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Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer

23 Apr 17 - 06:00 AM (#3851958)
Subject: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST,Curious Fan

I am a huge fan of Liam and his brothers (and their work with Tommy Makem and Louis Killen).

I am sure most, if not all, of you are familiar with Bob Dylan's assertion that Liam Clancy was "the best ballad singer [he] ever heard in [his] life".

I wonder what your opinions might be - good? great? one of the greats among many fine balladeers over the years of modern history?

I am particularly fond of Liam Clancy's straightforwardness - he called his guitar skills "boxing-glove style", in reference to his self-proclaimed limited abilities.

He also performed around the world with run-of-the-mill, inexpensive guitars of the quality that one might find in nearly any average instrument shop. In a world where certain people's "signature model" guitars can cost upwards of a thousand US dollars on the low end, enjoying a heartfelt performance by a true talent who played a $250 guitar was, and still is, refreshing.

Liam Clancy... shall we discuss?


23 Apr 17 - 06:38 AM (#3851971)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Dave Hanson

I liked him a lot, a fine singer without doubt.

Dave H


23 Apr 17 - 07:00 AM (#3851976)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST,Curious Fan

Oh, I agree - there's something so magical about a person who sings with such passion and yet never comes across as histrionic or insincere.

There were more than a few critics over the years who called the Clancys "shallow" or "actors who sang" rather than "true" folksingers, whatever that means.

I happen to think that their forays into acting HELPED their singing career, since they likely felt they needed to approach songs as though they MEANT every word - I think it's hard to sing songs you don't believe in, lyrically or philosophically.

Yes, Liam was a great one. A finer foil for Tommy Makem could never have been found, either. Like big brother/little brother in their duo years, and always great fun.


23 Apr 17 - 09:15 AM (#3851997)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Mrrzy

Marvy, indeed. But Tommy Makem also *wrote* magnificent ballads...


23 Apr 17 - 09:51 AM (#3852002)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST,Ray

It's mostly down to the material and you don't need an expensive instrument to present it. I remember being on the same bill as the late great Cyril Tawney one night who played a modern Kay guitar; the sort that, at the time, you could have bought in Woolworths.


23 Apr 17 - 10:34 AM (#3852007)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Elmore

I've read that remark that Dylan made about Liam being a great ballad singer. I'm sure he {Dylan} meant ballad in the broadest possible sense . Liam had an excellent voice, and, as suggested above, his acting experience may have made his delivery equally special. However, to my knowledge he seldom tackled the "big" ballads.


23 Apr 17 - 10:56 AM (#3852010)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: meself

$250!! Utter extravagance! The guitar I use cost me $150....

..........

Not to take anything away from anybody, but - I wonder how old Dylan was when he made that 'ever heard in my life' comment?

Anyway - always liked Tommy Makem. And that's not faint praise; that's about as praisey as I get.


23 Apr 17 - 12:33 PM (#3852018)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Jim Carroll

"meant ballad in the broadest possible sense"
You have that right
"ballads" in Ireland, particularly had an entirely different meaning to the commonly accepted one
Thw "Ballad Boom" in the sixties referred to what was happening at The Clanc0y's and other such concerts - as Billy Connolly described it, "four pullovers claiming to be "Wild Rovers".
I remember thinking all my birthdays had come at once when we saw the hundreds of signs on bars reading "Ballad evening tonight" - not a real ballad in sight.
To add to the confusion, "ballad sellers" (usually Travellers), plied their self-printed "ballads" (song sheets/broadsides) around the fairs and markets right up to the mid-fifties - a few had ballads on them, most didn't.
Liam Clancy's and Tommy Makem's mothers were both fine traditional singers recorded by the BBC in the 1950s
Sarah Makem once shocked a collector by telling him, "Our Tommy is a lovely lad, but he can't sing"
Jim Carroll


23 Apr 17 - 12:50 PM (#3852021)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

Slightly inaccurate Jim. What she actually said was she did not know he could sing. Take a look at the RTE Documentary film on YouTube
kind regards


23 Apr 17 - 12:51 PM (#3852023)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Jim Carroll

Thanks Nick
I was told it differently - thanks for the heads up
Jim


23 Apr 17 - 03:00 PM (#3852041)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST,Curious Fan

Hey - how did we get to talking about Tommy Makem? ;)

No worries, though; Tommy's a hero of mine, as are the Clancys as a group.

