Album: One Night In Bremen
Planxty need little introduction but for those who aren’t aware of this force in Irish music, it comprises of quartet Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Christy Moore and Liam O’Flynn. On this album they are joined by Flautist Matt Molloy who would later become a key figure in the massive and ever-enduring Chieftains. When they arrived in the early 70s with flares, taking their rogue-ish hippy attire and performing blistering Irish folk, they certainly turned a few heads and cemented their names into the scene.
The album here is from a time in the late 70s, where the band had reformed and had refined their sound. The album is a live recording from April 1979 in Bremen, Germany before the album recording ‘After the Break’.
The album opens on ‘The Pursuit of Farmer Michael Hayes’, a stomping song sung by the often imitated but never replicated singer Christy Moore. He’s in fine form on this album. Liam O’Flynn’s pipes open the second track with his evocative and expressive style of playing, this is part of what makes Planxty such a force in Irish music. Combine that with the Mandolin/Bouzouki combination of Irvine and Lunny, they step away from ‘Trad’ and become their own.
What is a delight from listening to these live recordings is hearing a band in full flow. With both Irvine and Moore who are solo performers in their own right, albums like this will be ‘must-haves’ for those who follow these two performers.
Andy Irvine leads the plaintive ‘ You Rambling Boys of Pleasure’, this is a standout track on the album. Irvine’s classic delicate vocal which sounds like he’s singing just for you is evident on this track, rather like Irvine’s many poignant Planxty ballads.
‘Smeceno Horo’ is a driving Balkan tune led by Mandolin and Bouzouki, then Molloy’s flute. This would be Matt Molloy’s only tour with Planxty before joining The Chieftains.
The classic ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy / Tabhair Dom Do Lamh is the only song from their renowned first album on here. Delivered very well by Moore. One of the early parts in the track you can hear someone in the audience shush other clapping members. It’s nice to hear this is a live album with enough audience noise in there so it doesn’t become another live album that is just tracks performed differently.
I have to say, what does let this album down is the artwork, which resembles a poor bootleg which has had little care in fonts or their size and also leans a little too much to ‘Oirish’ with its garishly green artwork. This is by no means an album for someone to acquaint themselves with Planxty, rather for those who wish to re-acquaint themselves with this era of Planxty or to keep their collection up to speed. Which if you are, and can get past the artwork, there are some fine songs on this live album.
Here’s a nice piece written by Leagues O’Toole author of the must read “The Humours of Planxty” book.
Liam O’Flynn’s abilities first came to prominence as a member of the cutting-edge trad-folk band Planxty.
There has been a sad sense of anticipation leading up to the passing of Liam O’Flynn, or Liam Óg Ó Floinn as he was often referred to, amongst those who knew of his illness.
O’Flynn was no ordinary musician. There was something deeply significant about his work with the ground-breaking group Planxty, his remarkable solo recordings, his collaboration with late poet laureate Seamus Heaney, and other landmark projects such as The Brendan Voyage with composer Shaun Davey in 1980. It’s also no coincidence that O’Flynn graced the recordings of some of the music world’s deepest thinkers such as Kate Bush, Emmy-Lou Harris and Enya.
Liam O’Flynn plays for Paddy Glackin
O’Flynn was the foremost living exponent of that most mystical instrument, the uilleann pipes. He didn’t so much play the pipes as search them for the deeply resonant rapture and reflection that they brought to Irish music. Seamus Heaney perhaps said it best himself in the sleeve-notes of O’Flynn’s incredible 1995 solo album The Given Note: “There has always been a classical quality about Liam O’Flynn’s playing, a level, confident strength: you feel that he is unshakably part of a tradition. But there is something up and away about his style, a sheer delight in his own personal impulse. His great stature as a piper turns out to be one more instance of the truth of Oscar Wilde’s paradoxical law that in art the opposite is also true: in other words, behind these tunes you can hear freedom as well as discipline, elegy as well as elation, a longing for solitude as well as a love of the seisiun.”
Liam O’Flynn’s abilities first came to prominence as a member of the cutting-edge trad-folk band Planxty, put together by Christy Moore and also featuring Dónal Lunny and Andy Irvine. His piping and tin-whistle playing were central to the band’s exhilarating opening period in the early 1970s, beginning with Moore’s Prosperous album and the game-changing Planxty debut “the Black Album”. A regular feature of the Planxty performance was when the other musicians put down their instruments as O’Flynn performed a solo air or “aisling”, which always brought the venue to a meditative standstill followed by an emotional eruption of applause.
O’Flynn was universally considered a kind, thoughtful and private man. He lived in Kildare, where he felt a deep affinity with the land and a shared love of horses with his wife Jane, a well-known showjumper.
Happy St. Patricks Day!