Paul Brady first came to prominence in 1978, when he released his debut album Welcome Here Kind Stranger. Later in 1978, Welcome Here Kind Stranger was voted Folk Album of the Year by Melody Maker magazine. However, the thirty-one year old Irishman wasn’t a newcomer to music.

Far from it. Music was in Paul Brady’s blood. He was born on 9th May 1947, in Strabane, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. By the time Paul was six, he began learning piano and started playing the guitar aged eleven. This wasn’t surprising. Paul’s father was a music teacher. His talent had rubbed off on Paul, who was determined to make a career out of music.

Paul’s first gig, came in 1963, when he played piano in a hotel bar. By the following year, Paul, who was at University College Dublin, was a member of one of the many R&B bands that were popular. This included The Inmates, who Paul was a member between  late 1964 and April 1965. That’s when they became The Kult. From there, Paul joined Rootzgroup in late 1965, and was with them until. May 1966. After Rootzgroup, Paul spent seven months as a member of Rockhouse between 

May and December 1966. For Paul, this was part of his musical education before he joined one of the most popular traditional Irish groups, The Johnstons.

By the time Paul joined The Johnstons in May 1967, there had been an upsurge in interest in traditional Irish music. The Johnstons were one of the most popular traditional Irish bands. For the first two years, they were based in Dublin. Then in 1969, The Johnstons moved to London, which became their as they toured and recorded. However, in 1972, The Johnstons moved to New York in an attempt to widen their audience. With a huge Irish community in America, this made sense. Sadly, just a year later, The Johnstons split-up in 1973. So Paul returned home in 1974, and joined another popular Irish band Planxty.

When Paul joined Planxty in 1974, they had been together since 1972. The original lineup featured Andy Irvine, Liam O’Flynn, Dónal Lunny and Christy Moore. However, the lineup soon began to evolve, and is best described as fluid. Members came and go. Despite the fluidity of its lineup, Planxty were a hugely popular group. They toured constantly. Sadly, in December 1975, Planxty split-up. This was the end of another chapter in Paul Brady’s career. Another was about to unfold.

This began when Paul Brady and Andy Irvine decided to form a duo. The pair performed traditional Irish folk music. This was still popular. So, in the autumn of 1976, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady recorded their debut album. It was released in December 1976. However, it was their one and only album.

Andy Irvine and Paul Brady continued as a duo right through to 1978. By then, Paul was considering embarking upon a solo career. Eventually, Paul decided the time was right and went his own way.

Now a solo artist, Paul  released his debut album Welcome Here Kind Stranger in 1978. Later in 1978, Welcome Here Kind Stranger was voted Folk Album of the Year by Melody Maker magazine. Having won such a prestigious award, it seemed unlikely that Paul Brady would change direction musically. However, that’s when he did.

For some time, Paul wanted to move more towards pop and rock music. So when Paul released Hard Station in on Polygram in 1981, his fans were in for a surprise.

Hard Station was very different from his debut album. Rock and pop were the two most prominent genres. There was still a folk influence, but it wasn’t as prominent. When critics heard Hard Station the jury was out. Reviews were mixed. The quality shawn through on tracks like Crazy Dreams, Busted Loose, Hard Station and Nothing But the Same Old Story. They would become some of Paul’s best known songs. However, critics weren’t convinced that Hard Station was a cohesive album. For Paul Brady, it was a case of back to the drawing board.

Two years passed before Paul returned with True for You, which was produced by Neil Dorfsman and Paul Brady. True For You was a fusion of AOR, folk and rock. Still, critics weren’t convinced. 

Although the reviews were better than hard Station, still, Paul was winning over some of the critics. However, his popularity was on the rise. That’s not surprising, given the quality of the songs on True For You.  The Great Pretender, Take Me Away and Steel Claw, which was covered on Tina Turner’s 1985 album Private Dancer were just a few of  True For You’s highlights. It seemed Paul Brady’s star was in the ascendancy.

Another two years passed before Paul released his fourth solo album, Back to the Centre. It was released in 1985 and was the start of the most productive period of Paul’s career.

