Hair of the Dog,
Release the Hounds
(October Eve, 1997)

I enjoyed At the Parting Glass so much, I was more than happy to accept an offer to review Hair of the Dog's earlier album, Release the Hounds. This 1997 release is, like its previously reviewed successor, packed to the gills with traditional Irish songs performed with enthusiasm and style.

Hair of the Dog is a fun band. That's the simplest way to say it. They're not out there breaking new ground, nor are they striving to reinvent themselves as something other than they are -- a fun, lively, pub band full of heart and oodles of talent.

Optimally, you'll see this band live. It's obvious from their recordings, both of which are largely recorded in live venues, that they shine with an audience to bounce their energy right back at them.

This album, recorded primarily at the Albany Ancient Order of Hibernian Hall, is filled with songs guaranteed to get Irish devotees singing along. Look for the usuals: "Mountain Dew," "Back Home in Derry," "The Wild Rover," "Black and Tan," "The Wild Colonial Boy," "The Moonshiner," "Black Velvet Band," "Tim Finnegan's Wake," "I'll Tell Me Ma," "The Orange and the Green," "Drunken Sailor" and "Barley Mow." The latter, not so well known as the others, is a sure-fire way to get patrons to hoist a few pints -- so, designated drivers, be on your guard!

While the overall tone of the album is more traditional than the band's later offering, it still carries a few surprises. Sure, "MTA" is a popular song among Boston's Irish musicians, but Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" is a little less familiar in Celtic music circles. Still, it works because it's sung with gusto and evokes a wholehearted response from the crowd.

Hair of the Dog has become a personal favorite. I'd love to see these guys perform live, and I hope someday our travels bring us together. 'Til then, I'm happy to have them on disc.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 30 May 2002

Buy it from