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Book Review

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Songs for Europe
The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest - Volume One: The 1950s and 1960s


Author: Gordon Roxburgh
Telos Publishing
RRP: £16.99, US $35.95, Cdn $35.95
ISBN: 978 1 84583 065 6
Available 23 July 2012

Every year since 1956 millions of people around Europe and beyond have tuned in to watch the annual Eurovision Song Contest. It has become compulsive viewing, as viewers support their favourite song or country, and eagerly watch the performances and anticipate the excitement of the international voting as the show heads towards its climax. Through examination of surviving archive material and documentation, plus interviews with those involved both behind and front of the camera, this series of books charts the history of the United Kingdom in the contest...

This book is the first of a planned series that chart the UK's involvement with that rather bizarre annual event, The Eurovision Song Contest. Author Gordon Roxburgh gives fans the chance to find out more about how the UK songs were selected to represent the country, and details on the all important voting each year. This first volume looks at how the contest was created, and how important the BBC were in influencing its development. There is in depth coverage of those contests staged in the United Kingdom, and interviews with artists, composers and production personnel who took part in both the domestic and international competitions.

There's a period in everyone's life (usually when they're students) when they embrace the quaintness of the contest. For most, Terry Wogan's commentary was as important as the actual songs. Of course, it's all political, and the winning entry these days hardly ever has anything to do with a good song.

This book takes you from the submitted songs (even detailing the titles and composers of those that didn't make it past this first hurdle, through detailed analysis of the heats to the qualifying British songs, to the overall winner.

This is a book for hardcore Eurovision fans only, as the sheer wealth of information and background research is almost obsessive in it's collection. And that's exactly why this book will be welcomed by fans. Telos, as always, haven't gone for the easy route publishing a large glossy volume that would appeal to the casual viewer on the run up to the latest Eurovision contest. No, this is a volume that needs to be read from cover to cover as you live through the events of each contest.

Hardcore fans will find that this is essential, and compulsive reading.


Nick Smithson

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