The Chieftains

Ballad of the Irish Horse

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This album served a two-fold purpose, comprising the official Chieftains release for 1985 and the soundtrack to the National Geographic documentary Ballad of the Irish Horse. The Chieftains' second soundtrack release in as many years (preceded by their music for The Grey Fox), this one is closer in spirit to their formal albums, as the documentary had no "dramatic" structure. The group, supported by an orchestra for some of the material, furnishes almost 40 minutes of Irish folk-style music (virtually all of it credited to Paddy Moloney), some of it driving and some of it lilting (and a little of it, such as "Lady Hemphill," both), bracketed by moody instrumental music in a more traditional cinematic style -- although even here, the Chieftains manage to put their familiar stamp on the material, by way of pipes or percussion. And, in a rare departure, Keven Conneff turns in a vocal performance on "Galway Races," which could easily be the highlight of the album, even in the face of such hauntingly beautiful pieces as "Scéal Na Gcapall -- The Story of the Horse."

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