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Tír na nÓg

Tír na nÓg - In The Morning - 1999 - Kissing Spell

An album of demos from the great Irish folk rock band, Tír na nÓg, recorded in Dublin, Ireland, in April 1970, and only officially released ten years ago. These demos secured the duo a record contract with Chrysalis Records. The duo's music was never easy to label. Although Leo and Sonny were both Irish, they never indulged in traditional Irish folk songs. Their music was more of an experimental blend of folk music similar to The Incredible String Band, ,The Natural Acoustic Band, or Dr Strangely Strange. Their music was often compared to Simon and Garfunkel, and the song "Two White Horses" is definitely reminiscent of S&G's sound. The duo's songs had a beautiful delicate charm about them. Examples of these wonderful songs include, "Time Is Like A Promise", "Two White Horses", "Daisy Lady", and "Aberdeen Angus", all composed by Sonny Condell. In The Morning" also includes covers of Paul Simon's "Patterns" , Leonard Cohen's "The Story Of Isaac", Donovan's "To Susan On The West Coast Waiting", Dylan's "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry", and Joni Mitchell's "Songs To Aging Children Come". A wonderful song selection that compliments the duo's own songs perfectly. Check out Leo and Sonny's "A Tear and a Smile" and "Strong In The Sun" albums. Try and listen to Sonny Condell's solo 1977 "Camouflage" album, and Leo O'Kelly's "Proto" album. Sadly, these albums can be very hard to obtain. As is to be expected, sound quality on these early demo recordings varies, but the album is very listenable, and very enjoyable. Listen to Sonny Condell's lovely "Daisy Lady" song @ Daisy Lady sung by Celine Carroll and Siobhan Lennon


1. "Patterns" - Paul Simon
2. "Our Love Will Not Decay"
3. "Mariner Blues"
4. "Time Is Like A Promise"
5. "Daisy Lady"
6. "In The Morning"
7. "Two White Horses"
8. "A Day In The Hay"
9. "The Story Of Isaac"- Leonard Cohen
10. "Aberdeen Angus"
11. "To Susan On The West Coast Waiting"- Donovan Leitch
12. "Dante"
13. "Maude And Co"
14. "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry"- Bob Dylan
15. "Songs To Aging Children Come"- Joni Mitchell
16. "My Flower Will Not Fade"

All songs composed by Sonny Condell except where stated.


Sonny Condell - vocals, guitar, bongos
Leo O'Kelly - vocals, guitar


Although they only lasted five years, Tir Na Nog managed to make their brief time in existence count, and fans of '70s folk still sing their praises warmly. Formed in Dublin in 1969, the duo of Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly were making the right music at the right time. Although influenced by traditional music, their compositions followed the singer/songwriter bent of the time, and the blend of two voices and two guitars did their material justice, light, airy, and thoroughly engaging, with bits of tabla and exotica — although definitely not as quirky as contemporaries Dr. Strangely Strange. However, it wasn't until 1971 that they issued their eponymous debut, which put them firmly in the same territory as Fairport Convention, Magna Carta, and Fotheringay — in other words, on the fringes, although they proved popular with a number of BBC disc jockeys, including John Peel, who played their work on the radio. It certainly helped that they toured a great deal, moving between the folk clubs and more lucrative college circuit, where they created a decent following, seemingly in a constant support slot. However, the exposure wasn't enough to really boost them into the second division, let alone the top league, in spite of the crowd sing-along favorite "Aberdeen Angus" always being requested. When the acoustic angle didn't bring stardom, the pair decided to go for a more conventional route, moving more toward rock for 1972's A Tear and a Smile, which proved to be neither fish nor fowl, but remained with one foot tentatively in folk, the other in rock, as if trying to be all things to all men — and failing. The following year came Strong in the Sun, by which time they'd decided to be more of a rock band fronted by two singers with acoustic guitars — a pretty fair compromise. Their best-known disc, it was produced by former Procol Harum member Matthew Fisher, and contained "Free Ride," which became their signature song. The record raised their profile, but still couldn't break them through to the other side, and in 1974 they split up, with Condell going on to form Scullion. Over the years they have got back together for occasional Tir Na Nog shows, one 1995 gig being commemorated on Live at the Hibernian, recorded in Birmingham, England, although the sound quality was execrable, and not worthy of commercial release. © Chris Nickson, allmusic.com


