Month: October 2016

Irish Examiner Review: Planxty – Between the Jigs and the Reels

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ed Power


Planxty are one of those seminal Irish acts doomed to bask in an aura of reverence while remaining essentially obscure to all but a tiny subset of the listening public.

They placed a rocket under the trad scene in the 1970s, imbuing their old-timey sound with psychedelic and British folk revival influences. Yet their accomplishments were quickly overshadowed as frontman Christy Moore went solo (his singer-songwriter incarnation actually predated Planxty, assembled to provide backing for his second album).

Dónal Lunny and Andy Irvine, the band’s instrumental engine room, would meanwhile go on to rewarding careers of their own (most prominently with Moving Hearts), and Liam O’Flynn would also become the most famous uileann piper on the planet.

A new overview of their accomplishments, may go towards restoring the group to the prominence folk purists agree they deserve.

What’s immediately striking is that tension that defined with work, with whipsmart instrumental pieces such as ‘The Blacksmith/Blacksmithereens’ and ‘Timedance’ suggesting a fusion of session music and progressive rock, and the more direct ‘The Cliffs Of Dooneen’ foreshadowing Moore’s subsequent incarnation.

There were excursions, too, into Dubliners-style urban folk, as best demonstrated by the hard-bitten, pipe-driven ‘Pat Reilly’. Between the Jigs and the Reels is a fascinating collection, by turns melancholy and rambunctious and, 40 years on, the music’s rebellious swagger endures.

This was the sound of four young men deconstructing a genre and rebuilding it from the ground up — and sounding as if they were enjoying every moment of their unlikely and tragically short lived odyssey.



A note from Universal Music Ireland


Between the Jigs and the Reels …

Between the Jigs and the Reels …

Irish Times Review: Planxty – Between the Jigs and the Reels

Planxty – Between the Jigs and the Reels album review: Four decades of bursting trad’s boundaries

Album: Between The Jigs And The Reels

Artist: Planxty
Label: Universal Music
Genre: Traditional

The boys are back. This CD/DVD is a timely reminder, 44 yearsafter their debut, of the revolutionary musical imaginations that fuelled Planxty’s music and shaped so much of what has happened since then in the world of traditional music.

Liam Ó Floinn’s piping in the beautiful opener, True Love Knows No Season, as it weaves in between Andy Irvine’s sinuous harmonica (laden with dustbowl influences), will send a shiver down the spinal column of the most nonchalant listener.

Between the Jigs and the Reels is a lesson in evolutionary musical biology, with Christy Moore still feeling out his own voice on the early recording of Follow Me Up to Carlow. His reading owes more to the balladeering tradition of The Dubliners than it does to his later incarnation, which was (mercifully) devoid of the earnest troubadour of this early rendition. The incantatory rhythms of Dónal Lunny’s bouzouki and the delicately picked melody lines of Irvine’s mandolin are equally breathtaking.

There is a healthy balance between the show-stoppers (Little Musgrave) and the infinite complexities of the tunes (Baneasa’s Green Glade), with plenty of space in between to make room for every listener.

The gargantuan DVD, bursting with outtakes from a slew of RTÉ recordings, is a treasure trove, with complementary versions of seminal recordings that will have ally self-respecting trad anoraks comparing and contrasting album and DVD for months.

The precision-engineered punctuation of Ó Floinn’s pipes defines the melody line of Sí Beag Sí Mór, another reminder of just how pivotal he was in placing the pipes front and centre, after decades in the doldrums.

Between the Jigs and the Reels is also striking for the riches of Planxty’s ensemble contributions: all multi-instrumentalists, with three vocalists rambling from the west coast of Clare to the furthest reaches of eastern Europe, propelled by calculus-like rhythms and genteel vocals.

The visuals are a delight as well: Is that really a shirt and tie on Dónal as he sails The Good Ship Kangaroo? A fiery, freewheeling collection.

Planxty’s Between the Jigs and the Reels: A Retrospective is released on October 28th through Universal Music.


The Tom Dunne Show – Andy Irvine on ‘Planxty: Between The Jigs and Reels’ – Tue, 25 October 2016

Listen Now!