For most artists, an anthology is just an excuse to repackage the best of. Dancer In The Fire, then, is a best of in a sense, but one that eschews travelling the same ground as the actual Paul Brady best of, Nobody Knows. Instead, it’s an artist’s assessment of past achievements which, the singer says, “might have not got a lot of attention or been that well-known”.
Brady has a huge catalogue to plunder, even when he avoids selecting from his latest, 2010’s Hooba Dooba. Growing up in Strabane on the Irish border, he was at college in Dublin in the mid-60s and perfectly positioned to be involved with the upswing in enthusiasm for traditional Irish music. A member of The Johnstons, he then went on to replace founder Christy Moore in Planxty before recording the 15 solo albums from which Dancer… is culled.
Much is made of Brady’s eclecticism. In truth, it’s not quite as evident as suggested, but these are well-crafted singer-songwriter pieces (Steel Claw was covered by Tina Turner on Private Dancer) that have a touch of Irish lilt about them even though, at times, they are rather mid-Atlantic as well. It’s a well-chosen résumé, though; or a good starting-point for newcomers.