Planxty

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Planxty
Origin Kildare/Dublin, Ireland
Genres Irish folk music
Years active 1972–1975
1978–1983
2003–2005
Past members Christy Moore
Dónal Lunny
Andy Irvine
Liam O'Flynn
Johnny Moynihan
Paul Brady
Matt Molloy
Bill Whelan
Nollaig Casey
Noel Hill
Tony Linnane

Planxty[1] is an Irish folk music band formed in January 1972,[1]:99–100 consisting initially of Christy Moore (vocals, acoustic guitar, bodhrán), Andy Irvine (vocals, mandolin, mandola, bouzouki, hurdy-gurdy, harmonica), Dónal Lunny (bouzouki, guitars), and Liam O'Flynn (uilleann pipes, tin whistle). They quickly revolutionized and popularized Irish folk music, touring and recording to great acclaim.

Subsequently, Johnny Moynihan, Paul Brady, Matt Molloy (flute), Bill Whelan (keyboards), Nollaig Casey (fiddle) and, briefly, Noel Hill (concertina) and Tony Linnane (fiddle) were also temporary members.

Planxty broke up twice, first in December 1975[1]:220 and again in April 1983.[1]:306 The original quartet reunited in October 2003[1]:316 and their final performance (to date) was on 31 January 2005.[1]:324

History[edit]

Formation and first run (1972-1975)[edit]

Christy Moore and Dónal Lunny had been friends since school days in Newbridge, County Kildare, Lunny having taught Moore how to play both guitar and bodhrán.[1]:3–17 Before the formation of Planxty, Lunny had been playing in a duet with Andy Irvine after the latter's return from Eastern Europe[1]:83–84 and they had also launched their own folk club, downstairs at Slaterry's, called The Mugs Gig.[1]:95 Liam O'Flynn was playing in public and on the radio, and was well respected in traditional folk circles.[1]:93–94 All members were familiar with one another’s work to varying degrees, but were first brought together during the summer of 1971 to record Moore's second solo album, Prosperous, at his sister's house, in the village of the same name.[1]:79–91

In January 1972, the four joined forces to form Planxty,[1]:97–100 recording their first single, "Three Drunken Maidens"/"Sí-Bheag, Sí-Mhór", in Trend Studios on 18 January 1972.[1]:101 The band performed on RTÉ's The Late, Late Show the following Saturday,[1]:102 and played their first show on 6 March, a 30 minute set at The Mugs Gig on a bill that included balladeer Paddy Reilly.[1]:103 They then assumed a weekly residency at The Mugs Gig, began rehearsing, and started playing live around Ireland.[1]:104

The group's first major performance–opening for Donovan at the Hangar in Galway, at Easter 1972–was a huge success.[1]:112–116 Neither the audience nor the band knew what to expect, and both were pleasantly surprised. Irvine, unable to see the audience through the glare of the stage lights, was worried that the crowd might be on the verge of rioting. It took him several minutes to realize that what he was hearing was the expression of their enthusiasm.[1]:112 A rough quality recording of the song "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" from this concert was included on the 2004 retrospective, Christy Moore - The Box Set: 1964-2004, complete with the audience's reaction.

Planxty’s first single, "Three Drunken Maidens", was released by their manager Des Kelly’s label, Ruby Records, reaching no. 7 in the Irish charts. The next single, a re-recording of "The Cliffs of Dooneen", previously recorded for the Prosperous album, made it to no. 3. Two full albums followed: Planxty,[1]:129–145 recorded at Command Studios in London[1]:144 during September 1972,[1]:132 and The Well Below the Valley,[1]:169–186 recorded at the Escape Studios in Kent, from 18 June 1973.[1]:170

The group’s increasing popularity led to heavy touring throughout Ireland, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and northern Europe.

Tired of constant touring and wishing to explore other musical avenues, Lunny left Planxty at the start of September 1973, playing his last gig with the band at the Edinburgh Festival.[1]:184–185 He would eventually end up a member of The Bothy Band. Johnny Moynihan, who had played with Irvine in Sweeney's Men, joined at this point, playing mandolin, bouzouki, fiddle, tin whistle and singing. This line-up, with contributions from Lunny, would record Planxty’s third album, Cold Blow and the Rainy Night[1]:189–202 in Sarm Studios, Whitechapel in London during August 1974.[1]:192–193

