Monday, September 04, 2006

Tir Na Nog

"A Tear and a Smile" (1972) & "Strong in the Sun" (1973)

British folk group's second and third recordings for Chrysalis. The duo expanded its horizons on its 1972 sophomore release by adding drums (Barry DeSouza) and bass (Larry Steele), as well as some effective string arrangements. Produced by the legendary Tony Cox (Caravan, Françoise Hardy, Family), A Tear and a Smile retained all of Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly's offbeat phrasing, playful melodic deviations, and pastoral balladry, while subtly turning an eye to the prospects of a little commercial appeal. The easy folk-rock of O'Kelly''s "When I Came Down" and "The Same Thing Happening" wouldn't have sounded out of place on the country-rock-heavy airwaves of U.S. radio, and even though Condell's lighthearted Noël Coward imitation on the bouncy "Bluebottle Stew" is like listening to a half-baked Monty Python skit, it works because -- like everything on A Tear and a Smile -- it's executed so sincerely. Desperately in need of a commercial success, Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly's third -- and consequently last -- record as Tir Na Nog is a Hail Mary to the mainstream. Opening with a spirited if slightly ill-advised Roxy Music-esque cover of Nick Drake's "Free Ride," Strong in the Sun is a fascinating but ultimately disappointing bookend from a band that almost made it. Like Duncan Browne's transition from Donovan-esque balladeer to Wings-era McCartney rocker, Tir Na Nog were up for the transition. Procol Harum keyboard player Matthew Fisher was brought in to produce, and his clean, concise balancing act between the duo's folkier past and the era's growing need for excess helped to create some truly sublime moments. Somewhere between O'Kelly's beautiful "Wind Was High" and the atmospheric "Cinema" -- the latter featured a sample from a Henry Fonda Western -- the duo achieved a moment of greatness. Tir Na Nog were more than mediocre, but a few songs shy of great, and while the public at large never caught on, there are more than enough Tir Na Nog supporters -- and new artists like Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and James Yorkston who owe them more than a nod -- to warrant the group a place in British folk history. ~ James Christopher Monger, All Music Guide

9 Comments:

Blogger Donno said...

Thanks very much for these two, both very good albums of course. Their first album for me remains a stone cold classic of it's genre, gentle acoustic folk with light irish overtones. These two albums may have been better if they'd stayed closer to their roots, but that's just my opinion.
Cheers
Donno

05 September, 2006 19:38  
Blogger Spider Lady said...

Thank you soooooo... much.
But "Strong in the Sun" was deleted.
Could you re-uproad?

04 November, 2006 17:30  
Blogger Spider Lady said...

Many, Many, Mary Thanks!

05 November, 2006 03:24  
Anonymous joe said...

Joe from Berlin Says , I remember very well seeing Sonny Condell playing aregular Sunday downstairs in Toners Pub (purveyors of fine pints of plain) in Baggot Street In Dublin in 1975. I remember once that Leo came by and they thrilled us all with a few numbers I remember Dante... the rest is a classic 70´s haze......

07 January, 2007 06:21  
Anonymous joe said...

I cant download..Tear and a Smile..
file not found...is it possible to please do a reload?
This is a wonderful link I am so pleased to have found it through The Fringe

joe

07 January, 2007 06:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the reload ...it works!
I am very grateful
Joe

14 January, 2007 07:08  
Anonymous James Moroney said...

Just a quick point. These are fantastic albums, but the artists are Irish, not British, have always lived in Ireland, and continme to make great music today.

Thanks

James

18 January, 2007 19:04  
OpenID cymraes said...

Sadly I can get niether of these to download! Help!

07 July, 2009 00:15  
Blogger Joshua Drake said...

any chance these will be re-uploaded? I have a great record called "The Best of Irish Folk" which features many Irish artists all produced by Leo O'Kelly and I'd very much like to hear more. Thanks

05 February, 2010 06:23  

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