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TIR NA NOG

Prog Folk • Ireland


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Tir Na Nog biography
TÍR NA NÓG are an Irish folk band consisting of multi-instrumentalists Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly. The band was active from 1969 through 1974, and has resurfaced occasionally to perform or reissue material since 1985. TÍR NA NÓG have been cited among the earliest progressive folk bands from Europe, along with the likes of the INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, JOHN MARTYN, DR. STRANGELY STRANGE and THE WAY WE LIVE (aka TRACTOR).

The band was known for detailed and complex instrumental arrangements, and toured throughout Europe and internationally during their brief career, although no live material would be formally released until years after the group disbanded.

Both members have enjoyed solo careers in the band's intervening years, while Condell would form a second group, the traditional Irish folk band SCULLION in 1979.

TÍR NA NÓG are seminal among the first-generation progressive folk bands of Europe, and as such are a logical candidate for inclusion in the Progarchives.

>>Bio by Bob Moore (aka ClemofNazareth)<<

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Tir Na NogTir Na Nog
Import · Remastered
Bgo - Beat Goes on 2001
Audio CD$8.98
$10.00 (used)
Tear & a Smile a/Strong inTear & a Smile a/Strong in
Import · Remastered
Bgo 2004
Audio CD$9.81
$17.98 (used)
SpotlightSpotlight
Hux Records 2001
Audio CD$11.34
$9.98 (used)
Strong in the SunStrong in the Sun
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2012
Audio CD$10.66
$10.66 (used)
Tear & A SmileTear & A Smile
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2012
Audio CD$9.39
$17.92 (used)
HibernianHibernian
Import
Imports 2006
Audio CD$22.31
$21.31 (used)
CollectionCollection
no records 2014
Audio CD$9.98
a tear and the smile LPa tear and the smile LP
CHRYSALIS
Vinyl$8.70 (used)
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TIR NA NOG shows & tickets


  • Tir Na Nog at The Regal Theatre, Tenbury Wells on 8 Oct 2015

TIR NA NOG discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TIR NA NOG top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.12 | 6 ratings
Tír Na Nóg
1971
3.34 | 4 ratings
A Tear And A Smile
1972
2.56 | 5 ratings
Strong in the Sun
1973

TIR NA NOG Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Hibernian
2000
3.00 | 1 ratings
Spotlight
2001

TIR NA NOG Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TIR NA NOG Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TIR NA NOG Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
I Have Known Love
2014

TIR NA NOG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 I Have Known Love by TIR NA NOG album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
4.00 | 1 ratings

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I Have Known Love
Tir Na Nog Prog Folk

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

— First review of this album —
4 stars Irish duo TIR NA NOG is a veteran folk duo that started out way back in 1969, with three full length albums from the early 70's to their name that are all, if I understand matters correct, classics. If I have gotten the facts straight, Tir Na Nog hasn't released much new material since their initial heyday, and as such the release of the EP "I Have Known Love" through UK label Fruits de Mer Records should be regarded as something of an event.

This 4 track EP opens with a cover version of Silver Apples' I Have Known Love, the literal title track of this production, and to me this was a slightly underwhelming affair. A pleasant enough blend of acoustic guitar, violin and playful percussion, nice and easy to hum along to but not much else.

But when Tir Na Nog gets going on their own material I understand the attraction of this band. You in Yellow somehow manage to add a subtle undercurrent of tension to the acoustic guitar, violin and lead vocals construction that I found highly compelling, and the following The Angelus adds a darker tone to the construction and a vocal detail in the chorus that really elevates this composition to something else. Concluding track I Pick up Birds is a less impressive feature again however, at least as far as my taste in music goes, but it's nice to hear this duo switch to a more psychedelic expression on this song due to the use of rougher electric guitars. Those who got the promo version of this EP have been treated to a fifth composition as well, Andria, an acoustic guitars and vocals affair that have a subtle jazz-tinged touch to it, with brief visits from the violin. A very nice song, and one that existing fans of this Irish duo hopefully will find of an album of some kind in the foreseeable future.

