This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/01
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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This release is front and center the essence of Andy Irvine. It showcases his commitment to social and economic equality. The exploitation of the working class, especially miners in this case, is presented with no holds barred. But he also provides musical memories of his travels throughout Ireland, Australia, the Balkans and the United States and, for good measure, a touching tribute to parental sacrifice and a sweet love song.
Ensconced in a bare bones setting, usually just Irvine, his voice and whichever instrument the tune calls for, some of the songs are first-time recorded while a few have graced past releases.
"A Prince Among Men" is the tribute to all parents who sacrifice so that their children have more opportunities than they had in life. He sings of a coal miner father:
"...and my schooling was paid for at the cost of his lungsThe last line in the song is the telltale one:
Dad was an old man at the age of forty-one..."
"...and generations of slavery died with my dad""He Fades Away" and "The Monument (Lest We Forget)" shed long overdue light on tragedies in labor history.
In the former, with nary a concern for the health of his employees, Lang Hancock knowingly exposed them to deadly blue asbestos in his Wittenoom mine. Compounding matters, the inhumanity continues to this day with government agencies in Australia stalling compensation efforts that would aid the miners and their families.
Ludlow, Colorado is the setting for "The Monument (Lest We Forget)." During a strike over working and living conditions, the Rockefeller Fuel and Iron Company and the National Guard colluded to murder two miner's wives and eleven children. The United Mine Workers has rightfully erected a memorial at the spot where the massacre took place.
"Forgotten Hero" salutes Michael Davitt, the little-accoladed founder of the Irish National Land League. Beset early on by his family's eviction in England, the loss of his right arm at age 11 in an industrial accident and imprisonment for his nationalist activities, the humble, unpretentious Davitt never wavered from his vision of a free Ireland. As Irvine so touchingly sings:
"...Davitt saw the Land war as the first step down the trackIrvine sings of fond memories of Scariff, Miltown Malbay, Kilrush, Sixmilebridge, Kilkishen, Lahinch, Ennistymon, Liscannor and Kilkee in "My Heart's Tonight In Ireland," a tune applicable to all who find themselves far from home.Those who have traveled about Ireland will especially enjoy the mention of these towns, rekindling possibly forgotten memories.
and he hoped to see the end of the Queen and the end of the Union Jack
and I hope some tremor reached him where he lies in bleak Mayo
when they raised the Harp without the Crown above the GPO..."
"Come With Me Over The Mountain" is a most unusual Irish love song--it actually has a happy conclusion. Blasphemy!
A salute to Irvine's idol Woody Guthrie, "Never Tire of the Road" appropriately closes out the release. Who will be the one who salutes Andy Irvine, the Irish Guthrie, somewhere down the line?
Irvine, on vocals, bouzouki, mandolin, harmonica and shruti box is assisted by Rens van der Zelmon fiddle and mandolin; Steve Cooney on didgeredoo and drum; and Declan Masterson on low whistle.
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