Great pure drop playing with spirit and attitude
Wonderful CD. Brendan Larrissey (fiddle), Jim McKee (guitar, vocals), Brian Duke (flute) and Martin Gavin (bodhran).
The singing is passionate and moving, the playing spot-on, the arrangements tasteful and innovative. Brian and Brendan play exquisitely together - a perfect blending of fiddle and flute. The accompaniment can be heavy at times but it’s usually restrained and lovely - and often unusual.
I’m looking forward to their next CD. This one is clearly up there with McMahon and Hill, Reed Only, Pride of the West, the Healeys, Morrow and O’Connell, Hill and Linnane and other great duet recordings.
I bought the record on your recommendation. The instrumental part is as you say: tasteful, innovative, rarely heard tunes, extremely well played. The singing I found to be unbelievably bad, not moving, but strange and it is completely out of tune - on many levels - with the rest of the record. Why did they let these songs, arranged in this way, onto the record ?? Feels like: OK, everybody in the band can have the mike for whatever he wants to do…
Alexweger … I totally agree with you.
I bought the album after reading this thread also.
I was surprised with Dukes layed back style but I suppose he had to fit in with Larrisey.
The percussion and singing are so terrible that I have given the cd away as a result.
Some of the guitar playing is alright but way below the standard Arty McGlynn has ever done!
I hope this is their last recording with this line up!
Re-review of my original recommendation
After reading some of the negative reviews posted after I introduced this CD I thought I should go back and listen once again. I would still recommend this CD. Here is a more detailed critique.
The first and second tracks are lovely. Nobody who knows ITM could fault them. The flute and fiddle sound great together. Both are equally strong. Larrisey and Dukes interweave ornamentation and phrasing perfectly.
The first track has an old feel about it, much like Sean Ryan and P.J. Maloney’s old recording on the Avoca label. The pacing on both these tracks is laid back and easy, unlike the driving and intense rhythm so prevalent in some recent recordings. Here are two musicians who sound as if they’ve been playing these tunes together for fifty years.
I like the cello on the third track. It suits the whistle perfectly. I find the smoky, gravelly voice of the singer very appealing. I wish I could hear all the words. It has something to do with a guy working in the city, looking for some dignity and finding meaning in a little piece of Ireland’s flora. It’s a good song even though it doesn’t compare to the modern classic ,“Song for Ireland,” but how many songs do?
Living on your western shore
Saw summer sunsets, asked for more
I stood by your Atlantic Sea
And sang a song for Ireland
The fourth track is a hornpipe, followed by three jigs. I thought this lovely as well. The guitar can be a bit heavy but I don’t like accompaniment of this sort, the chords banged out percussively. I prefer Dennis Cahill’s light hand. And not everybody can play like Artie McGlynn. The waltz that follows is not a distinguished piece of music, but I might come to like it. At present it doesn’t move me — few waltzes get to me at first —but I might like it better as time goes by.
The sixth track is another song. I can’t understand all the words, which is a pity. Again, I find the smoky voice very appealing, and the refrain “for the day that was in her” a lovely expression. “He said good night to all his work friends / He had his dinner on his knee / and he watched it on tv” are lovely lines, followed by “for the day that was in her.” The accompaniment gets heavy at times but overall it is a lovely song about a working man.
Three traditional reels follow, starting with Josie McDermott’s reel. This is great stuff, note for note duet playing with no accompaniment. Pure drop. The guitar thumps in on the second reel and can be heavy. But the fiddle and flute sound great together here and on the third reel, which is a gorgeous setting of The Mountain Top.
Brendan Dukes’ playing on the following air is beautifully phrased. His tone is rich and compelling. The guitar is a bit busy and too forward in the mix. A shame. The air segues beautifully into the following slow reel with all playing. The effect works well.
I won’t analyze or comment on the following tracks. My praise and criticisms apply to those as well: wonderful ensemble playing marred by occasionally heavy instrumental accompaniment on the instrumentals and too much instrumentation on the vocal tracks.
I am delighted to have listened to this album so carefully for yet another time. I would not change my original recommendation. This is a lovely CD played by a tight group of musicians. The songs are original and interesting. There is a lot to like here. The one overall fault would be an over-ambitious attempt to please a large audience base. So we get modern songs and traditional reels and some Breton music as well. But overall it works for me.
I’ve been playing ITM since about 1970. I play fiddle, concertina, and flute. I live in County Clare. Originally this CD was recommended to me by a musician I play with regularly, an all-Ireland senior fiddle winner who plays with a distinguished ceili band. I take her recommendations seriously. This is a lovely CD. To those who are so critical I would recommend another listen. You’re missing a lot to dismiss it so casually. I would recommend this CD to anybody.
I look forward to their next CD.
A respected musician and editor of music books had this to say about island Eddy:
Can’t see why this recording should be at all controversial. The fiddler and flute player are great and the guitar player is at least ok. I don’t mind the songs— they may even be good in their own way, but would probably prefer more tunes. May check out Larissey’s solo recordings. It does seem to me that Island Eddy is a kind of expanded view of contemporary Ireland. The traditional tunes are played in a very clean way with little deviation from traditional style and then you have the contemporary songs, and even a very contemporary sounding air, "Guitar Island."
I just bought a copy (down here in the provinces of New Zealand it can take a while for some things to filter through) and absolutely love it. The singer’s voice reminds me of listening to Kila (yeah, not so trad) and the instrumentals are awesome - great for me to try and emulate the ‘feel’ of the tunes in my own playing since I don’t have much choice of local listening material. Brian Duke’s flute playing is fantastic, although I am not one for such fast vibrato myself that is only a matter of individual taste. I do feel though that the mix of instrumentals and songs is a bit ‘jolting’ due to the juxtoposition of such utterly different styles.
Using our new-found power to edit recordings, I’ve removed the words "Jigs", "Reels".. etc from the listings, and most of the links are now connecting to the tunes in the database.
Track 2, tune 1 - Larry Redican’s is linked to the wrong tune
The tune is linked to Larry Redican’s - https://thesession.org/tunes/2324
the tune played is https://thesession.org/tunes/613 on the here as The Galway
If I change the tune title to The Galway it then links it to The Galway Hornpipe!! I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong, but I would like to suggest that a drop down list is presented showing all tunes + tune types matching the title allowing the correct tune to be selected.