Christy Moore   •   The Early Years 1969-81 & Christy Moore

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  • The Early Years 1969-81
    • 2020 - Tara 3512347 CD (x2) + DVD (IRL)
  • CD One
    1. Home By Bearna (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    2. Lanagan's Ball (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    3. Limerick Rake (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    4. Johnny Jump Up (Trad. Arr. Jimmy Crowley)
    5. Trippin' It Up To Nancy (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    6. Ramblin' Robin (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    7. Little Musgrave (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    8. Nancy Spain (Barney Rushe)
    9. Black Is The Colour Of My True Love's Hair (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    10. Wave Up To The Shore (Barry Moore)
    11. What Put The Blood? (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    12. John O'Dreams (Bill Caddick)
    13. Trip To Jerusalem (Joe Dolan) & Two Reels: The Mullingar Races; The Crooked (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    14. Sacco & Vanzetti (Woody Guthrie)
    15. The Ballad Of Tim Evans (Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger)
    16. I Wish I Was In England (Christy Moore)
    17. Joe McCann (Éamonn O'Doherty)
    18. Hey Sandy (Havery Andrews)
    19. The Crack Was Ninety In The Isle Of Man (Barney Rushe)
    20. The Cliffs Of Dooneen (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
  • CD Two
    1. One Last Cold Kiss (Felix Pappalardi, Gail Collins) & Trip To Roscoff (Christy Moore)
    2. The Raggle Taggle Gypsy; Tabhair Dom Do Lámh (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    3. The Moving-On-Song (Go! Move! Shift!) (Ewan MacColl)
    4. Spancilhill (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    5. The Foxy Devil (Joe Dolan)
    6. Clyde’s Bonnie Banks (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    7. January Man (Dave Goulder)
    8. The Sun Is Burning (Ian Campbell)
    9. House Down In Carne (The Ballad Of Nuke Power) (Jim 'Doc' Whelan)
    10. 90 Miles To Dublin (Christy Moore)
    11. The Dark Eyed Sailor (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    12. Boys Of Mullabawn (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    13. Bogey’s Bonnie Belle (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    14. Galtee Mountain Boy (Trad. Arr. Patsy O'Halloran)
    15. Dalesman’s Litany (Trad. Arr. Christy Moore)
    16. Cricklewood (John B. Keane)
    17. The Ballad Of James Larkin (Donagh McDonagh)
    18. Paddy On The Road (Dominic Behan)
  • DVD
    1. The Raggle Taggle Gypsy
    2. The Moving-On-Song (Go! Move! Shift!) (Ewan MacColl)
    3. The Pages That I Read Make Me Sadder (Tony Small)
    4. The Dark Eyed Sailor
    5. The Ballad Of Tim Evans (Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger)
    6. 1913 Massacre (Woody Guthrie)
    7. The Sun Is Burning (Ian Campbell)
    8. Saint Patrick Was A Gentleman (Trad. Arr. Stockton's Wing & Christy Moore)
    9. House Down In Carne (The Ballad Of Nuke Power) (Jim 'Doc' Whelan)
    10. I Wish I Was In England (Christy Moore)
    11. Wave Up To The Shore (Barry Moore)
    12. One Last Cold Kiss (Felix Pappalardi, Gail Collins)
    13. Galtee Mountain Boy (Trad. Arr. Patsy O'Halloran)
    14. Lanigan's Ball
    15. January Man (Dave Goulder)
    16. Trip To Jerusalem ('Galway Joe' Dolan, Arr. Christy Moore)
    17. John O'Dreams (Bill Caddick)
    18. Bogey's Bonnie Bell
    19. Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos) (Woody Guthrie, Martin Hoffman)
    20. Cricklewood (John B. Keane)
    21. The Workers Are Being Used Again (Mick Hanly)
    22. Avondale (Dominic Behan)
    23. The Ballad Of James Larkin (Donagh McDonagh)

