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The Best of Altan

4.9 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 21, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Irish music full of heart, imagination and respect for tradition is the best way to describe Altan. This collection includes a Limited Edition Bonus CD recorded live in Germany 1989 as well as their best known classics.

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It's hard to qualify what "best of" could mean in the case of a band as prolific as Altan. This was a record label collection (the best of the Green Linnet years) and it is just that from Frankie Kennedy's slow reel, "The Sunset," through the jigs, reels and airs that they play so well. Mairead Ni Mhaoinaigh on fiddle also supplies their trademark voice, Ciaran Tourish and Paul O'Shaughnessy are on fiddles as well, Frankie Kennedy is on flute plus various instruments by Ciaran Curran, Mark Kelly and Daithi Sproule. As a bonus there is a second CD, a live recording taken from the soundboard of a 1989 concert. --Louis Gibson

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Tommy Peoples/The Windmill/Fintan McManus's
  2. Moll Dubh A' Ghleanna
  3. Jimmy Lyon's/The Teelin/The Red Crow/The Broken Bridge
  4. The Sunset
  5. Glory Reel/The Heathery Cruach
  6. The Flower Of Magherally
  7. Mazurka
  8. A Bhean Udai Thall
  9. King Of The Pipers
  10. 'Si Do Mhaimeo I
  11. The Jug Of Punch
  12. The Emyvale/Ril Gan Ainm/The Three Merry Sisters Of Fate
  13. An Mhaighdean Mhara
  14. Dulaman
  15. Drowsy Maggie/Rakish Paddy/Harvest Storm
  16. An Feochan

Disc: 2

  1. Con Cassidy's/Neil Gow's Highland/Moll And Tiarna/McSweeney's
  2. The Yellow Tinker/Lady Montgomery
  3. Thug Me Ruide
  4. Ta Mo Chleamhnas A Dheanamh
  5. The Curlew/McDermott's/Three Scones Of Boxty/Unnamed Reel
  6. Tuirse Mo Chroi
  7. Paddy's Trip To Scotland/Dinky's/The Shetland Fiddler
  8. Johnny's Wedding/Rogue's Reel/The Gravel Walk


Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 21, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Alliance
  • ASIN: B000005CQH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,178 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I'm an Irish music snob and tend to shun any band that gets too much attention. So I avoided Altan for a long time until I finally picked up this collection. I couldn't have been more wrong about them. Traditional and high-spirited without being too pop. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this recording having done very little research on the group, but I knew enough about them to know that what I was getting myself into was special. This quintet has the unbelievable ability to alternate between any style of music: love songs sung in gaelic, mazurkas, ballads, vocals, instrumentals-- they do it all. Another pleasant surprise which is not printed on the case is that the recording comes with a bonus live CD that contains another 7 or 8 songs. As an enthusiast of the sound of "live" music, I was thrilled with the bonus CD. I can listen to this CD no matter what mood I am in, and the end result is always the same: pure happiness.
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Format: Audio CD
As retrospectives go, this is a good one, and captures the pace that Altan brings to a regular release. The entire history is represented here, at least as it was distributed by Green Linnet. The early trio date with Frankie, Mairead and Ciaran Curran through the final formation as sextet before Frankie's passing with the additions of Ciaran Tourish, Daithi Sproule and Dermot Byrne are well represented. The weaker points come from "Horse With a Heart" which has something missing in Phil Cunningham's production, though I am hard pressed to say what it is that's missing.
Perhaps the element of personnel flux is at its most vulnerable during these early days, as Paul Shaunnesy and Mark Kelly were sometimes on and sometimes off because of their day jobs. It really wasn't until "The Red Crow" that Frankie and Mairead made the decision to leap forward with this band as their career, and it is with that release that Altan really catches fire.
The shadows of Johnny Dougherty, Con Campbell, James Byrne and Robert Cinnamond loom large in the soul of this band, and in no uncertain terms they took the Donegal-Ulster tradition of Irish music and carried it from the back bothrins of Gaoth Dobhair to front and center in the Irish Cultural Renaissance of the 80's and 90's.
But, the real gem here is the limited edition version that carried a live CD with it. Having promoted them live in Philadelphia 4 times, once at my own establishment that is wonderfully recorded on tape as well as shows at Bluett Theatre, whose video capture by Drexel University is just breathtaking, I can tell you that Altan is a Very Different Beast LIVE. No quarter is asked or given.
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Format: Audio CD
While I've casually enjoyed Celtic music when I've heard it on the radio or performed at folk festivals, this recording by Altan, and another called "Blackwater," turned me into a real fan.
With roots firmly planted in the traditional music of Ireland and using traditional acoustic instruments, Altan is not above giving a more contemporary groove or chording to some of these delightful and energetic tunes. No drums or electric bass here, but who needs 'em? This group always lifts my spirits and sets my toe to tapping. Highly recommended!
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Format: Audio CD
I'm knew to the celtic world and have been diving into buying my music without even knowing what they sound like or whether I'll like them or not. This one I got lucky. I really like this group and album. It took me a few listens to appreciate them but when I did I really did. If your anything like me (and are new to the celtic world) then I recommend this one. It'll make you wanta search for other celtic groups. Altan changes it around pretty well Their instrumentals sound like "blue grass" (Where do you think blue grass got it's roots?) and the singing it'll either make you feel like dancing a jig or holding your love one in your arm. It's never depressing though only either beautifully done or knee slapping good. Give it a shot.
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Format: Audio CD
Skilled, practiced, perfectly executed fast reels and jigs. The best version of Dulaman I've ever heard. The bonus CD crackles with the freshness only live performances can give, and I have been known to play track 1 (Con Cassidy's/Neil Gow's Highland/Moll and Tiarna/McSweeney's) as many as seven times in a row. Lovers of Riverdance will love this CD.
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Format: Audio CD
Altan is a beautiful example of TRUE Celtic folk music! It is often hard to find artists who posess the passion and talent of true Celtic music. And Altan, especially on this album, shows us all aspects of this genre's face. From the fast, up-beat reels, to Mairead's beautifully sung lullabies, The Best of Altan is sure to keep your spirit soaring, and your feet dancing!
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By A Customer on October 30, 1999
Format: Audio CD
When I first dove into cultural music, I began with Varttina, a Finnish group. Then I found Altan, and they're absolutely wonderful. The fiddles, the pipes, the mellow voice of the female, I love it all. Celtic music is truly great.
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