The Humours Of Planxty
By Leagues O’Toole
(Hodder Headline Ireland — 2006)
Leagues O’Toole’s book is a must-read for fans of this great Irish band, tracing the histories and musical roots of individual members Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam Og O’Flynn and Christy Moore, and their coalescence in the early 1970s into a formidable unit that changed forever the face of Irish music. As is appropriate for its subject matter, this is a big-hearted, humorous, musically insightful biography that takes the reader through the early days of travelling Ireland and Britain in their famous white van, the critical acclaim, the break and the solo projects, the comeback, the next break and more solo projects, and finally, the glorious ‘third coming’ with the band’s triumphant reformation in 2004.
The book has compelled me to dig out the Live At Vicar Street 2004 live album, and I’ve listened to little else on my iPod for the past week. Among the treasure trove of highlights are album opener ‘The Starting Gate’.
This is a mouth-watering curtain raiser with more ideas within its four minutes than many bands could muster over an entire album; its delicate, intricate opening shifting gears two minutes in; Lunny figuratively cranking the propeller with his vigorously strummed bouzouki chords, and O’Flynn taking us skyward with his gloriously soaring uilleann pipes, and Moore hoisting the bodhrán to bring the whole thing home to a rousing conclusion. Brilliant performance, and a fantastic read. Get along to your library today.