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HE DUBLINERS - Too Late To Stop Now! The Very Best of The Dubliners

THE DUBLINERS - Too Late To Stop Now! The Very Best of The Dubliners (2 CD Collection)
Demon Music Group DMGTV 031

It is extraordinary to think that it is over forty years since I first saw The Dubs. And amazing to think that I would be reviewing a new release of theirs in 2006.

Except of course, it is not exactly "new". The first CD sees a rich haul from a raid on their glorious CD and vinyl back-catalogue. Twenty magnificent tracks all sounding as fresh as a daisy when (jointly) re-mastered by John Sheahan (and HE should know about "veracity" when it comes to re-producing The Dubs' original sound!).

I just can't fault it. How touching to hear dear Luke Kelly's voice again. Tell me that I am NOT imagining it: he really DID have a voice that somehow spoke to one's innermost emotional spot, didn't he? I mean that it has nothing to do with 20/20 hindsight, now that we reflect on how relatively young he was when he died.

So many of the old favourites are there on CD One. And they are there on CD Two also. Except that the second disc is a live recording of the 40 th Anniversary Concert, recorded in 2002 at the Gaiety in Dublin. And here, old mid Sixties' favourites like Seven Drunken Nights and Black Velvet Band, are cheek-by-jowl with Eighties' Dubs' songs like The Fields of Athenry (written by Pete St. John in 1979). This last song has an appreciative audience giving the chorus a bit of welly. And Paddy Reilly delivers it with the same wonderful assurance he delivers almost everything else he tackles on this second disc.

It is truly a splendid feast. Push me to choose just one track to save from the fire, and then it has to be Sean Cannon's 1987 singing of The Rose of Allendale. It was recorded when Sean's soaring voice was at its most golden. It is a voice up there with John McCormack's and Josef Locke's. In the unlikely event that you have not got a Dubliners CD in your collection, put matters right here.

So is this a puff-job review? Is there NOTHING that disappointed this reviewer? Well, sorry to seem like I am president of the Dubs' fan club, but there wasn't. Well not really. But okay, if you push me to nit-pick, then here's one very minor note of censure. It relates to the spelling on the liner notes.

(No, not the phony spelling of "craic" for "crack". There is nothing remotely Gaelic about this Lowland Scots word. But the battle is lost here, I fear, when you get such erudite guys as Colin Irwin using this solecism in a recent book title.) No, I refer to their marvellous version of Fiddler's Green. Come on fellows! John Conolly is not the brother of The Big Yin!

Dai Woosnam

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This album was reviewed in Issue 71 of The Living Tradition magazine.