This unique collection spans almost 20 years in the career of Ireland's most endearing and enduring folk group.
The earliest tracks date from 1974 and feature the legendary Eugene 'Dino' Sands who died in a road crash while on tour in Germany the following year.
This album charts the development of the Sands Family from their early days as a club storming, high energy touring band in the seventies to the more mellow, reflective, concert and recording artists they are today, renowned for their own song writing skills as much as for their own interpretation and delivery of traditional songs and tunes.
As such it is a landmark, indicating how far they have travelled along the road of developing Irish music by incorporating the musical legacy they shared as children with their own significant contribution to the wealth of folk music.
THE BALLYNURE BALLAD — Recorded in 1975 at Eamonn Andrews Studios, Dublin. From the Richard Hayward collection of Ulster ballads.
ALMOST EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE — Recorded in 1976 at Dublin Sound Studios. The first song Colum ever wrote for an album. It proved to be very successful and was subsequently covered by quite a few of his peers including June Tabor and Maddy Prior on their "Silly Sisters" album.
DON'T CALL ME EARLY IN THE MORNING — Recorded in 1985 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. Sitting beside a high-pressure business man, Tommy wrote this song when flying home from Canada about the idea of borrowing some retirement time in advance and enjoying life while we're still alive.
ARD TI CUAIN — Recorded in 1976 at Dublin Sound Studios. Anne first heard this song in America from Scots singer, Jean Redpath. Translated from Gaelic, it is an exiles lament for the quiet land of Erin.
THE DRUMNAQUOILE CLAP POLKA & O'NEILL'S MARCH — Recorded in 1986 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. The Sands learned the first of these two tunes from a fine fiddler named Gus McElroy who has little patience for an audience that might clap out of time. So, he lets them know exactly the right moment with a double waggle of both elbows as he plays.
WILLIE ARCHER — Recorded in 1993 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. The unusual extra beat at the end of the third line of each verse gives this old County Down song a special charm, which apparently was not wasted on Mr. Archer!
WHATEVER YOU SAY, SAY NOTHING — A live version of this song appears on "Unapproved Road" (1981). Recorded in 1993 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. The less written here about this song, the better for us all.
THE MONTH OF JANUARY — Recorded in 1975 at Eamonn Andrews Studios, Dublin. Anne learned this song from Sarah Makem of Keady and has made it her own. It is the most frequently requested song in her repertoire.
TWA CORBIES — Recorded in 1974 at Eamonn Andrews Studios, Dublin. A 14th century Scottish Ballad put to a Breton air. Two crows or "corbies" relish the prospect of making a meal out of a knight who has been murdered.
THE SHADOW OF O'CASEY — Recorded in 1989 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. The title song from a show based on the life of Dublin writer, Seán O'Casey in which Tommy worked with Seán's daughter, Shivaun.
IF YOU COULD WAIT — Recorded in 1991 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. Shay Healy wrote this song upon the death of his mother and sang it for the Sands Family in New York in 1972. Anne chose it for her album "Take Our Part" which she made with Kathleen McPeake.
I'M GLAD IT WAS YOU — Recorded in 1993 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. Comparing reminiscences with an old friend is a bit like glancing through a photo album you thought you had lost.
THERE WERE ROSES — Recorded in 1985 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. The song that established Tommy internationally as one of our foremost song writers. He composed it in memory of two neighbours, one a catholic, the other a protestant, who were each murdered by sectarian gangs.
KELLIE'S RETURN & RYAN'S FANCY (Instrumental) — Recorded in 1993 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. A hornpipe and a jig composed by Ben, dedicated to daughters Kellie and RyAnne.
LOOKIN' THE LOAN OF A SPADE — Recorded in 1986 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. A song that delights audiences throughout Europe, who know that the Irish have no word to match the urgency of the Spanish 'manâna'.
THE HEDGES OF COUNTY DOWN — Recorded in 1989 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. Light of pocket but heavy of heart a young man leaves The Mourne Country to seek his fortune abroad. This song is a century old but young men and women are leaving still.
GOODBYE JOHN JOE — Recorded in 1993 at Spring Studios, Rostrevor. A man in possession of the proceeds of one or more of his previously treasured livestock can suddenly find himself with more friends that he can afford.