Bap Kennedy – Reckless Heart – #54 this week

“Reckless Heart” by Bap Kennedy

Completed in 2016, “Reckless Heart ” is the culmination of a lifetime of refining the songwriting craft. Bap Kennedy delivers nothing less than a timeless album that captures the songwriter at his peak.

Bap Kennedy was born on the Falls Road in West Belfast in 1962. As a teenager, he played in some local bands before forming 10 Past 7, which got signed to Terri Hooley’s record label, Good Vibrations. It was with 10 Past 7 that Bap got his first national TV appearance when they appeared on Channel 4’s The Tube in 1983. 10 Past 7 lasted until Bap left Belfast for London.

In London Bap became rhythm guitarist, lead singer and primary songwriter for Belfast rockers Energy Orchard, with whom he recorded 5 albums. When the band left Belfast, they established themselves as legends of London’s live music scene. It was while he was in Energy Orchard that Kennedy first worked with compatriot Van Morrison, who gave the band several support slots to supplement their own hectic touring schedule of both the USA and Europe.

When Energy Orchard split up, Bap had little time to rest, because alt-country superstar, and long-time Energy Orchard fan, Steve Earle soon contacted him, suggesting that he would produce Bap’s first solo album. Bap agreed, and soon found himself on the plane to Nashville, TN, where he would record Domestic Blues. Earle was later to describe Bap as “the best songwriter I ever saw”. The album made it into the Top 10 of the Billboard Americana chart and more touring of the U.S.A. cemented the acclaim.

Lonely Street was an artistic project based on, and dedicated to, two of Bap’s childhood musical heroes, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley. In more ways than one, it was music that was made for the love of music, and this was reflected in the consistently positive responses from critics at respected music magazines including Q and Mojo

The Big Picture, was a return to working with Van Morrison, who had supported him since his Energy Orchard days. The Big Picture was recorded at Morrison’s studio. All the songs were written by Bap apart from Milky Way which Bap and Van Morrison wrote together. The Big Picture features guest vocals from Shane Magowan, lead singer of The Pogues who sings the final verse of the song “On the Mighty Ocean Alcohol”. More excellent reviews from Mojo, et al, cemented Bap’s reputation as a songwriter growing “more mature with every release”

The time following the release of The Big Picture was to mark profound changes in Bap’s personal, as well as professional, life. Shortly after Bap brought his hard-living ways to an end, he worked with Mark Knopfler for the first time – appearing as a special guest for Knopfler’s tour of the USA and Europe, including five nights at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Bap recorded his next album Howl On in his native Northern Ireland for the first time in his solo career. As with Lonely Street, he returned to writing a series of songs on a subject that had fascinated him in childhood. This time, it was a look at his youthful love for all things American, and in particular the story of the moon landings. Howl On was released to widespread critical acclaim and was followed by a successful tour of the UK, Europe and America, including the highly regarded South by South West festival in America and a memorable performance at the Glastonbury Festival.

The Sailor’s Revenge is the outcome of a creative collaboration between Bap and Mark Knopfler – All the songs were written by Bap, but Mark Knopfler was closely involved for a period of two years in every stage of the project from planning the album and choosing songs right through to release. The Sailor’s Revenge is widely regarded as featuring Bap’s most mature and sophisticated songwriting to date – assisted of course by Knopfler’s distinctive, delicious guitar and tasteful widescreen production.

Bap’s album Let’s Start Again is his 6th album of solo material. While Bap usually records in England and America, he wanted to bring together some of the top musicians in his native Northern Ireland to play on Let’s Start Again. Let’s Start Again was released by Proper Records in March 2014 to outstanding reviews internationally and upon its release, remained for three consecutive months in the Top 10 of the EuroAmericana chart.

Bap Kennedy passed away on 1st November 2016, aged 54, following a battle with Cancer.

AMERICANA radio chart

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