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Chieftains 1
Chieftains 2
2000 (1964),

Over thirty years and thirty albums ago, a group of Irish musicians who were well-acquainted with each other from traditional music sessions in local pubs gathered for what was intended to be a one-off recording. With a sound built in large part around the strength of Paddy Moloney’s Uillean pipes (sometimes referred to as "Irish bagpipes"), they decided to call themselves The Chieftains. Their debut was a completely instrumental work—which was unusual at the start of the sixties folk revival. Chieftains 1 was popular in their native Ireland, but not available in the U.S. until the mid-1970’s.

Their next album came along five years later, and saw the first personnel change in the group: Peadar Mercier replaced the David Fallon on the bodhran (the Irish drum) and Sen Keane joined Martin Fay, adding a second fiddle (no pun intended) to the group.

They’ve since gone on to become international superstars, recording with everyone from Nanci Griffith to Van Morrison and The Rolling Stones. They’ve composed the soundtrack music to films such as Barry Lyndon, Circle of Friends, Far and Away and Rob Roy. They’ve appeared on NBC’s "Saturday Night Live." And the Chieftains were the first group to play in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol building, at the request of Tip O’Neill and Edward Kennedy, in 1983.

Their first two albums, Chieftains 1 and Chieftains 2, have previously been available only in a boxed set or on vinyl. Claddagh Records, their original Irish label, are now releasing them individually on CD.

Chieftains 1 features lots of slow airs and very traditional Irish music, accompanied primarily by the tin whistle, bohdran and Moloney’s pipes. Chieftains 2 is more of the same, but is worth picking up if only for "The Foxhunt," where the band uses a "Peter and the Wolf"-like variety of instrumentation and rhythms to take the listener on a hunting expedition.—Michael Gaither

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