Title: Oak, Ash & Thorn
A collection of songs from the “Puck” stories by Rudyard Kipling
Set and perfomed in the traditional idiom by Peter Bellamy
Peter Bellamy, vocals, guitar, Anglo concertina
Royston Wood, Heather Wood, chorus, harmony vocals
Robin Dransfield, chorus
Barry Dransfield, fiddle
Peter Bellamy's fourth solo album after the breakup of the Young Tradition, 1970's Oak, Ash and Thorn is the first collection of his musical settings of the poetry of Rudyard Kipling, a project with which the British singer and historian would be consumed for much of the rest of his life. Although Kipling was resolutely unfashionable in 1970, seen as little more than an apologist for British colonialism's worst tendencies, Bellamy saw through that into the heart of Kipling's verse, which betrayed the poet's deeply held love for British tradition and folklore. Bellamy set these poems to adaptations of traditional folk tunes, a marriage that works primarily because Kipling's verse was so rooted in the British ballad tradition. Bellamy's former cohorts in the Young Tradition, Royston Wood and Heather Wood, appear on several tracks here, and the title track became one of Bellamy's most beloved songs, its refrain line "Wake the vaulted echo" later serving as the title of Bellamy's three-disc career retrospective.