  • Musicians
    • Christy Moore: Vocals, Guitar, Bodhrán, Bouzouki
    • Andy Irvine: Mandolin, Harmonica, Backing Vocals
    • Barney McKenna: Banjo
    • Barry Moore: Guitar, Backing Vocals
    • Basil Kendricks: Pedal Steel Guitar
    • Clive Collins: Fiddle
    • Dave Bland: Concertina
    • Declan McNelis: Bass Guitar
    • Denny Wright: Banjo, Guitar
    • Dónal Lunny: Guitar, Bouzouki, Bodhrán, Moog Synthesizer, Backing Vocals
    • Gabriel McKeon: Uilleann Pipes
    • Geoff Whittaker, Lord Eric: Drums
    • Ike Isaacs: Guitar
    • Jack Fallon: Bass Guitar
    • Jimmy Faulkner: Acoustic & Electric Guitar
    • Jolyon Jackson: Cello, Synthesizer
    • Kevin Burke: Fiddle
    • Liam O'Flynn: Uilleann Pipes
    • Noel Hill: Concertina
    • Ray Swinfield: Flute
    • Robbie Brennan: Drums
    • Rosemary Flanagan: Cello
    • Steve Benbow: Guitar
    • Tony Linnane: Fiddle
  • Credits
    • Producer …
      • Dónal Lunny (Tracks: 1-5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 21, 23, 27, 30, 32, 34, 35)
      • Bill Leader (Tracks: 6, 16, 20, 22, 24, 31)
      • Brian Masterson (Tracks: 13, 17, 25, 28)
      • Christy Moore (Tracks: 13, 17, 25, 28, 29)
      • Dominic Behan (Tracks: 36-38)
      • Nicky Ryan (Tracks: 8)
    • Produced & Recorded by Nicky Ryan (Tracks: 9, 18, 19, 26, 33)
    • Engineer …
      • Pat Morley (Tracks: 1-5, 7, 10 ,11, 14, 15, 21, 23, 27, 28, 32, 34, 35)
      • Brian Masterson (Tracks: 13, 17, 25)
    • Mastered by Aidan Foley & Nick Watson
    • Cover Art: Vincent Zara
    • Project Concept, Art Direction: Stan Roche
    • Sleeve Design: Gary Baker
    • Sleeve: Leagues O'Toole & Christy Moore
  • DVD Credits
    • Christy Moore: Vocals, Guitar, Bodhrán
    • Declan McNelis: Acoustic Guitar (Tracks: 1-5), Backing Vocals (Tracks: 2, 3, 5)
    • Paul Brady: Piano (Track: 3), Harmonium (Track: 4), Acoustic Guitar (Track: 5)
    • Mary Black: Backing Vocals (Track: 4)
    • Jimmy Faulkner: Acoustic (Tracks: 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15)
    • Stockton's Wing (Track: 8)
      • Tommy Hayes: Bodhrán
      • Maurice Lennon: Fiddle
      • Tony Callanan: Guitar
      • Kieran Hanrahan: Mandolin
      • Paul Roche: Flute
    • Johnny Moynihan: Mandolin, Backing Vocals (Track: 21)
    • Dónal Lunny: Bouzouki, Backing Vocals (Track: 21)
    • All tracks Mastered by Nick Watson at Fluid Mastering, London — except …
      • Track: 8 — Mastered by Aidan Foley at Masterlabs, Roscommon
    • All tracks Produced by RTÉ — except …
      • Tracks: 18-20 — Produced by Tony McAuley for BBC
    • Tracks: 1-10 are from Live from the The Abbey Tavern, 1980, RTÉ
    • Tracks: 11-15 are from Live on 'Aisling Cheal', 1979, RTÉ
    • Tracks: 16-17 are from Live from Adare Manor, 1981, RTÉ
    • Tracks: 18-20 are from Live Session from 'As I Roved Out', 1979, BBC Northern Ireland
    • Track: 21 is from Live on 'The Late Show', 1979, RTÉ
    • Tracks: 22-24 are from Live on 'Ballad Sheet', 1969, RTÉ

Sleeve Notes

When you have been turning out new music for nigh on six decades, performing solo or in seminal ensembles, exciting collaborations, and with esteemed accompanists, the back catalogue can sometimes become an unwieldly beast to keep track of. Christy Moore has lived several music lives at this stage, an odyssey that has led as down as many backroads as it had the motorways to mainstream fame and success, and it seems like on every aberration off the beaten track Christy has dropped gold. As one of those rare artists who has somehow managed to remain relevant and socially pertinent to this day, you could forgive Christy for forgetting where he buried the treasure.

Excavation has become an integral part of the music industry. It feels like there is an eternal well of lost songs, albums, in some cases lost artists who fell through the cracks of exposure. Nowadays, we live in an age of intense documentation, every moment ethereally carved into an infinite cloud of information. But it was not always that way. In the archives of Christy Moore's history, beyond the multi-platinum albums and the big songs that have soundtracked a society, lay many dormant gems on dusty discs in lonely libraries. It was time to go looking for them, to piece back the puzzle, to celebrate and appreciate those moments once again.

