Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Up The Monto

As a kid I endured occasional holidays in Dublin in the company of my deaf, aggressive and endearingly alcoholic grandparents. The last time we stayed the mad bastard Grandpa McQuaid put on a cow's tongue to boil (as some sort of meaty treat for me and my sister) then went and got shitfaced for 14 hours. During this time the tongue and the pot it was in caught fire and began to billow thick clots of killer smoke through the house. The first I knew of it was my sister dragging me hacking and choking out into the garden whilst the fire brigade were called. Great days.
My last memories of gramps revolve around watching him through the rear window of our retreating taxi. There he was, one hand raised in an orators style, the other deathgripped on a can of guinness, unleashing an epic stream-of-consciousness chant of abuse like a pissed wizard. He seesawed breathtakingly from the inventive to the incomprehensible until we disappeared over the horizon. A true gentleman of the bottle.
I think this, alongside a few other special moments (gran's gin fuelled motorway U-turns spring to mind), contributed to my general aversion to Irish trad music. Which is a shame because Charity Shops are fucking packed with paddy gold. Had I not married a Dubliner I probably would have gone on in ignorance of these bangers from my forebearers-- so it's with a big debt to the missus, who got one of these from a flea market and inspired me to find the other two, that I present some tradfolk gems--

The Chieftains - Pride of Pimlico

I picked this up, on Chieftains 10, in Cancer Research in Islington and I've been playing it ever since.
I've played it at the Charity Shoppe night, at hip hop nights and at house nights, and everytime it's smashed it. I think it's as close as Irish folk is going to get to techno -- a bodhran, an excellent vocal and a drone halfway through. I love it. I wish there was a longer version-- if anyone knows of one please let me know !

The Dubliners - Monto

Totally raucous, rude and compulsive. This version is taken from a performance at the Albert Hall. If you can track down the footage of this gig you'll see that Luke Kelly, the lead vocalist, literally has no face- just ginger mane, gleaming eyes and a roaring mouth, like a saucy Mr Tumnus.

Paddy Reilly - The Movin Along Song

No Irish set would be complete without the melancholic. This is a sad and quite beautiful song composed by the great Euan MacColl, with (if I may be serious for a moment) some powerful interplay of traditional melody with modern concerns.
Check the cover of the record this is from--

There's not been much of an attempt to jazz up the town that Paddy loves so well on that shot-- Its pretty much the antithesis of hard sell-- Gasworks, skips, tenements, rain. Good man.

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