Category Archives: Live Album

ALBUM REVIEW: CHRISTY MOORE- ‘On The Road’ (2017)

Christy Moore is one of a handful of people who brought Irish folk music out of the backroom sessions in pubs and homes and out in to the mainstream. With influences from rock, pop, and jazz music he is one of the architects of modern Irish folk music.

Released this very day is On The Road the new album from Irish music icon Christy Moore, a two-disc, 24-song set of classic tracks Christy has made his own in an incredible fifty years of touring and recording. The tracks have been recorded in seventeen live venues from London to Westport, Glasgow to Galway, over the past three years and is the first time Christy’s biggest tunes have been made available on one album. Of course with a career as long and successful as his not everyone will be happy and personally I would have liked to have seen some of the songs that gained him notoriety in the 1980’s when he was the bain of the Irish establishment recording tracks such as ‘They Never Came Home’ about 1981’s Stardust fire where 48 people died at a Dublin nightclub. Christy was hauled before the courts and fined and had his album withdrawn for suggesting, quite correctly, that the fire exits being chained was the reason for the disaster. ‘The Time Has Come’ described the last meeting of a hunger striker and his mother receiving regular plays on Irish Radio until it was revealed exactly what the song was about and it was subsequently banned. One song included here though banned at the time was ‘Mcllhatton’, which along with ‘Back Home in Derry’ was banned after it was discovered they were written by Bobby Sands whilst in prison. So there is no ’90 Miles From Dublin’ but what were we to expect. Much of the material here is of the leftfield kind and while ‘Viva La Quinte Brigada’ may have been the embodiment of everything the Irish government hated upon it’s release the years have been kind to this roll call of the brave Irishmen and women who left Ireland to fight Franco and the fascists in 1936 Spain. With his political output having ground to a halt, hopefully temporarily, it is Christy’s renowned sense of humour that takes centre stage. It is on songs such as ‘Joxer Goes To Stuttgart’ about Irish fans travelling to Euro 1988, in West Germany and, utilizing the same tune, ‘Delirium Tremens’ telling of his alcoholic demons, an idea later stolen by indie rock band Carter USM for ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’, that Christy’s music comes alive with the audience enthusiastically singing and clapping along.

“Goodbye to the Port and Brandy, to the Vodka and the Stag,
To the Schmiddick and the Harpic, the bottled draught and keg.
As I sat lookin’ up the Guinness ad I could never figure out
How your man stayed up on the surfboard after 14 pints of stout”

As much as I love the more raucous and lively tracks there is no denying the beauty of the slower songs here. Well known standards such as ‘Nancy Spain’ and ‘Cliffs Of Dooneen’ are putty in his hands extolling emotion that not many can squeeze out of a song heard countless times. One of the highlights of the album is his take on The Pogues ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and his half whispered voice and relaxed guitar adds another dimension to this amazing song. It ends with Christy whispering of a night on the lash with Shane in Tipp and it is breath-takingly beautiful. There is a new song in the shape of ‘Lingo Politico’ dedicated to politicians everywhere! The quality of these recordings is simply outstanding and they have been edited together superbly to make an album that flows and ebbs beautifully. Accompanied by a booklet that tells you every single thing you need to know about these recordings. Christy’s voice is strong and powerful when needed and gentle and kind at other times. Their can’t be many who need an introduction to his recordings but to those who love him and those looking for an introduction to his best work this can be recommended mainly because of that excellent production..

AN ORDINARY MAN By Scott Feemster

Christopher Moore was born in Kildare, Ireland in May, 1945. His father owned a grocery shop while his mother was a keen music fan and was often caught singing around the house to Clancy Brothers records. Christy and two of his five siblings, Ailish and Barry, all went on to be notable singers, Barry adopting the stage name Luka Bloom later in life. When Christy was young, he became aware of the deep well of Irish folk songs, though, at the time, he was more impressed with rock’n’roll than folk tunes. Regardless of influence, he took up the guitar and bodhran and played briefly in a band with who would become his long-time collaborator, Donal Lunny. When he was out of school, Christy took a job as a bank clerk in Dublin and became fascinated by the local folk scene. Though he played a few gigs he couldn’t work his way into the Dublin scene as much as he wanted, and when a labour strike struck in the mid 60’s he decided to pack it in and move to England to find work. Christy spent the next few years gaining quite a reputation in England with his mix of traditional Irish and British songs and towards the end of the 60’s he decided to take the next logical step. Managing to get noted songwriter (and brother of Brendan) Dominic Behan to produce an album of traditional folk and political songs called Paddy On The Road (1969) and it has become something of a rarity in later years since only 500 copies were pressed. Though thrilled that he finally had an album to show for his efforts, he was disappointed that the English musicians backing him didn’t have the proper feel for the Irish material he was presenting. Christy moved back to Ireland and set upon finding some musicians who could play the fiery brand of politically-charged folk music he wanted to produce. Moore teamed up with his old friend guitarist/bouzouki player Donal Lunny, uillean piper and whistle player Liam O’Flynn, mandolinist Andy Irvine and bodhran player Kevin Conneff to produce Prosperous (1972), an album that marked a turning point in Irish folk music. Suddenly, younger Irish musicians were taking up traditional instruments and songs and injecting new urgency and fire into them. This combination worked so well together that they decided to carry on as a group, calling themselves Planxty. Touring relentlessly and recording the landmark Planxty (1973) and The Well Below The Valley (1973).

