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Blue Groove BG3220

The passing of Barney McKenna, the last surviving founder member of the Dubliners, led to the surviving group to decide to ‘retire’ (their word) the old name and rebrand themselves as The Dublin Legends. Mind you, those currently contributing are hardly newcomers – Sean Cannon joined the Dubs some 32 years ago and Eamonn Campbell over 25 years ago (even Patsy Watchorn has had a tenure of more than 10 years). Gerry ‘Banjo’ O’Connor is the only ‘newby’ on the block (John Sheahan, a Dubliner since 1964, appears to have opted out of the soap opera at this stage).

The first gigs by the newly refurbished collective were in Vienna and were duly recorded for posterity over three nights. This CD, it can be assumed, features the best bunch of songs and tunes from the mixing desk. Those familiar with the Dubliners will note a virtually seamless transition to the new incarnation, although the renaming convention has reduced the potential for contractual wrangles due to the lack of ‘originals’ in the band. In essence though, the material is the same. O’Connor’s inclusion has been a master stroke for the tunes – in particular the Billy In The Low Ground Set and The Belfast Hornpipe. I appreciate that without Luke Kelly or Ronnie Drew on vocals, their sixties ‘voice’ is not extant, but what we have here is a group of hard working professionals who can and do deliver a rounded performance of songs and tunes in the best Dubliners style – and the audience lapped it up. The co-producers – Hans Theessink and the DL’s own Eamonn Campbell have done a sterling job recreating the atmosphere of what was obviously a well-received trio of gigs.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 101 of The Living Tradition magazine.