For Back to the Centre, Paul was joined by two of the biggest names in music. Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton was joined by U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr and Loudon Wainwright on backing vocals. They played their part in what some critics called Paul Brady’s finest album.

When critics heard Back to the Centre, they hailed it the finest album of his career.  Tracks of the quality of  Walk The White Line, Deep In Your Heart, To Be The One and Soulbeat pointed at the strongest and most cohesive album of Paul Brady’s career. He seemed to be growing and maturing as a singer with every studio album. Critics and record buyers awaited his next album.

They didn’t have long to wait. Paul Brady released his first live album, Full Moon in 1986. By then, more people had heard of Paul Brady. Tina Turner had covered Steel Claw on her 1985 album Private Dancer. This helped lift Paul Brady’s profile. This meant that it was the perfect time for Paul to release a new album.

On Full Moon, it’s just Paul, accompanied by a tight, talented band as he works his way through eight tracks. Full Moon was a reminder of how good Paul was live. No wonder. He had spent twenty-two years playing live with various bands and as a solo artist. So, it’s no surprise that Full Moon featured a practiced and polished performance from Paul Brady.  That would be the case with his fifth solo album Primitive Dance.

For Primitive Dance, Paul penned nine new tracks. Steal Your Heart Away, The Soul Commotion, Paradise Is Here, It’s Gonna Work Out Fine, The Awakening, Eat The Peach, Don’t Start Knocking, Just In Case Of Accidents and The Game Of Love. These nine tracks were recorded by Paul’s extended band.

When recording of Primitive Dance began, Paul’s wasn’t just accompanied by his usual band. Instead, a number of musicians would make guest appearances. This included a horn and string section plus backing vocalists. However, at the heart of the band were Paul and co-producer Ian Maidman, who were both talented multi-instrumentalists. Ian played bass, guitar, drums, percussion and keyboards. Paul added vocals and played acoustic guitar, keyboards, electric guitar, piano, keyboards, tin whistle, mandolin and percussion. They were joined by drummer Tim Goldsmith, keyboardist Steve Fletcher and Mick Bolton on Hammond organ. Guest artists included Davey Spillane, who played Uileann Pipes on Eat The Peach; while Mark Knopfler played guitar on The Game Of Love. This extended cast of musicians recorded Primitive Dance at Westland Studios, Dublin and Jam Studios, London. Once Primitive Dance was completed, it was ready for release in 1987.

Before the release of Primitive Dance, critics had their say on Paul Brady’s fifth album. Primitive Dance critics believed, was  Paul’s best and most assured album. It was as if everything had been leading to Primitive Dance. After nine years, and four solo albums since Paul Brady changed direction musically, he had released the best album of his career, Primitive Dance, which I’ll tell you about.

Steal Your Heart Away opens Primitive Dance. Washes of keyboards set the scene, before woodblocks are joined by the rhythm section and guitar. They usher in Paul’s heartfelt, needy vocal. Behind him, an eighties sounding arrangement unfolds. That’s down to the drums and keyboards. Having said that, the arrangement doesn’t sound dated. Not with the sprinkling of percussion, hypnotic drums and bubbling bass. At the heart of the arrangement is Paul’s vocal, as he pleas for his partner not to leave. As he does, he combines power, passion and emotion. His vocal powerhouse breathes life and meaning into the lyrics, and whets one’s appetite for the rest of Primitive Dance.

There’s a sense of urgency as strummed guitar and stabs of horns combine on The Soul Commotion. Paul’s vocal has a similar urgency, as he and his band combine elements of country, folk and rock. Meanwhile, the rhythm section, guitar  and keyboards drive the arrangement along, while a myriad of whoops and hollers augment Paul’s vocal. He vamps and whop, before a harmonica is unleashed, as this catchy track reaches a crescendo.

Paradise Is Here has a much slower, understated sound. Just a subtle rhythm section and chirping guitar accompany Paul’s vocal. It has a weary, wistful sound. He can’t give his partner the lifestyle she wants and he’s scared she’ll leave him. As he lays bare his fears and soul, the arrangement builds and quickens. By then, Paul sings: “but I don’t need no high life, to make me feel a man…just put your arms around me, devour me.”

