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Here’s a good question: if you are an experienced Irish music lover, is there any reason to buy compendium albums? The answer is assuredly, yes. No matter how much time you spend in Irish music, there are hundreds or thousands of songs, tunes, and singers whom you have not heard. Look, everyone knows what they like. That takes no knowledge or experience. You either like Clannad or not. Christy Moore, or not. DeDannan or not. It is a far different thing to really know Irish music at its core. So yes, unless you’re an expert (and how many actual experts are there?) there is much to be gained from a wonderful compendium album. Which brings us to the Tara-released, Masters of Their Craft. There are so many treats here that even those of us who live in this, haven’t heard a few. Listen to this line-up: Shaun Davey, Rita Connelly, Stockton’s Wing, Clannad, Moving Hearts, Planxty, Christy Moore, Davy Spillane, Liam O‘Flynn, Nollaig Casey and Arty McGlynn. The deal is that Tara is one of the three great labels in Irish music. Therefore, any compendium album of music from Tara has to be terrific. That doesn’t mean that you are going to like every one of the 18 cuts. You’re not. And, in a perverse way, that is exactly the point. If, like me, you think that Smenceno Horo by Planxty is a dreadful assault on the ears which leads the listener to wonder why it is even on an Irish CD, you will not be alone. Planxty has a lot of explaining to do for that little “gem”. Again, that’s the point, because on this same album you’ll find wondrous things such as two less frequently heard compositions by Shaun Davy, Ireland’s greatest composer. You will also hear a magical piece of work called Muineira De Poio by piper, Liam O’Flynn and the wonderful Galician piper, Carlos Nunez. Magic. It follows that one of Ireland’s top three labels, Tara, would release something this tasty. But, it is not just that you will love the overwhelming majority of these tunes, it is that you will also receive an education of the ear and heart. You’ll find new favs, and be reminded why you love some of the old friends. The variety is stunning. If you don’t care for the drums in Stockton’s Wing, you’ll love the traditional perfection of the iconic, The Good Ship Kangaroo by the aforementioned, Planxty. Daire’s Dream by Davy Spillane is gorgeous and a treat. A real treat. Masters of Their Craft may not deepen your technical understanding of the complexities of Irish music. However, it will deepen your appreciation. If you are an experienced Irish music lover, what is better than hearing old friends while discovering the new? If you are new to the scene, brace yourself Bridgid, you are in for a wonderful journey and Masters of Their Craft is the vehicle to begin the trip. We know that the iconic, Copperplate Distribution in London has this available. Just go to them online.
There is a commonly held believe among Irish record companies and producers that compendium albums do not sell well in the British Isles because people are already familiar with the contents. They do, however, sell well in the United States. This assumes the old Irish shibboleth about the musically ignorant Yank. If it is true that compendiums sell better in the States, there is another reason. CDs are far more expensive in Europe. Therefore, listeners are not as liable to take an economic toss of the dice to discover some new tunes. In America, we can afford to fully enjoy what a compendium experience brings to the table. Be it Europe or America—or anywhere else, compendium albums are a unique gift. A good one can actually reinvigorate your musical enjoyment. Masters of Their Craft is a really good one. Big time. We heartily recommend it to all lovers of Irish music, whether you really understand the art form, or like 98% of the listeners, “just know what you like”. Just know that you will like this, a whole bunch.
*Don’t forget to tune in Imelda Bhroga and me every week on LiveIreland.com, Sundays at 12 noon Chicago time on liveireland.com Each week, we bring you two hours of the real Irish music, broadcst on the net from Dublin, Ireland. We are told that it is now one of the most listened-to programs on Irish music in the world. With the reach of LiveIreland.com we can believe it.
*While you have your listening ears on, don’t forget Maryann Keifer and my weekly program, Ireland Tonight on WDCB-fm, 90.9. You can also hear it on wdcb.org. A full hour of the best music, and lots of local chat about what is going on and coming in.

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Tags: Masters of Their Craft, tara

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Comment by Bill Margeson on November 24, 2013 at 6:13

Thanks, Mark! And yes, the next column will be up VERY soon, with full Xmas recommendations!

Comment by Mark Haynes on November 24, 2013 at 4:46

Hey Bill! Bought this CD on your recommendation; what a gem!! Thanks! Heard some artists I was not familiar with, so it was well worth the purchase. Hope you will be making Christmas recommendations - not necessarily holiday music per se, but some good music for gift giving or putting on the wish list! Take care and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Mark

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