The Chieftains

The Chieftains 7

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    7
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7 was the first Chieftains album released in the States by Columbia, though the group had been playing together and recording in some form since the early '60s. (Actually, 7 was first released in Ireland on the Claddagh label, and issued in America the subsequent year.) Truth be told, Chieftains albums don't vary enormously from one to the other. But this is one is, as expected, Irish traditional music of a high standard, and more varied within its LP-length program than many other such albums of the genre are. What makes the group stand out from many other Irish folk ensembles is the insistent percussive beats of their more up-tempo numbers, the rhythms held by bodhran and bones. More subtly, there's a gentleness and pastoral sensitivity to their treatments that eludes the brusquer, more in-your-face Irish combos. All those qualities are in force on this set, the percussive thrust coming to the fore on the opening "Away We Go Again," Derek Bell's beautiful harp highlighting the wistful "Dochas (Hope)" and the Carolan tunes "John Connor and the Ode to Whiskey." Elsewhere, the pace varies between jigs, reels, and slower selections, everyone in the band getting a chance to both take the spotlight and play as part of a team effort.

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