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SONGS of IRELAND


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SONGS OF IRELAND

Original Recordings 1916-1950


Somewhat defiant of precise definition, the term 'IrishSong' is a broad church.  In recentyears its meaning has been stretched to include almost anything from folksong(ranging from authentic in the 'collected' sense to arranged, or blatant spoof)to Tin Pan Alley hackwork of yesteryear rehashed in C&W mode.  The boundaries within each category mayalso have become blurred but the devotees of each have in common theirsusceptibility to a lilting tune, especially if suitably sentimental lyrics areattached. Previously the genres were clearer, although since the advent ofcommercial popular music publishing (early 19th century) the Irish tradition insong in a commercial sense has been continuous and all-pervading, with alucrative thread traceable on the one hand from Edward Bunting, Thomas Moore(1779-1852) and Samuel Lover (1796-1868) to Percy French (1854-1920) - thethree last-named were also entertainers who sang their own compositions in thesalons of Britain and America - and, on the other, from George Petrie(1789-1866),  Alfred PercevalGraves (1846-1931) and Stanford (1852-1924) to Herbert Hughes (1882-1972) amongmany.  The advent of the gramophoneat the turn of the nineteenth century added a further dimension to thetradition and since then Irish song has provided a significant money-spinner tothe record companies, particularly in the USA where a captive second - andthird, fourth and fifth - generation immigrant Irish audience has remained avidfor nostalgic reminders, however dim, of the 'Ould Country'.


The Scots-Irish tenor John McCormack (1884-1945) was one ofthe most vigorous popularisers of Irish song, ranging from folksy tostage-Irish.  A native of Athlone,he became a star attraction in London (in opera at Covent Garden and in Booseyand Chappell Ballad Concerts) in 1907. After 1910 he was to pursue an even bigger career as a recitalist in theUSA where, particularly after he took up US citizenship, his regularconcert-tours drew massive crowds and his many recordings became a mainstay ofVictor's Red Seal catalogue. Following without condescension hard upon the scheduled Bach, Brahms andItalian arie antiche, his recital programmes regaled his enraptured audienceswith Irish ditties which later ranked among his recorded bestsellers, itemssuch as When Irish Eyes Are Smiling (a once-hackneyed song written and featuredby Buffalo-born tenor Chauncey Olcott (1858-1932) in his 1912 Broadway show TheIsle Of Dreams, this has music by his Cleveland, Ohio-born collaborator ErnestR. Ball, 1878-1927) and The Garden Where The Praties Grow (a Johnny Patterson(c.1840-1899) setting of an old Irish air, arranged by the English organistSamuel Liddle, 1859-1941).


The examples set by McCormack, Olcott and others sparked atrend soon to be exploited ubiquitously on stage, disc and radio by numeroustenors of similar inspiration but more questionable vocal endowment, and weoffer here some samples of a few of the more successful in gramophonicterms.  In the USA the lyricalColin O'More and Seamus O'Doherty, both heard here in traditional fare, appearto have had substantial careers, as did fiddler John Griffin, heard in The RealOld Mountain Dew.  Across theAtlantic, however, the list seems to be more extensive, if lessspecialised.  Radio-tenor DannyMalone is heard in A Little Bit Of Heaven (Ball again, with lyrics by SanFrancisco-born entertainer and writer J. Keirn Brennan (1873-1948), this wasfirst heard in the 1916 Broadway musical The Heart Of Paddy Whack); CavanO'Connor (1899-1997) the Nottingham-born, half-Irish tenor who made literallythousands of records under more than 40 pseudonyms, had a career in the hallsand on radio spanning more than 65 years (Bantry Bay - a song which evokes theexodus from Ireland to America ensuing from various mid-19th century famines,this was the work of Cornolore-born London barrister-turned operetta andsongwriter James Lyman Molloy (1837-1909), now best remembered for \Love's OldSweet Song" and "The Kerry Dance") and Derry-born star of variety, radio and TVJosef Locke (1917-1999) who closes this programme with a favouritecurtain-call, the perennially popular I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.  Not in fact an Irish song at all, butwritten in 1875 by Thomas Paine Westendorf (1848-1923) of Indiana and firstpublished in March 1876 by one of Tin Pan Alley's precursors, John Church &Co. of Cincinnati, this song dates from the days when 'people were unmolestedby zealous "song-pluggers" and new compositions were judged in the home.'