Tír na nÓg are an Irish folk band formed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1969 by Leo O'Kelly and Sonny Condell. They are often considered as one of the first progressive folk bands with other artists like Nick Drake or group like Pentangle. Their music mainly consists of their own compositions, based on strong Celtic roots and typically featuring intricate acoustic guitar playing and close harmony singing. In their early years, they toured the folk clubs of the United Kingdoms or internationally as a support act for several rock bands. Today, they regulary give concerts, especially in Ireland. From 1971 to 1973, Tír na nÓg made three studio albums which were highly acclaimed by critics but didn't receive a big commercial success. The 1975 compilation The Camera & the Song, containing two tracks that they performed for the eponymous BBC TV show, was the only witness of their live performance for twenty-five years until their first live album was released in 2000. A compilation of some of their live tracks recorded between 1972 and 1973 for the John Peel's radio show, was also published one year later. Sonny Condell came from Newtownmountkennedy, a remote place in the Wicklow Hills. His early musical influences were mainly classical music. Before Tír na nÓg were formed, he played with cousin John Roberts as Tramcarr 88. They recorded one single before the break up of the band. Leo O'Kelly came from Carlow. He was influenced by heavy rock, including Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground and The Doors. Before the formation of Tír na nÓg he played in several bands starting with local Carlow beat group The Word before joining The Tropical Showband and Emmet Spiceland, with whom he toured. O'Kelly and Condell met in Dublin in 1969 and discovered a shared ambition to be singer/songwriters. They started playing together, taking the name Tír na nÓg from Celtic mythology, and writing a song of the same name, which recounts the legend of Tír na nÓg. They travelled to London and began touring the folk clubs, and rapidly secured a recording deal with Chrysalis Records. Tír na nÓg made three studio albums between 1971 and 1973. The first was called Tír na nÓg and was produced by Bill Leader. It achieved Melody Maker Album of The Month on its release on May 1971. It featured mainly their own songs, strongly rooted in the Celtic tradition, but also influenced by eastern music. Condell and O'Kelly played acoustic guitars and occasional bongos and other percussion instruments. Their guitar work was intricate and complex, leading to their being compared to bands such as The Incredible String Band and Pentangle. However, their style was quite distinctive. Often, they would use different open tunings for their two guitars. Their second album A Tear and a Smile was released in 1972 and produced by Tony Cox. This featured similar material to the first album. However, with their third album Strong in the Sun (released in 1973), produced by Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher who also played keyboards on the album, they introduced more electric instruments and drums. From Alan Robinson's 2004 liner notes to BGO's reissue of this and the previous album on one CD: "..Certainly, of the three original Tír na nÓg albums, 'Strong In The Sun' is by far the most conventional, most mainstream, although that's not to say that Fisher had ironed out all of the band's entertainingly whimsical rough edges. Fisher gave a bit of a more clearly-defined shape and a greater depth to their sound, neatly framing the duo's contrasting vocal styles." Robinson also remarked that this high quality album didn't "reverse the duo's sales fortunes" and that it opened with "that rarest of things," a Nick Drake cover, "Free Ride." As well as the folk club circuit, Tír na nÓg also toured internationally, as a support act for various rock bands, including Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, The Who and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The radio presenter, John Peel, promoted their music and they performed a number of live sessions for the BBC. After the break up of Tír na nÓg in 1974, they both returned to Ireland to pursue solo careers. Condell recorded a solo album called "Camouflage" in 1977 and went on to form the band Scullion with Philip King, Greg Boland and Jimmy O'Brien Moran. O'Kelly pursued a career as a producer and has also released solo albums. Tír na nÓg reformed in 1985, releasing the single "Love Is Like a Violin", and have toured sporadically since then. Two more albums have been produced: Hibernian in 2000, a 1995 live performance in Birmingham, and Spotlight in 2001, from the original John Peel BBC radio sessions.


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