Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Young Tradition

"The Young Tradition" 1966
"So Cheerfully Round" 1967

Founded during the early 1960s British folk revival, the Young Tradition started out as an unaccompanied duo of Peter Bellamy, an art student from Norfolk, and Royston Wood, a former teacher, advertising executive and driver from Surrey, who sang sea shanties at folk clubs and college concerts. Apart from folk music, their interests didn't overlap, Bellamy being a rock & roll enthusiast while Wood was a fan of orchestral and chamber music. Heather Wood, a former army officer cadet and London university student, who was no relation to her bandmate, joined them in 1965, and the resulting trio was signed to Transatlantic Records the following year, cutting two albums for the company over the next two years. Their sound was surprisingly stripped down as a trio, with only one guitar and three voices, making the Young Tradition practitioners of a decidedly old tradition when compared with the folk-rock groups of their period. Their self-titled debut album showed the trio to be dedicated scholars, taking the trouble to unearth the most authoritative and authentic versions of the songs in their repertory.

This two-fer of the debut and sophomore releases by the Young Tradition show just how daring they were for the time. They dressed like pop stars, but sang a cappella traditional folk music (with two exceptions, "Watercress-O" and "The Hungry Child" off So Cheerfully Round, the latter of which was written in imitation of a traditional ballad and included recorder as well as voices). They set out to make folk music hip, and to some extent succeeded. Their harmonies were untutored, although heavily influenced by the venerable Copper Family in both execution and the songs they picked -- "The Banks of Claudy," "Derry Down Fair" (better known as "Rambleaway"), and "The Innocent Hare" all come from the singing of the Coppers, who were responsible for collecting "The Bold Dragoon" and "The Season Round." Still, if you're going to be influenced, it might as well be by the best. Over the course of the two discs, the band definitely grows in stature, with Peter Bellamy in particular increasing in confidence, especially on "The Old Miser," an ambitious solo. The inclusion of a female voice (Heather Wood) offered variety and texture, and her rendition of the carol "The Truth Sent From Above," although slightly wavering, is a true joy. There's a richness to their work as a trio that makes it seem almost impossible that they hadn't worked endlessly at these harmonies and arrangements. But the truth is that it all fell together perfectly naturally, both the wondrous way with singing and the bringing out of some excellent songs (ones that hadn't been heard much in the 1960s) from the dust of history -- while dressing it all up in Carnaby Street's best. Remarkable achievements indeed. ~ Chris Nickson, All Music Guide


Anonymous Anonymous said...

great stuff! i know it's asking for alot, but you havn't got "galleries" tucked away somewhere there have you? it's easily their best album, and features more instrumentation..some medieval touches and that country blues song with the added 78 rpm pops and scratches! wow, thanks for all this work. it's amazing!

13 November, 2006 06:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I am amazed, honored, and deeply grateful that you posted all my requests. Thank you so much for blogging this kind of music.
Cheers, Lisa

14 November, 2006 00:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this, much appreciated.


14 November, 2006 05:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many Many Many Thanks! I have their second album on CD and was looking for this one.

Matty Groves

14 November, 2006 22:13  
Blogger Mr Snookles said...

I've had the Young Tradition Sampler for years but never heard any others until now
many thanks

17 November, 2006 08:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is really great. Thank you so much for posting this and all the other wonderful music you have shared.

I would like to echo the first posters sentiments about "Galleries", does anybody know of a DL floating around out there? The last time I saw it, it was on vinyl and selling for £80.

24 August, 2008 19:13  
Blogger IncaRoads said...

Any chance of a reupload on these 2 gems? Damn Sharonall...



09 September, 2008 04:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm writing from Italy, and i'm a huge british folk fan: these albums are marvelous.

01 October, 2008 17:40  
Blogger rkwithnell said...

Many thanks for these. I first came across Royston Wood's amazing voice on Richard & Linda Thompson records years ago and wondered who he was. Now I know.

A great blog. Please keep it up. Cheers.

19 December, 2008 17:20  
Blogger Perina said...

Are these YT albums still available for download? We have them both on vinyl, but too far gone (too well-played!) to listen too any longer. We would dearly love to be able to listen to them again!

21 January, 2010 05:00  

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