Album review: Christy Moore, On The Road

*****

‘Dootle doll doll dee deetly dee-owdle, a-loll doll doll deetle doh!’ Many fans won’t even need to be told what song that is. If Michael Jackson’s ‘hee hee’ holds a marble seat of esteem in the American pop consciousness, then how high should be the platform upon which we mount Christy Moore’s granite throne? Anytime someone plays a bodhrán, Christy’s vocal shenanigans echo in our minds.

Our No 1 trad music icon, Christy is also up there with Van and U2 for songwriting, but with the added bonus of the green grit of The Dubliners and the keen wit of Percy French.

His songbook also carries the weight of history with it: Irish brigades fighting in the Spanish Civil War, the last days of Bobby Sands, the lyrical love songs, the alcohol, the Church, the emotions of our emigrants and the joyful cheer of the late night singsongs from Stuttgart to the Isle of Man.

On The Road is a 24-track double CD, essentially it’s Christy’s Greatest Hits Live, selected from shows in the last few years in Dublin, Cork, Glasgow, Ennis, London... 17 venues in all.

For those who already have his Live At The Point CDs from 1994 and 2006, this will still feel new. Firstly, it only has hits: eg ‘Nancy Spain’, ‘Ride On’, ‘Lisdoonvarna’, ‘Viva La Quinte Brigada’, ‘Ordinary Man’. Secondly, the seven-piece band is magic, led by Declan Sinnot’s phenomenal guitaring.

The CD comes with an album notes booklet in which Christy writes about the songs. For instance, for ‘The Cliffs of Dooneen’, he writes: “One of the few songs that remain in the set list from my first gig in 1966 [...] Gay Byrne took a shine to the song, which led to my first appearance on his Late Late Show. I’ve yet to see them (the cliffs) myself, but I’ve heard that the Bomber Liston may be taller.”

Christy’s live CDs are nicely realistic, with the occasional bum note, plenty of jokes, but also the odd bit of crankiness or tension. An apt soundtrack for the family Christmas dinner.

A final clue on the opening dootle-dees: “It was in the year of ’88 in the lovely month of June.”



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