Excerpts from the Sleeve Notes
In this, his first solo LP, we have the pleasure to introduce a modern Bard of Armagh, Tommy Makem. Sparkling of eye, sure of voice, playful of manner, Tommy Makem strikes you immediately as a gifted, distinctive performer of the folk songs of his native Ireland.
Makem is the "odd man out" of the Clancy Brothers quartet. For two years now he has been appearing on concert stages, in night clubs and elsewhere with the Clancy Brothers. But that uncommon quartet — each member a strong individualist, each with a different bent of talent — has also left room for each of its members to be known as a person. The final word on the subject by the only one who could get away with saying it, was offered by Mrs. Joan Clancy, mother of the brothers, when she heard the Tradition album, "Come Fill Your Glass With Us." Said Mrs. Clancy:" You're all great singers, but Tommy Makem is a greater singer than any of you."
This re-mastered "expanded" edition CD is a reissue of the same-titled 1961 LP. CD One is the tracks from the original LP, but the additional tracks (on disc two) are not omitted songs from the 1961 session, these are previously released tracks from other Tradition/CBTM recordings.
In Tommy Makem's first solo effort from 1961, his ability to create compelling renditions of Irish folk classics without the support of long time collaborators the Clancy Brothers comes through loud and clear. Considered by some to be the best singer of the quartet, Makem's performance gives credence to such a claim. Joined by Eric Weissberg (of Dueling Banjos fame) on guitar and banjo, this recording has become a staple in the vast canon of Irish folk recordings.
Highlights on SONGS OF TOMMY MAKEM include "The Foggy Dew" and "Mrs. McGrath." On the latter, as frequently happens in Irish songlore, there is a core of protest and bitterness behind a laughing, lissome theme. Perhaps the best song on this album, however, is "Kitty Magee." On this short but sweet tune, Makem's singing is buoyant and joyous. Performed as a jig, the sprightly dance tune is truly inspired by his love of Ireland.