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Gael Linn CEFCD 060

Paddy Glackin has taken the vibrant repertoire of his father's Donegal and given it a Dublin polish. His debut solo recording still thrills the senses, and reveals the deep roots and broad influences of one of today's finest Irish fiddlers. Originally released in 1977, there's something essentially 70s about this album. And I don't just mean the haircuts. Unlike Paddy's flowing locks, it's short by modern standards, but long on tracks because most are only a single tune. Some would probably not make it onto modern recordings: The Boyne Hunt here is rushed and unappealing, and Sean O'Dwyer lacks the variation and introspection which we seem to demand of slow airs nowadays. Be that as it may, there's a great deal of very fine fiddling here. 'The Pinch of Snuff' is just one of many big reels expertly handled, and the quirky 'Top It Off' does just that.

This recording also recalls the freshness and energy of The Bothy Band. The opening pair of reels 'Pat Tuohey's' and 'Old Cuffe Street' were 70s favourites. 'Julia Delaney's' is a Bothy Band classic recorded in 1975, and the harpsichord accompaniment by Micheál Ó Súilleabháin on three of these seventeen tracks is very reminiscent of Bothy Band arrangements. There are some great pieces of neglected Northern Irish music here too. 'The Boys of Malin' and 'The High Road To Linton' are a powerful combination, as are 'The King Of The Pipers' and 'The Swedish Jig'. 'The Hare In The Corn' set is a shining example of solo fiddling, and 'The Gravel Walk's demonstrates the power of ensemble fiddles on an old Donegal favourite, with Paddy joined by his father and two brothers. Much of the material here has since been recorded by Altan, Beginish and others: it's fascinating to hear how it was played thirty years ago.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 67 of The Living Tradition magazine.