It took time to unravel their whereabouts and bring them back into the public domain, but here on this 2CD / DVD collection we find a selection of songs from Christy's run of albums and live TV appearances from 1969 to 1981. Many of these tracks have only ever been available on long-lost vinyl pressings now subject to exorbitant eBay and Discogs prices, or in the case of the TV performances, most of them have, until now, remained unreleased.

THE 2CD SET:

Christy's story as a recording artist begins in 1966 when he heads for England during the Irish bank strike in search of adventure, opportunity, and most importantly, gigs! Along the route of folk clubs and benefit gigs, one of the many colourful characters he encounters is Dominic Behan, brother of Brendan and serious songwriter in his own right. "We hit it off and he took me under his wing", explains Christy. "He said he would help me make an album in Sound Technique Studio in Chelsea in 1969." Well-known folk guitarist and music director Steve Benbow put together a band of pub jazz musicians, a somewhat incongruous fit for a young Irish ballad singer. "I met them for the first time in the studio. They were all pub jazz players and I was the apprentice Paddy greenhorn. They did their thing and I tried to keep up with them. While I couldn't keep up with their chord shapes I could keep up with their drinking and we all got on well. There was pain in the music but we were not feeling it." Christy cites it as an unsatisfactory album, yet an important learning experience nonetheless. It subsequently prompted him to record the Prosperous album back in Kildare, the right way, with many of his favourite Irish musicians.

There are three cuts from that debut album PADDY ON THE ROAD included on the CDs, the title track written by Dominic Behan, THE BALLAD OF JAMES LARKIN, written by Donagh McDonagh, and CRICKLEWOOD, written by the great John B. Keane. It is fascinating to hear the raspiness in young Christy's voice, a voice that would of course later soften and mature into the great source of comfort and familiarity that it is today. These tracks, mastered from the original vinyl, are real rarities as the Mercury label only pressed 500 copies at the time.

There are six cuts remastered from his career-changing second album Prosperous recorded in Downings House with various contributions from Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny and Liam O'Flynn (the group that later became Planxty), recorded by Englishman Bill Leader on his mobile recording unit. Leader was famed for his role as a recording engineer central to the British Folk Revival of the 1960s and 70s and his work with companies such as Topic and Transatlantic, as well as his own Leader and Trailer labels.

RAMBLING ROBIN, a traditional tune with words by Peter Bellamy, was learned from the singing of the great all-round singer-songwriter, comedian and broadcaster Mike Harding of Crumpsall, Manchester who booked Christy to perform one of his first English shows at his folk club in the Old House pub. Mike Harding recalls his first time booking Christy in a BBC blog: "One night Jerry Brady of the Beggarmen — a cracking Irish band based in Manchester — said to me 'You ought to book this guy Christy Moore. He's brilliant. If he doesn't go down a storm I'll give you his fee meself' There is some controversy about whether this was Christy's first English gig (Bury Folk Club may have been the first) but it was certainly one of the first. He came in that night, a quiet bank clerk from Kildare, fairly shy and a bit nervous. He was only over in England because there was a bank strike in Ireland and there was naff all for him to do over there. He was wearing slacks and a neat shirt and a smart pair of boots. The crowd arrived and I opened up the night with my mate Tony Downes singing a couple of Lancashire songs and a few Tom Paxton and Ewan MacColl songs. Then Christy got up, slung his guitar around his neck, put one foot on a low stool and started in on the Galway Races. From the first chords he had the audience enthralled. That night he sang The Little Beggarman, James Connolly, Avondale and The Cliffs of Dooneen. I forget the rest. The crowd wouldn't let him off and it took the landlord coming in really heavy before we could finish the night. After that he came back to the club every month and he filled it every time."

I WISH I WAS IN ENGLAND, also from the Prosperous album is one of Christy's earliest self-penned songs. He is accompanied by Andy on mandolin and Donal on bouzouki and guitar. "I got the idea for this song from an old book of Irish songs which had been poorly translated. I rewrote the song, put a new tune to it and this is the result."

