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Johnny Connolly

JOHNNY CONNOLLY - An Mileoidean Scaoilte
Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 157

An instant classic, An Mileoidean Scaoilte is the third solo recording from Spiddal melodeon-player Johnny Connolly. Don't confuse him with others of the same name: this is the original and best. Johnny plays with a rare lift and flair, coaxing sparks from a deceptively simple instrument. Charlie Lennon's accompaniment is an added joy. The tunes on this recording are from the heart of the Connemara tradition, set-dancing favourites and showpieces to delight any enthusiast. The entire middle section, five tracks, is a complete run through the Connemara Set in Johnny's inimitable style. There's perhaps a little less energy and poise than on Johnny's first CD, An t-Oilean Aerach, but you'd only notice on a couple of tracks.

Miss McLeod's and George White's Favourite, Humours of Glendart and The Monaghan Jig (no relation), this CD is full of great music. Reels and jigs mainly, of course, but there's a powerful slow air and a couple of fine hornpipes for good measure. My favourites include two unusual tracks: the gentle waltz The Rose of Aranmore and Emmet the Piper which is neither a march nor a jig but something in between. The jig and reel medley Bean an Raidió and Paddy in Preston is surprising on such a traditional album: not a lot of call for that in set dances, but these are both fine compositions by Johnny's box-player son, Johnny Og. Johnny finishes off with a couple of rousing reels, Lucy Campbell and The Ship in Full Sail, the perfect end to a memorable recording of Irish dance music.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 61 of The Living Tradition magazine.