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New Irish and Related Music Releases May 2001
STORMY WEATHER. Beginish. INIS 002. Great second release from the very successful group (Brendan Begley, boxes, songs, Paul McGrattan, flute, Paul O’Shaughnessy, fiddle, Noel O’Grady, frets). Lovely playing, great songs, and an even better use of the studio than on their first very successful album.
FORGOTTEN DAYS. Davy Spillane & Kevin Glackin. BURRENSTONE 001. Superb fiddle, uilleann pipes and low whistle music on an absolutely unaccompanied album. All the tunes are well-known session favourites, played here with skill and sensitivity by two masters completely at home within the tradition.
IT’S NO SECRET. Hammy Hamilton, Seamus Creagh, Con O Drisceoil. OSSCD 89. Hammy is best known as a flute man, Seamus as a fiddler and Con as a box player. However, those who have known them over the years will also be aware that each of them is equally comfortable singing a song. The new album shows their talents as instrumentalists and singers; the tunes are played solo, and in duet and trio. Con Fada’s songs are his own in his usual hilarious, slightly misanthropic vein. Every traditional ‘percussionist’ should be made listen to his story of ‘The Spoons Murder’.
PLAYGROUND. Emer Mayock. IS MISE 001. Emer’s first album ‘Merry Bits of Timber’ was a great success. As the catalogue number indicates she is now a very confident flute player and piper, with a dollop of fiddle and cello thrown in. Many of the tunes are her own compositions.
DRAW THE BOW. Malachy Bourke. No number. Malachy is from County Galway, and this is a tremendous album of pure fiddle music, accompanied only in a few places by his father’s skilful bodhran playing. A glowing endorsement on the sleeve by Frankie Gavin is not in any sense exaggerated – it’s a great, understated example of tasteful fiddle playing.
NA DAOINE ATA IMITHE. Michael & Margaret Dwyer. DND 2000. Mick Dwyer was a whistle player and composer from a family of musicians that includes Finbar and Sean. But he was also a greatly loved and a prominent, if shy, personality on the traditional music scene in London and Dublin in the 1970s and 1980s. He died several years ago in tragic circumstances. Now these recordings have turned up in his own area and they show just what a brilliant musician he was. It’s also full of well-made interesting original tunes. Incidentally, I think Mick is the unidentified whistle player on the sleeve of Danny Meehan’s album.
THE LAKES OF SLIGO. Carmel Gunning. SUNCD 39. Another whistle record of stunning virtuosity. Carmel has for many years been a stalwart on the Sligo music scene and her playing is a thing of complete artistry. The surprise on this record is that she is a traditional singer as good as the very best. An absolutely gorgeous record.
MEMORIES FROM THE HOLLA. Peter & Angelina Carberry. HRCD 001. The Carberrys are father and daughter, on accordion and banjo respectively. Of a very musical Longford background, but living now in Galway after a sojourn in Manchester, they have produced an album of excellent traditional dance music, with a fair sprinkling of good new ones. They’re joined by John Blake on guitar, Laoise Kelly on harp, Liz Kane on fiddle and Peter Carberry Snr on uilleann pipes.
DIALOGUES. Chris Newman & Maire Ni Chathasaigh. OBMCD 14. Maire Ni Chathasaigh was one of the first to play dance tunes on the harp, and with Chris on guitar and the help of others such as Nollaig Casey, Simon Mayer, Ian MacFarlane, Liz Hanks and Roy Dodds, they’ve pushed the boat out a bit further this time. They include French, Calypso and Scottish pieces.
MI.DA:ZA. North Cregg. MMRCD 1032. The group’s second album, it has good strong dance music from lots of sources with very attractive arrangements.
THE WOODS BAND. The Woods Band. EDCD 687. Antedeluvian relic of the days of ‘folk-rock’. Will satisfy trainspotters. Sweeney’s Men as ‘the fathers of British folk-rock’ (notes)?
THE GIRLS WON’T LEAVE THE BOYS ALONE. Cherish the Ladies. Windham Hill 01934 14583 2. The emphasis this time is very much on singing.
There are four re-releases from the 1970s on the Rounder label which are among the most important publications of recent years. Each of them is an essential part of every collection;
ED REAVY. Various artists. ROUCD 6008. The great tunes of one of the tradition’s finest composers, Ed Reavy of Cavan. Played by some of the best musicians around, these tunes feel like they were always there, and many of them will be around as long as traditional music is played. It’s astonishing how many of them are already part of our common musical heritage. Played here by such as Maeve Donnelly, Liz Carroll, Paddy Cronin and Reavy himself.
TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC IN AMERICA; CHICAGO. Various artists. ROUCD 6006. Traditional music as it was being played on Captain O’Neill’s turf in 1975 and 1976. Played by such as ‘Cuz’ Teahan, Johnny McGreevy, Joe Shannon and Liz Carroll – how could you go wrong?
TRADITIONAL MUSIC IN AMERICA; THE EAST COAST. Various artists. ROUCD 6005. How could you go wrong? Buy it. The musicians here include Mike Rafferty, Paddy Cronin, John Vesey, Jack Coen and more. Buy it.
LIGHT THROUGH THE LEAVES – Irish music played on wind instruments. Various artists. ROUCD 6014. As above. The musicians here include Noel Rice, Bill Ochs, Mike Rafferty, Tim Britton and more.
IRISH IN AMERICA. Dan Milner & Bob Conroy. FOLK-LEGACY CD 129. Interesting and historically fascinating collection of Irish-American ballads, some from here, but most composed in America.
EAST TO NORTHEAST. John Redmond. 522014. Accordion album with a few songs.
CRYSTAL CLEAR. Jerry Holland. CP 0200CD. Jerry is one of the best-known exponents of the Cape Breton repertoire. This is an unaccompanied fiddle album, and Jerry doesn’t confine himself to Canada – there’s a fair sprinkling of music from Scotland and Ireland. Lovely playing.
BRISEANN AND DUCHAS. Ann Mulqueen, Odi and Sorcha Ni Cheilleachair. CICD 147. Good selection of songs in Irish and English, sung very much in the Comhaltas competition style by a famous mother and her daughters.
GLARE. Leo O’Kelly. CAF 001.Contemporary songs by a former member of Tir na nOg.
IRISH GRACE NOTES. Ailbe Grace. CDC 067. Excellent box-playing, abetted by James Cullinane, Kevin Griffin, Eoin O’Neill and others.
MUSIC FOR WHISTLE &GUITAR. Cormac Breatnach & Martin Dunlea. MANDALA 001. Traditional music played in a New Age groove.
TIP TOE Ronan O Snodaigh. KRCD 101. Ronan is the charismatic frontman for Kila, This is an album of his own compositions, with some of the music written by Simon Taylor. This is not traditional music, but in a strange way it’s very Irish, and extremely pleasant and interesting. And they’re good songs.
YOLA. Eleanor McEvoy. EMCD 1. Eleanor wrote the song ‘A Woman’s Heart’, one of the biggest hits in Irish history. She’s written all the material on this album.
And finally, a book. THE ROUGH GUIDE TO IRISH MUSIC by Geoff Wallis and Sue Wilson is an excellent summary of what music is like in Ireland today, with a sturdy contextual idea of its history. There are over 350 biographical entries with discographies and all sorts of insights from authors who have a complete understanding of their subject. Not an academic tome, neither is it to be read at one sitting; but it is a very pleasant and trustworthy source of dependable information.
December 2000 November 2000 October 2000 September 2000