THE CLIFFS OF DOONEEN, an enduring classic which became the second Planxty seven inch and which Christy still sometimes performs to this day, was from a poem reportedly written by Jack McAuliffe of Lixnaw, County Kerry in the 1930s, later put to music. The words were inspired by the cliffs around Dooneen Point near Beale, West Kerry. Christy himself first heard it in 1965. "I have heard versions from Andy Rynne [owner of Downings House in Prosperous where they made the album], Ann Mulqueen and Mick McGuane. I have heard it sung in very different styles too. Margo recorded a 'Country and Irish' version whilst Andy Rynne used to sing it in the Sean-Nos style with his finger in his ear and his keks tucked into his Kerouacs."

It is, perhaps, the recording of THE RAGGLE TAGGLE GYPSY / TABH AIR DOM DO LAMH that in many ways blew open the possibilities for the Planxty project that would take over Christy's world for the next three years. The song itself, as is well documented, is learned from traveller-singer John O'Reilly, one of Christy's most cherished song sources. In the arrangement, Donal creates a bridge from which to segue into the air of TABHAIR DOM DO LAMH, one of the most beautiful moments in the shared life of folk and traditional Irish music. It is a perfect showcase for Liam O'Flynn's pipes and most likely everything Christy imagined when he was dreaming up this album.

SPANCIL HILL is an old song written by Michael Considine in the 1800s about the village in County Clare where he was born, and which was famous for its horse fair. There are some lyric changes from the original, but it is essentially a sorrowful ballad of emigration about people like Considine himself, who left their families and loved ones behind for a life in America.

THE DARK EYED SAILOR, another traditional song learned from the singing of Andy Rynne features some decorative mandolin-bouzouki interweave that was indicative of the music to come.

After Prosperous, the energy of that band saw the first period of Planxty produce three brilliant albums over the next three years before it all fell apart. It was time for Christy to resume his solo career and he did so in 1975 with WHATEVER TICKLES YOUR FANCY, recorded in Ashling Studios in Rathgar, Dublin with a band featuring Jimmy Faulkner on guitar, Kevin Burke on fiddle, Declan McNelis on bass, Robbie Brennan on drums and Dónal Lunny on guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, and Moog synthesizer. The multi-talented Lunny, Christy's teenage pal from Newbridge and long-time musical co-conspirator, also produced the album. The album is split between acoustic and electric sides, similar in mood to the English crossover folk-rock of bands such as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.

There are seven cuts included here, digitized from the original quarter-inch tapes and remastered. TIPPIN' IT UP TO NANCY is a traditional song with Christy accompanied by Donal on bodhran. WHAT PUT THE BLOOD, another one learned from John O'Reilly, the Ewan MacColl / Peggy Seeger song THE BALLAD OF TIM EVANS and the traditional Kerry song HOME BY BEARNA are all given the full band treatment. Also from this album is a version of Gail Collins and Felix Pappalardi's (of American rock band Mountain) ONE LAST COLD KISS where we hear that convergence of folk and rock music in full effect with Faulkner's electric guitar and Robbie Brennan's drums rubbing shoulders with the acoustic instruments and Kevin Burkes fiddle sounding positively European. THE MOVING-ON-SONG (GO! MOVE! SHIFT!) by Ewan MacColl, part of a set of songs he wrote about the nomadic lives of Travellers, is a beautiful trad-folk rendition, as is a gentle version of Dave Goulder's JANUARY MAN.

This album was a big departure for Christy but an important step in the process of regaining his profile as a solo artist. "I was a bit out of my depth playing with a bass and drums rhythm section and I could not offer much direction. A lot of the music at this time was confused and unstructured but we had happy days and made some good music", recalls Christy.

This collection also features a plethora of recordings from Christy's eponymously titled fourth album from 1976, recorded in Dublin Sound Studios, sometimes referred to as The Black Album due to its starkly lit cover. The album was produced again by Donal, with the exception of one song, NANCY SPAIN, which was recorded in Eamon Andrews Studios by Nicky Ryan. Its overall atmosphere marks a return to a more acoustic folk sound than the previous record.

NANCY SPAIN became a big song in Christy's career. It was learned from the late Sallynoggin songwriter Barney Rushe when Christy met him in St. Helier, Jersey in the Channel Islands in 1968. Rushe also gave Christy THE CRACK WAS NINETY IN THE ISLE OF MAN, another tune now embedded in the national repertoire. Lyrically NANCY SPAIN is a wistful love song, but the name itself is taken from the much-loved English journalist of the same name who offered an alternative to typical gender stereotypes of the 1950s. Rushe, a much-travelled troubadour, passed away in 2014 in Dun Laoghaire and Christy paid his respects by singing NANCY SPAIN at his funeral.

Also included here from the Christy Moore album is another classic, LITTLE MUSGRAVE, an old ballad said to have originated in Northern England, dating as far back as 1613, and was collected and documented in the holy grail of songbooks, The Child Ballads. Christy took the air from the brilliant English folk singer Nic Jones' version. It details the adulterous affair between a young man and noblewoman both of whom are murdered by a jealous husband. It is a truly epic ballad and in this version (as well as a later one recorded for Planxty's The Woman I Loved So Well album) it showcases Christy as a truly nuanced singer, delicately weaving his way through verse after verse carrying the unfolding momentum of the story without losing a breath, as the musicians around him produce a decorative masterpiece.

There is a beautiful sparse acapella rendition of his brother Barry Moore's WAVE UP TO THE SHORE. Much of Christy's core collaborators return — McNelis, Lunny, Irvine, Faulkner and Kevin Burke — with some great additional guests. The great Barney McKenna of The Dubliners features strongly here on these sessions. He accompanies Christy alone on JOHNNY JUMP UP, an Irish drinking song by Tadhg Jordan of County Cork, later popularised by Jimmy Crowley (singer, songwriter and collector also from Cork).

There's a proper trad rave-up on LANIGAN'S BALL, learned from the singing of the great Elizabeth Cronin of Macroom, a beautiful airy version of Woody Guthrie's Folkways classic cut SACCO & VANZETTI, and a slow sparse rendition of BOYS OF MULLABAWN from one of Colm O'Lochlainn's publications of collected street ballads. Christy's voice is really filling out now on this album and the soft recital of Patsy O'Halloran's GALTEE MOUNTAIN BOY is a delight. DALESMAN'S LITANY is another one full of pathos, learned from Denis Sabey, one of the founding members of the Topic Folk Club in Bradford, Yorkshire. The song is said to be loosely based on an old Yorkshire Dialect Poem which describes how beggars could be hanged for begging in certain towns, whereas the song addresses the plight of workers slaving and toiling in these same towns following the Industrial Revolution.

Perhaps the most fascinating inclusion from this album though is the wonderful LIMERICK RAKE, a recording that reveals Christy's thirst for diversity during this period with the inclusion of Jeff Whittaker and Lord Eric's African drums. The collision of this percussion with Burke's fiddle and Christy's lilting tones is pure joy.

1978 brings us to The Iron Behind the Velvet album co-produced by Christy and Brian Masterson and recorded at Lombard and Keystone Studios in Dublin. There are five remastered selections from these sessions included here with personnel including familiar players Andy Irvine and Jimmy Faulkner alongside Christy's brother Barry Moore, Noel Hill on concertina. Tony Linnane on fiddle, Gabriel McKeon on uilleann pipes, Rosemary Flanagan on cello and Jolyon Jackson on cello and synthesiser. These remastered tracks include THE SUN IS BURNING by Ian Campbell of Aberdeen, which Christy first heard from Luke Kelly, JOE McCANN, written by the great Derry sculptor Eamonn O'Doherty and two from 'Galway Joe' Dolan, THE FOXY DEVIL and TRIP TO JERUSALEM which segues into the reels THE MULLINGAR RACES and THE CROOKED ROAD.

The Bill Caddick song JOHN O'DREAMS (which didn't appear on the original vinyl album but was later produced by Dónal Lunny at Windmill Lane Studios and included on the CD version of the album) is also included. The latter song was originally released on the compilation album High Kings of Tara.

That same year saw the release of Christy's first live album, Live in Dublin, recorded by Nicky Ryan across several locations. Christy was accompanied by two of his long-time cohorts, Jimmy Faulkner and Dónal Lunny. "We recorded this album in April 1978, when we did gigs at the Meeting Place, Pat Dowlings of Prosperous, Trinity College and the Grapevine Arts Centre in North Great Georges Street. We got great assistance from Ireland's greatest roadcrew, John McFadden and Leon Brennan. I'll dedicate this album to Juno [his daughter] who arrived as we started."

Nicky Ryan is another hugely notable figure in Irish music, previously sound engineer for Planxty, as well as the great Donegal family group Clannad, who he went on to manage with his wife Roma for a period, before they left to help steer the career of the youngest member of that group — now universally known as Enya.

