Planxty create a sound which is completely unique - it sounds like something which echoes deep in our Celtic psyche, yet it sounds new, innovative, and exciting at the same time. Compared with some of the other fine Irish folk groups of that generation such as The Fureys, The Cheiftains, and The Dubliners, Planxty provide a similar genre of music, yet in many ways it's completely in a league of its own. The sounds of Mediterranean instruments blending with Celtic instruments and Balkans music married with music from Ireland and Britain is a concept and a sound that has worked incredibly well for Planxty and this 2004 album reaffirms that. The music sounds as fresh today as it did 30 years ago. The world that Planxty depict is on a very different dimension from the usual landscape of the folk genre: These aren't the typical tales of the rich lording over the poor, or the love of my sweet lovely Irish cailín, or the heartbreak, loneliness and danger of emigration. Women, sailors, gypsies, blacksmiths and beggars are the heroes and villains. Ladies betray Lords with the hired-help and the lesser ranked; farm labourers defy and defeat Sergeants and their soldiers; and women scorn men who choose duty as soldier or sailor over a married life at home. Their deeds are recorded in such fine, intelligent, humorous, dramatic, and musically crafted form that it will delight you to hear this record of social history. Planxty 2004 is a fantastic work of musicianship, with many, many highlights on this album. The THREE front men of this band (Christy Moore, Andy Irvine and Liam O'Flynn) each take their own opportunity to shine in Planxty's unique light after a gap of almost twenty years from performing together. Christy Moore fans should check out the song Little Musgrave - close your eyes and listen as Christy completely relives each character's role depicted in the scenes of this track. Andy Irvine's rendition of Arthur McBride is fantastically uplifting and he sings this song as if he was Arthur himself standing in front of the Sergeant scorning the forces and the Crown! The skills of Liam Óg O'Flynn are made abundantly clear from the opening track (The Starting Gate) and O'Flynn highlights and complements so many songs and tracks of this album that it is quite difficult to rate one piece or moment above the other. My favourite instrumental piece has to be The Starting Gate however, as Liam demonstrates his skill on both the whistle and the uileann pipes and it's the perfect piece to capture the pure Planxty sound. Dónal Lunny ties this album together with his contributions to all of the tracks. He is credited in earlier work as the composer of the immortal bridge between the song Raggle Taggle Gypsy and the instrumental piece Tabhair Dom Mo Lamh which many consider to be the highlight piece of Planxty's catalogue. Lunny is the quiet, shy, intelligent scientist of the band and he weaves this album together with beautiful bazouki riffs and melancholic guitar accompaniments. Planxty Live 2004 is a must for any fans of folk music, Irish music, world music, different music - brilliant music!! It's proof that well written and arranged music stands the test of time and spans genres and generations. It's proof that brilliant, exciting and interesting musicians never really lose it (as long as they've got their health)! This album is not only a record of the sounds and songs of surviving folk music - it's a template for the future of folk music.
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