Christy Moore,
Unfinished Revolution
(WEA, 1987)

Christy Moore is an icon of Irish folk music. He has played with the top groups through four decades and made a solo career, which was threatened by ill health, but he has bounced back.

Even avid Moore fans often forget the excellent albums he released at a time when neither he nor Irish music was getting its proper recognition. For a time he was seen as being too socialist-minded and the folk scene too likely to offend British establishment figures with allusions to nationalism.

Unfinished Revolution is a great album but not one with a slew of hits. As the title suggests, it is a collection of conscience-tweaking songs.

"Biko Drum," written by Wally Page, recalls the South African struggle and in particular that of Steve Biko -- "Steve is living in a prison cell, all the friends that know hope he's doing well." "Natives" is a cry for understanding, not just in Ireland, but also throughout the world. "For all our languages we can't communicate. The scars of the past are slow to disappear, the cries of the dead are always in our ears."

"The Other Side" is one of Moore's own compositions. As always there is an excellent use of language and a bitter barb in every line. The title is multifaceted -- it is England when women sail for abortions, Ireland when Mrs. Thatcher sends troops and the opposing side in a referendum when "I saw a little Sister of Mercy invoke the wrath of God on polling day."

Moore vents his anger at the lives lived by so many people in his songs. In "Derby Day" he says "dry old men of cloth and silk watched the sport of kings, while down in the town a husband battered down a door, beat his wife around the face and kicked her to the floor." The final verse condemns an Ireland that is passing but not passing quickly enough: "Husband took his own life, wife passed away, Judge donned his veil of sorrow, put the children into care, They became God's little orphans, learned to serve and obey, To be unobtrusive when bishops knelt to pray." Needless to say it was not a hit -- or even played on radio.

In many ways Christy Moore has mellowed so it is worth your while to seek out these earlier gems to relive not the horrors of a few years ago but the courage of singers who turned a spotlight on them.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 15 March 2003