The Rankin Family,
(EMI Music Canada, 1996;
Rounder, 1999)

The Rankin Family's Collection is exactly that: a collection of their best-known songs and tunes from previous recordings. Also included is one new track, "Down By the Sally Gardens," which features several members of the Chieftains as well as Donal Lunny. There are two new versions of older songs as well. "Roving Gypsy Boy" has been remixed and "Mull River Shuffle" is a live recording. There is also an enhanced portion to the CD that contains videos for songs that have been released as singles and other interesting tidbits.

Unfortunately, the first album is only represented by the remixed "Roving Gypsy Boy," despite having provided many favourites among fans. The group's No. 1 hit "Fare Thee Well Love" is included, as are such great songs as "Rise Again," "North Country" and "Orangedale Whistle." "Grey Dusk of Eve (Portobello)" from the EP Grey Dusk of Eve is here, too. Sung with Liam O'Maonlai of Irish group Hothouse Flowers, it is a Gaelic song, "Leis An Lurgainn," about crossing the ocean in a storm, mixed with original English lyrics.

Although the family has based much of their repertoire on Gaelic, traditional English and instrumental pieces, very little of that appears here. There is one instrumental set and one full Gaelic song, plus "Grey Dusk of Eve (Portobello)." "Mull River Shuffle" incorporates extended instrumental sections, but also has lyrics. The vast majority of the songs are original songs, mostly by brother Jimmy. This album seems to have been made to appeal to a wider group than most of their recordings would, as so much of their standard material is neglected.

The album is lovely and despite holes in the song selection, Collection contains excellent music and the wonderful voices of this talented family. If you have most of their recordings already, though, you probably don't need it.

- Rambles
written by Jean Emma Price
published 25 April 2004

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