The Dubliners, arguably Ireland's top folk band, are now entering their third decade of success. It was back in March 1967 that their version of the oldie Seven Drunken Nights became a huge top 10 in the UK, spending more than 17 weeks on the chart, and winning them a silver disc in the process. That record was followed by two other hit singles, Black Velvet Band and Never Wed An Old Man, which were both excellent examples of their inimitable Irish humour.
But it wasn't just on singles that The Dubliners had their first British success... a brace of albums confirmed that there was a big public wanting to hear more than just novelty hit singles. Their first album A Drop Of The Hard Stuff became an immediate best-seller, followed soon afterwards by More Of The Hard Stuff and Drinkin' And Courtm'. By the end of the Sixties, The Dubliners were probably Ireland's best-known folk band, known to audiences far and wide, and not just on record - their live performances which combined plenty of humour with song were frequent sell-outs.
During the Seventies The Dubliners had no chart success here but their records enjoyed consistent sales and they were frequent visitors to these shores. Back in Ireland they remained firm favourites and even competition from other up-and-coming folk and show bands couldn't detract from their popularity. In fact even in the Eighties The Dubliners are as popular as ever among their legion of fans, still entertaining people in pubs, clubs and theatres throughout their native Ireland and making occasional visits across the Irish Sea
The Dubliners Collection is an appetising pot-pourri of what this enduring Irish folk bond is all about. There's plenty of the old Irish humour displayed on the 24 songs but there's also the other side of the music: sentiment and poignancy which has been known to bring a tear to the eye of more than one person in their varied audiences. For the next hour or so, sit back and enjoy the genuine warmth, humour and charm of The Dubliners and their music.
CHRIS WHITE, MUSIC WEEK
After 25 years cranking their inimitable music and eccentric personalities around the world, the Dubliners are now an integral part of the folklore they originally set out to revive and sustain. No other group in any field can claim to haw achieved such prominence in their nations' heritage as these boys, forever synonymous with straggly beards, growly voices, pints of Guinness and wonderful, wonderful ballads.
A bunch of would-be actors who originally got together in Dublin (where else?) in the mid-Sixties purely for the 'crack', they — along with the Clancy Brothers — were instrumental in establishing pride in Irish folk song in their own country and awareness of it elsewhere. Their highly individual personalities, their obvious love of performing and their utter respect for and belief in the music they were playing turned them into legends around the world. And, despite their rumbustious take-no-prisoners approach, the genuine instrumental virtuosity of Barney McKenna on banjo and John Sheehan on fiddle shouldn't be underestimated. In a country renowned for its musical gods, they could hold their own in any session of instrumental virtuosos — listen to their incorrigible treatment of the old stage favourite 'The Mason's Apron' for proof of that.
From their unforgettable 'Seven Drunken Nights' hit in 1967 right up to their unholy alliance with their young disciples the Pogues on 'Irish Rover' two decades later, theirs was a magnificent career, rarely failing to raise the roof at any concert in whatever part of the world they happened to find themselves... and usually returning with a legion of hilarious stories to boot!
It wasn't always drinks and laughter. The strain of constant touring eventually took its toll on both Cairon Bourke and Luke Kelly, but the addition of respected singer/guitarist Sean Cannon gave them a new lease of life and they never wavered in their quest to share their joy in Irish folk music — a joy appreciated originally by serious students of folk music and latterly by grannies and punks alike. The Dubliners always crossed over musical barriers, and Mickey Rourke. U2 and the Irish Prime Minister number among their biggest fans.
This double album recalls much of their heyday, incorporating standards such as 'The Holy Ground', 'I'll Tell My Ma' and The Nightingale', the historic political adventures of Father Murphy in 'Boulavogue', the anthemic 'Home Boys Home', their prowess with an explosive selection of reels and their more sensitive touch on a slow air.
A classic group.