Presumably existing fans of Tir Na Nog will know their visiting time as far as this limited edition vinyl production is concerned. There's a few hundred copies available and when they are gone those late to the party won't get a second chance. Apart from that fans of low key, gentle acoustic folk music have an EP at hand here they should enjoy, where the best material holds a very high standard as far as my impression goes at least.

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 A Tear And A Smile by TIR NA NOG album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.34 | 4 ratings

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A Tear And A Smile
Tir Na Nog Prog Folk

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars The Irish Simon & Garfunkel?

Tir Na Nog is probably best known in these parts for having toured together with Jethro Tull. A Tear And A Smile is their second album and my introduction to this Irish Folk duo. This is an album filled with pleasant and cute Folk and Folk Pop songs with only very slight Rock aspects like some drums and the occasional and discrete keyboards. The style and quality varies a bit over the course of the album. Bluebottle Stew for example is a real throwaway and totally silly, while the drowsy Down Day and particularly the gorgeous love song So Freely are just excellent.

While I find enjoyment in many of these songs, I fail to find anything particularly progressive about any of these tunes. Surely, Tir Na Nog are closer to Prog Folk than, say, Simon & Garfunkel are, but actually not very much. I think that Magna Carta and maybe Lindisfarne are good reference points. If you enjoy those bands (which I do) then you might like A Tear And A Smile also. It is clear from listening to this album that these guys have talent and are good at what they do.

Overall, this is good and pleasant music, but by no means essential for Prog fans in general or even for Prog Folk fans

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 Spotlight by TIR NA NOG album cover Live, 2001
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Spotlight
Tir Na Nog Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

— First review of this album —
3 stars ‘Spotlight’ consists of a collection of Tír na nÓg recordings for BBC from the early seventies, along with a couple of live tracks from what I would assume was one of the latter concerts before the duo disbanded. All tracks were recorded in London, either for BBC broadcasts or for live DJ John Peel sessions. The restored quality of the master material is quite good; yet another example of the respectful care prog-friendly Hux Records puts into the stuff they manage to uncover and commit to CD on a regular basis.

Predictably the majority of tracks here are from the band’s third and final album, which makes sense considering the sessions, and particularly the BBC ones, would have been intended to showcase the band to record-buying radio audiences; and that record was in the midst of being finalized and released around the time most of these sessions were conducted. So from a ‘spotlight’ standpoint the album delivers as advertised; but as a solidly representative compilation of the band’s music things could have been a bit better.

Most notably there is only one song from the band’s debut, the relatively low-key “Piccadilly”. For whatever reason neither Peel nor the BBC felt the need to include the band’s debut single, their namesake track off the first album, or even the very mellow but enchanting “Dante”. Too bad, and quite short-sided at the time.

The songs that are here are all solid enough, and like most everything else I’ve ever heard from the band the execution is impeccable. “Come and See the Show” is a quintessential Brit folk revival tune and excellent period piece, as is its bookend “The Same Thing Happening”. On the other end of their musical spectrum the Dylan cover "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” is a delight that is livened up considerably thanks to the addition of bouncing keyboards.

The other cover comes from Nick Drake (“Free Ride”), which also appeared on the band’s third album in 1973. While ‘It Takes…’ really captures Dylan’s musical spirit, “Free Ride” almost comes off as an attempt at a radio-friendly tune, and in that respect I could have done without its inclusion.

Otherwise this is a very solid offering, albeit one that comes well beyond the twilight of the band’s career. Tír na nÓg still lack a truly comprehensive anthology release, and at this point in time one isn’t likely to come. So fans may want to reach out and grab this instead; its accessible, well-produced and covers enough of their career to make for an enjoyable listening experience. Not great, but pretty good – three stars and recommended to fans of the band as well as modern and progressive folk in general.

peace

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 Hibernian by TIR NA NOG album cover Live, 2000
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Hibernian
Tir Na Nog Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

