Without Doubt Planxty were
the most influential band in the history of Irish traditional music.
In 1972 Planxty was born out of the recording of Christy
Moore's second album Prosperous. The core members were
Christy, his old school mate Donal Lunny, piper extraordinaire Liam
O'Flynn, and Andy Irvine who was a founding member of the groundbreaking
Irish group Sweeney's Men in the mid-sixties. The four enjoyed each
others company so much during the recording of Prosperous' that
they decided to have a go at making it a full-time adventure. They
released a highly acclaimed single 'The Cliffs of Dooneen' and were
promptly signed to an exclusive recording contract with Polydor
Over the following years the group grew to huge status
in Ireland, Britain and throughout Europe, they recorded two other
albums in the next two years and then split up, with The Planxty
Collection coming out as a good compilation of the first three
albums. Personnel changes along the way included Johnny Moynihan
replacing Donal Lunny (who left to join another band that never
got off the ground although he guested on Cold Blow and the Rainy
Night) in July of 1973 and Paul Brady stepping in for Christy Moore
The original lineup of Christy, Andy, Liam and Donal
reformed Planxty in 1979. They recorded three further albums including
After the Break and The Woman I Loved So Well.
There were several additions and changes to their lineup most notably
the addition of Matt Molloy, flautist from the Bothy Band, and later
with The Chieftains.
Others included fiddlers James Kelly and Nollaig Casey
on Words & Music, Bill Whelan, later of Riverdance fame,
plays keyboards on The Woman I Love So Well as do concertina/fiddle
duet Noel Hill and Tony Linnane. In 1981, Planxty performed a Bill
Whelan arrangement called Timedance as the intermission piece during
the Eurovision song contest, held that year in Ireland, and later
released it as a single (and included on Bill's The Seville
Suite album released by Tara in 1992. Fourteen years later,
Bill Whelan was back doing the intermission piece for another Eurovision
Song Contest in Dublin, with a piece called Riverdance
that launched the Irish dancing revolution. In 1983, Christy Moore
and Donal Lunny left to concentrate on Moving Hearts, with Liam
and Andy pursuing solo careers.
For many that was the end of Planxty with each of
the four prusing successful recording careers. However the four
lads were regularly getting together for private sessions. In October
2003 the band got together in West Clare for a few rehearsals and
a low-key gig in Lisdoonvarna. Which inspired them to put the band
together for a series of Dublin concerts (and 2 concerts in Ennis,
Co. Clare) in 2004. Some of these concerts were filmed by hummingbird
productions and a DVD/CD was released in 2004. This was followed
by a further series of dates in Dublin, Belfast and London at the
end of 2004 and Jan 2005. While further dates are expected there
are no details at present.
Planxty – After The Break (Tara CD3001)
"Originally released in 1979, the re-release on CD is given
as 1992, but it dropped onto my doormat a few short weeks ago. There's
a bit of a mystery here, but I'm not complaining. This was, is and
always be one of the classic, defining albums of the folk revival.
In those far-off days my experience of Irish Music seemed to be
defined by the sweateriness of the Clancy Brothers, the tweediness
of the Chieftains and the beardiness of the Dubliners. Great music,
great songs, but a bit formulaic and stereotyped. Then along came
Planxty and the formulas and stereotypes were blown out of the water.
They were just so undeniably groovy, I suppose....
'After The break' celebrates the five-piece, with Matt Molloy's
wonderful flute complementing the breathtaking skills of Christy
Moore, Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine and Liam O'Flynn. The album consists
of five tune sets and five songs, all arranged with impeccable taste
and played with unerring flair. It's an impossible job to pick a
standout track - as each new piece begins it supplants the previous
one as the all-time favourite. Andy and Christy sing out of their
skins, Matt and Liam play their socks off and Donal keeps the whole
shebang in safe, sure hands.
Nowadays, with Celtic music as an all-conquering globe-spanner,
it's difficult to imagine the impact that Planxty had in their day.
Listen to 'After The Break' and all becomes clear. Groovy or what?"