Moore set to work on a solo album that would show all of his strengths, and decided to split Whatever Tickles Your Fancy (1975) between an acoustic side and an electric side. The acoustic side featured Moore’s voice, guitar and bodhran playing, while the electric side was similar to the folk-rock style Fairport Convention were popularizing around the same time. Moore followed it up with his self-titled Christy Moore (1976), this time concentrating on acoustic-based narrative folk songs that were his strength. Moore took on a heavy schedule of touring and playing gigs but kept his connection with his former Planxty bandmates, and by late 1978 the original four members were keen to try the band again adding fifth member flutist Matt Molloy to the band and recording three further album’s between 1979 and 1983. Wanting to branch out from the traditional sound put forth by Planxty, Moore joined with Lunny in 1981 and formed Moving Hearts, who combined traditional Irish music with contemporary elements from rock and jazz. Other members of Moving Hearts included guitarist Declan Sinnott, saxophonist Keith Donald, bassist Eoghan O’Neill, drummer Brian Calnan and uillean piper Davy Spillane. Protests against internment, the ‘H Blocks’ and in support of the hunger strikers led to several bans and Christy’s outspoken opinions left him no friends in the establishment. Two politically-charged albums resulted, Moving Hearts (1981) and Dark End Of The Street (1982), before again Christy left to concentrate on his solo career.

To say that the 1980’s was a busy period would be an understatement, as Christy managed to be a member of Planxty, Moving Hearts and a solo artist all at the same time. He released a whole series of solo albums throughout the 80’s, including The Time Has Come (1983), the critically acclaimed Ride On (1984),  Ordinary Man (1985), Spirit Of Freedom (1985) Unfinished Revolution (1987) and Voyage (1989), with guests including Sinead O’Connor and Elvis Costello. If Christy wasn’t enough of an Irish national treasure with his work in the 70’s, his output during the 80’s combined with populist political commentary in his lyrics cemented his stature in Irish music as Ireland’s equivalent of America’s Woody Guthrie.

Moore entered the 90’s still touring and releasing albums, though slowing down a bit to near human levels. Releasing the over-produced Smoke & Strong Whiskey (1991) before a more traditional, stripped-down sound with King Puck (1993). The rousing Live At The Point(1994) followed but in 1997, Christy’s decades of constant touring, combined with his attraction to copious amounts of alcohol finally caught up with him. Told if he continued performing at the level he had been his heart would kill him he retired to take care of his health, but soon returned to the studio to make Traveller (1999), a giant left turn for Moore. The album was techno-pop utilizing synthesizers, drum machines and heavily effected electric guitar, along with the usual traditional Irish instrumentation. The album was greeted by surprise by Christy’s fans, but was generally well reviewed. He planned a return to performing live again in 1999, but his health still wasn’t up to it using the down time to his advantage writing his autobiography, One Voice (2000).

Though it looked like his days of heavy touring were over, he was not done recording getting together with Donal Lunny and Declan Sinnot for This Is The Day (2001), which, sound-wise, split the difference between his earlier stripped-down acoustic records and the sound captured on Traveller. Moore followed with a series of low-key appearances in Dublin, and after being profiled on an Irish TV special, renewed interest was shown towards Planxty, and Moore joined with Lunny, Irvine and O’Flynn for some reunion shows. Planxty kept their reunion open-ended, and did not rule out working together in the future but Christy returned to his solo career with the critically-acclaimed Burning Times (2006), which featured his own compositions mixed in with covers by such songwriters as Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan and Morrissey. Again, Moore took to playing some shows, although in a much more low-key manner, and put out the double album Live In Dublin (2006). Recent years have seen no let up but with his releases now tending to be of the tribute/live/greatest hits variety he is still a regular visitor to this side of the Irish sea and although recently the admission fee’s have been somewhat expensive he still remains one of Ireland’s most treasured performers and, dare I say it, now part of the establishment.