Next to leave, shortly after the making of this album, was Moore, who had a desire to return to his solo career and perform from a larger repertoire of songs.[1]:207 The split was amicable, and while Paul Brady was recruited to fill the gap in September 1974,[1]:209 Moore stayed on with him in the band until October.[1]:214 After his departure, the Irvine/Moynihan/Brady/O’Flynn line-up toured extensively, but released no recordings before playing their final show in Brussels on 5 December 1975.[1]:220

Reunion and second run (1978-1983)[edit]

After the break-up, Moynihan retreated into obscurity, continuing to perform occasionally, but rarely recording.[1]:254 Irvine and Brady toured together as a duo and, in August 1976, recorded an album at the Rockfield Studios, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady,[1]:243–247 produced by Lunny who also plays on most tracks, and with Kevin Burke on fiddle. For a while, Irvine continued to tour with Brady in Ireland and in the UK, and also with Mick Hanly, predominantly in Europe. In 1978, Brady released a solo album (Welcome Here Kind Stranger) including Irvine, Tommy Peoples and Lunny, who also produced it.[1]:247

The original four members of Planxty, however, continued to encounter each other socially, on the stage, and in the studio.[1]:253 This eventually led to a reunion encouraged by music promoter Kevin Flynn,[1]:254–256 who would become their manager. They were joined this time by Matt Molloy, who had been a member of The Bothy Band with Lunny and was also a close friend of O'Flynn's.[1]:256–257 Starting rehearsals at Molloy’s home on Tuesday, 19 September 1978,[1]:259 this line-up would go on a mammoth European tour the following year, from 15 April to 11 June 1979, during which the band played forty-seven concerts in fifty-eight days, in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Ireland.[1]:259–262

From 18 to 30 June 1979, Planxty recorded their fourth album, After the Break, at the Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, produced by Lunny and released on the Tara Records label.[1]:262–267 Molloy would leave the group to join The Chieftains shortly after the album was recorded,[1]:268 and remains with them to this day. In between the Planxty activity, Irvine squeezed in tours in Europe with Lunny, Mick Hanly and Gerry O'Beirne. He also recorded his first solo album, Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams, at Windmill Lane Studios in late 1979, produced by Dónal Lunny and released on Tara Records in 1980.[1]:273–274

On 28 February 1980, Planxty headlined the Sense of Ireland concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. When they returned to Ireland, they recorded two programmes for RTÉ at the Pavilion Theatre in Dún Laoghaire, then started rehearsals at Kilkea Castle in Castledermot, County Kildare with two musicians from County Clare: concertina player Noel Hill and fiddler Tony Linnane. The six-member line-up of Moore, Irvine, Lunny, O’Flynn, Hill and Linnane were joined by Matt Molloy and keyboardist Bill Whelan, to record the band's fifth album, The Woman I Loved So Well, at Windmill Lane Studios over two periods: 23–29 April and 16–19 May.[1]:275–281 The album was wrapped up with a reception at Windmill Lane Studios on 9 June 1980.[1]:280

The band began touring as a four-piece during the summer of 1980, playing a tour of Italian castles in July and returning to The Boys of Ballisodare festival on 9 August, joined by Whelan and a young Cork fiddler, Nollaig Casey.[1]:281–282 Shows around this time would feature the four-piece band for the first set, with Whelan and Casey joining in for the second set. This line-up played a week of shows at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin on 18–23 August 1980,[1]:283 taped for a potential live album, which eventually emerged in 1987 as the unlicensed release The Best of Planxty Live.[1]:283–285 This line-up, augmented by a full orchestra and rhythm section, would also record "Timedance" in 1981 as part of the Eurovision Song Contest; "Timedance" was the genesis for what Whelan would later develop into Riverdance.[1]:296–299

The six-piece Planxty continued to tour, but began to drift apart. O’Flynn took on a project with Shaun Davey, The Brendan Voyage.[1]:287 Moore & Lunny, eager to experiment with a rhythm section and a different, more political, song set, formed Moving Hearts.[1]:290 Lunny also kept busy producing albums by other artists. The original four-piece line-up played their last show together on 24 August 1982, at the National Stadium in Dublin.[1]:301 Nevertheless, the band (with Whelan and Casey still on board) recorded one final album at Windmill Lane Studios for the WEA label in late October and early November 1982, Words & Music,[1]:301–304 which also featured contributions from fiddler James Kelly and Moving Hearts bass guitarist Eoghan O’Neill.

