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Irish folk music has, since time immemorial, been a means of Irish self-expression and nationalism, with tunes and songs passed down through the generations preserving Ireland's lively oral tradition. With the advent of the phonograph, radio, and TV, Irish music reached a more varied, worldwide audience. This international enthusiasm produced, over the last three decades, an Irish folk music revival—a renaissance that came into full bloom in the 1970s and continues vigorously today. The ballad bands of the 1950s and 1960s, the more traditional music of pioneer Sean O'Riada, the purist approach of the internationally renowned Chieftains as well as late 1960s subtle ballad groups like Sweeney's Men form the rich tapestry of music and musicians that preceeded the evolution of such 1970s groups as Planxty and Skara Brae. They, in turn, spawned bands that accompanied traditional Gaelic songs with acoustic guitars and clavichord, among other instruments, and showed the influences of rock, jazz, classical, and pop music. Recent trends include Celtic fusion, an energized new age music, and excursions into rock'n'roll and pop. If anything, the current Irish music scene—composers and performers—is internationally visible, highly marketable, alive, and growing. Musicians, scholars, and cognoscenti of Irish music will be pleased to find references to Donal Lunny, Dolores Keane, and Mick Moloney in this valuable reference that covers the 1960s to the Spring of 1987.
The first work to exclusively address and evaluate Irish folk music recordings, this selective annotated discography lists some 200 recordings and has citations to an additional 100 or more. Each entry is fully indexed by musician(s), producer, and contents of the recording, and entries also include main artists, year of release, record label, number, and more. The appendixes consist of a glossary of Irish words, musical terms, and a current directory of sources for obtaining the recordings. Informative annotations follow the basic discographic information and most entries have been critiqued by the author. This unique reference focuses mainly on recordings from the 1970s onward and, with few exceptions, all entries are in print and are released by United States and Irish record labels.