BEST OF THE ORIGINAL DUBLINERS features three CDs worth of the rough edged Irish rocker's hits including "Whiskey in the Jar" and "Seven Drunken Nights."
Personnel: John Sheahan (vocals, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, tin whistle, concertina); Ciar n Bourke (vocals, guitar, tin whistle, harmonica); Ronnie Drew (vocals, guitar); Barney McKenna (vocals, tenor banjo, mandolin, melodeon); Luke Kelly (vocals).
Liner Note Author: John O'Regan.
The original Dubliners -- Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Barney McKenna, Ciaran Bourke, and John Sheahan -- are represented on 51 songs cut between 1967 and 1972, starting (naturally) with "Seven Drunken Nights." The diversity of material encompasses drinking songs, ballads depicting romantic folly, sea shanties, covers of songs by Ewan MacColl and Pete Seeger (among others), and also political songs, with numerous variations and permutations. Among the great moments captured here is a live rendition of "Molly Maguires," which is simply transcendent in its intensity and passion, followed by "McAlpine's Fusiliers" (live from another venue), as restrained as the prior number is boisterous until the banjo break, when it takes on a larger-than-life quality. Besides the leadoff song, highlights such as "Whiskey in the Jar," "All for Me Grog," and "The Rising of the Moon" (those just from their albums Seven Drunken Nights and More of the Hard Stuff) are worth the price of admission, and there's a lot more here -- indeed, the contents of more than half a dozen LPs have been shuffled and jumbled up among the three discs, and the producers weren't afraid to draw upon live and studio renditions of the same songs, which only increases the fun. The remasterings all date from the mid-'90s and sound just fine -- even the backing voices are well-delineated, in textures that were only hinted at on the original LPs -- and unlike most of the EMI Gold series, this release even contains some annotation. ~ Bruce Eder