Many thanks to RMM for these posts!
Topic: Behind The Scenes: Archival Material On The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem
Posted: 13-Mar-11 22:47
I usually just lurk on here from time-to-time (more when Liam was still alive and posting here, though), but I thought that I would go ahead and post here now since I’ve got something to share.
I recently was doing some archival research in NYC on a totally unrelated research project and decided for the heck of it to look through Teo Macero’s papers from Columbia Records about the Clancy Brothers.
Although I was hoping that there would be more there than there was, I found a lot of things that were new to me and which may be generally unknown (I’m not sure if some of the stuff is already known or not--perhaps some of the knowledgeable folks here can provide more context and explanation for this info and, of course, reactions and comments in general are more than welcome). Some things that I thought were interesting in the collection were:
-Why their Columbia contract was prematurely cancelled (they should have recorded 2 more albums for Columbia), including info on the impact of Tommy Makem’s leaving the group in re: Columbia
-The Clancys and Makem didn’t want the Freedom’s Sons album released; some discussion among Columbia folks about the album not being up to par
-A lot of info on recording sessions and different takes recorded and chosen; indications of different takes being spliced together, different versions of songs being done in same recording sessions, some very brief descriptions of different takes, etc.
-An explanation of why the Fureys did not receive billing on the albums they did with the Clancys, including a contractual legal dispute over the Fureys
-What appear to be handwritten liner notes (or is it an article?) signed by Tommy Makem, I think for the Isn’t It Grand Boys album (might have been for a different one though)--could someone tell me: did he in fact write the liner notes for this album and did the liner notes have something to do with milk carts in his youth and music?
-As an interesting side note, Paddy is referred to as “Patrick” with some frequency in the papers, even when the others are referred to by their nicknames; he is otherwise always referenced as “Pat” and never as “Paddy” by any of the Columbia people; unsurprisingly, for more formal documents, their names usually were listed as Patrick, Thomas, & William Clancy and Thomas Makem
-Lists of original/early choices of songs on some albums (some of which were later replaced by different songs in the final album)
-Some sheet music (single melodic lines, typically handwritten)
-A promo booklet with pictures of them, some of which I had never seen before (no real info included though)
So, if anyone is interested I thought I’d post some of this information on the board (I think it will have to be in multiple posts--I’ll try to put “Behind the Scenes” in each message title so that they will be easy to find/seach for).
I thought the behind-the-scenes back-and-forth about the cancellation of the Clancy’s contract was the most interesting. To set the scene for this issue, let me quote from two items from earlier years fretting about lessening album sales:
Memo from David Rubinson (album producer) to William Gallagher, Jan. 10, 1966:
“The sales of the Clancy Brothers have diminished considerably as their output continues. Each album sells less than the last one for a very basic reason. They do the same damned thing every time. Their reaction to the introduction of any new ideas and new material is certainly less than ideal. They are used to somebody making an album out of some songs they have recorded at their leisure.”
Handwritten note (couldn’t read the signature) [included in the folder for Sing of the Sea (1968)]:
“Their usual format seems to be wearing thin in sales. Would they do anything different - like well-known titles that fit them. What about ‘an Irish Rover’ record? Everything should be explored to revitalize them with something new.”
To be continued...
[Edited by RMM on 13-Mar-11 23:22]
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