Recorded at the peak of the 70s Irish Revival, this is perhaps the best album of Irish songs in English ever produced. So mesmerising are the interweaving lines of mandolin, bouzouki, guitar, and occasionally Kevin Burke's fiddle, that even a fairly slight self-penned song like Irivine's 'Autumn Gold' seems like genius. The mature, understated vocals are of the first order; I think 'Bonnie Woodhall' is one of the most moving performances I've heard in any form of music. The sprinkling of dance tunes amidst the mellowness gives the album a bit of kick too.
It's a pity this is a one-off, but probably no sequel could have lived up to it. I think what makes it so great is that, where bands like Fairport and Steeleye Span had heightened the impact of traditional songs by performing them as rock, this achieves the same thing acoustically and by sheer musicality. The effect is much more subtle, much more in tune with the tradition; although the arrangements were so modern that they still sound modern now, I think the ancient harpists would also have understood and appreciated them. I've been listening to it for going on 20 years, and it's still one of my favourites. Simply a landmark work: as good in its own line as Sergeant Pepper, After the Gold Rush, Led Zep IV, or - whatever you think is good.
This album is brilliant. If you like Irish music you have to have this, both artists and particularly Brady have gone on to do well but for me this was them at their raw best. Words cant describe the richness of this album!
If you are only aware of Paul Brady's later singer-songwriter years from Hard Station onwards this album is the peak of his folk career and well worth a listen.The difference in style between his Folk and Singer-Songwriter period is particularly noticeable in his singing style. The songs and the musicianship on this album are simply fantastic and both Brady and Irvine share the starring role; Irvine's tour de force is Autumn Gold and Brady's Arthur McBride and Mary and the Soldier. Brady's voice on Arthur McBride and Mary and the Soldier is simply sublime and has a haunting mesmeric quality to it.If you have an ear for this kind of music and want to find out a bit more about Irish folk music from the period then this album is a good place to start as any. Speaking of which, I wish someone would re-issue The Gathering on CD/MP3 (Mulligan Records I believe) its been unavailable for some time but has a track by Brady on it to rival the two on this album its called Heather on the Moor, another Brady classic. If you find that you enjoyed this album and would like some more of the same check out the Missing Libery Tapes a live recording from about this period (old concert tapes that Brady found in his attic many years later) and Welcome here kind Stranger both are excellent Brady folk albums. Unfortunately for everyone Brady's work with Planxty was never recorded but I believe they did a version of Arthur Mc Bride. Anyone out there got any Old Concert Tapes in there attic from the Brady Planxty era? Hello! Hello!
Context is everything, apparently. Here's some then: early to mid 70s Ireland was experiencing a revival and revitalisation of traditional music similar to what had happened in the NY in 1960/61. A bunch of young musical mavens were reshaping the boundaries and ideas of what was Irish music. At the vanguard was Planxty, but the Bothy Band were also flexing their muscles and Horslips were roaming around at the edges. Both Irvine and Brady had been in Planxty but they moved Irish music forward again with this stunning collection. This is Irish music, but it is informed by American influences (Brady's definitive take on Arthur McBride was derived from a version he found in a Library of Congress book) and Eastern European influences (Irvine plays all manner of odd and wonderful stringed instruments and he brings in time sequences that were previously alien to western European music). Don't be put off by this; this is no exercise in dusting down influences or academic appropriation: it is vital, thrilling and exciting. Irvine and Brady were old hands by the time they made this (even though they were both still young men) and both had been schooled in as catholic a musical cathecism as you could imagine. Nearly 40 years on it still sounds great, and it still carries heft and weight. It really is that good.
Having followed Paul Brady from the Johstons through his solo albums I somehow missed on this one. Having just seen Paul performing solo I really wanted a more acoustic recording than the Band work he had produced later. This album fits the bill excellently. Paired with Andy the playing and singing are great and the playing superlative. I believe during this period Paul had been touring with Planxty along side Andy and this album shows the energy that was resulting. Great stuff!
Probably one of my favourite albums of all time. Two excellent musicians with wonderful voices. The strange tones of the hurdy-gurdy add an extra layer to some of the songs. I've had this on tape from student days when I couldn't afford records (as they were then) but never found the album on CD until now.
It really is a good idea to get this album while it's still available at a reasonable price. As the other reviewers have pointed out, this album sits firmly in the centre of the peak of the Irish golden era of the 1970s, and for me at it's heart is the mighty Andy Irvine. He is quite unsurpassable. His lovely voice and superb guitar and bouzouki playing are the key ingredient in the Sweeney's men albums, and in Planxty's work. Paul Brady's contribution is also excellent although I couldn't put him on the same exalted heights as Irvine. A masterpiece
I really love this - it might just be my favourite album ever. I used one of the tracks to walk down the aisle to on my wedding day. Beautiful. Autumn Gold makes me cry I find it so moving and I really love Plains of Kildare. This duo have managed to catch an atmosphere that spins a web of gold around the music.
Paul and Andy were at the start of their careers,but already having built up quite a reputation and this album really has them both at the hight of thier powers. The interplay between them as mucisiona and singers really blends well and as a result this is a gem of and album.