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Review: Rediscovering Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem

Mrrzy 24 Mar 11 - 09:40 AM
Will Fly 24 Mar 11 - 10:28 AM
Mrrzy 24 Mar 11 - 10:55 AM
Lighter 24 Mar 11 - 11:20 AM
Maryrrf 24 Mar 11 - 11:30 AM
Will Fly 24 Mar 11 - 12:45 PM
Maryrrf 24 Mar 11 - 01:32 PM
Mrrzy 24 Mar 11 - 02:20 PM
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Subject: Review: Rediscovering Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 09:40 AM

I don't think you can blicky a forum search... or I would have.

So, yes, I know there are about a zillion threads on these magnificent artists, but I have just found the (to me) new release of their 1963 St. Patrick's Day concert at Carnegie Hall.

*Sigh* What a delight. Like putting on warm slippers on a not-too-cold morning... just marvelously more than is needed for what you would have thought would be optimal comfort.

I hadn't realized that so many songs I had heard from other compilations were from this concert, I might add. Of course the vinyl had about 20 mn per side, so 40 mn from a more-than-2-hour concert... all of which is on this album, as I persist in calling whatever the new term is for "in this case, it's 2 CDs" (yeah, I know, I live under a rock - I don't do facebook, either).

One that I *did* know was from here was this version of A Jug Of Punch, which on vinyl had no intro, but I had heard the intro on another album somewhere and then recognized the version following as being from this concert. And a lucky thing, too - when we honeymooned in Ireland I tried to order punch, and they didn't know what I was talking about! So I recited the intro (except for the part where you don't need the cloves) and the bartender says Ah, you want hot whiskey! So indade, I drank hot whiskey, sure and wasn't it grand.

And finally hearing all the rest of the banter is marvelous - when was the last time you heard people teasing about Kennedy when it wasn't about him being assassinated, which he hadn't yet been? Not to mention all their ribbing of the people doing the recording! You wouldn't hear *that* nowadays, either!

Then, after listening to it twice all the way through, I found the liner notes... which includes a replica of the back of the original album cover, which practically brought back the smell of my childhood home in West Africa. **aaahhhh*** (if I could purr, I would.)

And *then* - the icing on the cake, the hot inserts in your gloves... I read them. Much was written by the last survivor of the quartet, Liam, my favorite, since we were both the babies of the family. He talks about how listening to the new release affected him, and for that alone, is precious. And I don't mean in the cute-baby sense, I mean valuable.

And valued. Man, I miss these guys. I wonder how they would be received if they were to arrive today...

The only thing marring my adoration? veneration? of these folks is the way they were disliked in their native Ireland, especially in Carrick-on-Suir, if that's how it's spelled, for never giving anything back. And I was laughed at by musicians if I requested anything by the Clancy Brothers... whereas if I asked for songs they had performed by name, these were willingly and well played, unless they dated back to before the Troubles, when I was laughed at for wanting something so old...

I did see them live once, in the early 80's, when it was Tommy, Paddy, another brother, and a newphew whose name escapes me, as Liam and Tommy Makem had gone off to do the quieter songs; I always liked the rowdy ones better anyway, so I had a great time, and was very happy at how few of the songs I didn't already know from somewhere... I'm not a big fan of new, often, preferring the comfort of old shoes to the bounce and vigor of new ones.

So I am very interested in how you all felt when you heard this particular new production. There were songs on it I had actually never heard anywhere, wonder why not?

And, as an aside, what do you think of the Irish response to these marvelous performers?

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Subject: RE: Review: Rediscovering Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 10:28 AM

Mrzy, there was an interesting programme on UKTV just recently (a repeat) about the rise of Irish folk music in its various forms from the pre-republic days to the present. It seems that in Ireland the Clancys were, to some extent, tarred with the "auld Ireland" brush - an Ireland dominated by the priesthood, by old-fashioned values - and yet they were not true "folk" in the sense of performing tunes of pipes and fiddles in the old, traditional way. The Dubliners, by contrast, were rougher, more rebellious, more "of the people" - less "establishment", perhaps.

