Archive: Reviews – Rain On The Roof (1996)

Label: AK (2) ‎– AK-1

Released: 1996


Andy Irvine has been labeled as a ‘ Legend of Irish music ‘, over the years and this must be a very heavy weight to carry around and to record new material under. Though he seems to do so with ease.

Rain on the Roof is a solo album, which up until very recently, was only sold at his concerts. It is an album of exceptional quality and freshness, that leaves you wanting more of the atmosphere created on this disc. It is mainly recorded in one take, just Andy, bouzouki and microphone. It is as close to a live recording as they come and is a small taste of what you would experience from his concerts. A small taste, as he has a very large repertoire now. This album leaves you wishing for more of that repertoire to be recorded in the same vein. I am not a big fan of people re-recording old tracks, they never seem to capture the emotion and energy from those first attempts, but there are very rare exceptions to that and this is definitely one of them.

The first track is prince among men, I loved the original with Andy and Patrick Street but this version knocks it flat. The emotion and atmosphere created here and to be honest, on the whole album is astounding. It reminds me of the feeling I had when I first heard him play live. Fantastic !

The second Track is Banesas’s Green Glade and I have admit that my first thoughts when reading the track listing was, why would anyone even try to redo this track. The original is a classic but somehow the emotion on this recording is spot on. This was originally done together with Planxty and it asks how would ‘Rambling boys of Pleasure’, ‘ Aragon Mills’ or a mountain of others sound with this treatment. I have seen Andy play ‘You Rambling boys of Pleasure’ live and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, magical. Baneasa is following by a Balkan tune called Daichevo Horo, an excellent tune and I love the way this slow emotional track progresses to the fury of the Balkan melody. I have to say that I prefer the original combination of Baneasas being followed by Mominsko Horo but that takes nothing away from this version. I have seen him play Banesas/ Daichevo Horo live and it is quite breathe taking.

Rain on the Roof/ The Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Turn this track up to get full effect of the Rain and Didgeredoo. Surprising really, how well the mandolin works with the didgeredoo. Andy has spent so much time in Australia, that I am surprised he hasn’t recorded more of it. I love the feeling in this track !

My Hearts tonight in Ireland first appeared on a compilation album called Common Ground around ’96. Again a beautiful tune played together with Donal Lunny , Rens Van Der Zalm etc. But once again this version has so much more feeling to it. A tune of remember the good ol’ days back in Ireland and times of Sweeney’s’s men. In this version you can really hear it in his voice. This is sure to be one of those classic Irish tunes.

Forgotten Hero, was another track done with Patrick Street, about Michael Davitt. Again this opens the thoughts of a few more Patrick Street tracks reworked with this solo treatment. ‘Brackagh Hill’, ‘Springfield road/ monday Blues ‘ to name a few.

Pamela’s Ruchenitsa/ Gruncharsko Horo/ Bakers Dozen, I never get tired of hearing Andy playing this type of Balkan tunes. In the first concert I ever saw him play, it was these type of Balkan music that made me want to play the bouzouki. It still does !

He Fades Away is a new track and a wonderful one too. Written by Alaistar Hullett it paints a grim picture of asbestos miners, through the eyes of they’re wives. It is a very powerful tune and one that Andy sings with his heart.

Come with me over the mountain/ smile in the dark. A very lively set here, and the mandola here sounding in top form. I will have to get around to learning the Smile in the Dark. Wonderful. If anyone out there can play this, send me the tab.

The monument, the only track on the album that I don’t personally like. Maybe this is where Aragon mills or even Raoul Wallenberg could have been slipped in. A sad song with a serious not, and still beautifully sung.

Take no Prisoners and Old Brunswick are brilliantly played here. I get great pleasure listening to these tunes and even greater pleasure playing them. A really great set of tunes, for the bouzouki. The Balkan tunes on this album have a real edge to them and this is something that I would have like to have heard a lot more of on East Wind. A great album with Davy Spillane but Andy is washed out a little too much in the mix for my taste. I could listen to these tunes all day!

Never Tire of the Road, first appeared on Andy’s Rude Awakening album. A tune that has over the years, become Andy’s signature tune. I really like the original tune from the moment I heard it and was singing it for days. The Rain on the Roof version of this tune is more up beat, faster and is played with a little more aggression in its attack. A really great choice, for a final track and an incredible version too.

This is a very impressive rework of some of Andy’s material and presented together with some wonderful new songs and tunes. I must admit to have grown a little tired of a lot of albums these days being so over produced and a lot of the instruments being lost in the mix. While music is being mixed and produced to the ceiling, I feel so much of the emotion and feeling is falling through the floor. This album comes across with a fresh, crisp mix and performed with such emotion that you are sucked in to the atmosphere that is created in the words sung. I have to say this is my favorite album by Andy Irvine, and quite possibly my favorite album in my entire CD collection!

by Kieron

source: China2Galway.com [deadlink]

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