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Dancer In The Fire – A Paul Brady Anthology
Double compilation shows depth of major Irish artist
Jackie Hayden, 24 May 2012
Strabane man Paul Brady has enjoyed a pivotal role in Irish music history. He played with the seminal Planxty, duetted with Andy Irvine, made several classic rock albums and had his songs sung by a welter of grade A stars, from Tina Turner and Santana to Dolores Keane and Ronan Keating. So the almost two-dozen personal favourites that comprise Dancer In The Fire: A Paul Brady Anthology serve as a monument to his enduring talent. They are a reminder that the treasury of delights he’s gifted us is not limited to the obvious hits which were assembled on his 1999 collection Nobody Knows – The Best Of Paul Brady. Then this is the man once invited by Bob Dylan to show him how to strum ‘Arthur McBride’!
It kicks off with the robust ‘Hard Station’, a song that has endured in substance more than its inspiration ‘Baker Street’. Brady takes Hank Williams’ ‘You Win Again’ and injects it with raw emotion, and does a similar refurbishing job on the trad staple, ‘Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore’. His frantic version of ‘Duncan And Brady’ takes time to reveal its depth. However, he’s arguably at his best in the exultant ‘Crazy Dreams’ and the wistful ‘The Long Goodbye’. ‘Steel Claw’, well covered by Tina Turner, has a fresh vocal take added to the original recording. Brady can also take a song of leaving such as ‘I Am A Youth That’s Inclined To Ramble’ and imbue it with a breathtaking pathos, while on the winning pop of ‘Smile’ he’s joined by legendary bassist Danny Thompson and delivers a vintage vocal performance.
Brady’s generous and personal cover notes add to the pleasure. In sum, this new compilation is further evidence of Paul Brady’s status as a genuine national treasure.