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Celtic Compass 
Artist: Various 
Label: Compass Records 
Length: 14 tracks

Compass Records has firmly planted it's recording feet in Irish soil.  They have established themselves as the 'go-to' label for Irish, Celtic, and English folk music.  With their 2003 release of _Celtic Compass_ they bring a compilation of 14 tracks of the best of the best in  traditional and folk music. If you haven't tasted this genre then Celtic Compass is offering a buffet. 

The first track, "Meitheamh: Fleur De Mandragore/Ash Plant/Siobh'an O'Donnell" is a medley of three reels that are traditional, but lively.  Lunasa's trademark blend is best heard in this sampling taken from their Lunasa .  The second track, "A Costa De Galicia," performed by Sharon Shannon & Friends is your traditional Celtic jig, but with a definite Spanish influence.  This song can be found on her The Diamond Mountain Sessions

Third track up is by musician Paul Brady from a concert he gave in 1978.  The reel to reel tapes were found in his attic 22 years after the fact and Compass thought them good enough to include in this compilation.  This 19th century ballad, "Arthur Mcbride and the Seargeant," was also covered by Bob Dylan in his album Good As I Been to You and is a traditional Irish ballad.  You can find this song on Paul's The Liberty Tapes.  The fourth track has great piping from Paddy Keenan and Tommy O'Sullivan as they perform "O'Rourke's/The Spike Island Lassies/Lord McDonald's."  Paddy has been referred to as 'the Jimi Hendrix of the pipes' and it is worth a listen.  

The fifth track, "The Big Man/Waiting for Janet," is performed by Johb McCusker who is know for his ability on the fiddle, as well as several other instruments. You can have more of John's masterful fiddle on his Goodnight Ginger.  The sixth track is a traditional vocal arrangement by The Poozies entitled "Another Train' " This quartet of feminine voices can be found on their Raise Your Head CD.   

Eamonn Coyne has produced a traditional jig with his recording of '"Mazurka & Jigs" that can be found on his Through the Round Window CD.  Coyne is adept at mandolin, tenor guitar and banjo and is joined by members of the Irish band Altan.  On the eighth track Niall & Cillian Vallely show their talent in piping in their '"alfunction Junction" which can be found on Callan Bridge.  This is good traditional, upbeat piping with guitar. 

"There's the Day" on track nine is performed by Cathal McConnell.  Cathal is known for his ballads that can be both serious and silly and this one is both traditional and amusing.  Track ten has Tony McManus performing '"Lady Ann Montgomery's Reel/Eilish Brogan/Paddy Fahey's."  This is pure Celtic traditional music, but on an acoustic guitar with Tony's own blend of musical ability.  A unique song with good instrumental guitar.   

Track eleven by Bill Jones (Belinda Jones) is traditional folk, slow and wistful backed on piano and whistle.  '"Loving Hannah'"is a soothing song that can be found on Bill's Panchpuran.  Alan & John Kelly, brothers, bring the traditional Irish jig to life with substance in "The One That Was Lost/The Hag's Purse/The Black Rogue."  Not too fast and not too slow, but enough to soak in the richness of their talent. 

"Rolling Waves," performed by Michael McGoldrick and John McSherry off of their CD At First Light is a traditional, lively jig/dance.  Flute, pipes, whistles and bodhran are all found in this dance tune that takes you away from where ever you are at the moment.  Track fourteen features Kate Rusby in her song "I Wish" which can be found on her CD 10.  Kate performs a traditional folk song crafted from lyrics she found in a folksong book.  She has the ability to weave traditional folk with a contemporary sound that could play on any alternative station today. 

Again, pick what you like.  There's something for everyone. 

Leslie Bogar 3/30/2003


 

   
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