Buy On The Road- All links here

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ALBUM REVIEW: RUNA- ‘Live’ (2016)

Timeless, flawless, innovative and award-winning Irish-American Celtic roots music.

RUNA Live

After four superb studio albums the brilliant Runa release a live album, imaginatively titled Live, that captures perfectly the sound of this amazing band. With a pedigree second to none, made up of vocalist and step-dancer, Shannon Lambert-Ryan of Philadelphia, Dublin-born guitarist, Fionán de Barra, Cheryl Prashker of Canada on percussion, Dave Curley of Galway on mandolin, vocals, bodhrán, and step-dancing, and Maggie Estes of Kentucky on the fiddle they are surely bound to hit the heights again with this album and they have deservedly earned their reputation as one of the most innovative and unique Irish bands of recent times.

Claude was a evangelical preacher, faith healer and singer-songwriter who helped popularise the music of the Appalachian mountains and was one of the fore-runners of the birth of rock’n’roll. Great percussion here keeping a fantastic beat while Shannon’s beautiful voice confers the greatest respect for Claude’s music. The opening song contains all those elements that make Runa such an interesting band. Based in the music of the celtic nations there is so much going on here that to simply call it celtic music does not give you anything like the full story. ‘

“Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys,
Bedlam boys are bonnie
For they all go bare and they live by the air,
And they want no drink nor money”

In the 18th century it became a popular diversion to visit the hospital to watch the antics of the poor inmates. Admission was one penny and the hospital realized an income of four hundred pounds a year from visitors. The song Fionán de Barra takes over vocal duties and murderer. Excellent fiddle and a real thigh slapper that gets the audience here really involved and singing along.

“False Sir John’s a wooing gone
To a maid o’ beauty fair
May Colven was this lady’s name
Her faither’s only heir”

“Then myself and a hundred more to America sailed o’er
Our fortunes to be making we were thinking
When we landed in Yankeeland they shoved a gun intae our hand
Saying, Paddy you must go and fight for Lincoln

General Meagher to us said, If you get shot and lose your head
Every mother’s son of you will get a pension
In the war I lost my leg, all I’ve now is a wooden peg
By my soul it is the truth to you I mention

Now I think myself in luck to be fed on Indian buck
In old Ireland the country I delight in
And with the devil I do say, Oh Christ curse America
For I’m sure I’ve had enough of your hard fighting”

One of the saddest of the Irish emigration songs it is unusual in that songs of that time were written by the people escaping the ‘famine’ back home and extolling the virtues of the ‘land of liberty’. To put it glibly ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’. Truly not every man is a king in the US of A. Fionán takes over the lead vocals again and his whispered hushed tones fits perfecting the sadness in the song. ‘The stereotype of whale fishermen is a of a hairy chested, hard working, hard drinking, hard fighting men of the sea and while, no doubt the description fitted many of them, they often showed a strong liking for gentle ballads like these. The first parts tells the whalefishers story while part two tells of how closely we came to the extinction of this majestic animal.

“My soul has been torn from me and I am bleeding
My heart it has been rent and I am crying
For the beauty around me pales and I am screaming
I am the last of the Great Whales and I am dying”

1947 between a young boy and a false knight (the devil in disguise). The child gets the better of him and damns him back down to hell. Steeleye Span, Oysterband, The Blue Velvet Band have all recorded the song and here Runa give it as good as anyone with Shannon’s vocals shining out. So ends Set One and begins Set Two.

RUNA inside

All rested Runa return to rapturous applause and kick off their set with fiddler and composer born to a Irish musical family in Chicago, Illinois. next up is ‘

“Mhí mise lán den tsaoil is bhi cion amuigh is istigh orm
Nach mór a dáthraigh an saol nuair nach bhfuil eion ag duine ar
bith orm? / At one time in my life I was dearly loved by everyone
Haven’t times changed when no one cares a whit for me?”

(“Fine girl you are!”) version beloved by Irish pub dwellers worldwide but another less well known song written by Gerry O’Beirne about a man who leaves Ireland and ends up in the America southwest, eventually dying fighting and dying for the Mexican Army in the San Patricio Battalion (St Patrick Brigade).

