Musicians have been fusing traditional Celtic music with rock & roll since the '60s, but few have done it as successfully as the Canadian band Great Big Sea. Rant and Roar
is the band's sixth CD, and it's designed to introduce them to U.S. audiences by presenting the best songs from two of their earlier releases, Up
. Unlike most Celtic-rock fusion bands, Great Big Sea eschew electric guitars and synthesizers in favor of acoustic guitars and traditional instruments like bodhran, bouzouki, fiddle, flute, and whistle. But on tracks like "The Old Black Rum," a rousing drinking song in the Dubliners
tradition; the moving ballad "General Taylor"; or their cover of R.E.M.
's "End of the World," their instrumental prowess and powerful vocals more than make up for the lack of electric instruments. Not only have Great Big Sea scored hits with previously archaic song forms like sea shanties, drinking tunes, and ballads, they make these old songs rock. --Michael Simmons