The older brother of Irish folk-pop singer/songwriter Luka Bloom (Barry Moore), Christy Moore is one of contemporary Irish music's best singer/songwriters. The former lead vocalist and chief songwriter of Planxty and Moving Hearts, Moore helped to bring the musical traditions of Ireland up to modern standards. As a solo singer/songwriter, Moore has continued to add elements of rock and popular music to his well-crafted, tradition-based tunes and has been a major inspiration to such modern Irish artists as U2, Sinéad O'Connor, and the Pogues.
Traditional Irish music had little influence on Moore's early music. Trained in old-time pop tunes and religious music, Moore was inspired as a teenager by the rock & roll of American artists including Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. It wasn't until he had moved to London, where he heard Irish folk songs sung in Irish ghettos, that he became aware of the musical traditions of his homeland. Acquiring an acoustic guitar and Irish drum (bodhran), Moore began busking in the streets. Moore continued to attract attention with his folk-like original songs after returning to Ireland in the late '60s. Moore's debut solo album, Paddy on the Road, was released in 1969.
While recording his third album, Prosperous, in 1972, Moore assembled a band that evolved into Planxty. The group's fusion of Celtic music and high-energy rock made Planxty one of Ireland's most influential bands. With Moore singing lead in his heavily accented brogue and playing rhythm guitar and bodhran, Planxty brought together such top-ranked Irish musicians as Donal Lunny (guitar, bouzouki, bottleneck bouzouki), Liam O'Flynn (uilleann pipes, whistle), and Andy Irvine (mandolin, mouth organ). Although he left Planxty in 1974, Moore returned when the band's original lineup reunited in 1979. He remained with Planxty until 1983, when they evolved into a new band, Moving Hearts. Moore served as frontman for Moving Hearts until leaving to resume his solo career in 1985.
The excitement of a Moore concert was documented on Live in Dublin, released in 1978 and featuring accompaniment by Donal Lunny. Moore's solo recordings between 1973 and 1978 were compiled on The Folk Collection, also released in 1978. Moore's 1985 album, Ordinary Man, featured contributions from former Planxty bandmates Lunny, Irvine, and O'Flynn. The original single "They Never Came Home," about the infamous Stardust nightclub fire in Dublin that killed 48 people, was critical of the city's government. An investigation revealed the fire to be arson and Moore's charges libelous. The recording had to be temporarily withdrawn and the song was removed.
Voyage was released in 1989. It featured backing vocals by Sinéad O'Connor, Elvis Costello, and Mary Black, plus accordion by Seamus Shannon. His solo recordings between 1981 and 1991 were anthologized on The Christy Moore Collection, and a new studio effort, Smoke & Strong Whiskey, arrived in 1991. Touring and working sporadically, Moore released King Puck through Newberry in 1994 -- it was later picked up by Sony. Two dates on Grapevine followed: 1995's Live at the Point, capturing a solo performance at the Point Theater in Dublin in July 1994, and 1996's Graffiti Tongue. He finished the decade with 1999's Traveller for Sony.
Moore remained active in the 21st century. Given his vast and ever growing repertoire, he was easily able to alternate between studio and live recordings. The former included This Is the Day (2001) and the stripped-down Burning Times (2003). The latter included covers of songs by Morrissey, Bob Dylan, Richard Thompson, and Joni Mitchell in its track list. A year later, Sony released the massive six-disc retrospective The Box Set 1964-2004. It featured his earliest tape-recorded performances as well rare work and favorites. In the booklet, Moore exhaustively annotated each selection. To further celebrate the artist's 40th anniversary, another Planxty reunion tour was recorded, and the audio/video package Live 2004 was released.
Live at the Point 2006 and a global reissue of Burning Times in a deluxe edition both arrived in 2006. The Moving Hearts reunited for several Irish gigs in 2007; an album entitled Live in Dublin was released a year later. On 2009's Listen, Moore delivered a stunning cover of Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," while 2011's Folk Tale revisited classic songs in new arrangements and included new material. The 2014 compilation Where I Come From featured the previously banned "They Never Came Home" among its contents. Moore spent two years gigging and recording. In the early spring of 2016, he announced via his website and Facebook page that "a new basket of songs simply titled Lily" was imminent. The album appeared in May. ~ Craig Harris