— First review of this album —
3 stars As BGO released all three of the trio's album on Cd format in the mid 90's, TNN came back in the news by reforming and still do a decade later play the odd gig. Although there is sadly no live album of their historical heydays (outside some BBC sessions released on the Hux label), this Live At The Hibernian could just fill that void, despite being recorded two decades later. Indeed by listening to the album, you'd never guess so many years have gone by as the duo sounds fresh and

TNN was obviously in top form that night, dispensing much energy and enthusiasm that even if the crowd was won from the start, it wouldn't have resisted past the opening track?. Most of the group's best tracks were played that night and some even played under a new light. Among the standouts that night was Someone To Dance With, the anthemic So Freely and the head-spinning Driving is simply excellent (O'Kelly's violin is under-rated). But I'll retain the excellent (and new I believe) Venezuela and its Spanish influence. The lengthy Down In The City is also another highlight, in a night that held many. Again so far it's too bad they never had a heydays live album, but then again this one can aptly fill the job if you're not picky. And even should you be, you wouldn't find much to lay your opprobe upon this interesting release.

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 Strong in the Sun by TIR NA NOG album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.56 | 5 ratings

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Strong in the Sun
Tir Na Nog Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

TNN's third album Strong In The Sun is produced by Procol's Matthew Fisher (he adds some organs as well) and it's little wonder we'll find a much rockier ambiance, while the front cover picture was taken by ex-Crimson member Ian McDonald. Released in 73, there was little to indicate this would be the last of their Chrysalis studio effort.

Some of their tracks are now full-blown rock tracks like the poignant Whitestone Bridge or the enthralling and contagious Cinema and its fantastic hookline. No less interesting is the haunting Love Lost with the duo's wordless painful chorus, plus the slight sitar-induced strumming, Most Magical is indeed almost that: magical. A gentle rocker with plenty of folk, but with full instrumentation, including electric piano. The Nick Drake cover of Free Ride is not as good as the original, but it's probably the only cover of his recorded while he was alive. On the quieter folkier side Teeside and the Celtic-tinged Wind Was High are both interesting.

With no further explanation, the duo would disappear off the radar, with no further album (studio, live or compilation) for at least two decades. And there appears no valid reasons either, for SITS was their stronger album to date, even if the duo was slowly losing its pure folk edge in favour of a rockier flavour ( ;o)), but it was still the album from which TNN should be approached if you're coming from the rock realm

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 A Tear And A Smile by TIR NA NOG album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.34 | 4 ratings

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A Tear And A Smile
Tir Na Nog Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Second album from this Irish duo, but this time, they added a few guest, including Latino drummer/percussionist Barry deSouza, who would come on as the invisible third member (he gets some songwriting credits if memory serves). But on the cover of their second album Tear & Smile (released in 72), the pictures shows the duo still a perfect a acoustic pair, even if Condell gives up the percussions and O'Kelly the bass playing.

Some of the tracks are sooooo perfect that you can't help but wondering how these guys never made it big: When I Come Down or the spine-tingling So Freely or the violin-enhanced Lady Ocean are all winners, installing happy hippie atmosphere, while other tracks like Something Happening or Goodbye My Love are more poignant and dramatic. The rest of the album is a bit more-of-the-same, but maybe not as successful either, but one never tires of hearing this album as a whole.

The logical follow-up to their self-titled debut Tear & Smile is a stronger album, one where their association is now fully mature and shining confidence.

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 Tír Na Nóg by TIR NA NOG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.12 | 6 ratings

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Tír Na Nóg
Tir Na Nog Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars Irish folk duo that was part of the Irish folk revival, although TNN sounded neither Celtic, nor Irish. Having been turned down by Island, they signed the very next day for Chrysalis and toured extensively with Tull, ELP and others, building a strong following on the Uni circle. Their self-titled debut album (released in 71) was preceded by a single I'm Happy to Be With/ Let My Love Grow, which was so typical in announcing the duo's freshness and always positive music. Indeed both guitarist played other instruments, but they were most efficient and effective when both strumming away. In some regards they can be likened to Bert Jansch and John Renbourn playing together, Condell and O'Kelly's voices are such a perfect match for each other that you may not realize who is singing. Out of the 13 tracks present on the album, seven are from Condell and five are from O'Kelly, the last being a cover.

