Records 1977: Critics Choice

Below is a list of some of the year's best recordings in classical, traditional and popular music. Prices vary mysteriously from shop to shop, but the index numbers should help you find or order ariy of them. You might also check the catalogues for recommended prices! Incidentally, Ian Fox informs us that if)77 marks the centenary of the gramophone .. Edison having filed his phonograph patent on December 4, 1877



PABLO CASALS Finest Performances (RLS 723 - mono only)

This re-issued set of three discs belongs in any list of great recordings. These 50-year-old 78's stand up to their transfer to LP surprisingly well and let us hear definitive interpretations of the Mendelssohn No.1 Trio (with the famous team of Cortot and Thibaud) and the Brahms Double Concerto, again with Thibaud, as well as some of the fine transcriptions which were so much a part of Casal's repertoire, including Bach, Vivaldi, Schumann and Dvorak.

JOAN SUTHERLAND The voice of the Century (Decca D 65 D3)

Despite the presumptuous title, this three-disc, medium-priced collection of twenty three of Sutherland's finest performances does show us what a splendid artist she is, with a wide range of material from Handel and Weber, through Donizetti and Bellini to Puccini.

JAMES GALWAY Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (ECS RL 25034)

Those who were fortunate enough to hear James Galway at the Royal Dublin Society John Player concert just over a year 'ago will have fond memories of his stunning version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Galway plays the solo violin part on the flute, taking the sort of liberties common enough among Baroque musicians (Bach transcribed a clatter of Vivaldi Vioiin Concertos for harpsichord with the most awful resultsl) and creates a new view of Vivaldi's masterpiece' with breathhtaking viruosity. He is well supported, as in Dublin, by the Zagreb Soloists. CONSORT OF sf SEPULCHRE Lett the Cuppe Goo Rounde (EMI IEMC 6008) ,

Let me end by saying that the record which is likely to receive the most playings in my house over the festive season is the Consort of St. Sepulchre's second album. The Consort's Renaisssance delights are a perfect foil to too much turkey, plum pudding and that extra glass of port!


THE BOTHY BAND: Out Of The Wind Into The Sun (Mulligan Records L UN 013)

As far as group-playing of Irish tradditional music is concerned, the Bothy Band are the most exciting sound to emerge in the last couple of years and this excitement is retained in their new album. It has been suggested that they an, playing reels and jigs too fast, but this is 'not so. This music is for listeners, not for dancers, and if they do accelerate the speed, it is to build up an atmosphere which is most dramatic. The three songs with the voice of Triona Ni Dhomhnaill are in lovely contrast to the dance music, They are from the repertoire of that grand lady, Neilli Ni Dhomhhnaill, of Rannafast (Triona's aunt),

MO CHEOL THU (Gael-Linn CEF 064) A selection of Irish music, song and poetry, based on the R TE Sunday morning radio programme. Contributors include. Geraldine and Eily O'Grady, Mary 0 'Hara, Benedict Kiely, Matt Molloy, Dolly MacMahon, Neasa Ni Annrachain, Willie Clancy, Denis Murphy, Julie Mulvihill, Donal O'Connor, Denis Doody, Dominic O'Riordan, Liam O'Floinn and Johnny Leary.

DERMOT 0 BRIEN Oro Bhuachaillin (Gael-Linn CEF 061)

A full album of popular songs in Irish from this most versatile of performers. THE CHIEFTAINS Live (Ceirini Cladaig CC21)

A new recording from The Chieftains is always welcome, especially at Christtmas. Recorded live in Boston and Toronto, this album has all the atmossphere of a live recording.


MIDNIGHT WELL (Mulligan LUN 011) Midnight Well, the fruit of the fraggmented Pumpkinhead, combine musical influences from all over the world. The songs are striking,with good story line, feeling, and totally adequate tunes and music. This is one of the best ever Irish productions in originality, arrangement, recording and presentation.

FUREY BROTHERS & DA VEY ARTHUR Morning on a distant Shore (Polydor 2904010)

Outside of a few traditional tunes and Peggy and the Soldier, few of the tracks will have been heard before. A number of the songs are from the pen of Finbar; while others are attributed to Craddock, Steward and Herd. This is much more a vocal album than any previous Furey compilation, A fine album in the long line of Furey/Arthur presentations.

NA FILl Chanters Tune (Transatlantic TRA 353)

For those with an interest in pure Irish music there are few groups with a purer sound than Na Fili, This new album is an example of their purity. If you are a student of style, ornamenntation, variation or arrangement, the album will not please. One might well call this album 'clinical'. The pure sounds offer jigs, slides, slip jigs, airs, polkas and the run is only broken by nice traditional singing from group leader Tomas O'Cannain.


JOAN ARMATRADING Show Some Emotion (A&M AMLH 68433)

Joan Armatrading was the album of 1976, and here her self-penned material is wider-ranging, both musically and lyrically, as is her extraordinary voice. A sensitive artist who fully realizes her gifts, An absolute must.


The Asbury Jukes are a delightful throwback to the tough street bands of the 1950's, before bubble-gum pop smothered rhythm'rr'blues. Their music avoids the sterile replication of the rock'n'roll revival groups. Instead, it is a marvellous updating of the spirit of rock: both fun to listen to, and eminently danceable.

MUDDY WATERS Hard Again (Blue Sky 81853)

Blues are accepted as hard times music but this is a truly joyful record, Waters' basic sound hasn't changed radically but there is a new vitality. From the opening track, you are hooked by the strength of his voice, amazing guitar work, the gospel-tinged hollers and wailing harmonica,