Yes, I am aware that when Dylan said "ballad", he meant songs like "Carrickfergus", not necessarily the 25-verse lyrical epics that some of you are referring to.

A true original, Liam was.

Speaking of The Bard Of Armagh, by the way - this August marks ten years since his passing. I know I miss Tommy and all the Clancys.


23 Apr 17 - 08:42 PM (#3852068)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Rapparee

I liked them from the first time I heard "Brennan on the Moor" on the car radio -- I think I was 18 at the time. If my wife and I don't have all of the Clancy/Makem records it's not for lack of trying.


24 Apr 17 - 07:20 AM (#3852127)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST

Liam is my absolute favourite. I have every note he ever issued in my collection. I've researched almost every Clancy/Makem etc song that I have.

In my opinion, he was a performer first and foremost. By all accounts a superb actor (see him do Robert Emmet's 'Speech From The Dock' attached)

He is easily the best performer I have ever seen on a stage and that includes Sinatra, Springsteen and many other well regarded performers.

I can talk about him for hours. Bring it on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5Amf1RE0AA


24 Apr 17 - 08:40 AM (#3852138)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Gavin Paterson

That was me directly above. This damn cookie thing!


24 Apr 17 - 09:08 AM (#3852141)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST,Beachcomber

I knew Liam fairly well and even did a little business with him, selling his surplus stock of CDs back in the 1990s. He was a very fine "ballad" singer (Jim Carroll correctly has it that "ballad sessions" in Irish Pubs were not necessarily confined to that type of song). He took the Ireland of the 1960s by storm, along with his brothers and Tommy Makem, with their energetic brand of performance. It had to be experienced live, I have always believed, to really get the very best from it.
His brother Tom had a really fine voice also, possibly with a greater vocal range ?.
Their acting experience (They were regular "off-broadway" thespians in the 1950 -60s before the "Folk Revival" took hold in New York) must have been of great benefit when they switched to being mainly singers.


23 Apr 18 - 08:31 AM (#3919357)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Lighter

On NBC-TV's "The Danny Thomas Show" in 1963:


https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoSMBeQN4WQ


It was the first time many of us had heard them


23 Apr 18 - 01:18 PM (#3919437)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: keberoxu

This is a private recording (YouTube) of
Quiet Land of Erin


23 Apr 18 - 11:37 PM (#3919534)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST

None better, except for......


24 Apr 18 - 02:08 AM (#3919538)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST

He played Martin, Goya,Fylde,Yamaha and Takemine 6 strings, Gibson and Guild 12 strings..not cheap//


26 Apr 18 - 12:11 AM (#3920018)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Elmore

Saw him perform many times, but appreciate him more now in my "golden years." I wish he and Tommy were still with us.


26 Apr 18 - 11:01 PM (#3920244)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST

Wow! The Quiet Land of Erin is a pure gem. Couldn't make out hardly any words but the matching of the guitar playing to the sentiment is superb. So much of folk music is - imho - over-produced. This is just gorgeous. Gopherit


28 Apr 18 - 01:31 PM (#3920701)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Lighter

Also great (but very different) on "Quiet Land": Mary O'Hara and her harp, ca 1957.

This performance was a quarter century later:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCKttVBkaHE

Mary's singing strongly influenced Liam. The English version of the song was written by her sister, Joan.


28 Apr 18 - 03:21 PM (#3920737)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST,Pat Cooksey

Liam was a decent guy and a very good singer, stayed with him in Ireland several times.


28 Jun 20 - 02:42 PM (#4061905)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST,Pat Chessell

He may have used a cheap guitar on their first couple albums but only nice ones after that...


28 Jun 20 - 04:51 PM (#4061924)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: The Sandman

i think there was an influence of the theatre in his singing, he was a very skilled presenter and performer as well as   singer.


28 Jun 20 - 05:56 PM (#4061929)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: Mrrzy

Pat Cooksey, where? When I honeymooned in Ireland, back at the dawn of time, the locals resented them terribly when I visited the Clancy's hometown.

We didn't stay anywhere we didn't know from a Clancy Brothers (with or wirhout Tommy Makem) song.


28 Jun 20 - 05:56 PM (#4061930)
Subject: RE: Liam Clancy As A Ballad Singer
From: GUEST,Keith Price

I thought Liam was an excellent ballad singer played with him many times in Mooneys pub. An Rinn Waterford.