Thursday, December 27, 2007

by gonzo #19

"The McPeake Family" 1963

gonzo said...
Returning to full power (well almost) with this 1963 Topic offering, the McPeake Family. Seeing some singles posted earlier, reminded me I'd done an album a year or so ago.

Here is the complete 1962/3 Mono album, with full scans, some family history, and enough info to peak(e) your interest for sure.

The McPeake family of Belfast were one of the few Irish pre-ballad boom groups.
That they were better-known abroad than at home is illustrated by a story told
about a conversation between Bob Dylan and Bono of U2 in 1984. The legendary
singer asked what Bono thought of the McPeakes. The Dublin-born Bono had never
heard of them.

The group was built up around the grandfather, Francis I, who had studied pipes
under the blind Galway piper John Reilly, and had won prizes at the 1908 Belfast
Feis and the 1912 Oireachtas. His musical career began as a triangle player in a
flute band of which his brother John was a founder member, around 1898.

He acquired a set of O'Mealy pipes and developed the unique facility of being able
to sing and play at the same time, a combination repeated with great success by
The Fureys and Planxty (albeit using both a vocalist and piper).

The family group, composed of Francis (Da), his sons Francis II and James, and
grandchildren Kathleen, Francis III and Tom McCrudden, achieved considerable
international success and won the Eisteddfodau in 1958, '60 and '62. In the 1950s
they played as the Seamus McPeake Ceili Band, with which piper Tom疽 O Canainn and
fiddler Tommy Gunn played at one time or another.

On the suggestion of Pete Seeger they made a two-month tour of the United States
in 1965, when Francis (Da) was 80, and played for President Johnson in the White House.
They have also performed in Moscow. Other admirers included Van Morrison and
John Lennon who once asked Francie to teach him the uilleann pipes and almost bought
a set off him.

The group featured vocals, two uilleann pipes, two harps, banjo, guitar and tin whistle.
A year later Seeger came to the Whitla Hall in Belfast for Francis senior's farewell
concert. Their most famous song, Will Ye Go, Lassie Go, written by Francis Senior,was
recorded by The Clancys and The Byrds in the 1960s and Rod Stewart
(after copyright hiccups were sorted out) in the 1990s, but they also passed other
folk songs on into the tradition. Another song they performed, Purple Heather, was
recorded by Van Morrison.

Francie II suffered an accident to his right hand in the early 1970s which meant the
end of his career as a full-time performer, but he never gave up playing altogether.

Although the group ceased to play for some time after the death of Francis I in 1971,
they formed a new line-up in the 1980s which did club work in the North.

On the Record

Shoe the Donkey, Francie McPeake with The Clonard, 1989
At Home with the McPeakes, Fontana, 1967
** The McPeake Family, Topic, 1963**
The McPeakes, Prestige, 1960
The Rights of Man, Francie (Da) and Francie II, 1952


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great job, Gonzo, and very much appreciated. Only one question - aren't 'Will Ye Go, Lassie Go' and 'Purple Heather' the same song?
Not that it matters. Glad to hear you're back on full power. I look forward to more gems like this one in 2008!

27 December, 2007 20:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like so many original (trad) songs local variations get handed down with different titles, depends who collects and where of course.

I've not listened to these postings yet, but I saw the warning about them being a bit noisy, perhaps MORE to do

I just saw that the McPeake family album was previously posted last year, a while before I used this blog, but as the link is now dead this becomes a re-post. Thanks to Lizardson for posting the History too.

27 December, 2007 21:55  
Blogger Rod Warner said...

Wow! This really takes me back! I remember seeing the McPeake Family in the U.K. when I was about sixteen or so - 1963/4 - the first live encounter I had with folk music (was heavily into jazz). They played the old Loughborough Folk Club at the Fox a couple of times (and over in Leicester as well) - run by three art students, the elder of whom was Dave Evans - no mean guitar player himself, who went on to greater fame... Sitting in that old back room right up close to the uilleann pipes for the first time was a blast! Thanks for this!

28 December, 2007 08:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for these!

I miss the Celtic Circle, so these posts mean all the more.

28 December, 2007 23:32  
Anonymous Gonzo said...

McPeake Family 1963

28 September, 2009 20:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a find..., but then, no link! Would be most oblidged if you would consider uploading this gem again. Best wishes to you.

17 February, 2010 07:27  

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