Archive: Album Reviews – Andy Irvine – Way Out Yonder (2000)

ANDY IRVINE “Way Out Yonder” Own Label AK2

A new Andy Irvine release always sets off a tingle with me, because I know, just know that I’m going to find something in it to enjoy, whether a new song, radical, sad or otherwise here, or maybe a Balkan-influenced tune there. Maybe there’ll even be a guest musician or two that I’ll appreciate.

Well, Andy, you’ve not let me down this time, as this one’s got the lot. The title track is as jaunty a tune as I’ve heard for a while, one of these ones that keep popping back into your head for no reason other than enjoyment, with swirling harmonica and intricate string work.

And as for the songs – well, my money would be on the opening number “Gladiators”, a history lesson about the I.W.W. in Australia at the time of the First World War, to be one which is picked up by club singers, but maybe others’ tastes would prefer the new version of “The Girl I Left Behind” or the totally whimsical and imaginative “They’ll Never Believe It’s True” (they won’t!)

“Moreton Bay” is the only traditional song in this collection, here getting a suitably poignant arrangement, and Andy breathes new life into “The Highwayman” – yes, the Alfred Noyes poem everybody got at school, here sung to a Loreena McKennitt tune.

As for the musicians, let’s just say there’s ten of them and three backing vocalists, any of whom would pull the crowds out. Get the CD to find out more – I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

Gordon Potter
This album was reviewed in Issue 41 of The Living Tradition magazine.


Way Out Yonder
Andy’s third solo album, Way Out Yonder, is a superb achievement. I am always impressed to see that Andy’s solo albums are so different from the material and sound that is produced by his band Patrick Street. He has his own sound and it simply gets better over the years. Way out Yonder is a real treat for people that have seen his live performances over the years, for many reasons.Gladiators is the first track and I remember hearing Andy singing this as ‘Old Dusty Road’ , way back and introducing it as a new song. The words have been somewhat rewritten from his first attempt, and the melody refined to perfection. I will have to dig out that old recording and have a listen, now I think about it ! This is an excellent track, and a very powerful start to this album. His Harmonica driving in full attack here and really carrying those words forward. He sang this one at the Galway gig, and it gave the words ‘’I made a vow to your memory as I stood on your burial ground, That I’d write this song and I’d sing it in your native Galway Town’’! a real edge.

Moreton Bay is an Australian convict ballad. I love this gliding intro to this track, the feeling captured here is just wonderful. Very tasteful additions of Linsey Horner’s double bass too!

They’ll never believe it’s true. Well this track wasn’t suppose to be on the album, and the melody was to be for a song called The Two Sisters. The Two Sisters was a song that Andy had rewritten the words for and written new music for, more than ten years ago, basically making it a new track. It was then recorded in Andy’s new form, by many artists…………….with no credit to Andy Irvine at all. I would really love to hear from anyone has a live recording of Andy doing this track as The Two Sisters. Anyone?? Anyway, the story goes that the producer for the album thought that the wonderful melody line was too gorgeous for the harsh words of the sisters track, so Andy wrote a new song and here it is. This is a lovely track, and the mandola sounding spot on. Magic! Followed by a great jig, they work great together here.

The Girl I left behind. This is an old tune but I can’t think of anyone else doing a version of it. My heart really goes out to the man in this song, Yeah I know, he’s asking for it but still, it brings a tear to your eye. This has a wonderful old-time tone to it.

Way Out Yonder. Well deserving of a title track, Check out the sound of the Gadulka ( Bulgarian Folk Fiddle ) played by Nikola Parov on this track. Wonderful !

The Highwayman. This track uses the words of a poem of the same name by Alfred Noyes, and it has to be one of the highlights of the album. The atmosphere of this songs creeps up on you and demands your attention. You can do nothing but listen when this song is playing but quite breathe taking. I think Alfred would be extremely proud to hear this track and the conviction an emotion that Andy’s voice delivers them with. Is it really 9 minutes long……..A true classic !

When the Boys are on Parade. I really love the way this songs bounces along. There are a lot of words in this song but I could not get it out of my head, for weeks !

Born in Carrickfergus………………………………………………I have real difficulty listening to this track, in fact it is the only song he has ever recorded that I skip !!. I was born in Northern Ireland…………………probably enough said.

This is a very rich and full recording, with a wonderful collection of musicians, very different from Rain on the Roof. A very impressive addition to anyones collection.

What can I say……………….buy it !

by Kieron

source: [deadlink]

Other Review Quotes

‘’The Noam Chomsky of Irish Balladry chisels out a new motherlode of sung literature. A bloody masterpiece’’
Mic Moroney, Irish Times

‘’He has lost nothing of his gift for seizing the essence of a song and communicating it with delicate and enthralling passion. This CD should be essential listening for anyone who’s been inspired by his music.’’
-Ken Ferguson, West Australian, Perth

‘’By any measure Irvine is one of the towering talents on the International folk scene. The righteous anger of his youth (an anger directed at war, oppression of the working class, political ineptitude and the inequalities of the world) has never faded. Way Out Yonder is a marvellous distillation of all the diverse strands of his talent’’
-Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald

‘’This new CD is his best solo venture yet; with Irvine singing better than ever. The arrangements complex yet simple, with consideration and craftmanship in every note’’
-Graham McDonald, Canberra Times

‘’Andy Irvine’s splendid new album,’’Way Out Yonder’’, creates the kind of intimacy and warmth that will continue to ensure that his reputation never sets its backside anywhere near those bothersome laurels. He is an institution in Irish music, driven by the passion and creativity of a man on a mission. This intoxiticating blend of Irish music and Balkan tunes alongside humour, poignancy and original story-songs in the tradition of Woody Guthrie — rescuing heroes of the working classes from the footnotes of history — makes his artistry quite simply unique.’’
-Colin Harper, Irish Times

“He is one of the great unsung heroes; he made a great contribution to Planxty and, by extension, to Riverdance.” So says one of the greats of the Irish music scene, Phil Coulter, when he speaks of Andy Irvine. And alludes to the fact that, among other things, the very strong Irish trend of including eastern European music didn’t originate in a stroke of genius by the Riverdance team. Rather, it goes back to the late ’60s, back to Andy Irvine’s early activities in this direction.

His new record, ‘’Way Out Yonder’’, is one of the most wonderful issues of the year, a must for every Irish folk fan. Andy sings with a sovereignty that is profoundly impressive.

And it goes without saying that he didn’t have to do much asking to coax friends like Máire Breatnach, Steve Cooney, Declan Masterson, Liam O’Flynn, Nikola Parov, Phil Callery, and Cormac Breatnach into the studio.
Axel Schuldes-‘’Folkworld’’ Germany. (Translated from the German)


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