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singer, songwriter, comedian, author, poet, broadcaster and multi-instrumentalist

Plutonium Alley


Title: Plutonium Alley

Released: 1989

Label: Moonraker Music – M0009

Format: Vinyl LP











A1  Head For The Hills
A2  Cait O Mo Chroi
A3  Victor Jara Of Chile
A4  The Fiddler’s Elbow / Dingle Regatta
A5  Christmas 1914
A6  Plutonium Alley
B1  Black Lung Blues
B2  The Wild Geese
B3  Kerry Polkas
B4 Closing Time
B5 Sangria Wine

My Second Studio Album contains Christmas 1914 and the Wild Geese, two of my most requested songs ever and some stunning songs by other writers Jerry Jeff Walker’s Sangria Wine and Mary Asquith’s Closing Time.
Backing vocals on Closing Time are provided by Sue Cleaver who is now snogging the bearded guy in Coronation Street.
Amongst many musicians who worked on the album with me was the late Eamonn Coyne of the Liverpool Ceilidh Band and his lads Michael Young Eamonn and Terry.

Recorded At – Moonraker Studios

Co-producer – Mark Vibrans, Mike Harding (2), Peter Beckmann
Engineer – Lee Monteverde
Engineer, Programmed By – Peter Beckmann


This album was digitally remastered and made available on Compact Disc in 1990:



Title: Plutonium Alley (Remaster)

Released: 1990

Label: Moonraker Music – CDM009

Format: Compact Disc






Now available from the ONLINE SHOP


01  Head For The Hills 4:19
02  Cait O Mo Chroi 4:13
03  Victor Jara Of Chile 5:51
04  The Fiddler’s Elbow / Dingle Regatta 2:50
05  Christmas 1914 5:11
06  Plutonium Alley 5:22
07  Black Lung Blues 3:40
08  Kerry Polkas 3:39
09  The Wild Geese 7:33
10 The Leg Of The Duck/ Tobin’s Favourite 3:10
11 Closing Time 4:01
12 Sangria Wine 3:57




About the tracks. . .  


The song is my answer to Will Wordsworth’s lines about “London’s Earth has not anything to show more fair……” and that from a man who had smoked dope under Helvellyn with Coleridge!

Mike Harding: Vocals, 12 string guitars, Dobro, Blues Harp



Kathleen N Houlihan and Roisin Dubh, (“the Black Rose”) are just two of the names given to Ireland. I wrote this tune in the Dingle Peninsula of Kerry; it is of Ireland and for Ireland and the literal translation of the title means “Kathleen of my Heart”.

Mike Harding: Low D Whistle, Keyboards



The words are by Adrian Mitchell, one of our best contemporary poets and the tune is by Arlo Guthrie. Meli Antu are a group of Chilean refugees now living in Manchester who fled Chile to escape persecution when the elected government of Allende was toppled by a CIA backed coup led by General Pinochet. Victor Jara was one of many who became “the disappeared ones” I learnt the song from Dick Gaughan.

Mike Harding: Guitar, Mandolin
Meli Antu: Pan Pipes, Vocals
Brian Peters: Button Accordion
Dave Lynane:Bass



I can’t remember where I learnt the first tune; the second tune is one of those session tunes that everybody used to play at one time. The Liverpool Ceilidh band (of which my old friends of many years the Coyne family are prominent members) always do the “Hi diddley diddley” bits when they play for dances and it seemed wrong to leave it out in the studio.

Mike Harding: Bass, Mandolin
Eamonn Og Coyne: Fiddle
Eamon Coyne: Fiddle
Terry Coyne: Flute
Michael Coyne: Uilean Pipes



The story is true. The war stopped for a brief few days that Christmas and a lot of soldiers discovered what the politicians hadn’t wanted them to discover, that they were fighting other ordinary men who like themselves were only pawns in the game. A notice was posted after the event forbidding any fraternisation with enemy troops and an unkown Tommy scrawled on the bottom of one notice: “You can buy my body but you can’t buy my soul.”

