Bobby Casey - Casey in the Cowhouse: The Unique Music of Bobby Casey (Bellbridge - 001 - 1992)
Recorded on a Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder in a converted shed behind Junior Crehan's house in 1959, this is in my opinion the finest example of Bobby Casey's playing to be made available commercially. Four of the tracks were recorded by Bill Leader in 1971, and they will be familiar to anyone who owns the wonderful Bow Hand Records album 'The Spirit of West Clare', but the greater part of the album was made when Casey was in his early-thirties, playing for friends in a relaxed, informal setting. 'Taking Flight' is surely one of the finest unaccompanied fiddle albums recorded, but the spontaneity, freedom, and immediacy in Casey's playing makes 'Casey in the Cowhouse' stand out from every other recording of this great fiddler that I have heard.
Ciarán Carson writes wonderfully of Casey's playing, and particularly of the music which can be heard on this unpretentious and deeply personal recording: "There is a lonesome note in Bobby’s music, but also devilment and wit, a razor-sharp awareness of the possibilities of a tune, of how a subtle twist to a conventional run of notes can transform what until then seemed mournful into something wry and funny. The humour is deadpan and sometimes wicked." Carson's evocative description of the personality which pours out in Casey's playing is taken from a short essay which can be read here.
Casey is joined by Tommy McCarthy on concertina for two tracks, and by his son Seán Casey, who plays mandolin on the final track of the recording. 'Casey in the Cowhouse' was only released on cassette, and although the recording offered here is a composite of the best parts of two separate copies, there are still a number of artefacts which severely affect the quality of the sound reproduction.
Many thanks to JS and JC for providing the two copies from which this has been put together.
Those who would like to hear Bobby Casey's playing free from the artefacts associated with low-quality reproduction can buy the excellently-restored and professionally-mastered Bow Hand Records album 'The Spirit of West Clare' from a number of retailers including Copperplate Distribution, Celtic Grooves and, oddly-enough, Asda...
There is also a nice clip of Bobby Casey playing with uilleann piper Tommy Keane which you can view here.
1. The Glen of Aherlow/Rolling in the Barrel [Reels]
2. Jenny's Welcome to Charlie [Reel]
3. My Love is Fair and Handsome [Reel]
4. The Musical Priest [Reel]
5. The Shores of Lough Rea/Clancy's Dream/Scully Casey's/The Banks of Lough Gowna/Brian O'Lynn [Jigs]
6. Paddy Ryan's Dream [Reel]
7. Toss the Feathers [Reel]
8. Poll Ha'penny/Murphy's [Hornpipes]
9. The Yellow Tinker/The Bunch of Keys [Reels]
10. The College Groves/Toss the Feathers [Reels]
11. Hurry the Jug [Set Dance]
12. Gerry Daly's/Scully Casey's/The Cuckoo/The Western [Hornpipes]
13. Banish Misfortune/Kitty's Rambles [Jigs]
14. The Old Wheels of the World/The Green Fields of America [Reels]
15. Connemara Stockings/The Ships are Sailing [Reels]
16. The Gallowglass/The Legacy [Jigs]
17. Miss McDonald [Reel]
18/ Farewell to Miltown/The Star of Munster [Reels]