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Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project

Les in Chorlton 13 Feb 11 - 07:13 AM
Spleen Cringe 14 Feb 11 - 04:51 AM
Desert Dancer 14 Feb 11 - 11:05 AM
Les in Chorlton 15 Feb 11 - 03:36 AM
MoorleyMan 15 Feb 11 - 02:28 PM
Richard Mellish 15 Feb 11 - 06:00 PM
Spleen Cringe 16 Feb 11 - 02:54 AM
GUEST,Hookah Rants 16 Feb 11 - 05:04 AM
Desert Dancer 19 Feb 11 - 11:32 AM
Les in Chorlton 19 Feb 11 - 01:46 PM
Desert Dancer 19 Feb 11 - 03:08 PM
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Subject: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Feb 11 - 07:13 AM

This album has been reviewed in The Observer today.

Here

From Folk Police Recordings

Here

Well done Nigel, Folk Police and all the amazing people on the CD

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 14 Feb 11 - 04:51 AM

Cheers, Les! It's been playlisted by fRoots with a great review, too...


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 14 Feb 11 - 11:05 AM

fRoots review:

VARIOUS ARTISTS Oak Ash Thorn
Folk Police FPR003

I never quite understood the fad for multi-artist remakes of classic albums. Great records are usually great records precisely because of the way they were made by whoever made them in the first place and revisits, whether as genuine homage or a radical re-think, smack of lesser acts attempting to grab the coat tails and get a taste of greatness by association.

Then again there are exceptions and this imaginative and occasionally inspirational collection is the triumphant antithesis of the normal dullard practice. Mostly such works simply drive you back to the original but, apart from anything else, this collectioin's main source is a 1970 album – Peter Bellamy's first fabled entrée into setting Rudyard Kipling to music with poems from Puck Of Pook's Hill – that hasn't been available for many years. More importantly, the artists re-interpreting it largely do so in inventive, energetic ways but which don't treat the material with anything but love and total respect.

Jon Boden, whose Bellamy interpretations have already been crucial in restoring Peter's name to the forefront of folk song, kicks things off with a strange but utterly charming treatment of Frankie's Trade which finds him duetting with a wax cylinder recording, while Sam Lee samples the voice of Bob Copper and skylarks for Puck's Song, which originally came from Bellamy's 1972 follow-up Merlin's Isle Of Gramarye.

Superb performances abound throughout the collection… a spine-chilling version of another of the Merlin's Isle set The Queen's Men from Lisa Knapp; a beguiling telling of The Brookland Road from Olivia Chaney; a tremulous The Way Through The Woods from Elle Osborne; a breathy Oak, Ash & Thorn from The Unthanks; a clever harmonium/Hardanger fiddle arrangement of Saturnine from Jackie Oates; a weird and slightly scary Harp Song Of The Dane Women from Rapunzel & Sedayne that could be straight out of the Incredible String Band repertoire; Trembling Bells' soaring Sir Richard's Song; charm and things that go bump in the night colluding on The Heavens Above Us by Emily Portman and Finn McNicholas; and a couple of powerful American tracks to give another different slant to it all – Charlie Parr's laconic, banjo arrangement of Cold Iron and Tim Eriksen's dulcimer-driven Poor Honest Men, which climaxes in a clattering hail of feedback and grunge guitar.

In fact the most faithful track to Bellamy's original is probably Fay Hield's The Looking Glass but, far from turning in his grave, Bellamy – who was far from the arch traditionalist some fondly imagine – would surely himself take great joy and pride in the productive outcome of his colourful legacy. And, whatever its wider connotations, it's a rare 16-track collection in its own right where the fast forward button isn't required.

www.folkpolicerecordings.com

Colin Irwin


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 03:36 AM

Now, that's a review

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 02:28 PM

Now this is another, just spotted...

