Andy Irvine & Paul Brady
Aiken Promotions presents
Vicar Street, Dublin
Friday November 11th
Doors 7.30pm / show starts 8.30pm
Photo by Colm Brady
Photo by Colm Brady
In 1976 two of Ireland’s greatest musicians recorded an album of traditional tunes and folk songs that was destined to become one of the most enduring folk recordings of the last three decades. Just like the songs contained within it “Andy Irvine Paul Brady” is a musical document that has been handed down from generation to generation and magically sounds as fresh today as it did then. It is an essential work borne in one of the great fertile periods of Irish music and includes Paul Brady’s definitive version of “Arthur McBride” and Andy Irvine’s soaring opener “Plains of Kildare.”
Irvine and Brady had been playing together in one of the great trad-folk ensembles of 1970s Ireland, Planxty, alongside Dónal Lunny, Liam O’Flynn and Christy Moore. Brady had built up a reputation for interpreting traditional music with incredible pathos and he had been drafted in to replace the departing Moore on Irvine’s suggestion. Brady and Irvine had been friends and mutual admirers since back in the late 1960s when Sweeney’s Men and The Johnstons regularly crossed paths on the Irish folk circuit.
But Planxty disbanded before they got around to recording what would have been their fourth album. Left high and dry with a fantastic repertoire for a new album, Brady and Irvine knew it would be a mistake not to capture this set and the brilliant musical chemistry the duo clearly had. So they did something about it.
Andy Irvine wrote:
Andy and Paul on stage in London 1976
“There was a great sense of relief among the band members when Planxty broke up in November 1975. We were tired out and had no inspiration left. After a short period, the relief began to turn into a slight fear as to what we would do without Planxty!
Paul Brady - who had been in the band for about 16 months - and I had formed a very good working relationship and we decided to continue as a duo. We started slowly...
On February 7th 1976 we played our first gig in The Merriman Tavern in Scarriff, Co. Clare where Planxty had been a huge sell out over the years. We had a very small crowd. However, things improved quite rapidly. We rehearsed long and hard, usually in the house I was living in, in Donnybrook, Dublin. After a pretty good gig in Liberty Hall, Dublin, we never looked back!
Mulligan Records had started a few months before and approached us to make an LP at Rockfield Studios in Wales where The Bothy Band had recorded their first album.
Dónal Lunny was to produce it and he and I got stranded on Sherkin Island off the coast of West Cork the day before we were due to start in Wales. We started recording on 24th August 1976 and finished ten days later. I was on a fitness kick at the time and used to get up early and run for a few miles down the road towards Monmouth and back. This is about all I can remember. Kevin Burke was there and the album consists of just the four of us. Paul and I and occasionally Dónal, had been playing most of the material for a month or two so it was well played in.
The album was released, quite near Christmas in 1976 as far as I remember. It has been regarded as a classic ever since, I think I can speak for both Paul and myself, when I say that we are very proud of this album. It takes a long time to be at a distance from something you recorded and listen to it dispassionately. When I hear that album, I can say it's good without fear of being thought of as conceited. I now hear it objectively, almost as if it was someone else.”
Although Andy and Paul soon drifted off in their own musical directions they remained good friends throughout the years. For various reasons they resisted offers to perform the album live again until two secret shows at the Cherry Tree folk club in Walkinstown in Dublin as a warm up for a special concert in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to commemorate the album in January 2008. The duo performed not just the album but their entire solo repertoire in what has been described as a simply stunning night of music.
A review of the concert of Celtic Connections 2008 by Irish music writer Siobhan Long:
Irvine and Brady, 30 Years On (PDF)