China2Galway

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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Archive: 2004 – Then and Now – Andy Irvine on Planxty

IT’S FITTING Planxty should return to Galway as part of its reunion tour. After all it was in Galway the legendary quartet of Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam O’Flynn, and Christy Moore played their first major concert. ANDY IRVINE talks about Planxty’s reunion, blowing Donovan off the stage, and how history proved him wrong on ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy/Tabhair Dom Do Lámh’.

Galway Beginnings

Planxty will play three nights in the Radisson SAS Hotel on Monday December 6, Tuesday 7, and Wednesday 8. Planxty’s return to Galway shows things have come full circle for the band. Andy Irvine says Galway was the “starting off place for Planxty” in 1972, when they supported Donovan at the old Hangar Dancehall in Salthill.

“Planxty’s first major gig and big success was at the old Hangar supporting Donovan. We blew him off the stage!” Andy tells me, recalling the show. “It was the first gig of a short tour we did with Donovan. As I recall I was quite nervous as I had never seen such a lot of lights and microphones before. The soundman, who was Donovan’s brother-in-law, appeared to pay us scant attention – as you might expect, being the support.

“I concentrated hard behind my microphones, intent on playing the right notes and singing the right words! It was about 20 minutes into our 40 minute set that I realised something unusual was happening in the audience. My first thought was a fight had broken out. I had experienced such things in dancehalls before. I looked across the stage at the others who were all wreathed in smiles. Slowly, it dawned on me that the audience was reacting to us and the music. That was about the biggest buzz of my life! At the end of each number the audience went wild, and we collapsed into hysterical laughter at the unexpectedness of our success. If there is one occasion that stands out above the others during my time in Planxty, it would have to be that Hangar gig!”

The individual members of Planxty were all prominent on the Irish music scene. Lunny had been in Emmet Spiceland, Andy in Sweeney’s Men, Christy was a solo artist, and Liam O’Flynn was active in Irish trad. However it was when the four came together to work on Christy’s classic 1971 solo album Prosperous, that the idea of starting a band arose.

By 1972 Planxty was in action and had recorded its eponymously titled debut (known to fans as ‘the black album’). However there was surprise among ‘purists’ that Liam O’Flynn had joined and at the time the band was described as “three hippies and a civil servant”. Did Ó Flynn find it difficult to fit in?

“Liam was, perhaps, quieter and more reserved generally, than we other three,” Andy says. “As the ‘traditional’ musician amongst us, I think he had a certain amount of criticism from some other traditional musicians to contend with. ‘What was he doing playing with a bunch of guitar and mandolin toting hippies?’ I’d say the fact that Seamus Ennis was a supporter of the band helped him through that. We all got on very well from the outset. Christy and Donal knew Liam from early days I think, and I knew him a bit from the Dublin trad music scene.”

Their detractors were soon silenced when Planxty showed what extraordinary musicians they were on albums like The Well Below The Valley and songs like ‘The Blacksmith’ which pushed the boundaries of what Irish music could achieve. However their most famous recording is ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy/Tabhair Dom Do Lámh’. How did the celebrated segue from one track to the other come about – was it deliberate or did it just happen in rehearsals?

“The segué for ‘Tabhair Dom Do Lámh’ came at the instigation of Christy,” Andy remembers. “It was at a rehearsal in my flat in Donnybrook for his album Prosperous in June 1971. I still have that rehearsal on tape. Christy wondered if it would be possible to marry the tune to the song. Donal came up with the key. At the time, I thought it was a bit facile and didn’t work that well. History has proved me wrong!”

The Reformation

Planxty’s 2004 reunion concerts have been an unqualified triumph (as testified on the excellent Live 2004 album) but it was not the first time the band got back together. “We re-formed once before in early 1979. That was only a little over three years since we had broken up,” Andy says. “This reformation is 21 years after the subsequent break up…We are all a lot older and wiser now! I think the success of our current incarnation has a lot to do with our musical and life experiences during those 20 odd years. Though it’s true that much of the material we played in January/ February this year was from the old days, nevertheless it felt very fresh and that freshness lasted for the entire run of the concerts.”

Andy says the audience reactions have exceeded all his expectations. “It was genuinely uplifting to go on stage each night that we played,” he says. “Sometimes it was as if the audience was nearly bursting with joy. A very moving experience.”

However Andy says the band has no immediate plans for anything post January 31 2005. “Planxty is a ‘one at a time’ band these days,” he says. “We will see how this next raft of gigs goes and then decide if there is to be anything further.”

Tickets for Planxty’s Galway shows are still available but are selling fast. They can be purchased only from Redlight Records on Shop Street and Eglinton Street.

by Kernan Andrews.

Galway advertiser. Date: 07-10-2004

photo by Mick King

source: www.china2galway.com [deadlink]

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.

source: www.folkmusic.net

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