Most helpful positive review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great songs still stand up.
on 18 August 2011
This is Paul Brady's third rock album and his fourth overall but it was the first album of his which I heard so it remains very special in my affections. 'Back To The Centre' made me a Paul Brady fan and I immediately started checking out his back catalogue after I heard this album back in 1985.
The stand-out track is 'The Island', which is a profound contemplation of the backdrop of sectarian tensions from Northern Ireland to the Lebanon. Brady elects to insulate himself from the bloodthirsty "witchdoctors praying (/preying?) for a mighty showdown" by focussing on love while the world descends into darkness. Making love "to the sound of the ocean" has resonances of an act of rebellion against "sacrificing our children to feed the worn-out dreams of yesterday", just as David Bowie's "Heroes" defiantly kissed in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. It's a beautiful reminder that "pictures on the television" don't tell the whole story and real people have much higher aspirations than to spend their time "whitewashing slogans on the shipyard walls."
A special mention is also due to the late Kenny Craddock for his beautiful and sympathetic piano accompaniment to Brady's dynamic vocal performance.
"The Homes Of Donegal" sees Brady return to the interpretation of traditional music for the first time since his classic folk album "Welcome Here Kind Stranger" (which was Melody Maker's Folk Album Of The Year in 1978.) On this occasion, despite his magnificent acoustic guitar and tin-whistle playing, the flavour is unmistakeably rock rather than folk but the track is an unqualified success and has deservedly been a substantial radio hit in Paul's native Ireland and it is still frequently heard.
The rest of the songs on "Back To The Centre" are accompanied by a full rock band line-up. They are unfailingly melodic even though powerful, driving numbers such as 'To Be The One', 'Walk The White Line', 'Airwaves' and 'Soulbeat' outnumber the more tender songs such as 'Follow On' and 'Deep In Your Heart'.
Overall, the sound of 'Back To The Centre' is much more polished than the preceding two albums ('Hard Station' and 'True For You') and it sounds more state-of-the-art for its time (1985). The drum sounds are crisp and clear, the guitars are beautifully recorded and the brilliance of Brady's unique voice is faithfully captured. It's a thoroughly enjoyable set whose finest moments are close to sublime.