Boil the Breakfast Early was a landmark in the career of the Chieftains. Two longstanding members had just left, but coming onboard is fiery flautist Matt Malloy, ready to breathe some new life into their typically staid traditional music. This album was also one of the last to feature only the band without all of the "special guest stars" that they would collaborate with over the next couple of decades (see The Chieftains: An Irish Evening for an example).
Legacy Recordings released this remastered version of Boil the Breakfast Early as part of their Sounds of Ireland series (along with Chieftains 7, Chieftains 8, and The Best of the Chieftains, which is primarily a compilation of tracks from 7, 8, and 9) and the sound has never been crisper. Not one instrument overpowers another, even though Kevin Conneff's bodhrán playing is often hearty.
Highlights are many on this album, but I especially enjoyed the tracks that feature guest appearances from cellist Jolyon Jackson on "Bealach An Doirin" and the Rathcoole Pipe Band Drum Corps on the "March from Oscar and Malvina," as well as Kevin Conneff's always beautiful voice in an a capella performance of "When a Man's in Love." My education of Celtic music is minimal so sometimes the instrumentals can run together, but this is a perfect background music album for the uninitiated--something to listen to in the kitchen while cooking or doing dishes. Put Boil the Breakfast Early on your changer with Lúnasa's Redwood for a taste of the older and newer generations of Celtic traditionalists.