Michael Coleman: fiddle

One might wonder why the Gael-Linn 2-CD set of Michael Coleman's music, packaged with Harry Bradshaw's excellent companion booklet, indeed a celebration of one of Ireland's most prominent cultural treasures, could not be kept in print forever, religiously. Yet, it is unavailable at the moment. Meanwhile, the Coleman Heritage Centre, located in Gurteen, Co. Sligo, has just released a new 20-track Coleman collection, just in time to tie us over. Based largely on the two Shanachie LPs which came out in the 1970s, the collection includes some of Coleman's most revered recordings, the "Lord McDonald" and the "Dr. Gilbert" sets for instance, which were also found on the Gael-Linn set. However, eight other Coleman sides not previously available on CD were also selected for this release, and while one might question the approach of using old transfers to LP rather than remastering afresh from the best original discs available, it is nice to have the recordings made available on CD. Just as the listener who enjoys listening to such historical recordings learns to filter out mentally bad piano accompaniments (not all of them are), one must also adjust one's ear to a different standard of recording quality and fidelity. The reward for this effort is the chance to experience or re-discover the "magic" of Coleman's playing, those subtle ways in which he transformed each tune he performed and which his fans never tire to hear again.

Rating: *** 1/2

Price: $29.99
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See also:
   Various: From Galway to Dublin
    Various: Milestone at the Garden
1. Reels: The Liffey Banks / The Shaskeen
2. Reels: Tom Ward's Downfall / The Reel of Mullinavat
3. Jigs: Dougherty's
4. Reel: Lord Gordon
5. Hornpipes: Stack of Barley Medley
6. Reels: The Wind That Shakes the Barley / The Lady on the Island
7. Reel: Lord McDonald
8. Hornpipe: The Derry Hornpipe
9. Reels: Wellington's Reels
10. Slip Jigs: The Foxhunter's
11. Reels: The Morning Dew / The Woman of the House
12. Reels: Trim the Velvet
13. Waltzes: Mrs. Kenny's Waltz / Men of the West
14. Reels: The Green Fields of America / The Swallow's Tail
15. Jigs: Tobin's
16. Set Dance & Reel: The Blackbird / Molloy's Favourite
17. Reels: Bonnie Kate / Jennie's Chickens
18. Reels: Dr. Gilbert / The Queen of May
19. Reels: The Kerry Reel / The Boyne Hunt
20. Barndance: Mrs. Kenny's Barndance