The divided attention of two bands proved too much and, in early 1983, Lunny and Moore left to concentrate on Moving Hearts.[1]:304 Irvine, O’Flynn and Whelan decided to continue as Planxty, retaining fiddler James Kelly and also recruiting Arty McGlynn of County Tyrone on guitar, plus Galway’s Dolores Keane on vocals and a plethora of traditional instruments.[1]:304 Irvine would later dub this line-up "Planxty-Too-Far", as the personnel and musical focus, now more dominated by Whelan, was far removed from the original Planxty.[1]:304

A tour of Ireland in spring of 1983, including the National Stadium in Dublin on 27 April, would be the end of the group.[1]:306 In the words of Andy Irvine:

No Disco Documentary (2002-2003)[edit]

In late 2002, broadcaster and journalist Leagues O'Toole was working as presenter and researcher for the RTÉ television show No Disco and convinced the programme editor, Rory Cobbe, to develop a one-off documentary about Planxty.[1]:309

O'Toole proceeded with interviewing Moore, Irvine and O'Flynn but Lunny, who was living in Japan, was unavailable. After also shooting links at key landmarks from the Planxty history,[1]:310–314 the programme aired on 3 March 2003, receiving a phenomenal response from the public and some very positive feedback from the Planxty members themselves. In a final comment about the constant speculation of the original line-up regrouping, Moore had stated, on camera: "There's nobody longs for it more than myself and the other three guys. Definitely the time is right. Let's go for it".[1]:314

"The Third Coming" (2003-2005)[edit]

On Tuesday, 7 October 2003, O'Toole received a postcard from Moore reading: "There might be something of interest happening on Saturday. I'll be in touch".[1]:316 It turned out that Paddy Dougherty, owner of the Royal Spa Hotel in Lisdoonvarna (and co-founder of the Lisdoonvarna Festival), had arranged for the band's use of the hotel's old dining room for rehearsals, which led to a one-off concert there in front of 200 people on the 11th of October, 2003.[1]:316 The Planxty magic had been rekindled and it was a night of high emotion, hilarious banter and soaring music during which Moore, on stage, credited the No Disco documentary with inspiring the reunion.[1]:316

Pleased with the results and the experience of playing together again, the original Planxty quartet agreed to the longed-for reunion (dubbed "The Third Coming"[1]:xii) and would perform together again, on and off, for a period of just over a year.

First, they played a series of concerts at the Glór Theatre in Ennis, County Clare (on 23 & 24 January 2004) and at Vicar Street in Dublin (on 30 & 31 January and on 4 & 5, 11 & 12 February 2004),[1]:317 which were recorded and from which selected material was released on the CD Live 2004 and its associated DVD.

In late 2004 and early 2005,[1]:322–326 another round of concerts took place at the following venues:

Planxty remained a four-piece throughout this period, with Moore occasionally playing keyboards. Since then, there has been no further activity; Moore has said he would not participate in another reunion, but gave his blessing to the others for their future use of the Planxty name.[citation needed]

The Humours of Planxty (2006)[edit]

Leagues O'Toole documented the history and development of the group in the biography The Humours of Planxty, which was published by Hodder Headline in 2006.[1]

LAPD (2012-2013)[edit]

Friday, 20 January 2012[2] ushered in the inaugural gig, at Dublin's Vicar Street, of a quartet including three members of the original Planxty, calling themselves 'LAPD',[3] after the initials of their first names: Liam O'Flynn, Andy Irvine, Paddy Glackin, and Dónal Lunny.[4]

Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam O'Flynn and Paddy Glackin as 'LAPD', March 2012.

They played a set combining tunes and songs from the repertoires of:

  • Planxty: "Jenny's Wedding/The Virginia/Garrett Barry's", "Paddy Canny's" ("The Starting Gate"), "The Jolly Beggar/The Wise Maid", "Arthur MacBride", "As I Roved Out (Andy)", "The Blacksmith/Blacksmithereens" and "West Coast of Clare"
  • Irvine & Lunny: "My Heart's tonight in Ireland/West Clare Reel", "Braes of Moneymore", "Suleiman's Kopanitsa", "The Dream/Indiana", "O'Donoghue's" and "Siún Ni Dhuibhir"
  • O'Flynn & Glackin: "Kitty's Rambles/Humours of Ennistymon", "The Green Island/Bantry Hornpipe", "Young Tom Ennis/Nora Crean", "A Rainy Day/The Shaskeen", "Two Flings", "Speed the Plough/Colonel Fraser" and "The Gold Ring".

'LAPD' have occasionally performed together since then,[5][6] to rave reviews.[7][8]

Etymology[edit]

"Planxty" was a word used by the classic harper Turlough O'Carolan in many of his works, and is believed to denote a tribute to a particular person: "Planxty Irwin," for example, would be in honor of Colonel John Irwin of Sligo. "Planxty" is thought to be a corruption of the Irish word and popular toast "sláinte", meaning "good health."

