Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Music Collection – Colm Mac Con Iomaire

From Bob Dylan to Peadar Ó Riada, from Nick Drake to Arvo Part, from Popul Vuh to the Velvet Underground, 10 out-takes from Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s music collection

Colm Mac Con Iomaire. Photo: Richard Gilligan

Tue, Dec 15, 2015, 09:39


Colm Mac Con Iomaire has had a champion year with the release of his excellent second album “And Now the Weather (Agus Anois an Aimsir)” and some great live shows here, there and everywhere, as well as a few 25th anniversary gigs with his old band The Frames. Ahead of his final show of 2015 at Dublin’s Vicar Street this Thursday, Colm has put together a list of tracks and albums which have influenced his music and outlook on music-making over the years. Dig in and enjoy.

(1) Nick Drake “Five Leaves Left”

I got turned on to Nick Drake in the very early 1990s by our friends in the amazing Dublin band Lir. That coincided with our being signed to Island Records, Nick’s former label, so we stocked up on his back catalogue. His albums were the soundtrack to my twenties. Produced by Joe Boyd with mesmerizing guitar playing and haunting vocals, and gorgeous string arrangements by Robert Kirby and Harry Robinson, this is Nick Drake’s musical debut.

(2) The Bothy Band “Afterhours (Live in Paris)

The unsurpassed, archetypal, traditional super-group. Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill’s syncopated Clavinet underpins the blistering melodies of Kevin Burke, Paddy Keenan and Matt Molloy. Add to that the ubiquitous Dónal Lunny on bouzouki and the ever-modest and beautiful singer and guitarist Micheál Ó Domhnaill. A seminal band who lifted the hearts of many. Easily the best live album that I’ve heard.

(3) The Waterboys “A Pagan Place”

Taken from their 1985 album of the same name, this song has a timeless quality and was my introduction to the Big Music. A great band that showed the way forward.

(4) Bob Dylan “Up to Me”

Bob Dylan 'Up To Me' Blood On The Tracks Outtake by Philsuarez7

Marmite to many and winged poet to others, Dylan invented the singer-songwriter genre and brought a literary sophistication to what was previously a whole lot of ‘ooh-baby’. Taken from the “Biograph” album of out takes, this is a sequel to “Shelter from the Storm” from his 1975 break-up record “Blood on the Tracks”. Top lyric: “oh the Union Central is pullin’ out and the Orchids are in Bloom/I’ve only got me one good shirt left and it smells of stale perfume”.

(5) The Velvet Underground & Nico “The Velvet Underground & Nico”

What a trip. Psychedelic New York rock’n'roll meets the Berlin minimalists of the 1930s. A groundbreaking album, John Cale’s dissonant and textured playing is an epiphany. Top tracks “Waiting for the Man” and “Venus in Furs”.

(6) Van Morrison “Astral Weeks”

What Dylan started Van continued with this beautifully painted collection of surreal short sound-stories. So many copies purchased and worn out. Time-stopping and transporting.

(7) Popul Vuh “Garten Der Gemeinschaft (In the Garden of Community)”

I came to this music through the movies of Werner Herzog. German composer Florian Fricke was part of the 1970s’ Krautrock movement and he had a unique flair for a biblical sort of sound. Herzog found his perfect sound ally.

(8) Joe John Mac An Iomaire “Caoineadh na dtrí Mhuire”

Here’s a Paschal hymn that exemplifies the sean nós’ singing tradition of Conamara. These were the songs that I grew up with in Dublin, our house was one full of visiting singers and songs. The singer Joe John died in October 2015. Dia leis.

(9) Peadar Ó Riada “Amidst these Hills”

A timeless and spacious album showcasing Cór Chúil Aodha, the renowned all male choir from the West Cork Gaeltacht of Cúil Aodha. Peadar is the eldest son of Seán Ó Riada and is himself a very accomplished and active composer and musician.This was Peadar’s first solo album featuring his own compositions and the crackle of the fire in the background keeps it real. Highlights: “I’m Long mé Measaim”, “Spórt” and “Aoibhinn Crónán”. (Album is not online but video above of Peadar Ó Riada performing on TG4′s Gradam Ceoil 2008 features some music from that album)

(10) Arvo Part “Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten”

Estonian composer Arvo Part’s elegy to his great musical hero Benjamin Britten. Life and death, joy and sadness, the bursting of contained grief. Very moving music.

Previously in the Music Collection series: Young Wonder, Cloud Castle Lake, The Go! Team, O Emperor, Dave Clarke, Peanut Butter Wolf and Fujiya & Miyagi