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ANDY IRVINE - Old Dog Long Road Volume 2 

ANDY IRVINE - Old Dog Long Road Volume 2 

This is the second in the series of retrospective collections of recordings from Andy’s own personal archive and, while it conforms to the format and pattern of its predecessor, it certainly cannot be regarded as an inferior selection – it’s arguably even finer to my mind. The 23 tracks here cover an even wider timespan than Volume 1, here an astonishing 55 years from 1961 through to 2015. The earliest is a decidedly Guthrie-esque home recording of Hobo’s Lullaby made on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder just short of Andy’s 19th birthday, while the latest is a cracking outtake from the sessions for Mozaik’s 2015 album, The Long And The Short Of It, featuring the unforgettable singing of Chrysoula Kechagioglou.

Two-thirds of the tracks are Andy solo, accompanying himself on bouzouki, mandolin or mandola with trademark dexterity and inventiveness, including an unusual 1970 version of A Blacksmith Courted Me. Highlights of the non-solo cuts include a truly invigorating pair of hornpipes from his marathon 1983 tour with Nollaig Casey and Des Moore, a beautifully lyrical 2012 take on Sweet Bann Water where Andy and guitarist Rens van der Zalm dovetail impeccably, and a magnificent As I Roved Out, taken from a 1975 German show featuring the classic Planxty line-up. Equally inevitably, there are plenty of examples of Andy’s trademark instrumental dexterity and inventiveness, while Andy’s gift for powerful, fully involved narrative telling delivers a tremendous early (1989) rendition of his own epic Douglas Mawson, and a spirited account of Facing The Chair (written by Andy but borrowing some lines from Woody Guthrie in the chorus) from 1982.

So Old Dog Long Road Volume 2 may in the almost-literal sense be “more of the same”, but it’s not only Andy’s most ardent fans who will derive enormous pleasure from this well-stocked double-disc collection.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 137 of The Living Tradition magazine