A few weeks ago my phone rang and being a dutiful subscriber I picked it up, "How would you like to fly to Dublin next weekend?" said a voice at the other end. "Sure" I said without asking who it was — I don't need to be asked twice to go to Dublin, but, then my business side reared its lovely head — "Who is it and what for?" I said. "In answer to the first part, I'm David Howells of CBS, and to the second part, to listen to a group called the Quare Fellas." So the following Saturday we left London Airport bound for Dublin. After a completely uneventful flight (I'm pleased to say) we arrived in a very rainy Dublin but a few Guiness' and a couple of glasses of Irish and I couldn't have cared less about the weather. We did a touch of sight seeing (by car), had a meal and got ready to go out and taste Dublin's night life. We were picked up by car from our hotel and after a hair-raising journey we arrived at a place called the Embankment and had a terrific job trying to get in, as the place was packed to the ceiling with young people having a ball. Luckily David had a good contact who smuggled us in and then we saw the reason for the excitement — Seán, Matt, Patsy and Brendan — The Quare Fellas. The audience were shouting requests and joining in the choruses while the 'Fellas worked almost non-stop and it was during a quieter number called Peggy Gordon that David asked me whether I would like to record the boys — he is crafty you know, because he knew that Peggy Gordon happened to be a favourite of mine and he also knew very well I wanted to record the boys anyway. So that (in a nut shell) is how I came to produce this album.
The 'Fellas and myself spent two days recording this in the CBS studios in London, and a very enjoyable two days it was indeed. What we aimed to do during that time was to give you, the listener, as varied a programme as possible so we included two C&W titles like Mountain Dew and Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms and by the way, Mountain Dew was one of the heavily requested numbers at the Embankment. Then we have the traditional songs like Handsome Cabin Boy and A Fond Tale which really get down to the roots of folk music. The Button Man is a contemporary song about who's finger is on the atomic bomb button — it has a nice light hearted approach — but it also makes you think. One thing I do enjoy is a group playing reels so I was determined to get a couple of instrumentals in and I succeeded, they are the Donkey Reel and FitzHenry Reel (dedicated to a certain recording engineer) both tracks swing along beautifully and must make even the coolest listener tap at least one foot.
We were going to record 12 titles but as we had time to spare we tried a song called A Nation Once Again and it was obvious that it had to go on the album, it's a really stirring song and the way we recorded it sounds like the massed bands of the Quare Fellas!
Sitting back listening to this LP I really am very pleased with how it's turned out, thanks to the very hard work by the Quare Fellas and Spike Heatley for his solid bass playing. A special vole of thanks goes to engineer Mike FitzHenry for all his leaping about, and helping me to get the sound I was looking for.
And just one more thing — I'm glad David Howells had my phone number.