Category: Archive

Top reissue and archival recordings of 2008

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Where would you rank “The Bothy Band 1975,” “Old Hag You Have Killed Me,” “Out of the Wind / Into the Sun,” and “Afterhours”?
How about “Andy Irvine / Paul Brady,” “Matt Molloy / Paul Brady / Tommy Peoples,” Dolores Keane and John Faulkner’s “Broken Hearted I’ll Wander,” Kevin Burke and Jackie Daly’s “Eavesdropper,” “Matt Molloy,” Kevin Burke and Micheal O Domhnaill’s “Promenade,” Martin O’Connor’s “The Connachtman’s Rambles,” and Kevin Burke’s “If the Cap Fits,” a special, remastered, 30th anniversary edition for which I wrote a lengthy new liner-note essay?
Some of that dazzling dozen have been rightly designated as masterpieces and classics, and I have seven other outstanding archival or reissue recordings on different imprints from 2008 that I ignore at my critical peril.
The vast majority of these 19 recordings would have had a predictably tsunami-like, unfair effect on the ranking of genuinely new albums last year. That’s why you didn’t find any archival or reissue recordings in the top 30 list over the last two weeks.
Besides that top 30 list, I encourage you to hunt down those 12 Mulligan re-releases as well as these seven other archival and reissue recordings listed alphabetically below.

“CEOL AGUS FOINN: SCOIL SAMHRAIDH WILLIE CLANCY”: The Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltown Malbay, Clare, is the premier summer school devoted to Irish traditional music, and this double CD release, comprising 40 tracks recorded between 1973 and 2007, testifies to the enduring quality found there each year. Performers include Micho Russell, Paddy Canny, Joe Ryan, Francie McPeake, Junior Crehan with Bobby Casey, and Willie Clancy himself.

“THE FLUTE PLAYERS OF ROSCOMMON, VOL. 2”: Volume 1 in 2004 contained 15 tracks and featured such flutists as Catherine McEvoy, Patsy Hanly, and John Wynne, who produced the CD and co-produced volume 2. It contains 23 tracks performed by such flutists as Packie Duignan, Tom McHale, Jim Donoghue, Michael Anthony Glynn, and Peg McGrath with Josie McDermott, all superb, all passed away. This CD helps keep their music and memory alive.

“40TH ANNIVERSARY ALBUM” by the Armagh Pipers Club: Last year Lunasa uilleann piper Cillian Vallely sent me this 2007 double-disk release, impressively marking an important anniversary for a club founded by four people in 1966. Today APC has more than 30 tutors teaching more than 200 pupils weekly, keeping the Northern Irish piping tradition strong. These 41 first-rate tracks mainly focus on piping but also include some equally stirring vocal and other instrumental performances as well as a lengthy liner-note essay by Fintan Vallely, one of Ireland’s most respected trad-music critics.

“MASTERS OF TRADITION”: Between 2003 and 2007 in the Library of Bantry House, West Cork, RTE Lyric FM recorded the 31 concert selections found on this double-CD release. Hearing the late Frank Harte sing “The Lambeg Drummer” and the late Kitty Hayes play concertina on the jigs “Boys of Tanderagee/Willie Coleman’s/The Maids on the Green” jigs is just one of many pleasures here.

“NIL GAR ANN!” by Frank Cassidy: Donegal has a long legacy of brilliant fiddlers, and Frank Cassidy (1900-1971) from Teelin was one of the best. Among the 35 tracks are two sterling fiddle duets by Cassidy and John Doherty from 1946 and three more by the pair from 1953. The CD title, “Nil Gar Ann,” means “it’s no use” and refers to Cassidy’s comment to Seamus Ennis about making music after the deaths of his brothers Johnnie and Paddy, with whom he loved to play. There’s some spectacular fiddling on this release.

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“SEAN O RIADA: PLEARACA AN RIADAIGH”: “Reacaireacht an Riadaigh” (1962), “Ceol na nUasal” (1967), and “Ding Dong’ (1967) were recordings conceived and helmed by Sean O Riada (1931-71) that also featured Ceoltoiri Chualann, whose members included future Chieftains Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts, Michael Tubridy, Sean Keane, and Martin Fay. All 34 tracks from those three culture-shaping, traditional music-emboldened albums are here.

“TRADITIONAL MUSIC OF IRELAND” by Paddy Carty and Conor Tully: Kilnadeema, East Galway, button accordion living legend Joe Burke sent me this CD, remastered from a cassette recorded in 1985 and issued in 1989 by three fellow East Galway musicians: flutist Paddy Carty (1929-85), fiddler Conor Tully, and mandola player Frank Hogan. The “Carty Flow” on flute is nothing less than spellbinding. My thanks to Joe Burke for ensuring I’d get to hear and savor it again.

The top 30, the 12 Mulligan, and the seven releases cited above are available from three reliable sources: Custy’s Traditional Music Shop, Francis St., Ennis, Clare, Ireland, 011-353-65-6821727, www.custysmusic.com, custys.ennis@eircom.net; Copperplate Distribution, 68, Belleville Rd., London SW11 6PP, England, UK, 0207-585-0357 (phone), www.copperplatedistribution.com, copperplate2000@yahoo.com; and Ossian USA, 118 Beck Rd., Loudon, NH 03307, 603-783-4383, www.ossianusa.com, info@ossianusa.com.

Best band compilation of 2008
“The Story So Far” (Compass Records Group) is a tantalizing 16-track culling from six albums issued between 1997 and 2006 by Lunasa, the most talented all-instrumental traditional group in Ireland today. Only Brad San Martin’s sometimes fulsome essay on Lunasa mars an otherwise splendid compilation documenting the band’s exciting, unremitting inventiveness.

Altan in Connecticut
From the opening strathspey-and-reels medley of “Bog an Lochain Margaree / Humors of Westport,” Altan reminded the standing-room-only crowd at the first of two concerts in the Fairfield Theatre Company on Jan. 11 that the band has no intention of yielding its place in the forefront of Irish traditional music.
That impression was reinforced shortly thereafter with the medley of “Humors of Castlefin / Nia’s Dance / An Duidin.” The reels crackled with high energy and virtuosity, especially in the interplay between fiddler Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and button accordionist Dermot Byrne and between fiddlers Ni Mhaonaigh and Ciaran Tourish.
Bolstered by Ciaran Curran’s bouzouki, two venerable, signature Altan medleys, “Paddy’s Trip to Scotland / Dinky’s / The Shetland Fiddler” and “Fermanagh Highland / Donegal Highland / John Doherty’s / King George IV,” never sounded fresher.
In memory of her late father Proinsias, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh movingly sang one of his compositions, “Gleanntain Ghlas Ghaoth Dobhair,” which he set to the melody of “Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore.” Her tender interpretation of “An Cailin Gaelach,” a Tory Island song, also stood out with the expert support of Daithi Sproule on guitar and backing vocal.
It’s been four years since Altan’s last studio album, “Local Ground.” That’s too long a wait for new music from a band never satisfied with coasting, as this superb concert demonstrated. Kudos to the Shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society, Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, and Culture Ireland for making it happen.

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