Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Record a Week: The Chieftains - The Chieftains 4



SIDE 1.
DROWSY MAGGIE
MORGAN MAGAN
THE TIP OF THE WHISTLE
BUCKS OF ORANMORE
THE BATTLE OF AUGHRIM

SIDE 2.
THE MORNING DEW
CARRICKFERGUS
HEWLETT
CHERISH THE LADIES
LORD MAYO
MNA NA H√ČIREANN (Love Theme from Barry Lyndon - Women of Ireland)
O'KEEFFE'S SLIDE/AN SUISAN BAN/THE STAR ABOVE THE GARTER, THE WEAVERS

This is the Chieftain's 5th album (there was an album just called The Chieftains before they started the numbers thing, according to a few sources...though the band is officially listed as forming in 1963, four years after that album) and the first where they employ the harp. The album is credited with popularizing the style of Irish folk in other parts of the world.

This album is in large part the expected fiddle and pipes that you would associate with the genre. However, beyond that, they do an exceptional job using different tempos and techniques to set the mood and atmosphere without using any lyrics. A technique I have only heard executed many years after this by Godspeed You! Black Emperor and other such bands (and movie scores, but they have the aid of the movie itself to get the idea across). When you close your eyes, you can picture yourself in the scenario they are trying to portray instrumentally and that takes a lot of talent to do. This is particularly evident on the track "The Battle of Aughrim" where you can feel the slow, dark rise of a battle followed by the happier post-battle marching music.

It is easy to see how this album made famous both The Chieftains and Irish folk itself, as it is written and performed with excellence. It generally takes an album of this quality to bring a lesser known style of music to the forefront and allow more people to connect with it.

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