Slainte: The Tunes concentrates on the band's instrumental performances, while its companion volume, Slainte: The Songs offers the group's vocal arrangements. And while Slainte is a talented instrumental group, it has to be admitted that an album without their characteristic vocal harmonies is an album missing one of the best and most popular aspects of their performances. So while this is a skillfully produced collection, fans of the Slainte vocalists need to look to the group's other albums to satisfy that lyric aspect. That said, anyone who participates in Irish dancing will find this an album to get toes tapping. Some selections appear on other Slainte collections, such as "Reels," "The Lark in the Morning," and "Cup of Tea." As is typical with Slainte, all instruments, especially the stringed ones, are played with skill and deft touch. Bozoukis, concertina, accordion, and cittern bring in notes of variety that harmonize well with the mainstays of fiddles, guitar, and bass. New on this album are "The Bucks of Oranmore," a lively cheerful reel, and "Si Beag Si Mohr," which features some lovely whistle work. The challenge with whistle playing is to keep the notes clear and true, without straying across the border into shrill tones. It is a challenge that Kent Hooper rises to, skillfully, to the benefit of his listeners. Both haunting and ethereal, "The Butterfly" is another truly outstanding performance. Small wonder it was selected to be the signature tune throughout the movie The Secret of Roan Inish. While this album may have slightly less appeal for casual listeners, unless they prefer instrumental music, long-time fans will want it for the new releases it includes.
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