As Paul counts the band in and guitars ring out, it’s obvious that something special is unfolding. That’s the case. It’s Gonna Work Out Fine is one of Primitive Dance’s highlights. Elements of blues,  Celtic Soul, country and rock melt into one. As the rhythm section provide the backdrop for Paul’s joyous,  washes of Hammond organ and cooing, sweeping harmonies are added. Paul seems to grow in stature, as joyously, he sings: “believe me baby, it’s gonna work out fine.”

Straight away, The Awakening has an understated, wistful Celtic influence. That’s still the case when the pounding drums usher in Paul’s vocal. He’s joined by Maire Brennan. She’s the perfect foil for Paul. She’s a restless free spirit, looking for answers. Her tender, ethereal and questioning vocal compliments Paul’s vocal. Together, they make the lyrics come to life. Then at the breakdown keyboards and percussion combine as elements of Paul’s past and present seamlessly combine. In doing so, they create an enchanting and quite beautiful track.

The sound of a radio changing station opens Eat the Peach. It’s like what Paul would’ve listened to growing up. Then it’s all change. The rhythm section, guitars and keyboards bound across the arrangement. Paul unleashes a vocal powerhouse. He doesn’t hold back. No wonder. Life’s for living and enjoy it while you can. He’s not the type of person that’s going to: “that spends a lifetime  wondering if you’re the kind, to break the  mould and see what’s on the other side.” Singer, songwriter, poet and philosopher, Paul Brady is all that and more on Primitive Dance.

Don’t Start Knocking has a much more subdued sound. It’s as Paul’s drawing breath. He delivers a thoughtful, probing vocal. Meanwhile, the rhythm section, piano,  and harmonies accompany Paul. Soon, his vocal grows in power as he pleads: “Don’t Start Knocking…you’re so beautiful.” His vocal is heartfelt, needy and a mixture of hope and insecurity. As it soars above the arrangement, harmonies accompany him. Then at the bridge, Paul returns to his Celtic roots as he combines drama and passion.

Just in Case of Accidents is a piano lead ballad. Paul’s vocal is tender and needy as he delivers the cinematic lyrics. Meanwhile, a viola is plucked as percussion and keyboards augment the beautiful, understated arrangement. It allows Paul’s soulful vocal to take centre-stage, as he delivers the thought provoking lyrics: “terrified of loneliness, terrified of trusting. 

The Game of Love closes Primitive Dance, and again, has another understated arrangement. Just a piano is joined by the rhythm section and guitar. Soon, a plucked viola, harmonies and tin whistle are added. Later the lushest of strings are the perfect accompaniment to Paul’s pensive vocal. It’s the finishing touch to this beautiful, dreamy song about love.

Nine years and four albums after changing direction musically, Paul Brady released Primitive Dance, the best and most cohesive album of his “second” solo career. It featured nine tracks which showcased Paul’s skills as a singer, songwriter and musician. From the soul searching ballads to the joyous, uptempo tracks, Paul Brady could do no wrong. He had come a long way since Hard Station.

Since then, Paul Brady’s star was in the ascendancy. Especially since Tina Turner covered Steel Claw. All of a sudden, people were wondering who Paul Brady was. They were in for a pleasant surprise as they investigated his back-catalogue. It was full of hidden musical gems. That’s the case with Primitive Dance.

Although Primitive Dance found a wider audience than previous albums, Paul Brady was still something of a hidden secret amongst record buyers. Ironically, Paul was better known for writing Steel Claw than for his work as a solo artist. For Paul, that must have been frustrating. However, Paul’s next album was a game-changer.

That was Trick Or Treat. It was released to widespread critical acclaim in 1991, and sold well. What helped was that Trick Or Treat was widely promoted. Previously, Paul’s solo albums hadn’t been particularly well promoted. As a result, they never found the audience they so richly deserved. This includes Primitive Dance, Paul Brady’s fifth studio albums. 

Since the release of Primitive Dance, Paul Brady’s star has been in the ascendancy. Everyone from Bob Dylan and John Prime and Bonnie Raitt have championed Paul Brady’s music. Bob Dylan went as far as to say that Paul Brady was “one of the five artists worth getting out of bed for.”  Once you’ve heard Primitive Dance, you’ll realise why.






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