Alan Rose - The Living Tradition
Back to Top
Planxty – After The Break (Tara Records CD3001)
"It might only be a re-issue but what a re-issue. Planxty
captured at the very peak of their magnificence with the towering
first track ‘The Good Ship Kangaroo’ just for starters. The bouzouki
and mandolin interplay from Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine setting
the scene for Christy Moore’s sublime vocals topped by Matt Molloy’s
flute and Liam O’Flynn’s uilleann pipes – what more could any true
devotee of Celtic music require? You couldn’t in my humble opinion
for here was a band that paved the way for many imitators but were
never (and I do mean never) bettered. The choice of material and
the pace set was so spot on that next to their first (‘Black’) album
I’d rank this as probably my favourite Planxty recording of all
time. With the introduction of Matt’s breathy tones they appeared
to shine as an art-house band so finely polished that it made grown
men want to weep. I remember at the time I was playing alongside
John Bowe at the White Hart in Fulham and everyone in the audience
were requesting if we knew tracks from the record so it just goes
to show how influential it was. ‘You Rambling Boys Of Pleasure’,
‘The Rambling Siuler’ and ‘The Pursuit Of Farmer Michael Hayes’
are all there plus (if memory serves me right) there is the inclusion
of ‘The Bonny Light Horseman’ that never appeared on the original
album but featured on a compilation called the High Kings Of Tara.
Whatever, the recording is an undisputed classic and should be in
every self-respecting folk musicians collection."
Pete Fyfe - Living Tradition
Planxty : "After The Break"
(Colin Irwin review for Melody Maker 15/12/79)
The gravest danger in the resurrection of Planxty
was always that, in attempting to recreate the extraordinary verve
and majesty of their original incarnation, they neglected natural
current instincts and succeeded only in becoming a parody of their
former selves. That they managed with ease to avoid this considerable
pitfall alone makes this a great record.
Naturally there's no conceivable way that "After
The Break" can manage the same impact as their bold debut LP,
purely because "Planxty" came first and hit upon a blend
that evidently inspired all those involved. If "The Well Below
The Valley" and "Cold Blow The Rainy Night" fell
short of it (albeit narrowly) then it was because that sharpness
and charged sense of restrained dynamics had to a small degree dissipated.
On several tracks here notably "The Rambling Suiler",
"The Pursuit Of Farmer Michael Hayes", and two sets of
reels, it's fully recaptured.
Yet the track that defiantly declares that they
are looking ahead and not behind is "Smeceno Horo", a
frantic Bulgarian dance tune that's proved so popular on gigs it
even merits a "FEATURING SMECENO HORO" sticker on the
sleeve. A joker in the pack, it's a complete departure from everything
they've done before, even allowing for some of Andy Irvine's flirtations
with Eastern European music in the past. Undeniably invigorating
and infectious, it's nevertheless my least favourite track on the
record, jarring in relation to the rest of the album, but I admire
their resolve in tackling it. It comes over much more powerfully
The only other real quibbles are that Christy Moore
(on "The Good Ship Kangaroo" and Andy Irvine (on "You
Rambling Boys Of Pleasure") seem to take the understated vocal
style perhaps a shade too far, or maybe the vocals are a fraction
too low in the mix. But these really are details - the arrangements
around both tracks are superb, the instrumental break tagged on
to the end of "The Good Ship Kangaroo", the opening track,
stirring memories of "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" and "Tabhair
Dum Do Lamh", "The Rambling Suiler", a Scots moral
tale of a colonel who dresses up as a beggar and pulls a farmer's
daughter, and "The Pursuit Of Farmer Michael Hayes", a
geographical guide to Ireland through the eyes of a fleeing murderer,
are both vintage Planxty.
Matt Molloy and Liam O'Flynn are at the helm of
the instrumental tracks (two sets of reels and one of double-jigs)
and two things emerge. One is that Liam O'Flynn has become an even
more accomplished piper than he was before, and that Matt Molloy's
brief contribution on flute was greater than it actually appeared
on stage. His blend with O'Flynn is mesmerising here.
This is of course, an essential album.