Emmet Spiceland

The First

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Though other musicians passed through Emmet Spiceland's lineup in the 1960s, on their sole album, they were a trio with future Planxty member Dónal Lunny and brothers Michael Byrne and Brian Byrne. The First offers pleasant, well-harmonized Irish folk-pop, though it's on the cheerily bland side. There's variety, including the kind of rousing singalongs the genre is known for, an a cappella vocal ("Slieve Gallon Braes"), classical-influenced harmonies ("O' Carolan's Concerto"), and a jig (in "A Couple o' Jigs," naturally), as well as wistful, sober ballads with very '60s orchestration like "Lover's Ghost" and "Mary from Dungloe." Those more reflective ballads proved to be their most popular songs, with "Mary from Dungloe" topping the Irish charts, and "Buncloudy" making the country's Top Ten, though their other big Irish hit, "Baidin Fheidhlimi," is not on this LP. The overall tone is stirring yet restrained and polite, and since in Britain and the U.S. that mood was more at home in the early- to mid-'60s folk scene than the more tumultuous sounds of the late '60s, it's not surprising that the record didn't catch on abroad. Note that the version of "Mary from Dungloe" here is different from the one released on a single, which prominently uses a flute in the arrangement.

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