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ANDY IRVINE & LUKE PLUMB - Precious Heroes

ANDY IRVINE & LUKE PLUMB - Precious Heroes
AK Records AK7

Andy’s storming five-decade career has taken him from Sweeney’s Men and Planxty through to Patrick Street, Mozaik and Usher’s Island, all the while maintaining a solo career that’s the stuff of legend and continues unabated to this day. The quintessential Irish singer continues to inspire future generations, and his latest project is this duo album with Shooglenifty’s Luke Plumb; Andy nevertheless reigns supreme while calling on a select support cast comprising John McCusker (fiddle), Usher’s Island colleague Mike McGoldrick (flute, whistle) and James Mackintosh (percussion) with backing vocalists Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton also lending a hand; further contributions were overlaid by Andy’s latter-day collaborator Rens Van Der Zalm. The resulting album has been produced by Luke, who clearly has the measure of these musicians and brings out the inclusive nature of the music-making, Andy’s signature life-affirming delivery being fully complemented by the intuitive, frisky playing.

The album’s title derives from Andy’s mission statement – “to make an album which recognised the great, largely unknown men and women who shaped working class and cultural roots. …We share the history and continue to share the hope.” The precious heroes include champions of recent struggles (Hard Times In ’Comer’s Mines) and causes (fighter against fascism Frank Ryan) as well as some from traditional balladry (Niamh And Oisín). The disc also includes a couple of Luke’s fine instrumental compositions, and a tricky tune which Andy wrote for Planxty in 1973 but never recorded. Andy’s showing no signs of slacking with this vital new set, and clearly this partnership with Luke is proving intensely rewarding for both musicians.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.