The title given to this "master" album, Planxty Aris, is indeed fitting for two reasons. It gives an opportunity to another generation of young people, who are interested in the sounds of Irish folk music and song, to hear top artists together in that distinctive sound which was Planxty. The word "Aris" has two meanings in Gaelic. It means "again" in the context of a second hearing but for many of us who have heard and enjoyed Planxty from its foundation the word "Aris" will mean "encore" as used in praise of performance throughout the world.
This album has taken the individual talents of the four original Planxty members and highlights them in solo performance and together. In the well chosen tracks from the original Phil Coulter produced, " Planxty", " The Well Below the Valley", " Cold Blow and the Rainy Night" and " The Planxty Collection" albums, we hear the distinctive talents of Liam O'Flynn, Andy Irvine and Christy Moore together with the instrumental/arranging talents of Dónal Lunny. In excerpts from the "Cold Blow" album we find Johnny Moynihan who had, at that time replaced Dónal Lunny in the group line-up.
In this collection of distinctive Planxty sounds we find the world-famed uillean pipe talents of Liam O'Flynn in excellent arrangements of "The Kid on the Mountains", "An Phis Fhliuch", "Fisherman's Lilt", "Cronins Hornpipe", "The Dogs among the Bushes", "Jenny's Wedding" and "The Well below the Valley", which is the title of the album from which these tracks are taken. Liam is also strongly featured in "The Old Torn Petticoat", "The Dublin Reel", and the "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" from the "Cold Blow and the Rainy Night" album. From the original "Planxty" album there is the unique "Si Bheag-Si Mhor" which had distinctive success on stage and in a single release. In many of these tracks and others in this collection, Liam is found double tracking on whistle as well as on pipes with excellent effect.
Christy Moore and Andy Irvine share the vocals in this collection and together as Planxty they shared a most successful single release which featured the international hit "The Cliffs of Doneen" on the A side and Irvine's "Yarmouth Town" on the B side. The latter was later released on the " Feast of Irish Folk" album while the "Cliffs of Doneen" appeared in the "Planxty Collection" release. Both songs, the singers and the backing ensured the on-going attraction of the recording.
The other songs included in this collection have made their own mark in the world of folk song. The song "Only our Rivers Run Free", sung by Christy Moore and written by Mickie McConnell just a few short years ago, has already been absorbed into the folk song collections of many students and singers of folk song...and it fits well. The singing and the song tell the story well. The song "Arthur McBride", while not Irish, has an affinity to Irish history and the air and singing of Andy Irvine has made this truck an on-going choice of audiences and record lovers. The other song included in this now compilation "Johnny Cope" is an unusual choice but it has a distinctive lilt and in arrangement it offers both vocal and instrumental opportunity to the performers.
This a colourful album and while the group, in different situations, different membership and in different production, released other albums, the Polydor releases were the first and the freshest of this history making group.
The instrumental backing in these selected tracks highlight the distinctive talents of Dónal Lunny on a variety of stringed instruments and complemented by the instrumental collection of Andy Irvine on hurdy-gurdy, mandolin and guitar, A deep knowledge of and interest in the material, true interpretation of the selected tunes and songs and the mastery of totally compatible instruments makes this Planxty selection a collectors item. The fact that the group is no more and unlikely ever to return, gives this collection a distinctive added value to the followers of Irish folk and the award winning sound of Planxty.