 

By the 1940s judgment at home inevitably came not only viarecords but also, more immediately still, via radio.  In America sales of beer and other consumer goods wereboosted on commercial programmes featuring the American-Irish Morton Downey orsuch tenor imports as Christopher Lynch or John Feeney (of "When It's MoonlightIn Mayo" fame) who, along with the McNulty Family (heard here in the jauntyMother's Silver Bell) was prominent among the ethnic Irish 'discoveries' ofDecca's American president Jack Kapp. And in Ireland itself, as indeed 'across the Water', a liking for'wandering balladeers' never diminished. Mayo-born Delia Murphy (1903-1971), who on one occasion assistedMcCormack in his folk-song researches at the home of Herbert Hughes and laterwon fame on records and radio with The Spinning Wheel, among other favourites,is a case in point, while the Irish penchant for self-mockery continued in theever-popular comic songs of Mayo-born mathetician, engineer, author, painterand singer Percy French (1854-1920). French, once a famous entertainer in his own right on both sides of thePond, is best exemplified by such numbers as "Phil The Fluter's Ball", "AbdulAbulbul Ameer", "Teaching French in Killaloo" and Come Back, Paddy Reilly(published in 1912).


Peter Dempsey, 2003

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Facts
Item number 8120640
Barcode 636943264027
Release date 10/01/2003
Category Nostalgia
Label Naxos Nostalgia
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Performers
Artists Darley, Arthur
Thompson, Bill
Crosby, Bing
OConnor, Cavan
Lynch, Christopher
OMore, Colin
Malone, Danny
Murphy, Delia
ODonovan, Frank
Quinn, Frank
Moore, Gerald
Greenslade, Hubert
Griffin, John
McCormack, John
Sheridan, John
Locke, Josef
Carson, Sam
ODoherty, Seamus
OSiochain, Sean
Darley, Arthur
Thompson, Bill
Crosby, Bing
OConnor, Cavan
Lynch, Christopher
OMore, Colin
Malone, Danny
Murphy, Delia
ODonovan, Frank
Quinn, Frank
Moore, Gerald
Greenslade, Hubert
Griffin, John
McCormack, John
Sheridan, John
Locke, Josef
Carson, Sam
ODoherty, Seamus
OSiochain, Sean
Composers Colahan, Arthur
Olcott, Chauncey
Murphy, Delia
Boucicault, Dion
Ball, Ernest R.
McPeake, Francis
ODonovan, Frank
Graff, George
Hughes, Herbert
Shanahan, J.C.
Waller, Jack
Molloy, James Lyman
Patterson, Johnny
Westendorf, Thomas
Cormack, W.
French, William Percy
Colahan, Arthur
Olcott, Chauncey
Murphy, Delia
Boucicault, Dion
Ball, Ernest R.
McPeake, Francis
ODonovan, Frank
Graff, George
Hughes, Herbert
Shanahan, J.C.
Waller, Jack
Molloy, James Lyman
Patterson, Johnny
Westendorf, Thomas
Cormack, W.
French, William Percy
Conductors Robinson, Eric
Wilbur, Jay
Shilkret, Nathaniel
Munro, Ronnie
Bourdon, Rosario
Young, Victor
Robinson, Eric
Wilbur, Jay
Shilkret, Nathaniel
Munro, Ronnie
Bourdon, Rosario
Young, Victor
Orchestras Family, McNulty
Studio chorus
Studio Orchestra
Victor Orchestra
Family, McNulty
Studio chorus
Studio Orchestra
Victor Orchestra
Producers Dempsey, Peter
Dempsey, Peter
Disc: 1
I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
1 When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
2 The Spinning Wheel
3 Eileen O'Grady
4 Bringing Home the Turf
5 The Garden Where the Praties Grow
6 Open the Door Softly
7 The Jug O' Punch
8 The Irish Wedding Spree
9 On the Banks of My Own Lovely Lee
10 Sittin' on the Bridge Below the Town
11 Connemara Dan
12 Mother's Silver Bell
13 The Real Old Mountain Dew
14 The Boys of Wexford
15 Come Back, Paddy Reilly, to Ballyjamesduff
16 A Little Bit of Heaven
17 Bantry Bay
18 Galway Bay
19 I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
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