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The Essentials: Part 5

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Part Five of Five

Sing a Powerful Song / The Saw Doctors / 1997 / Paradigm / Ryko If you want to know why this Tuam band has such a devoted cult following, this album will answer all questions. Combining great songwriting, kick-arse rock and rootsy folk, the Saw Doctors have created a sound that defies easy classification. The 17 tracks include their best-known songs “I Useta Lover” and “N-17,” plus the majestic “Green and Red of Mayo,” and the delicate “Clare Island.”
Solas / Solas / 1996 / Shanachie No Irish traditional band based in America had the impact of Solas on their recording debut. Everyone knew the talent was there ? Seamus Egan, Karan Casey, Winifred Horan, John Doyle, John Williams ? but the full realization of potential right at the outset struck like a thunderbolt.
Talk on Corners (U.S. version) / The Corrs / 1999 / Atlantic It?s hard to tell whether the brother-sisters act from Dundalk is better known for its dreamy vocals or its photogenic good looks. But there must have been something special in the water in the Corrs’ section of Co. Louth, because this is one musical family ? both parents were also performers. “Talk” spawned a number of singles that have become staples of Lite-FM radio, including “So Young,” “Runaway,” and “I Never Loved You Anyway.” The album also contains two great covers: an Irished-up version of Stevie Nicks? “Dreams” and a sweet version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Bird.”
Three Way Love Affair / Declan Nerney / 1995 For showband music in the tradition of Larry Cunningham and the Mighty Avons, Big Tom, et. al., Declan Nerney fits the bill. The popular Longford-based performer has a light tenor that’s as easy on the ears as his uptempo beats are enticing to the feet. He puts a modern spin on the classic showband sound, with contemporary classics of the genre including “Marquee in Drumlish,” “Sweet Rathcoole” and “The Gallant John Joe.”
This Year?s Model / Elvis Costello / 1978 / Rhino Born in England to Irish parents, Declan MacManus set out to change his name and the world ? or at least, our perception of it. His first album with The Attractions is a landmark achievement, channeling punk attitude on “Radio, Radio” while deconstructing the party vibe on “Pump It Up.” He’d go on to do much great work in the years to come, but this is the one that got the world to notice the New Wave-y kid with the glasses and the jerky dance moves.
A Tribute to Michael Coleman / Joe Burke, Andy McGann, and Felix Dolan / 1966 / Shaskeen In less than six hours, they cut a classic. It’s accordion, fiddle, and piano playing of enduring power, and the Sligo-style fiddling of New York’s Andy McGann (1928-2004) dispelled any notion that a Yank couldn’t cut it with the best trad players in Ireland.
Under a Blood Red Sky / U2 / 1983 / Island Their earlier material is so different in tone and texture that the post-“Unforgettable Fire” U2 might as well be a different band from the “War”-era outfit. The concert at Red Rocks is a seminal moment in rock history ? showing a band on the verge of mega-stardom. The album has all of the band?s great songs, from “11 O?Clock Tick Tock” and “New Year?s Day” to “Gloria” and “I Will Follow.” The highlight of the eight tracks is the passionate and defiant “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
Vegetarians of Love / Bob Geldof / 1990 / Universal Influences of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison abound on the first solo album by a post-Live Aid, post-Boomtown Rats Bob Geldof. Filled with lush love songs like “A Rose at Night” and “Gospel Song,” and intimations of immortality, such as “Thinking Voyager 2 Type-Things” and “No Small Wonder,” this is Geldof, raw, vulnerable and oddly happy.
Viva Hate / Morrissey / 1988 / Warner Bros. If you?re wondering why Johnny Morrissey makes this list, refer to his latest single, “Irish Blood, English Heart,” off his current CD, “You Are the Quarry.” The former leader of the Smiths launched a successful solo career with this album, which is both angst-ridden and wickedly funny. It’s the perfect soundtrack to accompany a darker mood, whether you?re singing along to “Suedehead,” “Everyday is Like Sunday” or “Late Night, Maudlin Street.” And with all due respect to Mrs. Thatcher, it’s the rare Irish person who could suppress a giggle while listening to “Margaret on the Guillotine.” The kind people have a wonderful dream, indeed.
A Woman’s Heart / Eleanor McEvoy and guests / 1994 / Celtic Corner It’s hard to believe that a decade has gone by since Eleanor McEvoy put together this all-star group of Irish woman and became a worldwide sensation with a song about PMS. Mary Black, Dolores Keane, Maura O’Connell, Sharon Shannon, Frances Black and McEvoy herself, plus a dozen well-chosen numbers, including “Caledonia,” “Wall of Tears” and “Sonny,” made this CD a must-have and spawned a concert tour. Ten years and one follow-up on, it’s still the best example of Girl Power to date.

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