Nothing could prepare even the hardest of folk music fans for an album that would combine the talents of Andy Irvine and Paul Brady. An album that is spoken as much about today as it was when first released, a pretty impressive achievement for an album that is 28 years old. I still see it as Paul’s best album, and although he has moved away from the Irish scene, many feel this was his strength. This album was different from the Planxty albums, although they were at one point both in the band. This for me, shows Andy Irvine as a very powerful artist in his own right, and set the base for a very long and impressive solo career.
Even today, this album is often in many polls for 'Best Folk Album'.
Plains of Kildare:
starts off the album, and what an incredible start it is. This is a firm part of Andy’s stage set even today and a much requested song too. It is one of those magical tunes that you simply never get tired of hearing. Beautiful bouzouki playing here and sung with a pure energy. I would probably say that this tune alone sold a lot of Irish Bouzouki’s, inspiring a generation of young musicians.
Lough Erne Shore:
There is a magical combination of Paul’s voice and Andy’s mandolin, and Hurdy Gurdy playing here. The Hurdy Gurdy is not the easiest of beasts to control but Andy really can make this thing sing when he wants it too. A truly beautiful track.
Fred Finn’s Reel and Sailing to Walpole’s Marsh:
Lovely set here, with Kevin Burke weaving a wonderful fiddle through this track. Kevin Burke would in later years come to join Andy on the now legendary Irish band Patrick Street.
The emotion in Andy voice on this track is quite simply breathe taking. Another old tune that Andy has rewritten and put to a new tune to. This must be the ultimate version of this ballad. I really love this version. Infact, I think a live version of this was added to the re-issue of the “Rainy Sundays, Windy Dreams” album, labeled as a bonus track. This live version is played more on Bouzouki, than on the mandolin, as on this version. It is a wonderful solo recording, showing how once again Andy’s strength as a solo performer.
Arthur Mc Bride:
This version has never been equaled. If this tune is ever talked about, this is the version that everyone will know. Paul recently performed it on his Songbook DVD, and still does a fantastic version. Andy also sings a fantastic version of this song a Planxty album. Brady's version has a sweeter tone, where as Irvine's version captures a raw energy of the time.
The Jolly Soldier, Blarney Pilgrim:
Here is a lovely example of Andy’s mandolin weaving in and out of the words sung by Paul.
This track is explained in “Aiming for the heart “as ‘written in Ljubljana in 1968, while sitting in a sunny park. Stood up on a date.’ I recently heard Andy sing this one stage and it was quite incredible to see how his passionate performance can breathe life back into a song many people haven't heard in many years. Truly wonderful. Very poetic words, wrapped it the most beautiful melody.
Mary and the Soldier:
Another great tune sung by Paul. I have to say Andy’s mandolin/ bouzouki playing on this track is particularly outstanding too. I love this weaving counter melody he winds through this track, something that always blew my mind about his playing. Even solo, Andy could be singing one melody and be producing the most beautiful and complex counter melody at exactly the same time. Truly amazing!
Streets of Derry:
A gorgeous track of Andy singing and playing hurdy gurdy, with some very tasteful guitar by Paul. I haven’t seen Andy play the hurdy gurdy for many years now, I wonder if he still does. I think it was actually made by Peter Abnet ( bouzouki maker ) a long time ago. Wonderful feeling on this track.
Martinmas Time, Little stack of Wheat:
A great tune to finish on, Martinmas time, being a tale of a troop of soldiers being out smarted by a young lady. Andy sings this track, and it also appears on the recent Songbook DVD. It is amazing how little Andy’s voice has changed over the years. It’s constancy keeps him as young as the original track.
I originally had this given to me on an old tape that I played on a loop for months. I played it to it's death. I simply had to replace it but it seemed to be impossible to get hold of. It became almost a joke, one of the best folk albums ever, written up as a classic album, inspiration for a generation of young musicians…………..but I couldn’t get a copy anywhere.
This great album seems to have a twist in the tale though………….. “In 1993 this album was re-released by Green Linnet, but they never paid royalties to Mulligan or the artists and had a cease and desist order issued against them to force them to stop pressing and selling this album. It's become a very difficult album to acquire.” This is pretty disgusting to read, Artists that make a ‘classic’ album, and make record companies the Fat Cats they are, don’t even get royalties they are due. A very sad ending to a to a review of an album that has brought so much happiness and inspiration to so many……………….
I suggest anyone interested in buying this album, to buy it directly through Andy’s Own web site. Your CD collection is NOT complete without this album !