There are five selections from Live in Dublin, remastered for this compilation. HEY SANDY is a song by Birmingham singer-songwriter and poet Harvey Andrews, words rewritten by Christy, about one Sandy Scheuer, a 20-year-old student who was shot by the National Guard at Kent State University following the Vietnam War protests, although she herself was not a participant. BLACK IS THE COLOUR OF MY TRUE LOVE'S HAIR is a song learned from the late Scottish folk singer Hamish Imlach. Christy travelled the road with Imlach in 1967. A much renowned player who later veered towards humorous song, Imlach was nonetheless a big influence on not just Christy but the likes of Bert Jansch, Luke Kelly, Billy Connolly and John Martyn.

There is another song from the aforementioned Barney Rushe, THE CRACK WAS NINETY IN THE ISLE OF MAN, a drinking escapade that is so ingrained in Irish life that it has become a contemporary social catchphrase in itself. And two traditional songs, BOGEY'S BONNIE BELLE learned from Muriel Graves in Cumbria, and CLYDE'S BONNIE BANKS, another sad protest song addressing miners' rights. "Maybe it was Arthur Johnson of Glasgow or Dick Gaughan of Leith who first sang this song, it could have been in the backroom of The Scotia or the snug in Sandy Bells', mused Christy.

Two non-album selections complete the 2CD tracklisting. HOUSE DOWN IN CARNE (THE BALLAD OF NUKE POWER) is an anti-nuclear protest song written by Jim 'Doc' Whelan. This recording was made in St. Patrick's Training College in Drumcondra in 1979 and features Jimmy Faulkner on acoustic guitar and Basil Kendricks on pedal steel. And, finally, NINETY MILES TO DUBLIN, recorded with Andy and Donal. This was released as a single but also included on the later H Block album. It was written by Christy himself after he spent two days with the late Kieran Nugent, Fra McCann and Ned Brown, who were the first hunger strikers to be released from the H Blocks.

The DVD:

The Early Years DVD begins with a series of performances recorded in The Abbey Tavern in Howth, North Dublin, a famous folk venue since the early 1960s, and the location of Christy Moore and Friends, a 6-part television series recorded in March and April 1980 where he played alongside a variety of special guests.

First up is a pared-down version of THE RAGGLE TAGGLE GYPSY, a song Christy sourced from the great Traveller singer John 'Jacko' O'Reilly who lived in Boyle, County Roscommon. Of course, you will hear more elaborate full ensemble versions of this song on the album Prosperous and Planxty's Black Album, but here this simpler homespun version accompanied by the late Declan McNelis on acoustic guitar is a joy.

From the same programme, McNelis also accompanies Christy on a hypnotic version of Ewan McColl's THE MOVING ON SONG (GO! MOVE! SHIFT!). McNelis, who died tragically in Limerick in 1987, was a hugely accomplished guitarist and bassist across a wide spectrum of styles. He was a regular fixture at the infamous sessions with Christy at The Meeting Place in Dorset Street in the mid-1970s, was a key player in the Anti-Nuclear Roadshow and contributed to WHATEVER TICKLES YOUR FANCY and the self-titled Christy Moore albums before going on to collaborate with a who's who of Irish music. It is a lovely reminder of McNelis' exceptional talent to both see and hear him on this collection.

On piano, Paul Brady joins Christy and Declan on THE PAGES THAT I READ MADE ME SADDER, from the pen of the late great Galway songwriter Tony Small. Christy met Tony Small in a London folk club in 1969. Tony introduced Christy to the songs of Woody Guthrie and they remained friends until his passing in 2014. This is a real rarity, a real fast, loose and fun live cut revved up with Paul's boogie piano.

Also from the sessions in Howth, joining the trio on backing vocals, with Paul now on harmonium, is the great Mary Black on a tender arrangement of the traditional song THE DARK EYED SAILOR. This is a rather unique version of the song performed by what would have been quite the 'supergroup in itself.

Next up is THE BALLAD OF TIM EVANS, co-written by the great transatlantic socialist folk power couple (if you will excuse the incongruity) Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. A popular song of the British Folk Boom it was framed by its writers as an anti capital-punishment ballad about an innocent man, Tim Evans, who was hanged in 1950 for the alleged murder of his wife and daughter. Numerous books and reports since have questioned the validity of the accused's innocence and questioned the writers' choice of subject for a ballad carrying this message. Nonetheless, Christy, Declan McNelis and Paul Brady tackle this song with a fiery three-pronged guitar approach.