Mike Harding: Guitar, Keyboards,Bass, Mandolin, Strings, Harmonica, Hammer Dulcimer



Hormones in food. Nuclear leaks in Russian and Cumbria, poisoned seas, areas the size of Wales being deforested every month, hormone fed chickens in Mexico and Brazil causing little girls of five and six to form breasts and menstruate. 400kg of plutonium missing, and the politicians tell us they’re in control.

Mike Harding: Cittern
Dave Hassell: Tablas
John Perkins: Sittar
Voices : Christine Burn, Martin Oldfield



I learnt this song from an old miner called Nimrod Workman in the Appalachian mountains. 93 years old and a union worker all his life. Although he had black lung he was still fighting and this is the song he wrote as the story of his own life.

Mike Harding: 12 string Guitars, Blues Harp, Dobra, Gibson Acoustic Electric
Brian Peters: Button Accordion



My mother’s family were Irish from Wexford and Dublin. Forced to move like millions of Irishmen and women before and since, they nevertheless always looked homewards. The “Wild Geese” were the Irish who went to fight for Napolion and the name came to be applied more generally to anybody who emigrated. Ireland’s greatest tragedy is that she is still losing her young and gifted people at a rate that no nation can afford, The days of the “American Wakes” are not over. The Wild Geese now are entering America illegally and hiding in bedsits in Boston working for sub-standard wages unable to get legal status.

Mike Harding: Guitar and High Tuned Guitar, Keyboards, Hammer Dulcimer
Michael Coyne: Uilean Pipes
Terry Coyne: Flute
Sarah Harding: Vocals



In the early seventies I was on tour with Planxty, probably the first Irish supergroup. The first two polkas were part of their set, the last polka I learnt from John Crawley of Bantry, Co. Cork.

Mike Harding: Bass, Mandolin, Bodhran
Eamonn Coyne: Fiddle
Michael Coyne: Uilean Pipes
Terry Coyne: Flute
Eamonn Og Coyne: Fiddle



Leg Of The Duck is a tune I first learned from O’Neils book of Irish Tunes. There it goes under the more poetic title ‘Daniel Of The Sun’. Rough and rowdy characters like Monsignor McLoughlin and Cardinal Newman of Newman’s Guiness Well Cleggan Connemara know rude words to the song concerning a girl called Nelly which go something like:
‘I gave it to Nelly to slip in her belly
The leg of the duck, the leg of the duck.’

Only we won’t talk about that now.
Tobin’s Favourite I learned from Hugh O’Donnel fiddler and good egg who does his best to help fallen women in Preston.
The voice at the end is that of Eamon Coyne RIP.

Mike: bass mandolin, banjo, bodhran, high tuned guitar, jew’s harp
Remon Og Coyne: fiddle  
Reman Coyne: fiddle

Terry Coyne: flute  
Michael Coyne: uilean pipes



Mary Asquith is a great blues singer and songwriter from Manchester with a voice like Janis Joplin singing through a chese grater. I often wondered how she got such a wonderful gravelly quality to her voice and when I saw her rolling Old Hobson and drinking large whiskies, I knew why. I think this song says a lot about music stardom, friends and your roots. The Delta Kid knows who he is.

Mike Harding: Guitar
Steve Gilbert: Drums
Marcus Cliffe: Bass
Phil Chapman: Soprano Sax
Sarah Harding and Sue Cleaver: Vocals



I learnt this song from a good friend of mine, Bonnie Dobson. It was written by Jerry Jeff Walker. One of my abiding memories of Bonnie singing this song to 2000 people in a Greek amphitheatre in Cyprus one night as warm breezes moved in from the sea and a host of shooting stars fell through the sky from behind her like a magical backdrop.

Mike Harding: Guitar
Colin Goddard: Slide Guitar
Dave Lynane: Bass
Sarah Harding and Colin Goddard: Backing Vocals
Dave Browning: Trumpet
Hywell Lewis: Trombone
Brian Peters:Melodion

Thanks to all my friends who helped and played on the album. It was good working with you all.

Recorded and mixed at Moonraker Studios, Manchester.
Engineers Peter Beckmann and Les Monteverde
All programming Peter Beckmann Produced by Mark Vibrans, Peter Beckman and Mike Harding.


Remastered at The Barn, Dent by Alec Lyon