcomers to this charming and important book?

Vic Smith


This review appeared in Issue 134 of The Living Tradition magazine