29/08/2018: “Women Of Ireland” by Bob James

“Women Of Ireland”, or “Mná na hÉireann” in the original Irish, is an old poem written in the 18th century by a guy called Peadar O Doirnin.

Bob James’ adaptation is based on the melody by Sean O’Riada, to whom the song is credited on James’ album.

It’s undeniably a lovely tune, with a soothing tin whistle played by Grover Washington Jr., some calm yet uplifting piano, and and easygoing, vaguely Caribbean swing. At some points, it’s so easy on the ear that it approaches muzak (“elevator music”), but I don’t think this is lightweight. It’s a jazzy take on a timeless melody.

Later on in the song, there’s also some stellar guitar soloing by Eric Gale, accentuated by the gorgeousness of the strings. Bob James jams on his electric piano in a more recognisably jazz fashion, but the song remains smooth as silk.

The track was released on the 1976 album Three,  his third solo album after One and Two. Yes, that’s what they’re called!


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