THE PLAYLIST | 5 Essential Irish Collaborations

The common ground artists share creates a platform for wider appeal, introducing both artists to new audiences. Presented here are some unique, rarely repeated collaborations between Irish artists. Some you may be familiar with, others are ripe for discovery, but they all hold a unique brilliance of their own.

#1. Clannad And Bono – ‘In A Lifetime’

Some consider this not just a great collaboration, but one of the greatest songs in Irish popular music. Both voices compliment each other perfectly. The atmospheric, vocal acrobatics of Moya Brennan against the direct soul of Bono is a shimmering delight.

The 1986 hit was Bono’s first venture after U2’s groundbreaking The Unforgettable Fire. As for Clannad, they were fresh from breaking the UK charts with ‘Theme From Harry’s Game’, allowing a new audience outside Ireland to find them. ‘In A Lifetime’ is a testament to two artists at the top of their creative game, pushing forward into experimentation.

#2. Lisa Hannigan And Gary Lightbody – ‘Some Surprise’

Taken from the 2006 Oxfam charity album The Cake Sale, this song shows the strength in Hannigan’s voice, beyond the shadow of Damien Rice. Her collaborator, Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, was at the peak of his creative powers after the success of Eyes Open and a string of hit singles. Lightbody’s confidence, and voice, was growing and ‘Some Surprise’ was the perfect vehicle to display his versatility. The song, written by Paul Noonan of Bell X1, is one of the strongest from The Cake Sale. Although never issued as a single, a video does exist.


#3. The Edge And Sinead O’Connor – ‘Heroine (Theme From Captive)’

This one is taken from the soundtrack of 1986 movie Captive, a French production based loosely on the Patty Hearst kidnapping. Here, The Edge builds collages of ambient music for a then nineteen-year-old Sinead O’Connor casting an early musical statement. Although predating her breakthrough The Lion And The Cobra, this track clearly signals the path that Sinead would take in the following years.

#4. Gavin Friday And Simon Carmody – ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’

This is a very slick remake of the Stones classic. A rollicking, piano driven number, Friday’s vocals are the right side of weird, not too over the top but slightly tongue in cheek. When recorded, Gavin Friday was fresh from his departure from The Virgin Prunes. Simon Carmody, on the other hand, was taking The Golden Horde into the studio to capture another moment of greatness.

The magic here exists in the production, blending mandolin with two electric guitars, over that steamrolling piano and two female vocalists grounding Friday. In truth, it is more of a collaboration between Gavin Friday and all of The Golden Horde, not just Carmody.

#5. Gary Moore And Phil Lynott – ‘Out In The Fields’

These two late rock stars were certainly no strangers, from 1968 their paths joined musically in the band Skid Row. Moore was then only sixteen years of age, Lynott three years his senior. Phil soon parted company with Skid Row after forming Thin Lizzy, which Gary joined for brief stints over the years, even appearing on one full album, Black Rose.

This, however, is a triumph of their talents – a song about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with a memorable chorus. Gary Moore’s unforgettable guitar line over Phil Lynott’s working class, snarling vocal pulsates perfectly throughout. Not only is this one of the last recordings released by Lynott before his death in January 1986, it’s also the highest charting single of his career in the UK, with or without Thin Lizzy. ‘Out In The Fields’ broke the top five, a fitting farewell to a legend – even if it was unknown at the time of recording.

Honourable Mentions:

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