The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem / The Dubliners / The Chieftains

In anticipation of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities, Sony/Legacy has remastered and reissued several classic Irish albums, just in time to help celebrate this hallowed holiday of the Irish and ophidiophobics everywhere. Put these records on, and revelers at your St. Patrick’s gathering will get their shamrocks off.

The Best of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem chronicles the career of the early ’60s Irish crooners who captivated an American public already swept up in a folk revival of epic proportions. Opening with a hearty rendition of “The Rising of the Moon,” the album charmingly captures the essence of Ireland’s troubadour traditions. Meanwhile, the group’s legendary sense of humor is amply represented with an abundance of jokes and stories that preface a number of the live selections.

If the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem represented the Beatles of ’60s Irish folk, the Dubliners were the Rolling Stones: raw, boisterous and just a bit risqué. While only five of the seven verses of the group’s rowdy 1967 single “Seven Drunken Nights” (a catchy ditty that recounts an inebriated husband’s inability to recognize his wife’s promiscuous activities) were recorded, what remained got it banned by Irish national radio. That notorious single, however, pales in comparison to the craft and warmth of the remaining cuts on The Best of the Dubliners.

In 1977, Americans were immediately enthralled when they got their first taste of the Chieftains’ driving bodhrín and lilting pipes. The strongest reels and ballads from the group’s first four albums make up The Best of the Chieftains, which includes popular early offerings such as “Boil the Breakfast Early” and “O’Sullivan’s March.” The arrangements are as intricate as a Celtic knot, and the compositions are as crisp as a brisk Sunday morning walk along a country lane, perfectly capturing the intrigue and amiable nature of the Chieftains’ native land.

Categories: Music