"Way Out Yonder" presents Irvine at his best, applying his voice, mandolin, bouzouki, hurdy-gurdy and harmonica to a mixture of original and traditional material, backed by some of Ireland's finest instrumentalists. While the musical settings are strongly Irish, Andy's interest in Balkan music peeks through occasionally, as on the instrumental title tune. Lyrically, Andy continues to write or adapt songs of political and social awareness such as "Gladiators," about the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies) and their fight against military conscription in Australia during World War II, "Born in Carrickfergus," which personalizes Ireland's religious troubles, the anti-military "When the Boys Are on Parade," and "Moreton Bay," a convict ballad from the early 19th century.
The lighter, more traditional side of Andy's music is heard on "The Girl I Left Behind," his whimsical medley of "They'll Never Believe It's True"/"Froggy's Jug," and a stirring performance of the classic poem "The Highwayman," which sports an arrangement created by Canadian singer and harpist Loreena McKennitt. "Way Out Yonder's" other instrumental track is a delicate and evocative original, "On a Distant Shore," written on a deserted New Zealand beach and including the sounds of those faraway waves.
Andy Irvine has the ideal lineage for his role in extending the traditional music of the British Isles. Born in England in 1952 to a Scottish father and Irish mother, Andy's initial musical interest in jazz and stage music shifted to skiffle, the folk/jugband sound popular in Great Britain in the early Sixties. He learned to play the classical guitar in his teens, and his repertoire expanded to encompass the songs of Woody Guthrie and the traditional music of his homeland.
Moving to Dublin, Ireland, in 1962, Andy joined the city's folk circuit, and in 1966 formed Sweeney's Men with fellow young musicians Johnny Moynihan and Joe Dolan. The group has since been called "the formative electric folk band - the first purist folk band in the British Isles to involve themselves in electric music," predating Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span by several years. During its two years of existence, the group helped ignite an interest in traditional Irish music and recorded two successful singles, including the ballad "Old Maid in the Garret," a Number One hit sung by Andy.
In 1968, Andy left Sweeney's Men and made his first trip "way out yonder," living as a street musician in Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia and absorbing the countries' musical traditions. Upon his return to Ireland, Irvine performed on his own and with others, eventually uniting with the legendary Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Liam O'Flynn to form Planxty, an on-again, off-again Irish supergroup with more of a rock influence than Sweeney's Men.
During a Planxty hiatus in the mid-Seventies, Irvine worked and recorded with singer-songwriter Paul Brady before joining the reunited Planxty from 1978 until its breakup five years later.
Any next recorded his first solo album, "Rainy Sundays...Windy Dreams," and a duo album with the great Scottish singer and musician Dick Gaughan, "Parallel Lines." After brief membership in the band De Danaan, Andy performed in the widely focused but short-lived international band Mosaic, which allowed him to display his Eastern European musical influences.
After the demise of Mosaic, Andy returned to solo and duo work, which grew into the formation of Patrick Street, featuring several members of De Danann. This spectacular lineup recorded three albums between 1986 and 1989 before taking a break, which allowed Andy to record his second album, "Rude Awakening," and to participate in the multi-artist compilation "East Wind," a collection of Bulgarian and Macedonian folk tunes.
Patrick Street regrouped again in 1993 and Andy has toured and recorded with them ever since while maintaining his own career as a solo performer and recording artist.
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2. Moreton Bay
3. They'll Never Believe It's True/Froggy's Jig
4. The Girl I Left Behind
5. Way Out Yonder
6. The Highwayman
7. When the Boys are on Parade
8. On a Distant Shore
9. Born in Carrickfergus