1913 MASSACRE is the first of four songs from the Abbey Tavern sessions which sees Christy accompanied by another late, great Dublin guitarist Jimmy Faulkner. Like McNelis, Faulkner's versatility saw him cruise from blues to rock to folk, country and jazz. Woody Guthrie's 1913 MASSACRE is a song that documents the death of the striking copper miners and their families on Christmas Eve in 1913 in Calumet, Michigan. 73 people, including 59 children, were trampled to death exiting a Christmas party in what is commonly referred to as the Italian Hall Disaster. The duo also perform Scottish folk singer Ian Campbell's anti-nuclear ballad THE SUN IS BURNING, a track Christy recorded for his 1978 album The Iron Behind the Velvet. Faulkner's quietly bluesy accompaniment underpins Christy's tender soft focus vocal, creating a sad meditative mood for Campbell's foreboding nuclear disaster portrait.

A swift change in mood sees Christy invite one of the great Irish trad-folk ensembles of all-time, Stockton's Wing, onto the Abbey Tavern stage with him. SAINT PATRICK WAS A GENTLEMEN, another one he recorded for The Iron Behind the Velvet is the perfect choice to showcase such great traditional playing. It's a very old song with new lyrics adapted by Christy. We all know Christy excels when flanked by this kind of musicianship: Tommy Hayes' pounding bodhran, the lovely lift in Paul Roche's flute and Maurice Lennon's fiddle, and the engine of Tony Callanan's guitar and Kieran Hanrahan's mandolin.

HOUSE DOWN IN CARNE (THE BALLAD OF NUKE POWER), performed with Jimmy Faulkner, is another song reflecting the anti-nuclear mood in folk music at this time. It cannot be underestimated, the importance of this period of protest in Ireland. Resulting in Ireland's continued resistance against nuclear power, this is a pertinent milestone for all environ mental movements since. The Anti-Nuclear Power Show (also dubbed Get To the Point) a free three-day festival on the weekend of August 18th in 1978 in Carnsore Point, County Wexford, the location proposed by the ESB and endorsed by the Irish government for Ireland's first nuclear power plant, was a unifying event, bringing together the Irish arts world with international environmentalists, unions, and new left social movements representing feminists and antiwar groups. It was the first of a number of these major events. The music line-up was stellar. Joining Christy were Clannad, members of the Bothy Band, Andy Irvine, The Atrix, Midnight Well, his brother Barry Moore (aka Luka Bloom), Mick Hanly, his sister, well-known promoter and singer Eilish Moore, Oisín, Liam Weldon, Johnny Moynihan, Noel Hill and Tony Linnane and many more. After the festival Jim 'Doc' Whelan gave Christy 'NUKE POWER' and it has become a staple statement of this era and remains relevant today to the continued debate over nuclear power.

Faulkner accompanies again on I WISH I WAS IN ENGLAND, for the last of the Abbey Tavern performances included here. It is a song adapted from an old collection Christy found in Tulla in East Clare.

The next series of videos are from the Aisling Gheal Irish language programme devised by the great Tony McMahon. These five pieces were recorded for a special episode of the programme in 1979, opening with a beautiful segment of Christy singing a really tender acapella version of his brother Barry's WAVE UP TO THE SHORE.

Jimmy Faulkner accompanies him on three songs, including ONE LAST COLD KISS by controversial husband and wife duo Gail Collins and Felix Pappalardi (Gail was jailed for criminal negligent homicide after shooting her husband in the neck in 1983). GALTEE MOUNTAIN BOY is a traditional tune arranged by Patsy O'Halloran who wrote the first three verses, with the fourth added by Christy. It details a man joining a Tipperary Flying Column, a small mobile independent armed unit, in this case ambushing British soldiers during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. January Man was written by English singer and guitarist Dave Goulder who Christy met at the Auld Triangle Folk Club in Edinburgh in the late 60s. But the song was heard first from his old pal Derek McEwan who had a fruit and veg shop in Rochdale, above which they lived together when Christy was first trying to find his footing on the English folk scene.

There is one other solo piece from the Aisling Gheal special, and it is a real gem. Christy sings and plays bodhran on a very old but very familiar song, LANIGAN'S BALL. It describes a party thrown for one Jeremy Lanigan who has just inherited a 'farm and ten acres of ground' and features the classic chorus mantra of 'She stepped out and I stepped in again, I stepped out and she stepped in again'.

