“Majella has a very bright future” declares the sleeve note on this LP. There are lots of quotes from the papers, too. “Majella will be a recording star of international fame,” says one. “Majella Brady is currently tipped to be Ireland’s top pop export for many years,” opines another. On it goes: “A new star will shine in the North- Greatest hope of a top line singer since Ruby Murray.” So, no pressure.
Majella Brady is a native of Country Derry, in Northern Ireland. And for a time she was the Next Big Thing in Irish music, the Republic as well as Ulster. She had a few top ten singles in the mid-1960s, when still a teenager. But here’s the thing. Ireland is a pretty small place. Its population in 1969, when this album was released, was just over three million people. This is about the same as Mongolia now, and fewer than Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Not a big market, which is why all the talk about being an “export”. Majella got exported and had some success, especially in the country and western scene, but never quite broke through into the mainstream. Just guessing, but inflated expectations from a parochial homeland may not have helped.
She lives in Scotland now, and is still about, and still performs and releases music. She returned to Derry in 2014 for her first performance there in nearly 40 years, and she told the local paper: “I feel I am the forgotten singer of Derry”. But there is no bitterness: she comes across as a cheerful, kind, vivacious woman. She makes a good living playing music she loves, and who could ask for more?
In “The Spinning Wheel”, the title track of this album, is in this spirit. A young woman grabs the chance to sneak out to meet her lover in the moonlight. The wheel turns, but live life to the full.
- Artist: Majella, with Don Lowes and his Orchestra,
- LP Title: The Spinning Wheel & Other Irish Favourites
- Side 1, Track 2: “Piano Trio In B Flat, Op. 99, D.898, Second Movement, Andante Un Poco Mosso”
- Format: 12” 33⅓ rpm
- Label: Hallmark SHM 699
- Manufactured in: England
- Year: 1969
Many of the records featured on this blog, and hundreds of others, are for sale via Discogs