To say Christy Moore is a national treasure is a bit like saying Mary Black can carry a tune. Named Ireland’s greatest living musician in 2007 by RTÉ, no one has come within an ass’s roar of challenging him for that title. Be it with Planxty, Moving Hearts, or solo as a chronicler of our times, a poke in the side of our conscience, a jester commemorating joyous events, or simply the owner of the most wondrously lilting voice, Christy Moore has been delighting audiences for over 50 years.
This collection, as it says on the tin, delves into the early days of the Kildare troubadour, before the ground-breaking ‘Time Has Come’, and all-time classic ‘Ride On’ albums.
I would recommend paying a little extra and buying the deluxe version, which features an additional DVD with long-forgotten classic performances from RTÉ and BBC archives, further emphasising the power of the man in a live setting. With 38 tracks over 2 CDs and a further 22 on the DVD, it’s a veritable treasure trove for Christy Moore fans and folk aficionados alike.
It’s interesting to hear so many traditional songs in his repertoire at a time before he found his own voice. ‘Black Is The Colour Of My True Love’s Hair’, ‘Tripping It Up To Nancy’, and ‘Little Musgrave’, obviously written at a time of great philandering and well before the divorce referendum.
It’s also intriguing to hear early versions of songs that have become not only staples of Moore’s setlist but folk standards. ‘Nancy Spain’, ‘The cliffs of Dooneen’, ‘The Raggle-Taggle Gypsy’; songs that he has revisited and committed to wax.
Songs of social conscience have always been synonymous with Christy Moore, and they are well represented from his covers of Woody Guthrie’s’ ‘Sacco and Vanzetti’, and ‘Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gates)’, to more contemporary issues in ‘Go, Move, Shift’, ‘Hey Sandy’, ‘90 Miles From Dublin’, ‘ The Ballad Of James Larkin’, and ‘The Workers Are Being Used Again’. At each turn, the issues are treated with sympathy and rendered in that warm compassionate voice.
Armed with guitar and bodhran, Christy always surrounded himself with exquisitely talented musicians. Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam Og Flynn, Jimmy Faulkner, Kevin Burke, the talent is quite amazing.
Bearing in mind these recordings were made before he hit his purple patch, the quality is remarkable. This collection gives us an interesting insight into the first decade of the man’s output. The recordings have been lovingly collected and remastered by Universal Music Ireland, following their recent acquisition of Tara’s catalogue of that time, giving a fascinating insight into the first decade of this giant of Irish music.