The Chieftains

The Chieftains 4

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This record, made on the eve of the group's breakthrough in the United States, is where the modern Chieftains sound began. It is filled with too many instances of hauntingly beautiful music to name, from the gorgeous, reflective "Morgan Magan" to the rousing fiddle reel "The Bucks of Oranmore." Not only is all of the material absolutely first rate -- and all of it holds up on repeated listening -- but this was the first of the group's albums to include harpist Derek Bell. His presence has the curious effect of softening but deepening their sound, and adding a degree of lyricism that they'd previously lacked. There are moments on this album where the group sounds as much like a chamber orchestra as a folk ensemble, and it fulfills both roles exceptionally well (as listeners to the numerous albums that have appeared since can attest). The lineup here -- Paddy Moloney (pipes, tin whistle), Sean Potts (tin whistle), Michael Tubridy (flute, concertina, tin whistle), Martin Fay (fiddle), Seán Keane (fiddle), Peader Mercier (bodhran, bones), Derek Bell (harp) -- is generally considered the peak of the group's membership and history, and lasted until the end of the decade.

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