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MAURICE LENNON "Brian Boru, The High King of Tara" TARACD3038

There must be something in the Lennon genes; they've been great exponents of the Leitrim style of traditional music for decades and now Maurice has finalised a 20-year old idea. This is a musical biography of Brian Boru, certainly the greatest of the High Kings of Ireland. Whatever about his methods, he certainly made the office something to be reckoned with. No Ard Rí, before or since, made such an impact. We remember the battle of Clontarf in 1014 the way Scots remember 1314, and the English remember 1966.

With the exception of "Brian Boru's March", which is given the menacing treatment it deserves, and extracts from an ancient poem said to have been written by Brian's own bard, this is all Lennon's own work. The tunes are traditional in style, but they translate into something much deeper. I suppose it would have been easy enough to shoehorn tunes into place, but there's plainly been a lot of thought gone into this work. It hangs together really well.

There are more instruments on this than you'd see at a fleadh, played by the cream of the crop of musicians. There's not one I wouldn't trust with a favourite tune. This has the feel of a concert version of a much more complex production; I'd like to see a it as an open-air show. If Bill Whelan's listening.

This isn't a CD to dip into; it needs to be heard as a complete work. Pour a glass of Jameson's or, better still, open a bottle of Tyrconnel, and immerse yourself in a dark and bloody episode of Irish history.

Mick Furey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.