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VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Ultimate Guide To Irish Folk

VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Ultimate Guide To Irish Folk
ARC Music EUCD2484

I’m glad I wasn’t tasked with selecting a collection of tracks for a two CD compendium of Irish music. Where do you start – who do you include and who is left out? Dubliners feature as an ensemble and there’s also a classic Raglin Road from Luke Kelly. But there the Aran sweaters end. Christy Moore has a cameo appearance with Sinéad O’Connor on Lord Baker (and at over 11 minutes it is a marathon effort) and his sibling, Luka Bloom, is included with his theme song (You Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time). Dervish shine on Baba Chonraoi and there’s a particularly tasty medley from Altan. Not a sniff of Moving Hearts or De Danaan or even the Black family. But as I’ve said, you have to cherry pick tracks for such a product and if you’re aiming it mostly at new or potential inductees to Irish music, this is a fair collection. But it’s stretching credulity to present it as The Ultimate Guide (all right, I appreciate that it is one of a series of albums from various airts with such titles, but the point has to be made).

You do, though, get plenty of music – more than 2½ hours spread over two CDs. Maybe if they’d dispensed with the 7 minutes plus of Afro Celt Sound System’s Whirl-Y-Reel No.1 and over 9 minutes of Kíla’s Glanfaidh Mé or such like, there might have been more space for some conspicuous absentees. Good to hear Michelle Mulcahy’s Hornpipes, though. And it’s been a revelation to hear a new live track from Horslips. Some lows, but mostly classic highs and worth a punt, in balance.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 102 of The Living Tradition magazine.