The next two clips are culled from another RTE production, Donncha at Adare. Recorded in the gothic Adare Manor in Limerick and first broadcast in 1981, this was a six-part music series presented by legendary broadcaster Donncha Ó Dúlaing. Positioned standing beside a large fire place, Christy performs two solo numbers both originally recorded for The Iron Behind the Velvet album in 1978. TRIP TO JERUSALEM is a perfect song for Christy with its lilting refrain 'Whack fol de diddle fel de diro deh / Whack fol de diddle fel de dero. It was written by the late 'Galway Joe' Dolan (as opposed to the other Joe Dolan) who was a founding member of the great pioneering Irish folk trio Sweeney's Men with Andy Irvine and Johnny Moynihan. On the sleeve-notes to said album, Dolan is quoted as saying "I wrote this song in my salad days (back in 1965) [sic] when I worked on an archaeological expedition to Masada in the Negev desert. I was on general duty on top of the mountain with a walkie-talkie and a weapon and the temperature was about 120 degrees in the shade. I was thinking of how I'd got there". JOHN O'DREAMS is the other song performed, written by Bill Caddick and apparently based on the tune of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B Minor (or Pathétique Symphony)!

The next series of TV performances come from the popular BBC Northern Ireland series As I Roved Out from 1979 produced by Tony McAuley and preceded with excellent song introductions from presenter Tom McGurk. All three songs are performed solo. Bogey's BONNIE BELLE is a traditional song learned from Muriel Graves in 1968 in the club she ran in Cockermouth, Cumbria. DEPORTEE (TRAIN WRECK AT LOS GATOS) was written by Woody Guthrie (lyrics) and Martin Hoffman (music) and details a plane crash near Los Gatos Canyon which resulted in the death of 32 people, four Americans and 28 migrant farm workers, often referred to as the 'Wetbacks', who were being deported from California back to Mexico. Guthrie viewed it a protest song addressing the racist treatment of the passengers. It was later recorded for Christy's album of political protest songs in 1986, The Spirit of Freedom. The third cut from this show is CRICKLEWOOD, about the Irish diaspora in London who left the home country in search of employment on building sites and roads. Christy learned the song from Tony Grehan of Boyle with whom he shared a room in Moss Side in Manchester. He later discovered it was written by the great Listowel writer, John B. Keane.

In 1979, Christy appeared on The Late Late Show, accompanied by Dónal Lunny and Johnny Moynihan, and in the thick of the anti-nuclear sentiment of the time, Christy sings THE WORKERS ARE BEING USED AGAIN, a song written by the great Limerick songwriter Mick Hanly. Christy notes from this performance that in the last verse he sings 'Skiddy Island' instead of 'Whiddy Island'. "As a regular visitor to Bantry and Whiddy this was an unfortunate error! It was a live take from the anti-nuclear episode of The Late Late Show with Gay Byrne. It was an extremely volatile occasion in a very partisan studio. I was under severe pressure (after a dose of Large Bottles). It was the first performance of this song and Skiddy Island fell my lips rather than Whiddy. It made the headlines on the following Monday morning when the front of the Irish Independent read: Taoiseach's wife slams folk singer. Mrs. Lynch took offence at the mention of Jack opening the oil terminal on Whiddy."

The final two clips are from the 1969 RTE show Ballad Sheet where he performed two songs solo in front of a live studio audience: AVONDALE and THE BALLAD OF JAMES LARKIN. The latter song was gleaned from Colm O'Lochlainn's Irish Street Ballads, an essential resource at the time for young balladeers. The former was a song written by Dominic Behan, who Christy met in Shepherd's Bush in 1968 and who went on to produce his first album, Paddy On The Road, which somehow finds us back at the very beginning again!

Leagues O'Toole — September 2020


Out of the blue came a call from Universal Music Ireland announcing that they had acquired the renowned Tara Records catalogue. Their intention was to reinvigorate all the music recorded by Tara since 1972.

Over 40 years John Cook at Tara had assembled a collection of recorded music that would not exist today without his foresight and determination. (Tara's first release was my Prosperous album).

At first I was taken aback when Universal suggested a retrospective of my early recordings. Upon 'mature reflection' I soon warmed to the project. Their enthusiasm and intent won me over! In 2016 they had done good work on the Planxty retro album Between The Jigs and The Reels.

Stan Roche, who curated both that Planxty retrospective and this Early Years project, uncovered songs and recordings long since forgotten. Some tracks are rough and ready just as my life was back then, most bring back good memories of nights long gone, of songs long since sung.

I am happy that these early works have been remastered, given a fresh context and a new lease of life.

Thanks for listening.

Christy Moore, Dublin, 13 August 2020