The Best of Paul Brady
Review by Steven Stone
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CD Stock Number: Compass Records 74329 2
I brought this CD with me to the recent consumer electronic show in Las Vegas. Every time I played it people asked me "Who is that?" When I told them they eagerly jotted down Paul Brady's name. One listen to any cut on this "best of " compilation is almost sure to elicit a similar reaction. Paul Brady's music demands to be taken home and cherished.
Brady's musical career began in the late 60's when he joined the Irish traditional band, The
Johnsons, with whom he recorded seven albums. After a brief solo stint he then joined the band Planxty in 1974, where he remained for the next four years. After two years performing in a duo with Andy Levine, Paul Brady became a solo act known for his interpretations of traditional Irish material. In 1981 his album
Hard Station featured new songs that veered away from his traditional material toward original pop music. Five more albums have followed, all featuring his unique songwriting skills. After years of writing alone, in the late 1990's Paul began to collaborate with other songwriters. In the space of two years he's produced almost 50 songs.
Oh What a World, released in 2000, features his collaborations with Carole King, Will Jennings, Ronan Keating, Conner Reeves, and Mark Hudson. On this latest release we have a chance to sample Paul Brady's material from 1981 right up to the present.
Most songwriters excel at either lyrics or melodies. Paul Brady is among the rare few who are equally adept with both sides of the songwriting equation. Not only are his songs melodically beautiful, his lyrics are moving. The first song on the album, "Nobody Knows" illustrates this point elegantly. The soaring ascending melody compliments his poignant bittersweet lyrics. Brady supplies not only the lead vocals but also the keyboards and drum program. Jeff Pocaro's percussion and Michael Landau's electric guitar complete the orchestration. Musicians on
The Best of Paul Brady include Bela Fleck on banjo, Ron Wooten on drums and percussion, Betsy Cook on keyboards, Tommy Moore on bass, Jimmy Faulkner on guitar, Elliot Randall on guitar, Bonnie Raitt on vocals, and Victor Wooten on bass.
Although the selections on The Best of Paul Brady are from recordings made over a twenty years span, the overall sound quality is remarkably consistent. Simon Heyworth's high resolution re-mastering does a superb job of making even the oldest cuts sound as inviting and au current as the latest ones.
Paul Brady deserves a much wider audience. If you are among the uninitiated, this release is just the thing to bring you into the fold. I dare you to listen just once.
Sound Quality: 90