Oak, Ash and Thorn and Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye are undoubtedly two of the best of the late, great Peter Bellamy’s many wonderful albums. Originally released by the Argo Folk label, in the early 1970s, they have now been out of print for over thirty years and have never been reissued on CD. The albums feature Peter’s musical settings of a selection of Rudyard Kipling’s poems for children from Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) and Rewards and Fairies (1910). Apart from a couple of songs set to traditional tunes, all the music is composed by Peter Bellamy himself, confirming our belief that as well as being a masterly interpreter of folk songs, Peter was an equally talented originator of new music. Whatever approach he took, whether it was composing new tunes or borrowing old ones, Peter had a magical knack of taking poems and ballads written around one hundred years ago and making them sound fresh and original yet at the same time as old and well worn as the hills.
Here at Folk Police Recordings we are committed Bellamists, and these albums occupy a pole position in our pantheon of essential folk records. In celebration of these lost masterpieces, we are releasing The Oak, Ash and Thorn Project, a various artists offering reprising many of the songs from Oak, Ash & Thorn and Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye. This is not a tribute album as such, but an opportunity for some of our favourite performers of the present day folk and alt-folk scenes to reinterpret the songs in their own style.
The album features tracks from the Unthanks, Jon Boden, Pamela Wyn Shannon, Trembling Bells, Jackie Oates, Emily Portman, Tim Eriksen, Olivia Chaney, The Owl Service, Cath & Phil Tyler, Elle Osborne, Lisa Knapp, Fay Hield, Charlie Parr, Sam Lee and Rapunzel and Sedayne, with cover art by David Owen of The Ink Corporation and liner notes by Raymond Greenoaken.