CHRISTY MOORE – On The Road (Sony Music/Frontline)

On The RoadNeither a greatest hits collection nor a conventional concert album, On The Road sits somewhere between the two. Here are two dozen of Christy best and most popular songs recorded at seventeen venues in Ireland and the UK over the past three years.

The double-CD set opens with a mighty ‘Ordinary Man’ recorded at the Glasgow Barrowlands with an audience determined to sing it their way. As Christy notes, he felt it best to follow them. Christy’s audiences always know all the words. The band appearing pretty much throughout the album is Declan Sinnott on guitars, percussionist and producer Jim Higgins and Cathal Hayden with contributions from Máirtín O Connor, Seamie O’Dowd, Vickie Keating and Christy’s eldest son, Andy.

Initially the sequencing alternates moods so the second cut is ‘Ride On’ followed by the World Cup saga ‘Joxer Goes To Stuttgart. Is it an Irish thing: the ability to move from ribald comedy from sentimentality? ‘Black Is The Colour’ is followed by an updated ‘Don’t Forget Your Shovel’ filled with political comment and Irish in-jokes and ‘Delirium Tremens’ follows ‘The Voyage’. The fact that these are recent live recordings adds a twist to familiar songs with Christy working the audiences like the master he is. Just don’t expect anything to sound like it does on the studio album – he actually cracks up on ‘Weekend In Amsterdam’. The first set closes with a song that is rarely out of the set: ‘Viva La Quinte Brigada’ and even if you don’t know it you’ll be singing along before the end

The second half starts out in a less rowdy fashion; more what you’d expect from a Christy Moore gig. He opens with his brother’s ‘City Of Chicago’ followed by Ewan MacColl’s ‘Go Move Shift’ and a gorgeous take on ‘Nancy Spain’. Of course, the restraint doesn’t last forever as ‘Lingo Politico’ proves and ‘St. Brendan’s Voyage’ isn’t terribly reverential.

It is possible that you haven’t heard Christy Moore live and these days you’ll probably have to go to Dublin to do so but On The Road will do well enough until you get there. Hear this album and you’ll be booking your tickets.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artist’s website: https://www.christymoore.com/

‘Ordinary Man’ – live:

Christy Moore – Folk Tale (Sony Music Ireland)

It’s quite possible that there couldn’t be a more fitting title for this album, and not just because it’s the title of one of the songs contained therein. Christy can legitimately lay claim to being the epitome of the living, breathing folk ‘process’; indeed, one of the most rewarding aspects of following his career is the way in which his material morphs and reinvents to suit the occasion, be it the musicians he’s playing with, the audience to which he is playing on any given night, or the more substantial reordering that arises from the growing wisdom and perception that is amassed as the years pass by. It’s this very aspect that distinguishes Folk Tale as something that little bit more special: it’s a snapshot of where Christy is right now, the continued story of the songs he’s carried along with him, alongside the new chapters that reinvigorate and fortify his voyage.

Two particular highlights find Christy furnishing songs of tragedy with a genuine compassion, whilst avoiding any hint of mawkish sentimentality. Kevin Littlewood’s “On Morecambe Bay” thoughtfully observes the fate of illegal immigrant cockle pickers, lost to the deadly tides. The narrative is remarkably evocative for placing the workers firmly amongst the local community, with the writer seemingly expressing a sense of collective guilt for being aware of their plight, but failing to intervene and warn of the treacherous dangers out on the sands. “Haiti” takes a more global view, with it’s clarion call to a nation to rise up and “smile again” in the wake of the harrowing earthquake that decimated the country. The contemplative manner with which Christy approaches these songs probably gives voice and emotion to many who witnessed these events from afar.

Several pieces from Christy’s 1996 album, Graffiti Tongue, receive a more circumspect reworking, seemingly holding at bay some of the anger that permeated the original recordings in favour of more considered readings that are no less disarming. In particular “God Woman” basks in a genuine feeling of warmth, whilst the title track benefits from a more reserved, melodic approach that somehow makes the romance of the story much more compelling.

Folk Tale also reminds us of Christy’s keen sense of humour. “My Little Honda 50” is a light-hearted ditty, on the face of it a quirky tribute to a an even quirkier form of transport, yet dig beneath the skin and it’s a fond recollection of simple times and simpler pleasures. “Weekend In Amsterdam” is a more raucous affair, with some lyrics that I daren’t even repeat within these pages!

Harking back to his days with Planxty, “Farmer Michael Hayes” is recast in a more sparse arrangement, delivered at a slightly more measured pace, proving more reflective than the hearty rebelliousness of the original Planxty recording, largely owing to the greater depth and maturity that age has bestowed on Christy’s voice.

Drawing together the disparate threads of artistry that inspire and nourish his life, Folk Tale draws from a rich palette taking in poetry, politics, humour and tragedy. It’s a collection that is no doubt richer for the accomplished production skills and sympathetic musicianship of the doggedly talented Declan Sinnott, but it’s most certainly Christy’s heart that beats strong throughout. Mike Wilson

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist web link: http://www.christymoore.com/