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THE HIGH KINGS –DECADE (Celtic Connections ltd)

If your weakness is traditional Irish music, aided by sparkling flair then this 18-track retrospective collection from Dublin’s The High Kings will be right up their street, and many others too! Made up of thirteen previously recorded songs from original members, Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey (who has since left the band, and have had as a special guest Irish folk singer George Murphy perform on live shows) and Darren Holden’s stash, and five new songs the release is great value. 

Among the band’s finest they deliver tasty covers of “The Rare Auld Times”, “Four Green Fields”, Irish singer-songwriter Mick Hanly’s “Homeland”, Furey’s ‘Lonesome Boatman” and Phil Coulter’s “The Town I Loved So Well” and that’s before you get to the more seasoned fare from this wonderfully talented vocal and instrumental set of players. 

Among the most intriguing songs you have them take on a near bluegrass style to the banjo work opposed to the usual Irish tenor on Eric Bogle’s “The Green Fields Of France”. While with great poetic beauty, “The Black Velvet Band” enjoys a mighty arrangement, and stellar vocal interplay to stand alongside a select few as one of finest covers of the standard heard. It has excellent support in “Spancil Hill” (the patient opening piece gets to me every time), Brian Flynn’s toe-tapper “Irish Pub Song” (what wonderful whistle and flute!). Plus a rousing (live), believable version of “Friends for Life” and to round off the compilation you could not beat, another traditional song; and with every emotion tapped into “The Parting Glass” ticks all the boxes. 

Others to get you blood flowing included Coulter’s “Hand Me Down My Bible” and tender emotive ballad, “The Rare Auld Times” has old Dublin City affectionately remembered 

Maurice Hope

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April 2018

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