Reading My Way Around the World

Friday 29 August 2014

CD Review - the Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk

Have you ever thought about what tracks you would include on a compilation album?   No?   Me neither ... Oh, I've made cassettes in the old days for driving or for walking or for parties etc. But a collection that will stay out there for ever is another thing altogether.   And I must say that the compiler of this new collection John O'Regan, has done an exceptional job.

The Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk is not like any of the collections you'll come across in airport shops or even online - this is totally new and takes in both traditional and contemporary Irish music - folk, songwriter, pub and even rock - from around the world.   There are contributors here, well known and not so famous, from North and south of the border, as well as from England, Canada and America.
It is a very current picture of what Irish music looks like these days.   And there are copious sleeve notes compiled by John who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Irish music business.

Among the well known acts are Clannad, Dervish, the Dubliners, Christy Moore and Sinead O'Connor and Horslips ( the first band I ever saw live and the first ones to mix traditional tunes with rock music).
There's also songwriters - John Spillane, Paul Brady and Luka Bloom for example.  All very quirky and very Irish.

And a couple of Afro-Irish fusion bands - this is a very new development in Irish music and is very popular at summer rock festivals - Irish is an Indo European language and in places sounds almost Arabic - both the bands Kila and Afro Celt Sound System make use of that, using the sounds of North Africa fused with traditional Irish tunes and singing in Irish ... Quite brilliant.

The CD is produced by Arc Music and is available to buy at that link.

On any given day I would pick different tracks to highlight but for today here are a couple of samples:
Martin Hayes (fiddle) and Dennis Cahill (guitar) - Paddy Fahey's Reel

Clannad - Rhapsody na nGrann

There are a couple of strange tracks on this - from very talented acts - I'm just not sure what the Irish connection is - For example this American family - the Willis Clan - where all 12 siblings play, sing and dance ... amazing. All 12 of them have a name beginning with J - they're climbing up the ranks of America's Got Talent at the minute - you'll either love them or hate them.  Personally I think they're all very talented and who wouldn't love the little one dancing.

What are your favourite compilations?  Have you been listening to any new CDs lately?


  1. Horslips reminds me of the potential of a compilation of the folk combined with Rock that became a fast in and out trend in the 70s, though I think Horslips was the only one in Ireland that got there in popularity. Thin Lizzy stroked it and perhaps could have done more as Phil Lynott has a love of folk music too.

    Tracks I would think of for such compilation would be

    Clannad - Dulaman
    Five Hand Reel - Trooper And The Maid
    Jack The Lad - Old Straight Track
    Fairport Convention - Come All Ye or Mattie Groves
    Steeleye Span - Saucy Sailor
    Horslips - King Of The Fairies
    Morris On - Cuckoo's Nest
    Gryphon - The Ploughboy's Dream
    Mr Fox - The Gay Goshawk
    Alan Stivell - Susy MacGuire
    JSD Band - Betsy
    Run Rig - An Ròs

    1. Good idea John. Horslips was my teenage crush :) I remember us all piling in to the Astoria in Bundoran to see them. There was also Skid Row .. with Brush Shiels. Remember them? And of course Clannad's Dulaman is gorgeous - I wouldn't have put them in the same group at all but now you mention it - of course they were.

      That'd make a very interesting album.

  2. Hi Fil .. sounds a fascinating collection especially with the notes to go with it ... I've added to my Christmas giving list .. and possible purchase list!

    Thanks for letting us know - and that group of Js .. well oh ok .. can't say I'm ever enamoured with You've Got Talent - here or there .. except I think Susan Boyle came from there .. and good for them - that they've been given that opportunity ...

    Cheers Hilary

    1. I'm glad you like it Hilary - and I have to say I agree with you about Talent Competitions! The ruination of the music business ….

  3. ... actually, change the Jack The Lad track to Fingal The Giant or Buy Broom Buzzoms (the second one I can imagine you singing Fil)

  4. Interesting collection. I don't think it's one I would buy though.

    1. Yes, it is definitely a different collection Jo.


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