“There the winds of change they blew so far
Of liberty and revolution
And it seemed that each man heard in his breast
the drumming of a nation”

Robert Dwyer Joyce

“Twas hard the mournful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
Ah, but harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, ‘The mountain glen
I’ll seek at morning early
And join the brave united men’
While soft wind shook the barley”

and Aoibhneas Eilís Ní Cheallaigh/ Filleadh An Bhadora

Discography

Jealousy (2009) * Stretched On Your Grave (2011) * Somewhere Along The Road (2012) * Current Affairs (2014)

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  • For the review we published of the last Runa studio album Current Affairs check here

ALBUM REVIEW: BRYAN McPHERSON- ‘Street Lights’ (2016)

Calling out the bullshit.

A fusion of Americana, folk, alternative and punk this Irish-American guy is a lot more than even this.

Bryan MacPherson-City Lights

Any new release from London Celtic Punks favourite Bryan McPherson is more than welcomed and so we are happy to get our mitts on Street Lights released just last week. Recorded live at the Right-Turn which is a drug and alcohol rehab centre in Bryan’s home town of Boston. Completely un-mastered and delivered as rough and raw and ready as it was heard first hand on that night back in 2009 it was recorded. Now this isn’t an album of completely new material as several of the songs eventually made it onto Bryan’s 2012 album American Boy / American Girl. Others were not so fortunate and fell by the wayside so its great to hear them now played in this way in a intimate show in a place that is obviously very close to his heart. When you buy Street Lights, as I’m sure you will, part of your hard earned will go to the centre to help them continue their great work. Right Turn describes itself as “a creative place for recovery” helping people to recover from the devastating effects of addiction.

The entire concert is included here and you can hear a pin drop throughout as Bryan shares his life with us. What can I say as I am a massive fan of Bryan and find myself when listening to his music feeling like I’m on a emotional roller coaster. His lyrics grab at you and shake you into a reaction. We were lucky to have had Bryan over in London last year and his performance, despite some initial sound problems, was every bit as intense and captivating as here. As Bryan says himself

“I see music as a means for change. It’s a powerful and beautiful force, and it’s my life”

Street Lights was engineered and mixed by Steve Friedman and all the songs were written and performed by Bryan. The last song is a special bonus studio track, a beautiful intimate acoustic version of ‘O.F.D. (Originally from Dorchester)’. Bryan’s birthplace and home to countless Irish-Americans including the original members, and lifelong friends of Bryan, The Dropkick Murphys. Here’s an idea maybe the Irish Government could fund the work that Right Turn do? As a thank you for all the money sent home by those Irish-Americans throughout the years. Maybe their children and grand-children deserve some payback for having helped keep Ireland afloat during the tough years?

With just a guitar and a harmonica and his voice it is passionate and heartfelt and emotional and frail and powerful and uplifting all at the same time. Bryan’s music is a very real journey through his own personal hell and is altogether mesmerising. Sometimes his words can chill you to the bone as he dissects American working class life and when those pampered and privileged members of the middle classes want to lecture us about so-called ‘white privilege’ then maybe they ought to have lived a moment in Bryan McPherson’s shoes. Just a moment. Street life, politics, addiction, the prison system, class disparity and the plight of the working class, broken dreams, and discrimination litter the alleys of McPherson’s songs. Their are also moments of beauty and clarity as this modern day  folk-punk troubadour hits the heights and even though it may not be a fun roller coaster ride the words are as honest as they are urgent. Come on every second counts!

(listen to the whole of City Lights on the Bandcamp player below . When you’ve done click the link below that to own a copy!)

Bryan MacPhersonBuy The Album

Here

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For more on the work Right Turn do please check their web-site here

 

ALBUM REVIEW: THE KILMAINE SAINTS- ‘Live At The Abbey’ (2015)

Explosive, high-energy celtic-punk rock band from Pennsylvania will lift your hearts and your spirit…
and your pint when you’re not looking!
Kilmaine Saints Live At The Abbey

Formed in 2009 The Kilmaine Saints were the brainchild of two members of the Harrisburg Pipe And Drum Band (Pennsylvania). With celtic-punk taking off they decided to form a band that would get them free beer at St Patrick’s Day shows in the Central PA area. With the addition of  a couple of local musicians and a couple more Pipe band members The Kilmaine Saints took off and haven’t looked back since. Hundreds of gigs and festival appearances have seen them become one of the most popular celtic-punk bands in America. Two full length albums behind them,  ‘The Good, The Plaid And The Ugly’ and ‘Drunken Redemption’ as well as a mini-album ‘un-Traditonal’ from last year, their releases have all been a solid mix of ramped up celtic classics and some extremely good compositions of their own. After all it has to be said that you can be a great band playing covers, and especially if you do something with them rather than being just a standard cover, but to go further you need strong songs of your own and The Kilmaine Saints have them as well.

