THE BARLEYCORN, Ireland's Top Folk and Ballad Group renowned throughout the thirty-two counties, recently completed three outstandingly successful tours of the United States and Canada. Overflow audiences flocked to their performances in Boston, Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto; when appearing in concert in San Francisco, more than 5,000 persons jammed the concert hall.
This album, their first made in America, is the culmination of these tours and is made up of their most frequently requested numbers. The album leads off with their previously recorded smash hit, THE MEN BEHIND THE WIRE. The Barleycorn's single of this tune has sold more copies than any other single record in the history of Ireland. The Irish, who number slightly more than four million, bought over 250,000 copies of this single; its closest competition sold approximately 47,000. In terms of our population, the record would have sold an unprecedented 11 million copies. Brian McCormick, base guitar, sings the lead on this song. Written by Paddy McGuigan, (as are many of the tunes done by The Barleycorn) this song has been recorded by scores of Irish ballad singers both here and abroad.
Tommy Makem's FOUR GREEN FIELDS displays the singing talents of Liam Tiernan, accoustical guitar. This song is reputed to be the most popular contemporary Irish tune.
The banjo artistry of John Delaney is magnificently evident in the reel, SCHOLAR AND THE TEETOTALER. For a man as young as he, (John is twenty) his talent on the banjo is unique. The rousing BROAD BLACK BRIMMER follows and again Liam sings the lead.
Many have said that Paddy McGuigan is a musical genius and he shows his virtuosityin the hauntingly beautiful DERRY AIR. In addition to his talents for writing and arranging music, rhythm guitar playing and singing, he plays memorable harmonica in this rendering of the ancient air. He also sings the lead in the next song, FAREWELL TO CARLINGFORD.
Side two of the album begins with the fast moving IRELAND LIVE ON. Once again Brian is the featured singer, with all the boys joining in the chorus. Another song written by Paddy, IRISH SOLDIER LADDIE, follows with Brian singing the lead. John and his banjo are featured in a group of reels; FERMOY LASSIE, SPORTING PADDY and HIGH REEL.
The 'Civil Resistance' in the Six Counties is the theme Paddy wrote about in the song, FREEDOM WALK. Since his wife Irene took part in a Freedom Walk demonstrating against the injustice of her husband's imprisonment in Magilligan internment camp this song is true to life. The imprisonment was ostensibly for evoking the displeasure of the British authorities by writing The Men Behind the Wire. Liam does the vocal.
A song which is fun to drink and sing to, OUTLAW RAPAREE, has everybody in the act with the group doing the chorus and Brian taking the lead.
BOYS OF THE OLD BRIGADE has been taken as the unofficial anthem of all the prisoners interned in the North, particularly the men in the camps at Long Kesh, Magilligan and the prison ship Maidenstone. The empathy between these men and the writer of the song, Paddy, is understandable since they have shared the sufferings of unjust imprisonment and all desire to be free men in a free Ireland.
Undoubtedly The Barleycorn are best known for their musical treatment of activities dealing with the troubles in the six counties. Since the boys are from Belfast and Down, it is only natural that their music reflects the civil rights and political unrest taking place. It is their belief that Irish self-determination, without any outside influence, is the ultimate solution. One thing they are certain of is that it is not a religious struggle; The Barleycorn happens to be composed of two Catholics and two Protestants.
Many of the activities of The Barleycorn in America have had their beginnings in Hartford, Connecticut. Their first American appearance, sponsored by the Hartford Chapter of Irish Northern Aid, was to an overflow audience in Hartford. It set the tone for a very successful six week tour. Almost naturally, when it became time to make their first American album they again gravitated to the Hartford area. Doug Clark recorded this album, at Creative Sound Studios in East Hartford. Their distributor, Rex Records, is out of Holyoke, Massachusetts, a scant twenty-five miles from Hartford.
(notes by Ken Smith)