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VARIOUS ARTISTS "In The Smoke" Globestyle CDORBD 088

"In The Smoke" is acompilation of Irish music and musicians recorded in the fifties, sixties, and seventies. This collection has been selected from LPs previously released on the Topic record label, several of which will still be a treasured and likely well worn part of many a record collection.

The twenty-seven tracks feature a broad range of styles starting with the fiddle playing of Bobby Casey on "The Bank of Ireland" and ending with "The Blackbird" from John Doonan on piccolo. Other gems include songs from Margaret Barry, "The Galway Shawl" and "The Flower of Sweet Strabane". More songs, "The Creel" and "The Rich Man's Daughter" this time from Packie Byrne. An all too short, jew's harp arrangement of "The Maid Behind the Bar" from The Wright Brothers and Paddy Neylan. More tunes from John Doonan, in particular the "Shannon Breeze/Heathery Breeze/Green Fields of America" set. The tracks from The O'Halloran Brothers on melodion and fiddle whetted my appetite for more of the same, as did the accordion, fiddle and flute playing from The Star of Munster Trio, John and Julia Clifford with son, Billy Clifford. Other artists to be heard are Noel Pepper, Tony Mcmahon, Jimmy Power, Tommy Healy and Johnny Duffy.

A lot of water has been passed below the bridge since the original recordings were made, so not all tracks are crystal clear, or, are of sparkling performances. Some were recorded in noisy bars and are redolent of spilled beer, full ashtrays and small rooms lit by forty watt bulbs, conditions not unfamiliar to session players today.

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 11 of The Living Tradition magazine.