The Chieftains,
Another Country
(RCA Victor, 1992)

This is an oldie but great CD.

The Chieftains made their name with some fantastic renditions of traditional Irish music back in the 1960s. Albums like Bonaparte's Retreat were snapped up by a growing legion of fans. They are all highly accomplished musicians and have a genuine love of the music they play.

They moved into more mainstream audiences after the movie Barry Lyndon featured their music. Like all true musicians, Paddy Moloney and his cohorts saw the benefits of all types of music and following albums featuring music of China and other traditions they took another leap into the dark. In 1992, the Chieftains decided to team up with some of the best-known names in country music and the result was this often explosive CD.

Thank God, they decided to use real country artists rather than some of the whining local variety.

The guest line up here is like a Nashville wedding guest list. We have Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson and Don Williams, among others. The blend of Irish traditional instruments played by masters with the best in country music is magical.

"Wabash Cannonball" never sounded so good as it seems to careen through Irish countryside at a breakneck speed. "Goodnight Irene" is a very simple but great piece no matter who performs it, but it reaches new heights here. "Killybegs" is my personal favourite on the CD, as it brings country to Ireland with that lovely hint of folk music.

The 12-minute finale is the closest you will come to an Irish hooley on record. On this a Nashville studio becomes an Irish kitchen on a Saturday night. It sounds like a few pints were quaffed and the boxty bread was passed around before the assembled greats of music decided to have a musical free-for-all. It is impossible to describe. It has to be heard to be believed.

This is a CD for a number of collections. Buy if you like traditional Irish. Buy it for the great country songs. Buy it for the courage to experiment. This CD also led to some excellent collaboration with the Chieftains such as Long Black Veil.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 22 October 2002

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