‘Live At The Abbey’ is just over an hours worth of celtic-punk rock that is I reckon an exact replica of a Saints show. What I mean is it captures completely the feel, as well as the sound, of a Kilmaine Saints gig. The actual recording is clear and captures the various band members and their instruments perfectly. ‘Amazing Grace/Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ kicks off the album and straight away you can feel the energy busting out of the speakers. Blimey if every show is like this then they better keep a medic by the stage with a defibrillator! ‘Haul Away Joe/Tamlin’ is a typical song of what gives the Saints that special something. They take a song and just as you think its about to end will fly off into something even more manic not giving you pause for breath. Their background in the Harrisburg Pipe And Drum Band certainly gives them an edge on other bands when it comes to playing traditional songs and also shows that the music is literally in their blood too. The best Irish rebel song ever written is next and ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ could be written as a celtic-punk song so easy to turn into one is it. Shane MacGowan’s classic’Streams Of Whiskey’ is punked up to heaven while ‘Long Walk To Sonnagh’ is my favourite track on the album with a celtic/country crossover sound while not losing any of its punk rock feel.
‘Black And Blue Jig’ tells of a Irish bare knuckle boxer follows the same musical path and ‘I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day’ is the trad Irish song made famous by the Pogues but imagine the Pogues playing it with electric guitars and you know what I mean. Bagpipes kick off a thrash version of ‘The Wild Rover’ with chugging guitar a 77 punk band would be proud of! ‘Swallowtail Jig/Drunken Sailor’ and ‘Rattlin’ Bog’ everyone will be familiar with but again given that Saints twist that brings something new to them. Next up is the Kilmaine Saints anthem ‘Saints Are Up’ and its what every bands signature tune should be about. The lyrics say it all
“Raise the blue raise the green and all the colors in between
Sing along, sing it loud, ‘cuz we’re Celtic and we’re proud
Raise a shot, raise a pint, put your arms around your mate
‘cuz we’re the noisy drunken bastards called the Kilmaine Saints”
‘Devil’s Den (Painting Paradise Square Pt.2) is a hill where the Battle Of Gettysberg took place in the American civil war and tells of an Irish recruit forced to defend the hill against enormous odds.
“Born on the streets he grew up hard & mean
Raised in Paradise Square
But the blood and the gore of this cruel Civil War
Five Points cannot compare”
With Black And Tans covered the Saints bring the fight for Irish independence up to date with the modern day rebel song ‘Go On Home British Soldiers’ and they certainly put some oompf into it.

‘The Whiskey’s Calling’ is another great song with brilliant pint, and fist, in the air chorus of
“So raise a pint
and give a cheer
This one’s for friends
both far and near
Some are here
and some have fallen
Bottoms Up! The whiskey’s calling”
With the first half of the album given over to the classics the second half is mostly Kilmaine Saints songs and ‘Battle Cry’ is a great example. The pipes flow the guitars chug and Mayo born singer Brendan’s voice soars over the top of it all. The lyrics are inspiring and motivational
“All men have the strength inside to get up on their feet
I’d rather stand and fight than live my life down on my knees”
Following are  ‘Old Brown’s Daughter’ and ’10 Fathoms Deep’ and this is the first time I have ever heard ‘Old Rugged Cross’ on a celtic-punk band album but I soon realise that its quite a long way both musically and lyrically from my Nanna’s favourite song!
“Twenty five Hail Marys will absolve all my sins!
So don’t judge me son til you know where I’ve been
The Lord will have mercy on a man of the cloth
Who sometimes will stray from the old rugged cross”

The album ends with the amazing ‘Rakes Of Mallow/Jump Around’. Combining two of my favourite songs its no surprise its an absolute firm fan favourite and as you can see it the attached video it certainly gets the crowds going and even sitting at home listening to this with just cup of Barry’s on the go I feel the need to get up off me ass and jump around. A fecking brilliant way to close and I’m already searching for their first album to stick it on and have a listen. The Abbey is a music venue situated above a brewery in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, called the Appalachian Brewing Company so the absolutely perfect place to record a live album! With equal parts Irish swagger, Scottish pride, and whiskey The Kilmaine Saints have risen in such a short time to being one of the most popular and certainly one of the best American bands in the scene. If by chance you haven’t checked them out yet ‘Live At The Abbey’ is an excellent place to start.
(you can listen to ‘Live At The Abbey’ by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)
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