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The Chieftains 7

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Album Review

7 was the first Chieftains album released in the States by Columbia, though the group had been playing together and recording in some form since the early '60s. (Actually, 7 was first released in Ireland on the Claddagh label, and issued in America the subsequent year.) Truth be told, Chieftains albums don't vary enormously from one to the other. But this is one is, as expected, Irish traditional music of a high standard, and more varied within its LP-length program than many other such albums of the genre are. What makes the group stand out from many other Irish folk ensembles is the insistent percussive beats of their more up-tempo numbers, the rhythms held by bodhran and bones. More subtly, there's a gentleness and pastoral sensitivity to their treatments that eludes the brusquer, more in-your-face Irish combos. All those qualities are in force on this set, the percussive thrust coming to the fore on the opening "Away We Go Again," Derek Bell's beautiful harp highlighting the wistful "Dochas (Hope)" and the Carolan tunes "John Connor and the Ode to Whiskey." Elsewhere, the pace varies between jigs, reels, and slower selections, everyone in the band getting a chance to both take the spotlight and play as part of a team effort.


Formed: 1963 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: World

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The original traditional Irish folk band, as far as anyone who came of age in the 1970s or '80s is concerned, is the Chieftains. Their sound, built largely on Paddy Moloney's pipes, is otherworldly, almost entirely instrumental, and seems as though it comes out of another age of man's history. That they became an international phenomenon in the '70s and '80s is testament to their virtuoso musicianship. The Chieftains were first formed in Dublin during 1963, as a semi-professional outfit, from the...
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