“The Dubliners In Concert” by The Dubliners - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1965Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

During 1964, the Dubliners had become Ireland’s top selling artists, were TV regulars, and were playing to sell-out houses. The association with Transatlantic was helping to spread their fame to America, Australia, and New Zealand. For their second LP, it was decided that another live set would represent them best, and the album was duly recorded on the 4th December 1964 at Cecil Sharp House, the traditional home of British Folk Music. “The Dubliners In Concert” is superior to last years’ debut in many ways; where “The Dubliners” (1964) had been concert-hall conservative (by their boisterous standards), the follow-up was, by the time the end of side 2 came around, just that bit more raucous, that bit more representative of their pub-style, as adept with the foot tappers as the graceful airs. The craic was grand, it was musically rich and diverse, and many definitive versions were laid down of enduring Dubliners classics. Feeding from each other, the audience and the group had a rare auld time.

Since the previous LP, the group had lost one player and gained two. Luke Kelly – who couldn’t make up his mind if he wanted in or out – was off adventuring in England (again) at this time. Coming into the line-up were two Dublin natives, the 29 year-old singer / guitarist Bob Lynch, and the 25 year-old fiddle / mandolin / tin whistle player John Sheahan. Bob was already established as a solo artist in the thriving Dublin club circuit of the 1960s. His and John Sheahan's entry into the group seems interlinked as they had previously played together briefly as a duo. With the addition of these two, The Dubliners assumed a new degree of musical virtuosity as John O’Regan noted in his excellent reissue liner notes for Sanctuary: “Sheahan's classical training and his instrumental talents on fiddle, mandolin and tin whistle added a greater musical sophistication. Now he and Barney McKenna could attempt mandolin duets on the slow air “Róisín Dubh” and he and Ciarán Bourke could double on tin whistles to back songs such as “Roddy McCorley”… with their first flush of youthful swagger intact, The Dubliners took no prisoners. This was a swashbuckling live band tossing out fire and brimstone Irish music shot through with heart and authority. They had the musical dexterity and attitude combined in one explosive package.”

Vocally, there are 5 from Ronnie Drew, 3 from Ciarán Bourke and 2 from Bob Lynch, with 4 instrumentals allowing John Sheahan and Barney McKenna to shine individually and together. Their “Róisín Dubh” (“Dark Rosaleen”) mandolin duet is beyond magnificent; it’s one of the finest, most spine-tingling pieces in all of traditional folk music. The centuries-old poem tells, allegorically, of the hopes of the native Irish, specifically the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, that the Pope and the King of Spain might come to their aid as Gaelic Ireland was being crushed and anglicised by English forces. The call to arms is well concealed in the poem to avoid “treasonable utterances” for which the penalty was death. Luckily, with no incriminating vocals, Ronnie’s life was not endangered and he was able to marvel at the performance from the safety of back stage.

Ronnie’s 5 in the spotlight are: “The Twang Man”, “The Woman From Wexford”, “Easy And Slow” (ridiculously banned by Radio Eireann for being “dirty”), “The Old Orange Flute” (a hoot) and “The Leaving Of Liverpool”, which delivers shed loads of sentimentality and still sounds as hard as nails whilst doing so. That’s the Ronnie Drew magic for you – it cannot be copied by any other.

Bob Lynch's earthy vocals fit right in with the Dubliners sound that I love so well. Both of his contributions are superb; he sings “The Kerry Recruit” with all the innocence of a young lad caught up as a pawn of war, and there’s surely no doubt as to which side you’re on as a listener. Showing a more sensitive side, he reads Dominic Behan’s “The Patriot Game” with a captivating authority. I can’t help lament the fact that this will be Bob’s first and last stint as a Dubliner.

Ciarán Bourke brings a whole different sense to the group, he has a tremendous flair for singing the auld sangs in the auld style, and his cultured tone lends itself well to “Ar Fa La La Lo”, the Connemara Gaelic love song “Peggy Lettermore” and the show opener “Roddy MacCorley”, a stirring patriotic marching song from Co. Derry.

The variety on this LP is truly impressive – and there are no dull moments. The Cecil Sharp crowd were privileged with a special treat that night.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:47] 7.3.png The Dubliners - Roddy McCorley [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
A2 [02:12] 6.4.png The Dubliners - The Twang Man [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
A3 [02:13] 6.0.png The Dubliners - Reels: The Sligo Maid / Colonel Rodney [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
A4 [02:42] 6.7.png The Dubliners - The Woman From Wexford [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
A5 [04:23] 8.9.png The Dubliners - The Patriot Game [live ’64] (Traditional, Dominic Behan) Folk
A6 [04:06] 9.8.png The Dubliners - Róisín Dubh [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
A7 [03:44] 5.8.png The Dubliners - Air Fa La La Lo [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
B1 [01:49] 6.3.png The Dubliners - Peggy Lettermore [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
B2 [02:59] 8.1.png The Dubliners - Easy And Slow [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
B3 [02:07] 6.9.png The Dubliners - My Love Is In America [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
B4 [04:16] 9.9.png The Dubliners - The Kerry Recruit [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
B5 [02:58] 9.3.png The Dubliners - The Old Orange Flute [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
B6 [02:10] 6.7.png The Dubliners - Reels: The Donegal Reel / The Longford Collector [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk
B7 [04:58] 9.7.png The Dubliners - The Leaving Of Liverpool [live ’64] (Traditional) Folk

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