A type of primarily melodic Celtic music first named on paper in the 17th Century. Many of the purported seven or eight hundred folk compositions recorded for posterity by the Irish harper (harpist, bard and minstrel), Turlough O'Carolan (d. 1698) are named, “Planxty”. Unlike the singular musical structure of a Hornpipe(dance) or Air(lilting melody), Planxties may combine both dance and melodic styles and tend to be relatively complex. Planxties may have been all ballads at some point in time, howsoever in dance or melodic form, and citing patronage to notable persons. Almost certainly in consideration of the patronage for his works, including what may have been deemed vulgar language associated with them would have made his career less successful. And, as in all Celtic Tales, there are, to this day, numerous versions told and embellished by local storytellers throughout Celtic lands. Perhaps also for this reason O’Carolan did not write lyrics along with the compositions he put to pen. Additionally, during O’Carolan’s time, it was illegal to write anything at all in Gaelic. Translating into English may not have been in his skill set at all.

But, writing music was perfectly legal. And that he did prolifically. Considering the vast number of Celtic compositions O’Carolan wrote, it may have been a matter of practicality or preference not to write lyrics at all, allowing him more time to record music (generally considered to be over 700 compositions). It is quite common to credit O’Carolan’s compositions entirely as his own original works. However, it is much more likely he wrote out the way he played pieces that included folk music elements of his time. Of all of the unique dance and melodic Celtic music that he wrote, almost are lost.

References:

Oneil’s Music of Ireland [9]

The Ancient Music of Ireland [10]

Carolan-The Life and Times of an Irish Harper [11]

Others claim that the word is not Irish in origin but comes from the Latin "plangere," meaning to strike or beat.

During the penal law era of Ireland's history, songs sung in Irish were outlawed, and it is believed that the use of the phrase "Planxty", followed by the name of the composer, was to disguise the composer's true identity ("Planxty" being logically assumed to be the first name of the composer), while still giving them credit for the song.

Another possible explanation is that it is derived from the Latin Planctus, a medieval lament.

Regardless of its origin, the moniker, which replaced the provisional "CLAD" (Christy - Liam - Andy - Dónal), turned out to be a good fit, as O'Carolan's music would play an important part in the band's repertoire. (see "Influences", below).

Influences[edit]

A formative influence on Planxty, and in particular on Moore, was the singing of Irish Traveller John "Jacko" Reilly who hailed from Boyle, Co. Roscommon. It was from Reilly that Moore learned "Raggle Taggle Gypsy", which was recorded for the first Planxty album, in addition to "The Well Below the Valley," which appeared on The Well Below the Valley. Moore later dipped into Reilly's songbook again for an updated version of the lengthy ballad "Lord Baker," which was featured on Planxty's 1983 album Words & Music. ("Baker" appears to be a mondegreen for the "Beichan" of earlier versions.) Reilly died in 1969 at the age of 44, shortly after being found beneath his coats in the top room of his dwelling in Boyle by Tom Munnelly, who had originally collected his songs for archiving.

The music of Turlough O'Carolan appeared on a number of Planxty albums (including the B-side of their very first single), played by O'Flynn on the pipes. Much of this music first came to the attention of the band through the work of seminal Irish composer Seán Ó Riada and his group Ceoltóirí Chualann.

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • 1972: "Three Drunken Maidens"/"Sí Beag, Sí Mór" – 7" single (Ruby 152)
  • 1972: "The Cliffs of Dooneen"/"Yarmouth Town" – 7" single (Polydor 2078-023)
  • 1981: "Timedance"/"Nancy Spain" – 12" single (WEA IR 28207); 7" single (WEA IR 18711)
  • 1981: "Timedance"/"DJ Version" – 7" single (WEA IR 18711)
  • 1983: "I Pity the Poor Immigrant"/"The Irish Marche" – 7" single (WEA PLAN01)

Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • 1987: The Best of Planxty Live – a two-cassette live album compiled from shows at Olympia Theatre in Dublin, 18–23 August 1980. Unauthorized release by their former manager Kevin Flynn (PLANX MC01), stopped by court injunction.
  • 2004: Live 2004

Anthologies[edit]

  • 1976: The Planxty Collection—Includes "The Cliffs of Dooneen"
  • 1984: Planxty Arís–Released in Ireland only; includes "The Cliffs Of Dooneen" and "Yarmouth Town."

