March 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Paddy MOLONEY Agnes Browne Original music and arrangements of traditional music by the composer; plus source music featuring Montserrat Caballe; Tom Jones; The Chieftans. The Irish Film Orchestra    DECCA 289 466 939-2

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Hard on the heals of Angela's Ashes comes the film version of Brendan O'Carroll's best selling novel, The Mammy. The score is very Irish (nothing wrong with that) with original music composed by Paddy Moloney of the Chieftans. The story, set in central Dublin in 1967, concerns an Irish family facing troubles when the head of the house dies suddenly leaving his widow Agnes (Angelica Huston) to bring up seven children. How, through her resilience and sense of humour she copes with life and finds new love is the basis of the film.

The 'Opening Theme' sets the mood with music full of Irish charm and whimsy. This and many other cues that follow, including reels, the dirge-like 'Faith of Our Fathers' and other arrangements, employ all the traditional Irish instruments: drums, pipes, banjos, accordion etc. We have 'My Bonnie (lies over the ocean)' in an attractive arrangement for harp and a rather too modern version for the traditionalists (the vocal that is). On the other hand there is a rather over-flowery version of 'The Last Rose of Summer' featuring Montserrat Caballe who sounds a shade incongruous with The Chieftans. Even more incongruous-sounding is a country and western piece 'Puttin' On The Style' (a very popular melody from the 1960s). Tom Jones contributes three of his evergreens: She's A Lady'; 'It's Not Unusual'; and, of course, 'Delilah'. The only track that lingers in this reviewer's memory is 'Marion's Lament' which is genuinely touching, otherwise put this album down to a pleasant hour of traditional Irish to be supped with a pint of the black stuff and a plate of fish and chips (French Fries).


Ian Lace

Associated Book Review:-

The Mammy by Brendan O'Carroll

176 pages softback. £5:99 O'Brien Press, 20 Victoria Road, Dublin, 6, Ireland. ISBN:0-86278-641-X

Amazon UK £4.99  Amazon US $8.76

Brendan O'Carroll's The Mammy, on which Angelica Huston's film, reviewed above, is based, is the first of a trilogy of novels recording the adventures of Agnes Browne, the Dublin Mammy. The Mammy first appeared in 1994; the two sequels are entitled The Chisellers and The Granny. They set a pattern that Frank McCourt followed and frankly bettered.

Agnes Browne just widowed, with seven children to support, when we first meet her, has a stall in the Moore Street fruit and vegetable street market behind O'Connell Street on the North, the wrong side of the River Liffey. The book chronicles her adventures and those of her brood including: her battle with a sadistic nun who has cut off her daughter's fringe, the boy's revenge on an equally brutal theatre usher and Agnes's relationship with her best friend Marion another stall-holder who is dying of cancer. The episode in which Marion is learning to drive, with Agnes along for moral support is hilarious - that is before Marion collapses.

The book has an attractive raw bawdy humour. In places, however, it is rather forced and desperate. I am thinking, in particular, of the court scene that almost lurches into Gilbert and Sullivan farce. The rather Mills and Boonish attentions of the romantic Pierre, the French pizza parlour man seems just too good to be true. Worse, the fantasy of Agnes' fulfilling her dreams of meeting and dancing with Cliff Richard clashes with, and diminishes, the carefully built up atmosphere of the hard life in the poor Jarro area of Dublin.

Frank McCourt writes with more polish, more irony and much more affectingly of hardship in Limerick.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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