Tag Archives: Celtic

[122] The Boys of The Lough – Live at Passim

7 Aug

Exciting and authentic, if I were to describe this album to you, it would sound identical to a description of The Bothy Band’s Old Hag You Have Killed Me, but each album is worthy and distinct in its own right.

Live at Passim

Live at Passim

In truth there is more range here than on the contemporary yet somehow more traditional Bothy album.  There are at once Classical leaning explorations (“The Day Dawn”) and wild Jazz tinged tangents on this live recording.

The highlight for me is the almost tape-loop minimalist effect achieved by the fiddles on “The Hound and the Hare” – it approaches Free Jazz levels of experimentation and is a wonder to hear.

The scope of what is heard here is larger than on most of the albums in any genre today, even including multiple hugely engaging moments of spoken word humor.

I enjoyed The Bothy Band well enough, but now I wonder if I might have found them a little lightweight if I had heard The Boys of the Lough first.  Perhaps it would be as valid to ask if I might have found Live at Passim impenetrable if I had discovered it before Old Hag . . .

In the end, for all the superficial similarities, there is certainly room for these two top notch examples of Celtic music from the 70s in my collection, and perhaps yours too.

Next Week: Johannes Brahms – Sonatas for Cello & Piano, Opp. 38, 99, 108

Owned before blogging? No. (11 of 122 = 9%)
Heard before blogging? No. (19 of 122 = 16%)
Recommend? Yes. (101 of 122 = 83%)

[119] The Bothy Band – Old Hag You Have Killed Me

17 Jul

Toe tapping, inventive and constantly changing, this album is fascinating.  And how can you not take a chance on an album with such a title?

Old Hag You Have Killed Me

Old Hag You Have Killed Me

Haunting ballads and whirling reels.  Gentle harps and frantic fiddles.  Even some stunning a capella.  Everything here is an extreme – enjoyable on its own but made astounding in context.

If ever there was an argument for the album format, Old Hag You Have Killed Me may be it.  It is at once moving and fun, quite a nifty trick.

There is so much going on here – such power, depth and nuance – that it is difficult to find the words to do it justice.  While I am surprised this has not been the case more often over the 2-plus years of this blog, it says something about the merits of this particular recording that instead of talking about it, I just want to listen again.

Check it out for yourself and discover this mix of alien and familiar, of ancient tradition and modern technique.  And just try figure out the logistics of “Fionnghuala” . . .

Next Week: Kalfou Danjere – Boukman Eksperyans

Owned before blogging? No. (10 of 119 = 8%)
Heard before blogging? No. (18 of 119 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (98 of 119 = 82%)

Guest Blogger Conan McNamara: The Bothy Band – Old Hag You Have Killed Me

13 Jul

Another guest who I have never met in person, Conan has been following along with my ramblings from the start via my parallel Geeklist at BoardGameGeek . . .

—–

I prefer my Celtic music simple, unembellished.  A slow reel from the strings of a capable fiddler is powerfully moving, distilling an emotional energy in me that’s unrivaled within my musical canon.  Then, within a moment, the fiddle picks up a jig and we’re spinning ‘round the room, boots beating out the rhythm, locking elbows, and embracing strangers.

On this album The Bothy Band give it to you both ways, leading off with the latter.  The first three songs are knockouts.  Two raucous reels sandwiching an impeccably harmonized a capella track.  Fiddles, whistle, and pipes take turns leading the melodies; each getting its solo moments, allowing me to savor the tune and the instrument’s tone.  The playing is impeccable, and the arrangements emphasize the tunes without embellishing them.

Eventually the album treads into musical territory that I enjoy less.  The Celtic equivalent of the adult contemporary ballad.  This record is nearly forty years old, but it might as well be a new release.  Even today the genre-standard seems to be including an ethereal ballad, hauntingly sung, with dramatic string arrangements.  It feels too calculated, too dreamy, and in the end too empty.  In trying to create ambiance, it loses the edge and energy that truly makes a song engaging The Bothy Band do offer redemption with a simple and beautiful female vocal track on the second half of the album.

Actually, this is the most diverse Celtic album I’ve heard.  So much musical ground is covered, that while I may rant about the ballads I have yet to skip a track on any of my dozen listens.  The Bothy Band provide a tour of trad music, and each song feels like it’s earned its place.  The pretenseless delivery of most songs give fresh context to the more fanciful tracks, which, in turn, help the jigs feel a bit more rambunctious.  The Bothy Band embrace a broad spectrum of traditional Irish music, and I think this album is certainly worth hearing before you die.

Also, the album gets one million bonus points for having the coolest title ever.

—–

Conan is a middle school teacher in Brunswick, Maine.  He lives with his wife and a conglomeration of pets representing several classes of chordates.

 A musician, reader, board gamer, disc golfer, woods walker, and cooking enthusiast; there is always music playing at Conan’s house, as has been the case since his teenage self found punk rock.  Subsequently he’s sought out, and been enamored by, music of all times, places, and styles.

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