Since it is St. Patrick’s Day, it’s the perfect time to pull out some great Irish music and jig the day away between sips of Smithwicks (what can we say, we never got into Guinness).
U2 is an obvious a choice for today (although they’re always a good pick, no matter what), but we’ve selected five other CDs from the Emerald Isle for your listening pleasure.
Erin Go Bragh! (I still have no idea what that means).
1) The Script, “The Script”: Out today in the U.S., this Dublin trio’s debut already hit No. 1 in their native Ireland and the rest of the U.K. Think Maroon 5 crossed with O.A.R. and Take That (post Robbie Williams). The label is trying to sell them as more than just straight ahead pop, but that’s what I hear and that’s what I like about them. Plus, on certain vocals, you can hear their Irish accent, which is so damn charming.
2) The Pogues, “Streams of Whiskey: Live in Leysin, Switzerland 1991”: There’s simply no better personification of Irish folk music (with great punk rock elements thrown in) than the Pogues. Like thousands of other people, I have no idea how Shane McGowan is still standing. He defies all laws of mortality. It’s got to be the music that courses through his veins. In my mind, really the only way to fully appreciate the Pogues is to see them live (you may get a great show, you may get a horrible one, but it will be a show). If you’re in Washington, D.C. tonight, you can do that. Otherwise, throw on … . Or if you don’t have that, grab 1988’s “If I Should Fall from Grace,” which includes the classic “Fairytale of New York” and features the late Kirsty MacColl.
3) The Chieftains, “Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions”: There are only three original members left, but they are still vibrant. There’s never a bad time to see or listen to the Chieftains, who have been creating and re-creating traditional Irish music for more than 45 years. I remember seeing them in New York at Carnegie Hall one St. Patrick’s Day and it felt like a little bit of the luck of the Irish got sprinkled on all of us. Plus, the harp player, the since departed Derek Bell, had a little stuffed bear on his harp. How adorable is that? Get your fill of tin whistle, flute, violin and Uilleann pipes. “Plank,” a big Grammy winner, takes what the Chieftains do best and mixes in the best of Nashville traditionalists such as Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss and Vince Gill.
4) Sinead O’Connor, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”: Okay, she can be nuttier than a fruitcake, but that’s just because she really is a true artist and they don’t come along every day. Almost 20 years since this album came out, it remains her masterwork. There’s not a weak cut on here, from her breathtaking cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” (and the compelling video that simply focused on her face), “Emperor’s New Clothes” and “The Last Day of Our Acquaintance.” A limited edition, 2 CD version of the album will be released on April 21. The set includes 10 bonus cuts, including two never-before-released tracks-among them, O’Connor’s cover of John Lennon’s “Mind Games.”
5) Bell X1, “Blue Lights on the Runway”: The band’s fourth album came out two weeks ago and it includes more of the great pop/rock music the Dublin band is known for. It’s smart, literate and you can often dance to it. Just try listening to “The Great Defector,” which recalls Talking Heads, or “How Your Heart is Wired,” with its electronic back beat, and try to resist. You can’t and, furthermore, you won’t want to. Great, great stuff.
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