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ANDY IRVINE - Old Dog Long Road Volume 1 

ANDY IRVINE - Old Dog Long Road Volume 1 

The clue’s in the title – this isn’t to be regarded as a “latest Andy Irvine album”, but as a first retrospective collection of recordings from Andy’s own personal archive, intended mainly for the ardent fan and released as a limited-edition double album. They span the half-century up to 2012, ranging from a 1961 blues-ragtime home-recording curio to assorted studio demos and some cracking live gig performances including several from Cork’s Lobby Bar. Andy’s special hallmark has always been his unrivalled ability to play highly complex accompaniments while maintaining vocal performances of intricacy and expressive quality – and there’s plenty of jaw-dropping instances here.

Two-thirds of the recordings are typically brilliant solo performances. The remainder find Andy in the company of different musical friends (the rollcall includes Dónal Lunny, Frankie Gavin, Jackie Daly and Rens van der Zalm). There’s a rare example recorded in Germany in 1969 with Johnny Moynihan, also a late-70s Planxty demo and a 1986 Leg Ends (pre-Patrick Street) try-out. Andy readily admits that not all of the recordings are of studio quality, in spite of some masterful sound manipulation – yet to my ears there’s nothing below-par here, and any Andy Irvine fan will be well more than satisfied to have these recordings, which more than transcend historical curiosity or even rarity value. The booklet included with this treasure-trove gives full details of dates and personnel, also helpful notes on the recording circumstances. The collection’s non-chronological presentation isn’t an issue, for what matters is its intense artistic consistency.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine