Happy St.Patrick’s Day! And here are ten of my favourite Irish acts of all to celebrate with!
After disbanding his band Taste, Rory Gallagher teamed up with bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Wilgar Campbell to record his debut self-titled album from which the song Laundromat is taken. A guitarist of prodigious power, and multi-instrumentalist of note, Gallagher became known as a guitarist’s guitar player before his untimely death at the age of 47 from complications following a liver transplant.
Born in 1947 Christy Moore is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who, as well as being a founding member of Planxty amongst others, is an accomplished, often politically motivated, performer who was voted Irelands greatest living musician. Moore is also a songwriter of great humour as demonstrated on his song Lisdoonvarna about the Irish town where music festivals are held with all the related singing and drinking that goes on.
First coming to my attention as the fabulous compere each year at Fairport’s Annual Cropredy Reunion, AJ is another singer songwriter who performs his songs of perfectly observed human behaviour no more so than on his frankly hilarious song Tuesday Night Is Always Karaoke. AJ’s songwriting is tender, clever, funny, emotional and thought provoking. He also can wear a gold lame shirt with great aplomb and style!
A few years ago I went to see Brian Kennedy in concert who was supported by this guy, Christie Hennessey, who shyly walked out on stage and proceeded to completely blow me away with his tender songs of love and desire, childhood memories and growing up in Ireland. To then find out that Christie was profoundly dyslexic and wrote his songs by dictating them into a recording machine was truly amazing. Speaking to him after the gig I was struck by how completely shy and unconfident he appeared which was in direct comparison to his wonderful musical abilities.
The main act when I saw Christie Hennesey was the beautiful voice of Brian Kennedy who has, over the years, released a number of albums with his takes of a number of Irish folk songs including this, his version of the Fields at Athenry. Set during the great Irish famine about a man sentenced to be deported to Australia after being convicted of stealing food to feed his family this song has become a calling cry for the Irish and as been co-opted by a number of fans of various sports teams all over the world.
For me Van Morrison’s greatest album, in a catalogue of greatness, is 1990’s Enlightenment. From it I’ve taken the song In The Days Before Rock ‘n’ Roll in which Van sings about, and brings to life, the world of listening to music broadcast on MW, with all the attendant static and interruptions, from stations such as Telefunken and Radio Luxembourg, bringing to a small boy in Northern Ireland the sounds of primitive blues and jazz music; the music that has shaped Van’s 50 odd year career.
Emerging from the troubled Northern Irish city (London)Derry, five young teenage lads in 1978, at the height of the do it yourself Punk explosion, created probably the greatest pop song ever written. A song about the desire, and lets not be coy, the singular enjoyment of the image, of a local girl, Teenage Kicks, as championed by the late, great John Peel, is 2 and a bit minutes of guitar driven, rock/pop brilliance. And in creating songs about the normal things young kids wanted to do or worry about (girls, annoying goody two shoe relatives, social isolation) The Undertones offered an alternative and a protest to the situation they found themselves in through the accident of their place of birth.
And whilst The Undertones offered their alternative to the Troubles, in Belfast another punk band, Stiff Little Fingers, were far more overt in voicing their experiences and political thoughts in their music. Performing songs laced with a nihilistic anger, SLF projected the fears of the youth of Northern Ireland; under the military presence of the British Army and various paramilitary organisations, running the daily gauntlet of shootings and bombings, songs like Alternative Ulster and Suspect Device described the horrors of life in Belfast and Northern Ireland at that time.
An Irish folk pop singer songwriter, Paul Brady is one of those artists that you probably should know, maybe even have heard, but who isn’t perhaps as well known as he should be. Always critically acclaimed Brady has written some of the most beautiful songs ever, including this favourite of mine, Locked Up In Heaven from his 2005 album Say What You Feel.
Did you honestly think a) There’d be no Dubliners and b) No Irish Rover! Of course not. No St.Patrick’s Day would be complete without a bit of up tempo, Irish intinerent drinking and singing! So here it is!