August 1, 2021

Peter Stone Brown Archives

Archives of musician and writer

Liam Clancy, November 3rd, 1965

This was Liam Clancy’s solo debut and it received a fair amount of airplay on folk shows at the time. I didn’t get the album back then, though it certainly was on my want list with a classic Vanguard cover. Among the songs that received airplay were “The Royal Canal” and “The Patriot Game”. Twenty years later, when I suddenly had a great desire to hear “The Royal Canal”, I couldn’t find it in the stores that should have had it and had to special order a copy. It turned out to be well worth the effort.

“He was just the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life.” Bob Dylan on Liam Clancy

While the album has a jaunty a cappella version of “Rocky Road To Dublin” with Luke Kelly joining in, it’s on the ballads — such as “Black Water Side,” “The Convict of Clonmel,” “Anac Cuan” along with the previously mentioned songs — that Clancy excels. His singing brings out the poetry found in the lyrics of these songs. Not long after I got this album, Bob Dylan appeared in a documentary on the Clancy Brothers and said of Liam: “He was just the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life.” This album, one of only four solo albums, makes it hard to disagree with that statement.