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Hearts and minds
In the run-up to the long-awaited reunion gigs by the legendary eighties folk-rock-jazz band Moving Hearts, Jackie Hayden talks to saxophonist Keith Donald and percussionist Noel Eccles.
Jackie Hayden, 05 Feb 2007
I mention the thorny subject of radio play, hazarding the observation that there are now opportunities for the kind of eclectic and challenging music Moving Hearts make to get exposure form the likes of John Kelly, Donald Helme, John Creedon and others. But from Keith Donald’s perspective, little has changed over the decades.
“Irish radio is in thrall to advertisers and doesn’t perform the service it set out to do. It’s scandalous how little opportunity there is on Irish radio for new Irish product. It’s an absolute outrage. Apart from the few specialist programmes, by and large they’re swimming against the commercial pressures and I think it’s misguided.”
While Donald’s current listening tends towards past jazz such as a recently-discovered 1968 album by English saxophonist Tubby Hayes, Eccles is a big fan of Snow Patrol and tells of his niece, when she heard him listening to the latest U2 album, saying, “But Uncle Noel, aren’t you too old to be listening to U2?” Eccles laughs, but his listening habits reflect how Moving Hearts is a band from which virtually no influences are debarred.
I talk of a rumour from the mid ‘80s about Moving Hearts planning an album with country and Irish legend Big Tom. Sadly, neither man had heard of it. Donald’s response of “Jesus wept” suggests it’s not an idea that would have appealed to him, while Eccles reckons it wouldn't have been a good career move for either party. When I suggest it might have been the brainchild of Clive Hudson who was running WEA, to whom both acts were signed, Donald replies,“ I would have to question Clive’s state of mind that day, if it was him who thought of it.”
In the early days Moving Hearts’ songs dealt with a variety of issues: nuclear holocaust (‘Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette’), colonialism (‘Irish Ways And Irish Laws’), American terrorism (‘Allende’) and corruption in the Irish legal system and Gardai (‘Open Those Gates’). Such overt dabbling in politics, generally missing from contemporary Irish music, saw the band being branded with Irish republican sympathies. The absence of a vocalist this time around means no songs with political leanings, so does this reflects a softening of attitudes?