Radio Bremen Issues 1979 Planxty Recording
Radio Bremen and the MIG (Made in Germany) label have released One Night in Bremen, a live recording of the original Planxty line-up along with Matt Molloy in April 1979.
The concert took place at Bremen University amidst an extensive European tour in which they played forty-seven concerts in fifty-eight days.
Recalling the tour, Andy Irvine writes in the sleeve notes:
In the spring of 1978, Christy was playing with The Christy Moore Band, Donal was in The Bothy Band, which was in the process of breaking up, Liam was playing solo and I was either touring with Mick Hanly or playing solo too.
Christy saw it as a good time to recreate the ‘Original Planxty’. Liam and myself agreed wholeheartedly. I think I had been hoping for this moment for a couple of years. Donal still felt a responsibility towards the other members of The Bothy Band, but eventually he was persuaded and he brought with him the great Bothies flute player Matt Molloy…
Things were different. Looking back at it, we had all grown up by this time. Life was not as freewheeling as it had been. Mortgages had to be paid and children fed. Still we felt that we could pick up where we had left off in 1975 and a monster tour was planned for the spring of 1979…
I remember we played our tryout gig at The Meeting Place in Dublin, a pub that held about 60 people and two days later we opened the tour at the Hammersmith Odeon that held about 3,000! It was a nervous start. The tour went on through Britain and Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Holland and finally Ireland. 45 gigs in 58 days. We finished in Dublin and the following week we were in the new Windmill Lane studios to record After the Break.
One Night in Bremen features 12 tracks, including ‘The Pursuit of Farmer Michael Hayes’, ‘You Rambling Boys of Pleasure’ and ‘Smecana Horo’. Listen to the opening track below.
The album will be released on vinyl, CDand online in March. For more, visit https://goo.gl/3UqtnQ
Published on 28 February 2018
The release of a previously unreleased concert of PLANXTY brings us further into the realm of Irish folk. Their influence on the development of contemporary Irish music is still huge.
One of the first to witness PLANXTY’s live debut at Easter 1972 at Galway was DONOVAN Philips Leitch. Neither the Scottish singer nor his management knew that it was the band’s very first performance in front of a bigger audience when they took the four folk newcomers on as support.
However, Andy Irvine, Christy Moore, Dónal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn passed their baptism of fire with flying colours. Donovan and the crowd felt well entertained. As a result, the scouts from the label Polydor had the band sign a longer-term contract. The first single “Three Drunken Maidens” went into the charts. During the years to follow, PLANXTY worked for the rating “most influential band in the history of traditional Irish music”. In doing so PLANXTY did not only concentrate on Irish traditionals but let also enter more and more influences and elements from other cultures into their music while drawing on a multitude of different instruments.
Despite the success, PLANXTY’S line-up is rather a roundabout – i.e. as early as in 1973 Johnny Moynihan comes for Dónal Lunny, a year later Paul Brady replaces Christy Moore.
As late as in 1979, PLANXTY played in their original formation again and released the album “After The Break”. Paul Brady had left the band again to start a successful solo career and Matt Molloy expanded PLANXTY to a quintet.
The Irishmen went on tour and also stopped by in Bremen, at the university canteen on April 24, 1979. Radio Bremen recorded the show which MIG Music will release before long. For Molloy, it was the first and only tour with PLANXTY, because as soon as he was back on the island the versatile flautist replaced Sean Potts with the legendary Chieftains. Molloy is still performing and regularly making records with this Irish folk institution. Once in a while, you could also meet him at his pub “Matt Molloy’s” in Westport, pulling a pint for his guests or playing a couple of sessions with friendly musicians.
The other members of PLANXTY are on the stages of the world, either solo or together in different formations like for instance Dónal Lunny, Liam O‘Flynn and Andy Irvine as LAPD (the name stands for their initials Liam, Andy, Paddy and Donal). Dónal Lunny found worldwide acceptation as album producer of artists like Kate Bush, Elvis Costello, Rod Stewart, Clannad or Sinéad O’Connor, whom he also has a child with. Christy Moore founded after PLANXTY the more rock-oriented Moving Hearts and supported his younger brother Barry with his start within the rock business who then made a career under the pseudonym Luka Bloom.
PLANXTY’s influence on the development of contemporary Irish folk music to this day is huge. Christy Moore’s album with the Scottish guitarist Dick Coughlan as regarded as a milestone of acoustic folk. Critics also were on the same page after the show of PLANXTY at the Bremen University canteen forty years ago – more masterly, enthusiastic and expressive you simply can’t combine Irish traditionals with elements of modern folk. Once again, PLANXTY had set an exclamation mark in this genre.
MIG Music has scheduled the release of the live album from 1979 to March 2018.
Planxty – After The Break
The gravest danger in the resurrection of Planxty was always that, in attempting to recreate the extraordinary verve and majesty of their original incarnation, they neglected natural current instincts and succeeded only in becoming a parody of their former selves. That they managed with ease to avoid this considerable pitfall alone makes this a great record.
