Paul Brady,
The Liberty Tapes
(Compass, 2002)

The (Missing) Liberty Tapes bring to light a 1978 concert given in Liberty Hall, Dublin, by singer/guitarist Paul Brady to celebrate the release of his first album. It's a grand evening of traditional Celtic folk music in which Brady is joined by some top-flight guests like Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Liam O'Flynn, Matt Molloy, Paddy Glackin and Noel Hill.

"Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore" is a lovely opener, with Brady and Irvine on mandolin and harmonica. Donal Lunny joins in on bouzouki and Irvine switches to hurdy gurdy to add a distinctive sound to "I Am a Youth That's Inclined to Ramble," another showcase for Brady's wonderful voice, which fits these songs perfectly. "The Creel/Out the Door and Over the Wall" is next, the song being fine and clever fun highlighted further by Glackin's fiddle work, and the tune that follows has a driving bouzouki at its core.

"The Jolly Soldier/The Blarney Pilgrim" make a good pairing, and show off all the instrumentalists to their best advantage. There's a solid mid-tempo ballad in "Mary and the Soldier," followed by "Jackson and Jane" and "Don't Come Again," which has splendid backup from Hill's concertina and Molloy and O'Flynn's whistles. "The Lakes of Ponchartrain" is another effective ballad in which the whistles gently buoy the song throughout.

The musicians let out all the stops on the two tunes, "The Crooked Road to Dublin" and "The Bucks of Cranmore," so that it sounds like a whole orchestra is playing (and with seven men, it nearly is!). The concert and CD end on a quiet note with Brady singing and playing "Arthur McBride."

If you like traditional Celtic songs and tunes played and sung very well indeed, you'll enjoy this one. The only caveat is a slight variation in volume from one track to another, but that's a very minor consideration. On hearing this, you'll be glad that the missing Liberty tapes have been found at last.

- Rambles
written by Chet Williamson
published 11 January 2003

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