Wherever his road has led him, Paddy, the symbolic Irishman, has taken his songs and tunes with him, whether it be across the world to America or nearer home in Britain. There is no finer folk music than that of Ireland. Besides being rich in traditional material, there is also a great crop of contemporary songs. "Paddy on the Road" presents a cross section of both.
The Singer: An ex-bank clerk from Kildare, Christy Moore is one of the best of the young solo singers to emerge from a flourishing Irish folk scene. Now based in Halifax, Yorkshire, Christy has spent the past couple of years establishing himself in folk music circles on both sides of the Irish Channel.
Many of the songs in his repertoire were learnt while Christy was working on the bank relief staff, a job which took him all over Ireland thus enabling him to enlarge and enrich his knowledge of Irish songs by collecting from singers in the various localities that he visited.
This his first album and it admirably showcases Christy's singing talents. He has a clear, effortless approach uncluttered by superfluous decoration, yet still stylish. The songs are never sacrificed for the singer; consequently the listener is as aware of the words and tune as of the actual performance — which is as it should be. The Songs: "The Belfast Brigade" a descriptive song about IRA activities in Northern Ireland, 'The Strike Weapon", concerning union and labour struggles and the gentle, lyrical ballad "Avondale", a tribute to one of Ireland's great political heroes, Charles Parnell, all come from the prolific pen of Dominic Behan.
From the singing of Frank Lunny, Christy learnt "Father McFadden" which deals with the death of a certain Inspector Martin at the hands of followers of Father McFadden a Republican sympathizer in the 1870's, while Donagh McDonagh's "James Larkin" recalls another noted Irish labour leader and his efforts to organise the workers.
On a lighter side, the tuneful "Spanish Lady" tells of the admiration from afar of a beautiful woman by a young man and contrasts strongly with "Marrow Bones", a West of Ireland variant of "The Blind Man He Could See", another chapter in the battle of the sexes — ending in a male victory! The wistful "The Curragh of Kildare" is a melodic love song that has found much favour among Irish singers, "The Maid Of Athy" briefly and amusingly relates the winning of a girl's heart and in "Cunla" we have a jaunty seduction song, translated from Kevin Coneffs Gaelic version by noted Irish piper and folklorist, Seamus Ennis.
The traditional employment of Paddy on the road Is as a labourer and this aspect of his life is represented in two "navvy" songs, "Cemented With Love" by Dominic Behan, very much in the "McAlpine's Fusiliers" tradition, and "Cricklewood" a light-hearted look at exile, words by Irish writer J. B. Keane and music by Tony Grehan.
Steve (Benbow) deserves a special mention for his tasteful, sympathetic arrangements. His knowledge of the idiom — he was a pioneer in the British folk revival and is still an acknowledged folksinger — has obviously been an asset in ensuring the right type of treatment for the songs heard here.
Writer, broadcaster, actor, singer, songwriter and possessor of a vitriolic wit, Dominic Behan is nobody's fool when it comes to Irish folk music. He was responsible for getting Christy Moore on to record and kept a fatherly eye on the production.
Tony Wilson August 1969