In Person At Carnegie Hall (CD Reissue)

The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem

Columbia / Legacy, 2009

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


My decision to acquire this album was based on the historic nature of the era rather than the music. Let me say that I was pleasantly surprised by In Person At Carnegie Hall by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. It presented not only a nice picture of the times but was extremely entertaining and held my attention for about two hours – not many albums can make such a statement.

A vinyl version of this album has been in my collection for decades; I must have picked it up at a garage or tag sale and probably played it once before filing it away.

This two-disc CD release is nothing like the original issue. The two sets that made up their St. Patrick’s Day concert in 1963 are presented in their entirety. That’s two hours of music here versus less than forty minutes on the original. The dialogue between songs is also presented intact, which give the proceeding a more authentic and intimate feel. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were stars in their native Ireland. They were a traditional folk group specializing in Irish songs of love, work, drink and rebellion. Their songs of rebellion had a little bite behind them despite the upbeat nature of their presentation.

They were also very Catholic and their jokes and conversation about this fact are interesting given the future political troubles of their country. They also make fun of President John Kennedy about nine months before his assignation, which characterizes the simplicity of the time.

Highlights of the first set include the purity of their vocal harmonies on the traditional “Haulin’ The Bowline,” the musical comedy of “Mr. Moses Re - Tooral- I Ay,” and the humorous but pithy political statement of “Johnson’s Motor Car.” The dialogue between many of the tracks is some of the best ever recorded live.

The second set is led off by the brilliant “Children’s Medley.” It is a mini musical for friends gathered around the fireplace. Songs such as “Jolly Prince Charlie,” “The Whistling Gypsy,” “The Jolly Tinker” and “The Parting Glass” still hit the spot over four decades later.

In Person At Carnegie Hall finally gives The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem their due as a classic concert is returned to its entirety. The booklet with liner notes presents an excellent history of the group and the concert. A special note by Liam Clancy, who is the only surviving member of the group, is particularly poignant.

While the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem would never gain immense popularity in the United States, they would continue to tour and were a highly influential folk group to many of the artists that would emerge in the 1960’s, including Bob Dylan, who stated that Liam Clancy was the best ballad singer in folk music. The original release reached number sixty on Billboards charts and they would accept an invitation to play at the White House before President Kennedy.

I would recommend In Person At Carnegie Hall as a definite buy. Not only is it a glimpse into a musical era long gone, it’s an entertaining way to wile away two hours.

Rating: A-

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© 2009 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia / Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.