The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46624 Message #943497
Posted By: Fortunato
30-Apr-03 - 09:59 AM
Thread Name: Review: PHILLY FOLKSONG SOCIETY Reviews
Subject: RE: Review: PHILLY FOLKSONG SOCIETY Reviews
The Chieftains: "Down The Old Plank Road, The Nashville Sessions"
More snow! We want more snow. And that ain't all. How about some more wind and sleet? Yeah, that's the ticket. This is the first winter when I can't taunt my daughter about her living in New England. Boy, is my nose red.
This month, I have heard some dandy CDs, some big time, some independent, some in between. The major release du jour is RCA Victor's ambitious "The Chieftains, Down The Old Plank Road, The Nashville Sessions" which links the venerable Celtic quintet with an all-star array of Bluegrass giants in a mulligatawny that works more often than it doesn't. Genre mixing is a dangerous practice. (I have never forgotten the spectacle of Met Soprano, Helen Traubel, belting a Bessie Smith blues with equal parts of sincerity and embarrassment.)
This project is more a test of flexibility for the Chieftains than for their collaborators. Except for a few dance tunes like "Sally Goodin" (featuring a very traditional Earl Scruggs lead), a medley of reels with Bela Fleck bending over backwards to sound Irish and the obligatory "everybody gets a turn at the mike" finale, the numbers are pretty solid Bluegrass trad, and the strengths and the limitations of the Chieftains are as visible as their bravery.
There are so many shining moments on this recording that I am loathe to rate them all, but among my favorites of my favorites were Alison Krauss's singing and playing that tragic "Molly Bawn", her fiddle blending with Sean Keane's and punctuated with those signature Bela Fleck triplets. Another great cut was "Katie Dear" sung by the dynamic Gillian Welch and David Rawlings with Jeff White on guitar. If I passed over that medley of reels, I beg your pardon. It is always grand to hear Bela Fleck play the best Bluegrass banjo on the planet. Oh, and don't miss Ricky Skaggs, that great protector of the traditional values of Bluegrass music, as he rips his way through "You Ought To See My Cindy".
Paddy Maloney, the piper noster of the Chieftains, produced the CD and did the lion's share of the arrangements. I applaud his effort and recommend this very entertaining recording.
Michael Miller for PFS
Reprinted from PFS "Tune Up," by permission