No value judgements from me here, by the way - just commenting on what came across to me in the programme. And then there came The Pogues...!

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Subject: RE: Review: Rediscovering Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 10:55 AM

And then the Clancy Brothers, so I'm told, mated with the Ramones, and thus was formed the DropKick Murphys!

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Subject: RE: Review: Rediscovering Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 11:20 AM

I wrote on some other thread long ago of the impact the Bros. made on my high school buddies when they guested on the Danny Thomas Show (a sitcom)in 1962. They were also on the flagship variety show of the era, _The Ed Sullivan Show_, more famous for giving Elvis his first TV appearance.

I'll bet that ninety per cent of today's Irish "traditional standards" were first recorded by the Clancy Bros. and Tommy Makem.

Their renditions of songs like "Brennan on the Moor" and "O'Donnell Aboo," for example, were unlike anything most people had ever heard. Sure, Burl Ives and others had recorded "Brennan" and a few more, but the Clancy performances were louder, heartier, more exuberant. The Aran sweaters were a novelty too in an era when singers typically wore jackets and ties.

By today's standards their musicianship, though adequate, was less than stellar (though Makem's whistling was a stand-out - another sound never before heard on American airwaves). Even so, in a period of crooners, slick C & W, laid-back jazz, and rhythm-oriented rock 'n' roll, the Clancy Bros. and Tommy Makem created their own inimitable niche. They spawned both the Dubliners and the Irish Rovers.

I rarely listen to them now, because I want to remember the music in the more innocent context of the few years when I heard it for the first time.

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Subject: RE: Review: Rediscovering Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem
From: Maryrrf
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 11:30 AM

I haven't heard that particular recording, but I've always liked the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. They were from a much simpler time, and their forthright "let's sing it with gusto" style isn't in fashion anymore. They weren't traditional enough for the traditionalists, and they were too folky for the folk rock crowd. But their music is just plain enjoyable and fun. And let's not forget that they could and did deliver ballads and the more sensitive material impeccably - especially Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy. I know they are not well regarded now in Ireland, but I have been told by Irish musicians that had it not been for the Clancy Brothers and their success, Irish traditional music might not have experienced the revival that it did. Subsequent groups did more research, perhaps, and were more faithful to the roots of the music, but the Clancy Brothers (and Tommy) were certainly an influence. And Tommy certainly carried the traditional torch - many of the songs he sang were learned from his mother, Sarah Makem, a noted traditional singer from Keady. "Putting on warm slippers on a not too cold morning" - I like that analogy.

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Subject: RE: Review: Rediscovering Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 12:45 PM

Forgot to mention that the main reason the Clancys went to North America in the first place was to act - and it was as actors, not as singers, that their career first took off in NYC. Perhaps it was this - and the Aran sweaters - that slightly clouded their reputation as serious traditional singers back home.

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Subject: RE: Review: Rediscovering Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem
From: Maryrrf
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 01:32 PM

Actually Tommy Makem went over to work in the mills of New Hampshire, where he had a relative (a sister, I think) but he injured his hand and couldn't work at the loom, and ended up in NYC trying out his acting skills. There he met up with the Clancy Brothers and they started singing together in a bar. A twist of fate that turned out to be a good thing for Tommy, as he went on to have a very good career in music. I'm sure he'd look back on that hand injury as one of the most significant turning points in his life.

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Subject: RE: Review: Rediscovering Clancy Bros & Tommy Makem
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 02:20 PM

Glad it didn't stop his playing!

Liam talks about them coming to be actors in the liner notes.

Yes, I was proud of that analogy meself!

And what the locals complained about was that when they camem home to visit they were "too good for the likes of us" and didn't spend any of their money in the town. Forgot where they came from, it seemed to the unshared-with people. I was sorry to hear that, but could also see that hanging out in the local pub wasn't really their thing any more...

Not that they didn't drink, except for Tommy Makem, who did didn't drink.

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