Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of The Dubliners Performing "Whiskey In The Jar".
Original Dubliners, The Dubliners, two disc set, EMI, 1993
I have mentioned in this space more times than one is reasonably allowed that in my youth in the early 1960’s I listened to a local folk music radio program on Sunday nights. That program played, along with highlighting the then current up and coming folk revivalists like Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk, much American traditional music including things like the “Child Ballads”. In short, music derived from parts of the “British” homeland.
What I have not previously mentioned is that directly after that program I used to listen on that same radio station to the “Irish National Hour”, a show devoted to all the old more traditional and unknown Irish ballads and songs. And, by the way, attempted to instill a respect for Irish culture, Irish heritage and the Irish struggle against the “bloody” British. (That struggle continues in one form or another today but that is a subject for another time.) Of course, today when every other ‘progressive’ radio station (or other technological format) has its obligatory “Keltic Twilight” programs we are inundated with music from the old country this is no big deal but then it was another question.
All of this is by way of reviewing the music of the Irish Diaspora. Our Irish forebears had the ‘distinct’ opportunity of following the British flag wherever it went, under one set of terms or another. And in those days the sun never set on the British Empire. So there are plenty of far flung traditions to talk about. But, first comes the old country and hence this review of The Dubliner’s and their 2 disc compilation culled from their first four EMI albums. Chocky Ar La (roughly translated- “Our Day Will Come”)
I have mentioned elsewhere that every devotee of the modern Irish folk tradition owes a debt of gratitude for the work of the likes of Tommy Makem and The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners for keeping the tradition alive and for making it popular with the young on both sides of the Atlantic. The obvious musical skills, talent and commitment to craftsmanship of this group during its history need no comment by me. Nor does their commitment to keeping alive the Irish folk tradition need further comment. Here the boyos produce a veritable what’s what of Irish music from songs of rebellion and modern political updates on those themes, novelty songs, and songs based on the old traditions of whiskey women, war and the wounds of occupation on the Irish psyche. Let’s sort it out a little.
As for the whiskey we have “Seven Drunken Nights”; Nancy Whiskey”; “The Parting Glass; and, “Whiskey in the Jar”. For the women we have “Peggy Gordon”; “Molly Bawn”; and, “Black Velvet Band”. For the wounds of occupation well, how about “A Nation Once Again”; “Poor Paddy On The Railway”; and, “Come And Join The British Army”. Round all of this out with songs like “The Croppy Boy” and “The Rising Of The Moon” and you have a pretty good look at the run of the old Irish traditions. In short, in one place you have a compilation that covers a wide swath of Irish musical history. Nicely done.