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The Chieftains Collection Volume One (The Very Best Of The Claddagh Years)

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Album Review

Before they signed to Columbia and became an international sensation (and long before they ever recorded a concert album in China or collaborated with Tom Jones or Luciano Pavarotti), the Chieftains recorded several albums for Ireland's respected Claddagh label. The Chieftains Collection: The Very Best of the Claddagh Years features 12 tracks from that period, and although the material is more strictly traditional and the playing a bit more conservative than it has become since, the group's taste for intricate arrangements is already apparent. Never satisfied to simply bash straight through a set of two or three reels in unison, on tunes like "Tadhair Dom do Lamh" and "The Walls of Liscarroll" they essentially take turns soloing or playing in twos and threes before finishing up in exuberant ensemble. These were the days before Matt Molloy, so the flute playing was somewhat more restrained than it is now, and Peadar Mercier's bodhran is a bit ponderous. But for the most part the playing is exciting and expert and the recorded sound is very good. The only complaint might be with the disc's length — surely the band's first five albums could have yielded more than 40 minutes of worthwhile material.


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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