The High Kings' debut album is a decent album with some good songs such as Will You Go Lassie, Go?, the Rocky Road to Dublin and Marie's Wedding. Not as good as some of the later albums but still worth a listening to.
Irish traditional music meets scat meets barbershop meets the Edinburgh Tattoo in yet another commercially exploitive ethnic caricature brought to you by the producers of Celtic Woman. This show-biz quartet--consisting of Finbar Clancy (son of Bobby Clancy), Brian Dunphy (son of Seán Dunphy, who represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest 1967), Martin Furey (son of Finbar Furey of the Fureys) and Broadway/pop/country star Darren Holden--represents an appropriate enough mix of Irish & Scottish ethnicity, brogues, & (especially important) vocal lilts to handle the material they sing. But the material itself is a distasteful muddle of traditional (e.g., “The Parting Glass,” a venerable drinking song ca. 1605) to contemporary songs posing as traditional (e.g., “Wild Mountain Thyme,” 1957) to modern, puerilely sentimental ballads with idiotic titles & lyrics to match (e.g., “Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore“, “Galway to Graceland”.) What worries me here isn't so much the experiment to fast-track modernization & pop-cultural fusion, but rather the commercial exploitation & absence of aesthetic direction that accompany it. Anything & everything that seasons the soup for popular consumption gets tossed into it indiscriminately--a situation that completely negates the past development of Ireland's rich musical heritage as a long labour of love. Historically over centuries, singers & musicians have evolved Irish music organically & according to their own artistic discernment, often in such grass-roots venues as pubs, festivals, céilidhs, & people’s living-rooms. But definitely not through the rushed, rapacious manipulations of music moguls pandering to crass commercial interests & the lure of a quick buck.
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