Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Planxty in their prime

Universal Music Ireland has released a modestly-priced CD & DVD package devoted to my favorite Irish trad band, Planxty. Entitled Between the Jigs and the Reels: A Retrospective, it doesn't appear to be officially available in the US thus far, but it can be obtained from Ireland or the UK without much difficulty if you look around. As far as I can tell, all of the tracks on the CD have been released previously (though a couple were new to me), but it's nice to have them together. The DVD is a different story: it's more than two hours and forty minutes of wonderful archival footage of the band during its heyday (the footage spans the years 1972 to 1982), and although some of it has been out there in one form or another much of it I had never seen. (A disclaimer warns that some of the archival material may have imperfections because of the quality of the source material, but I didn't find that to be an issue at all.)

Planxty last reunited for a series of concerts in 2005, and word is that it's unlikely that they will do so again, although all of the original members — Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, and Liam O'Flynn — are still around and performing, sometimes in various combinations with each other. If their work together has run its course then this retrospective is a nice summing-up.

Below: Planxty from 1973 performing "Raggle Taggle Gypsy," with the famous transition into "Tabhair dom do lámh." Leagues O'Toole describes this arrangement as "possibly the first ever attempt to play a folk song straight into a traditional tune by an ensemble of Irish musicians."

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