Naturally there’s no conceivable way that “After The Break” can manage the same impact as their bold debut LP, purely because “Planxty” came first and hit upon a blend that evidently inspired all those involved. If “The Well Below The Valley” and “Cold Blow The Rainy Night” fell short of it (albeit narrowly) then it was because that sharpness and charged sense of restrained dynamics had to a small degree dissipated. On several tracks here notably “The Rambling Suiler”, “The Pursuit Of Farmer Michael Hayes”, and two sets of reels, it’s fully recaptured.
Yet the track that defiantly declares that they are looking ahead and not behind is “Smeceno Horo”, a frantic Bulgarian dance tune that’s proved so popular on gigs it even merits a “FEATURING SMECENO HORO” sticker on the sleeve. A joker in the pack, it’s a complete departure from everything they’ve done before, even allowing for some of Andy Irvine’s flirtations with Eastern European music in the past. Undeniably invigorating and infectious, it’s nevertheless my least favourite track on the record, jarring in relation to the rest of the album, but I admire their resolve in tackling it. It comes over much more powerfully live.
The only other real quibbles are that Christy Moore (on “The Good Ship Kangaroo” and Andy Irvine (on “You Rambling Boys Of Pleasure”) seem to take the understated vocal style perhaps a shade too far, or maybe the vocals are a fraction too low in the mix. But these really are details – the arrangements around both tracks are superb, the instrumental break tagged on to the end of “The Good Ship Kangaroo”, the opening track, stirring memories of “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” and “Tabhair Dum Do Lamh”, “The Rambling Suiler”, a Scots moral tale of a colonel who dresses up as a beggar and pulls a farmer’s daughter, and “The Pursuit Of Farmer Michael Hayes”, a geographical guide to Ireland through the eyes of a fleeing murderer, are both vintage Planxty.
Matt Molloy and Liam O’Flynn are at the helm of the instrumental tracks (two sets of reels and one of double-jigs) and two things emerge. One is that Liam O’Flynn has become an even more accomplished piper than he was before, and that Matt Molloy’s brief contribution on flute was greater than it actually appeared on stage. His blend with O’Flynn is mesmerising here.
This is of course, an essential album.
Colin Irwin for Melody Maker 15/12/1979
Planxty – After The Break (Tara CD3001) – CD Reissue
“Originally released in 1979, the re-release on CD is given as 1992, but it dropped onto my doormat a few short weeks ago. There’s a bit of a mystery here, but I’m not complaining. This was, is and always be one of the classic, defining albums of the folk revival. In those far-off days my experience of Irish Music seemed to be defined by the sweateriness of the Clancy Brothers, the tweediness of the Chieftains and the beardiness of the Dubliners. Great music, great songs, but a bit formulaic and stereotyped. Then along came Planxty and the formulas and stereotypes were blown out of the water. They were just so undeniably groovy, I suppose….
‘After The break’ celebrates the five-piece, with Matt Molloy’s wonderful flute complementing the breathtaking skills of Christy Moore, Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine and Liam O’Flynn. The album consists of five tune sets and five songs, all arranged with impeccable taste and played with unerring flair. It’s an impossible job to pick a standout track – as each new piece begins it supplants the previous one as the all-time favourite. Andy and Christy sing out of their skins, Matt and Liam play their socks off and Donal keeps the whole shebang in safe, sure hands.
Nowadays, with Celtic music as an all-conquering globe-spanner, it’s difficult to imagine the impact that Planxty had in their day. Listen to ‘After The Break’ and all becomes clear. Groovy or what?”
Alan Rose - The Living Tradition
Planxty – After The Break (Tara Records CD3001) – CD Reissue
“It might only be a re-issue but what a re-issue. Planxty captured at the very peak of their magnificence with the towering first track ‘The Good Ship Kangaroo’ just for starters. The bouzouki and mandolin interplay from Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine setting the scene for Christy Moore’s sublime vocals topped by Matt Molloy’s flute and Liam O’Flynn’s uilleann pipes – what more could any true devotee of Celtic music require? You couldn’t in my humble opinion for here was a band that paved the way for many imitators but were never (and I do mean never) bettered. The choice of material and the pace set was so spot on that next to their first (‘Black’) album I’d rank this as probably my favourite Planxty recording of all time. With the introduction of Matt’s breathy tones they appeared to shine as an art-house band so finely polished that it made grown men want to weep. I remember at the time I was playing alongside John Bowe at the White Hart in Fulham and everyone in the audience were requesting if we knew tracks from the record so it just goes to show how influential it was. ‘You Rambling Boys Of Pleasure’, ‘The Rambling Siuler’ and ‘The Pursuit Of Farmer Michael Hayes’ are all there plus (if memory serves me right) there is the inclusion of ‘The Bonny Light Horseman’ that never appeared on the original album but featured on a compilation called the High Kings Of Tara. Whatever, the recording is an undisputed classic and should be in every self-respecting folk musicians collection.”
Pete Fyfe - Living Tradition