Music ages, songs grow, lose or gain new meaning. There are the classics, which stand the test of time, they’re symptoms of a specific moment, as much a symbol of history as any page in a book.
It seems to be that Irish music, more than most, is a product of its own history. In each of its manifestations, be it punk, folk, prog-rock or pop, there’s the audible struggle, a resonating, brutal honesty in both the music and its lyrics.
There are literally hundreds of albums that tell their vibrant stories of the Irish experience, spin their fables like the troubadours of old. But to make it hard for ourselves, we thought we tackle ten. By no means the best ever, or a consolidated list, these are ten albums which we believe show the influence of Ireland on its music and music on our Ireland. Glasses up to the composers of history!
SINEAD O’CONNOR – The Lion and The Cobra
In your face, emotional and powerful, an elegant whisper with a banshee’s scream, the debut album of a 20 year old O’Connor helped shatter the boundaries of pop.
THE FRAMES – Fitzcarraldo
There’s a bitter tenderness on Glen Hansard’s debut, something which would define his musical style to date. One of Ireland’s greatest living poets.
THE UNDERTONES – The Undertones
Teenage Kicks the standout track, a teenage rebel yell that retains its power to this day, is backed up with tracks full of the anger and turbulence of an entire generation.
VAN MORRISON – Astral Weeks
Another debut from a man who would change the face of music, it’s a story about of life and its fragility told through the mind of another of Ireland’s greatest poets.
DAMIEN RICE - O
A traditional songwriter in the most perfect of moulds, who rose to fame after busking his way across the world. A bard by all accounts.
THE POGUES – If I Should Fall From Grace With God
The love, the havoc, the beauty and the tragedy in the music of the Pogues is not only a warning to chaos and excess but a picture of Ireland in itself.
THIN LIZZY - Jailbreak
The album which broke America and went some way to building the hard-rock genre. Hard riffs, blues grooves and songwriting packed with epic narratives handed the Dublin boys only an iota of the fame they truly deserved.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE – Loveless
The alt-rock bible, the Dublin boys created a soundscape which remains iconic to this day, taking two years to produce and almost bankrupting their label.
VILLAGERS – Awayland
Ireland’s modern troubadour, he’s another of Ireland’s archetypal musicians with a poet’s eye. Awayland is a balance of all Irish music has had to offer.
CHRISTY MOORE – Live at the Point
Named by RTE as Ireland’s Greatest Living Musician, Christy’s true power was in his ability to entertain an audience. This album captures Irish folk at its finest.
What do you think? Did we miss anyone out? Who would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below.
Cover photo courtesy of Helge Øverås