Sunday, 17 April 2011

Enlightenment! - #3

We’ve mentioned how Lionel Bart’s ... Isn’t This Where We Came In? was the inspiration for Enlightenment! -the current edition of YHO which can be downloaded here. Among the many musicians that played on that remarkable record were Danny Thompson and Harold McNair, who emerged as heroes of Rob Young’s Electric Eden, one of the few books on music that doesn’t goad the reader into smashing up furniture. Thompson and McNair have well established connections to Bart’s musical director John Cameron that flow from their pioneering work together on Donovan’s Sunshine Superman. It would be fascinating to map the recordings these musicians were involved in between, say, 1966 and 1972 to track the permutations in which they appeared among the credits. As a general rule, though, you can’t really go wrong if any one of the above are featured.
Those familiar with the YHO ethos will be aware how the project thrives on connections, particular where links are repeated and form a chain. And this works particularly well when it doesn’t matter where you start to trace the patterns. So, for example, Harold McNair and John Cameron worked together on the incredibly beautiful soundtrack for Ken Loach’s film adaptation of Kes. Cameron had worked together with Loach on his first screenplay, Poor Cow, which featured songs by Donovan. Cameron and McNair had already been working with Donovan. The screenplay for Poor Cow was written by Nell Dunn, drawing on her own novel. Loach and Dunn had worked together previously on the TV drama Up The Junction, which again drew on the original book by Nell.
The ‘revolution’ that took place at prime viewing times on Britain’s TV screens, with occasional ‘significant’ new works of drama by young writers tackling contentious issues, is one of the recurring themes in Enlightenment! In addition to Ken Loach and Nell Dunn, other important figures in the text are John McGrath and Alun Owen. Given the way YHO works, it is perhaps not too surprising that it is easy to establish key connections between Lionel Bart and both McGrath and Owen. But can links be made between either McGrath and Owen and where we came in? Of course! Alun Owen appeared briefly in Joseph Losey’s The Servant (having earlier written the screenplay for The Criminal), as did Davy Graham who recorded with both Danny Thompson and Harold McNair. You see it’s easy ...

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