Not many albums nest so quickly and deeply in the heart as ‘The Sailor’s Revenge’ by Bap Kennedy. Mesmerised from the moment the needle introduced ‘Shimnavale’, I was unable to get through the song without tears sloping down my cheeks towards ‘Not A Day Goes By’. ‘Jimmy Sanchez’ had what was left in the tissue box. For a week I never got as far as track four.
Songs from beneath the underdog, shimmering with beauty, of love’s lost heart still dreaming of love still to find, quickened by the certainty that lifetimes are a moment away. “Wherever you go there you are, there is no escape from your own heart”. Music as real as the whispers in the wind.
Only a nutter would attempt to rerecord Bap’s songs, and that’s where The Raving Beauties get a hold of the plectrum. Belfast born singer, writer and renaissance man, Brian Bell, Joe Bennett (producer) and the glorious Dreaming Spires swoon a joyous Teenage Fanclub-Byrds spirit across five of Bap’s songs on ‘Raving For Bap’. Opening with a gorgeous version of ‘I Walk in Love’ and the classic line, “feeling your beside me, so I can walk in love”, the band soar like Big Star.
‘The Way I Love Her’ isn’t just a tune, but a manual for first, second or whatever time heartbreak. Channelling other people’s music isn’t easy – just ask Val Kilmer - but on ‘Raving For Bap’, The Raving Beauties gracefully, playfully and perfectly take Bap’s music to the beach beyond the tenements to create sublime pop music. A record to make you dance, Marie Curie to prosper, and Bap’s music to find new ears with which to teach eyes to smile and cry. It really is fucking brilliant.
Bap Kennedy will forever remind us to love first, second and forever.
Next time I head to Mayo, I’ll be sure to take a diversion towards Shimnavale on the way, and the raising of a glass to a man as soulful and Irish as the Mountains of Mourne.
Listen to the view.