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Paul Brady - Pure Genius

Mike Harding | 16:14 UK time, Monday, 18 May 2009

I've long been in awe of Paul Brady both as a musician and as a singer. Ever since his early days with The Johnstons and his sojourn with Planxty after Christy Moore left, I've been amazed at the man's talent.
In a quiet moment last night I dug out the album he made with Andy Irvine many years ago and listened to 'Mary And The Soldier' and 'Arthur McBride' - two beautiful versions of classic songs. Equally impressive is a great set of reels 'Fred Finn's Reel/Sailing Into Walpole's Marsh' on which Brady plays brilliant guitar with Irvine accompanying on mandola. They are joined on the album by Kevin Burke and Matt Molloy - consummate playing. Absolutely wonderful stuff.

This tempted me to get out Brady's solo album 'Welcome Here Kind Stranger' with its brilliant versions of 'Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore' and 'The Lakes Of Pontchartrain'. I don't think I'm alone in thinking him one of the best singers of Irish traditional song ever.

Many people, of course, know Paul Brady from his work as a songwriter; covers of his songs
have been recorded by Lucy Kaplansky, Mary Black, Joe Cocker, Phil Collins, Bonnie Raitt and Tina Turner amongst others. Paul wrote one of the greatest songs ever, about the troubles in Northern Ireland called 'The Island'. There is a fabulous version of the song on Dolores Keane's CD 'Lion In A Cage'. It is one of the great songs of all time.

He is in the middle of a massive tour of Ireland at the moment, but sadly I won't be able to catch up with him this time. He is, however, appearing at this year's Co-operative Cambridge Folk Festival and I'm really looking forward to seeing him there.

Check out our Cambridge Folk Festival minisite for this year's line up and last year's highlights.


  • Comment number 1.

    Too many years ago, I saw Paul Brady in Glasgow with 'Planxty' - Andy Irvine & co, when he sang wonderfully Arthur McBride as you mention. I recall him playing a guitar which appeared to have bass strings and sounded absolutely wonderful. Some would say he was just a lad then. I'm too frightened to recall which year it was as I was just a lad then, with an ear for a performer!


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