Chain Reaction

Rosanna & Chris

A headline in yesterday’s Evening Herald newspaper about a tree surgeon cutting his leg with a chainsaw at Chris de Burgh‘s home got me thinking about the Irish singer and his daughter, Rosanna, which then brought the band Toto to my mind. There are many acts from the eighties that I chance upon now and then and I don’t mind admitting that these encounters make me want to check out their music again. Chris de Burgh is not one of those acts. I’m actually embarrassed to reveal that I once owned a number of the Irishman’s albums on cassette. In my defence, your honour, I was young and foolish and only beginning the long process of learning about music. De Burgh was on the radio a lot at the time and I picked up some of those tapes in a secondhand shop. It’s true, nobody forced me to buy them or subsequently listen to them. And I must have listened to them a few times because lines from songs I haven’t heard in decades have been popping into my head over the last few hours. I don’t have any of those tapes anymore. I don’t even remember when or where I got rid of them. Fortunately, I don’t have any of his stuff on CD, vinyl or mp3, either, and I’m relieved to announce that I had absolutely no desire to check him out on YouTube

However, I do have a couple of de Burgh’s songs in my library that are sung by other artists. Lady in Red was a huge hit nearly thirty years ago, but it’s always been a song that I’ve loved to hate. Nevertheless, the vocoder version below (by a band called VoCoder) isn’t too bad. In contrast, Don’t Pay the Ferryman is the one song by de Burgh that I do like. His warning about withholding payment from the titular ferryman until the completion of the journey was released in 1982 and became a minor hit in the USA a year later. In 2003, fellow Irishmen Bell X1 referred to it in a couplet in their song, Alphabet Soup: “Looking over my shoulder to see you looking back over yours, But you were paying the ferryman, even after Chris said don’t”. A year earlier, A Swedish rock band named Twinball recorded a wonderful version of the song in the style of another Irish band, Thin Lizzy. It can be found on Remnants of a Broken Dream. The lady with Chris in the picture above is his daughter and her name reminded me of an even bigger hit from 1982 called Rosanna by Toto. I quite like English newcomer Ana Silvera‘s low-key take on the song. Toto had another huge hit with Africa in 1983 and the version below is taken from the second volume in the Guilt by Association series from 2008. It’s performed by by a group called Lowry that features members from the continents of America and Australia. Back in Ireland, it looks the de Burgh’s tree surgeon is recovering nicely and still has all his limbs intact


Don’t Pay the Ferryman (Chris de Burgh cover) – Twinball

Lady In Red (Chris de Burgh cover) – VoCovers

Rosanna (Toto cover) – Ana Silvera

Africa (Toto cover) – Lowry

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One thought on “Chain Reaction

  1. And to complete the circle, Chris covered the song Africa in 2010 and yes it’s an awful version!! Very good blog btw

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