Compilations[edit]

  • 1973: Kertalg 73: 2ème Festival Pop'Celtic (France - Barclay CPF 920 452 LP)—Contains live recordings from the festival on July 22, 1973 of "Si Bheag Si Mhor ," "Jig," "Raggle Taggle Gypsy"
  • 1980: Nyon Folk Festival (France - Cat Music CAT 81004/05 LP)—Contains live recordings from the festival in July, 1979 of "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" and "Smeceno Horo"
  • 1980: High Kings Of Tara (Ireland - TARA 3003)—Irish-only V/A; includes then-exclusive Planxty tracks "Lord McDonald"/"The Chattering Magpie" and "The Bonny Light Horseman" (subsequently added to the CD and digital releases of After The Break); also includes previously unreleased Andy Irvine / Dónal Lunny track, "General Monroe", as well as the Planxty set: "First Slip"/"Hardyman The Fiddler A & B"/"The Yellow Wattle".
  • 1986: Irish Folk Festival (Sound CD 8)—Dutch-only CD; includes "Timedance" and "Nancy Spain"
  • 1992: The Seville Suite (Tara CD 3030) - credited to Bill Whelan, features exclusive Planxty reunion studio track "Timedance '92"
  • 2004: Christy Moore: The Box Set 1964-2004—Includes an early live recording of "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy" live at City Hall, Cork; "Three Drunken Maidens", and the previously unreleased Planxty outtake "Down In The Valley".

With Christy Moore[edit]

  • 1971: Prosperous (Trailer LER 3035 LP) - Christy's second solo album, where the members of Planxty first came together.
  • 1983: "Easter Snow" / "The Knock Song" (WEA IR 9591 45)—7" single, with Planxty members on "Easter Snow". Republished on The Christy Moore Collection 1981–1991
  • 1985: Ordinary Man (WEA 0706 & WEA 0763 LP) - Planxy featured on the track "St. Brendan's Voyage"

Filmography[edit]

  • Planxty Live 2004 (2004), DVD

Bibliography[edit]

  • Huntington, Gale; Herrmann, Lani; Dr Moulden, John, eds. (2010). Sam Henry's Songs of the People. Athens, GA and London: The University of Georgia Press. ISBN 08-2033-625-4. 
  • Irvine, Andy (1988). Aiming For The Heart (1st ed.). Germany: Heupferd Musik Verlag GmbH. ISBN 39-2344-501-6. 
  • Irvine, Andy (2008). Aiming For The Heart: Irish Song Affairs (2nd expanded ed.). Germany: Heupferd Musik Verlag GmbH. ISBN 978-3-92-344505-9. 
  • Irwin, Colin (2003). In Search of the Craíc. London: André Deutsch. ISBN 02-3300-004-6. 
  • Moore, Christy (2000). One Voice: My Life In Song. London: Lir/Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 03-4076-839-8. 
  • Ó Callanain, Niall; Walsh, Tommy (1989). The Irish Bouzouki. Ireland: Waltons. ISBN 07-8661-595-8. 
  • O'Toole, Leagues (2006). The Humours of Planxty. Ireland: Hodder Headline. ISBN 03-4083-796-9. 
  • Planxty (Songbook) (1973). London: Mews Music.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo O'Toole, Leagues (2006). The Humours of Planxty. Ireland: Hodder Headline. ISBN 03-4083-796-9. 
  2. ^ Reviews from 'ticketmaster' website. Retrieved on January 2, 2014
  3. ^ Information sheet for LAPD. Retrieved on January 2, 2014
  4. ^ L. O'Flynn, A. Irvine, P. Glackin, D. Lunny (Interview) (December 9, 2012). Miriam O'Callaghan Meets - LAPD (Podcast). Dublin: RTÉ Radio 1.  Retrieved on January 2, 2014.
  5. ^ Schedule from Vicar Street website. Retrieved on January 2, 2014
  6. ^ Schedule page from LAPD website. Retrieved on January 2, 2014
  7. ^ Review: Andy Irvine and Friends [A performance by LAPD]. Retrieved on January 2, 2014
  8. ^ Review of LAPD in Irish Times, March 2013. Retrieved on January 2, 2014.
  9. ^ O’Neill, Francis Oneil’s Music of Ireland New York: Oak Publications, 1976.
  10. ^ Runting, Edward The Ancient Music of Ireland Dublin: Walton Publications.
  11. ^ O’Sullivan, Donal London: Routledge and Keegan Paul.