Ring in the Holiday Season with The Bells of Dublin

CD Recommendation:

The Chieftains’ The Bells of Dublin

Reynolds Rap By Gail Reynolds

Chyrisse Tabone’s recent review of the Dunedin Celtic Festival coinciding with the advent of the holiday season, brought to mind an exceptional Christmas CD, The Bells of Dublin by the legendary traditional Irish music group The Chieftains.

Like the ensemble itself, this 1991 treasure successfully blends genre purity and eclectic musical forms. The Chieftains join the The Renaissance Singers on various choral selections performed in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral.

Nanci Griffith does an effectively stark rendition of “Wexford Carol.” Rickie Lee Jones, accompanied by cello, does a surprisingly poignant rendition of “O Holy Night.” Equally surprising is Marianne Faithfull’s “I Saw Three Ships A Sailing.”

Not overlooking the connections between Irish and French-Canadian music, Kate and Anna McGarrigle (AKA, Rufus Wainwright’s mother and aunt) join the Chieftains for “Il Est Ne`” and “Ca Berger.” The French Celtic tradition is further represented by Brittany’s Nolwen Monjarret’s vocals on “A Breton Carol.”

An edgy element is provided by Jackson Browne”s “The Rebel Jesus.” Elvis Costello goes a step further with his scathing portrayal of family holiday gatherings in his “St. Stephen’s Day Murders.” This alludes to the December 26 tradition of wren-hunting, a custom more straightforwardly represented in “The Wren! The Wren — Hunting of the Wren.”

This 62 minute CD comprises several Celtic medleys, giving the listener more musical selections than the 23 bands suggest. The Bells of Dublin is a perfect addition to the holiday collection of lovers of modern Celtic music

The Chieftains with Elvis Costello “St. Stephen’s Day Murders”


Gail Reynolds