Irish singer-songwriter Paul Brady is a relatively unsung Great although not in Ireland nor on the basis of the history of these recordings: in October 2001 he booked and played Dublin’s Vicar Street venue over 23 nights, every gig sold out, and with ‘better-known’ guests keen and willing to attend and join in, as with these who appear on this album, the first in a series to commemorate those performances – Mark Knopfler, Sinead O’Conner, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt, Curtis Stiger and Ronan Keating.
My appreciation of Brady yet again reflects one of the many gaps in my musical knowledge. I can’t remember when I first came across him, but I think it was some time in the 80s when a friend will have recorded a cassette tape of one of his albums for me, and I was immediately taken by both the beauty of his singing and the excellent quality of his songwriting. But in that competing world of listening and varying musical proclivities, I never sustained my engagement though dipping in now and then and always being impressed.
This recording then is a fine way for me and any others similarly peripheral – or indeed and obviously the genuine fans – to have superb live recordings of his back catalogue, up to that date, as well as guests who were generously [and apparently typically humbly] allowed/encouraged to sing their own songs. Mark Knopfler makes a fine early appearance with his song Baloney Again, Paul and Sinead duet gorgeously on her In This Heart, Van Morrison duets distinctively on his Irish Heartbeat, Bonnie Raitt is wonderful, twice, on Paul Brady’s Not the Only One and The World is What You Make It, and Curtis Stiger joins on Don’t Go Far, a song he co-wrote with Brady. The backing band throughout is superb.