Together for only four years, Moving Hearts had a profound effect on the development of modern Celtic music.
One of the first Irish folk bands to use electric instruments, after Horslips, Moving Hearts took a high-energy approach to their tradition-rooted music. Recalling an early appearance by the band, Q magazine wrote, "saw them in Dublin, must have been 1982, and they just blew me apart...they're a sort of Celtic Little Feat." The original lineup of Moving Hearts united some of Ireland's best musicians. Multi-instrumentalist Donal Lunny and singer, guitarist, and songwriter Christy Moore had previously played together in Planxty. Guitarist Declan Sinnott had produced and arranged material for such Celtic performers as Mary Black and Sinéad Lohan. Dublin piper Davy Spillane had performed with Horslips. Within a few months, the band was joined by saxophonist Keith Donald, a veteran session player and a member of such jazz bands as Jim Doherty's Spon and Noel Kelehan's Quintet. Moving Hearts was rounded out by drummer Brian Calman and bassist Eoghan O'Neill. Although the original band performed together for two years, the departure of Calman over "musical differences" signaled the first of several personnel changes. Following the release of the group's second album, Dark End of the Street, Moore left to pursue a solo career and was replaced by vocalist Mick Hanley. After recording one album with the band Live Hearts Hanley was replaced by female vocalist Flo McSweeney. The changes continued, however. By the time that they recorded their final album, Moving Hearts had become an all-instrumental unit. Politics played an important role in Moving Hearts' repertoire. The struggles of hunger strikers and the impoverished in Northern Ireland were addressed through such songs as "Landlord" and "On the Blanket," while the proliferation of nuclear weaponry was reflected in such tunes as "Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette" and an emotional interpretation of Jackson Browne's "After the Deluge." Moving Hearts was featured as the backup band on Van Morrison's 1985 album, A Sense of Wonder. In the aftermath of Moving Hearts' breakup, several members went on to perform in the cast of Bill Whelan's musical production, Riverdance. ~ Craig Harris