This debut album is relatively low key, but holds two of the most important tracks in TNN's discography, the eponymous Jansch-like small epic about their legendary name's origins, which means Land Of Youth, sung with much solemnity and drama; and the fantastically positive Looking Up where the two guitars intertwine over a simple bongo. The rest of the album has a problem living up to these two marvels, but by all means, it's not that it's weak, it's mostly that the afore-mentioned two are so strong, they can't help but overshadow the rest. Out of the pack, if I had to pick two more tracks, I'd probably go for Dance Of Years and Live A Day.

A good debut album, but maybe the weaker of their three historical studio efforts, TNN is well worth owning, but just misses the essential epithet, but it's definitely a good prog folk album. One of the sad thing is that BGO re-issued the album omitting the preceeding single, which would've added much appreciated bonus tracks.

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 Strong in the Sun by TIR NA NOG album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.56 | 5 ratings

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Strong in the Sun
Tir Na Nog Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars Like many folky bands of the early 70s, TÍR NA NÓG decided to electrify their sound somewhat as they progressed, and one gets the feeling that the evolution was not complete by the time of this their third and final album. The generally simple acoustic vibe remains, but rock elements are making headway here and there.

"Whitestone Bridge" is the highlight here, a powerful and excellent track reminding me of MAGNA CARTA's "Ring of Stones" but with a lot more oomph. The mystical element is clear from the lyrics and the music plays to that quality in spite of the aggressive guitars and drums. Unfortunately the title cut also goes where TÍR NA NÓG has not gone before., and where they need not have gone. It is probably their most commercial cut, not bad but just too self consciously catchy and with a rather trite chorus.

While the overall quality of even the mellow tracks is down from their prior release, "In the Morning" retains that nostalgic and timeless feel. "Love Lost" embraces the peace and love far eastern vibe far more than the group had done previously but pulls it off fairly well thanks to some solid playing and mood setting. It avoids that tendency to simply float in a non-pharmaceutical haze.

Perhaps it was simple lack of commercial success, perhaps personality issues, or some other reason, but the TÍR NA NÓG saga ended here, on an album where they failed to reproduce the magic they had conjured before. In spite of the generally tasteful style on which the group could be counted, this finale has grown weak in the shade of intervening years. 2.5 stars rounded down.

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 A Tear And A Smile by TIR NA NOG album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.34 | 4 ratings

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A Tear And A Smile
Tir Na Nog Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars TÍR NA NÓG translates from the Irish to Land of Eternal Youth, a mythical land in folklore. Their use of an Irish language name, and their eminence from that country persuaded me to pick up a couple of their LPs many years ago. After an initial disappointment, largely due to the lack of an overt Irish sound that I expected, I entered a period of re-appraisal, and am happy to conclude that their value and my taste for subtlety have both improved with the years.

So, instead of thinking that TÍR NA NÓG might be an early version of HORSLIPS or an Irish equivalent of FAIRPORT, perhaps a celtic NICK DRAKE or a more proggy DONOVAN or early MAGNA CARTA might be a better reference point. Good taste and understatement are really the bullet points here. Even the psychedelic content that buried many an early 70s effort is subdued. Elusive properties like flow, constructive compositions, and synergy also suffuse this gentle work. Listen to it from beginning to end without interruption, rinse, and repeat several times and you will emerge refreshed, if you have even the vestige of a prog folk soul.

To more concrete subjects, the lyrics, soft yet imposing vocals, simple acoustic arrangements, and virtuosic displaying are all in abundance, whether it be in the bodhran colored "Looking Up", the angry yet resigned "The Lady I Love", or the infinitely romantic and melodic "So Freely". "Come and See the Show" and "Same thing Happening" exemplify their slice of life lyrics and the latter is coupled by fine acoustic strumming. This duo epitomize the "less is more" philosophy at a time when "More is less" was all too often the mantra.

When these guys set out to find a name that fit, they hit the jackpot, for the sound of TÍR NA NÓG has not aged, and can still induce tears and smiles with its simple beauty.

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