I first encountered
the magnificent Murphy in 1975, when I was bottom-of-the-bill to him, in
a horrible pub in Acton, West London. (A gig, by the way which we're both
still waiting to be paid for). Noel took the floor (and part of the ceiling)
wearing ancient jeans. a wonderful serene smile, and the rugby shirt of
a considerably smaller man. Within seconds, the Murphy magic was working.
I'd never seen anything like him. He's an amazing singer in the old tradition
who can break your heart with an Irish ballad, and then have you crying
with laughter with songs and stories about beer, banter, and (of course)
I started searching for his records (and some very good ones there were too) but never found one that really captured the true warmth and spontaneity of Noel Murphy "live" with an audience. Well, now at last there is one! In 1997, Noel assembled a fine new set of songs, a splendid hand of first-class folk musicians, and a whole audience-full of friends supporters and partners in crime. He put them all together in that venerable Folk Music venue, The Cabbage Patch Twickenham. All I had to do was switch on the tape machine and record two hilarious, moving, magical gigs. As "live" albums go, this is about the liveliest one you'll ever hear. There's atmosphere by the bucketful. Murphy and the boys play their hearts -out, and the audience are with them every inch of the way.
The album won't win too many prizes from High-Fidelity magazines (for instance, Murphy has a habit of turning his back on his microphones and congratulating the musicians while they're a playing a particularly good bit!) but it does capture the personality of the man the warmth and passion of the audience... and my Goodness me, what a band! For lovers of gentle Irish humor, brilliant traditional music, and large hairy men in rugby shirts telling outrageous gags about bricklayers, this is the real Noel Murphy. ...Doc Cox