OAK ASH THORN – Various Artists (Folk Police Recordings FPR. 003)
This year sees the 20th anniversary of Peter Bellamy's death, and the new record label Folk Police has launched itself with a splash to salute the memory of this immensely important and influential artist in suitably inspirational fashion. Back at the start of the 1970s, Peter released a pair of LPs (Oak & Ash & Thorn and Merlin's Isle Of Gramarye) which contained spare and triumphantly simple settings of poems by Kipling (taken largely from his charming Puck Of Pook's Hill collection). Criminally, these LPs have never reappeared on CD, and at least part of the intention of this Folk Police CD is to render these settings available again for today's audience, here by engaging the willing services of assorted "purveyors of folk brut and other rough music". Now this is what I call a tribute album – for it's one that makes true capital out of being both a genuinely felt homage and a sometimes radical reimagination of the original work/s. Some tracks are straightforwardly affectionate acoustic renditions, others determinedly weird; several I have to admit are downright scary, and some merely strange; but all of them without exception (and this is unusual for any tribute disc!) succeed in capturing the often peculiar essence of the Bellamy settings in the context of the charismatic and often childlike essence of the original poems – and this is quite an achievement, even if you may not actually like all the sounds you hear (there are some distinctly uncomfortable, jarring and seriously challenging moments – but that's all part of the attraction of this ride). I'll try to give you a flavour here: the distinctive voice of Jon Boden opens the collection with a rendition of Frankie's Trade – but it's distinctive in that you're hearing his voice distorted through a wax cylinder, duetting with itself and continually morphing across the ether through the course of the song to an ever-fluctuating instrumental backdrop: immoderately weird! In complete contrast, Olivia Chaney's limpid take on The Brookland Road is balm to the ears, and Charlie Parr's sparse banjo-backed slant on Cold Iron even more unexpected a sound. On Poor Honest Men, Tim Eriksen wears his various hats (from old-time champion to Cordelia's Dad) convincingly and gives us one of the disc's most cathartic musical experiences. Emily Portman, with Finn McNicholas, provides a nightmarishly sumptuous childhood trip through The Heavens Above Us, while the Unthanks' chillingly poised arrangement of Oak & Ash & Thorn is pure genius. Then there's Trembling Bells' glorious psych-folk excursion through Sir Richard's Song, while Elle Osborne imaginatively and gingerly treads The Way Through The Woods and Pamela Wyn Shannon "beehives herself" on a crazily beewitching (and quite Williamsonesque) rendition of A Bee Boy's Song. As a taster for their own forthcoming Folk Police release, Rapunzel & Sedayne offer a powerful, almost forbidding take on the little-heard Harp Song Of The Dane Woman, while Lisa Knapp gives us a spectral, fiddle-rich account of The Queen's Men that complements Jackie Oates's delightful (and also fiddle-rich) A Three Part Song. Sam Lee's version of Puck's Song incorporates samples of Bob Copper and a skylark, whereas the contrasting tellingly-hued felicities of the tracks by The Owl Service and Cath & Phil Tyler can't fail to entice even the casual ear. Last but not least, there's Fay Hield's marvellous rendition of Looking Glass (the only track here to have been sourced from an existing available record). Every single track is genuinely unmissable, magnificent in its own way and an intensely worthy tribute to Bellamy, Kipling, their memories, the healthy state of "folk brut" (or whatever you want to call it) – and yes, a brilliantly designed and packaged "badge of honour" for this new label to wear with pride. Album of the year already? Without doubt…!
- David Kidman, www.folkandroots.co.uk

It is indeed a splendid CD!


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 06:00 PM

Hmm. This seemed promising -- until I listened to the two samples available on the Folk Police website and had great trouble understanding the words.

Frankies's (sic) Trade seems to have the voice slightly out of sync on the left and right channels, with weird background (or not so background) sound effects to add to the confusion.

The Heavens Above Us is better, but the diction isn't clear enough for me to hear some of the words through the accompaniment.

I could look up the original poems and read those while listening, but that's not how songs should be.

Richard (in cantankerous old curmudgeon mode)


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 16 Feb 11 - 02:54 AM

FYI: JB's vocals aren't "out of sync" Richard. It's meant to sound like that...


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: GUEST,Hookah Rants
Date: 16 Feb 11 - 05:04 AM

but that's not how songs should be.

Vocal diction has always been an obsession among Folkies whose irksome conservatism accounts for much of the MOR flavours on offer. Call it cantankerous old curmudgeon mode if you will, but to do so is to miss the point of a) the music in general and b) of the words in particular. Words are never there to be listened to directly otherwise why bother setting them to music at all? And why rejoice in mondegreens? And why have lyic sheets with albums? By singing words we are, in effect, rendering them occult by carrying them onto another level - subliminal, distorted, obscured, as is the case with much Popular & Traditional Musics and a good deal of Classical too. In both cases some of the greatest singers sing the greatest lyrics in such a way they can't be readily understood. We may get as much meaning from listening to songs sung in languages we can't understand as we do from those in our native tongue - even without translations - because the meaning of music is a deeper instictive calling of hearts and souls that transfigures mere language by lifting it beyond the mundane and placing it into the realms of the transcendent - like those who stopped to RC Mass when they started doing it in English because they no longer understood it. With this in mind, listen again to Jon Boden's Frankie's Trade in terms of its organic spatial sense wherein musique concrete & wax cylinder distortion interweave in subliminal synchronity in which the words tell of something far deeper than ever Kipling or Bellamy intended, thus speaking in mythic tongues in a wilder, Shamanic trance of pure & perfect jouissance in which to account for the subject in hand. In this, as always, Mr Boden does us very proud; as does everyone on there. Storm along my gallant captains indeed.


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 19 Feb 11 - 11:32 AM

refresh (due to confusion with other thread)


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 19 Feb 11 - 01:46 PM

Ditto


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Subject: RE: Review: Oak, Ash and Thorn Project
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 19 Feb 11 - 03:08 PM

Probably too late to consolidate -- apparently it's a pain if there are more than a few posts, so here's the other thread: Oak Ash and Thorn Project.


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