Joe Monaghan,
All the Roadside Stops
(self-produced, 1997)

Joe Monaghan from County Wexford, Ireland, has performed for many years around Ireland and Britain. In the 1980s he toured with Christy Moore, and he continues to play regularly in U.S., Germany and holiday resorts in Cyprus and Majorca.

His CD All the Roadside Stops contains a number of very good tunes, many of which may be new to people, but there are also tracks written by Bob Seger and Richard Thompson.

"Supermarket Wine," written by Micky McConnell, is a very good and witty piece of writing with lines like "We called that old car flattery because it got us everywhere." A line from the song gives the album its title.

"Thousands Are Sailing" is an upbeat track concerning that perennial subject of Irish folk, emigration. The twist here is that while there are references to the early days of emigration it also refers to more recent times, when young Irish people received visas in the lottery system of Morrison Visas.

"Cu Chullain's Son" is a very Wexford song written by a local historian and bakery owner. It celebrates a man by the name of Nicky Rackard who was a hero of the county hurling team (a sport like hockey but much better). It is a poignant piece with references to his battle with alcohol.

"Christmas in the Trenches" is from the pen of John McCutcheon and, true to its title, it refers to the legendary football match played at Christmas during the Great War. "Poetry of a Clown" is a lovely Pat Fortune song concerning how a small town treats a simple man and the woman who gives him love. Like all good folk songs it tells us a few home truths with a beautiful tune and is all the more powerful for this.

All the Roadside Stops is an album that bears repeated listening. The arrangements are simple and effective. And these are tracks that we could all imagine ourselves singing -- but would need the years of experience of Joe Monaghan to do them justice.

This may turn out to be a difficult CD to find, but if you like good music it is well worth the effort.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 8 September 2001