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4.5 out of 5 stars35
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 3 May 2012
I first bought a Chieftains Album at Chieftains III and this one still has the same fresh and adventurous spirit.
The mix of the Chieftains and younger artists is sometimes mixed, some are just a bit too twee for me but there are real stand out items, not least the reunion with older members like Michael Tubridy and Sean Potts, the Galician piece and the Decembrists take on a Bob Dylan song.
Well worth the money, especially with the accompanying DVD.Just let the music flow over you.
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It appears that the Chieftains have the ability to pick up the phone and almost expect of right some of the best talent to say "yes" to working with these inveterate collaborators. In 1995 they released "The long black veil" and dutifully artists like Mick Jagger, Sting, Sinead O'Connor, Mark Knoplfer and Tom Jones headed to the studio to join them. Their stellar collaboration with Van Morrison on "Irish Heartbeat" in 1999 was easily one of the best albums of that year. Now on "Voice of Ages" they celebrate 50 years of playing simply magnificent music in a magnificent fashion by pulling together an "A List" of new musicians with Americana allegiances to revisit some classics and have a rattling good time in the process.

True there are a couple of questionable tracks here and it doesn't all work. The ability of Paolo Nutini for one to irritate and annoy by adopting some kind of Irish accent and a bad impression of Christy Moore on "Hard Times" is an incentive for all of us to chip into the fund to construct border controls around the town of Paisley and never let him out. That said there is plenty here to charm, enjoy and positively bounce to. The take of the Carolina Chocolate Drops on "Pretty little girl" positively fizzes energy and Paddy Moloney and his fellow old reprobates are clearly having a whale of a time. Things slow for a lovely rendition by Lisa Hannigan of the standard "My Lagan Love". Yes it does follow the Van Morrison template set in Irish Heartbeat but it is hugely atmospheric and beautifully executed. Equally the brilliant Civil Wars are naturals to perform a gorgeous version of "Lilly love" which you should download post haste. The Punch Brothers grow in stature every time this reviewer hears them and their contribution comes in a playful version of "The Frost is over" which would require you to nail your foot to the floor to stop it tapping along to its lifting melody. Colin Meloy's Decemberists are a obvious choice to undertake a cover of Dylan's "When the ship comes in" and the Chieftains backing is brilliantly restrained. Two real standout tracks are from those masters of Americana - Bon Iver and the Low Anthem. The formers "Down in the willow" is a excellent lament with Justin Vernon's ghostly vocal perfectly suited to infuse it with the right level of melancholy as the Chieftains whip up a haunting backdrop. Equally the Low Anthem's version of "School Days are Over" starts with a chorus of children's voices before Ben Knox Miller great vocal shows you don't have to adopt a mock Irish accent to sing a great folk song by Ewan MacColl. The last word on this album should however go to the Chieftains themselves. The eleven minute plus "Chieftains Reunion" comes with their trademark master musicianship packed with fiddles, harps and tin whistles aplenty and achieves a feat that seems wired into great Irish traditional music namely it makes your heart and head soar at its sheer exuberance. The Chieftains have in recent years branched out into other forms of world music and the exhilarating finale "Lundu" which they undertake with Carlos Nunez the Galician musician who plays the gaita, the traditional Galician bagpipe rounds "Voice of Ages" off in great style.

One fascinating extra dimension to this CD is the Chieftains attempt to colonise the solar system. In essence "The Chieftains in Orbit." sees NASA astronaut Cady Coleman greet the listener with a musical blast from onboard the International Space Station and plays part of an endearing song on instruments borrowed from Matt Molloy and Paddy Maloney. Overall "Voice of Ages" is a very welcome celebration of 50 years of brilliant artistry from this great Irish band. It is to their credit that they have kept this fervent music at the forefront of international audiences over this time and constantly develop a wider base for Irish music. Happy Golden anniversary.
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on 12 May 2012
Having followed The Chieftains for nearly 40 years it is exciting that they can still produce material that sounds as fresh as this - the only other artist that immediately comes to mind for matching this ability to re-invent themselves over a similar timespan is Neil Young - admittedly the freshness on this album is partly a product of the collaborations but that is no bad thing especially if it brings the band to the attention of a younger audience. The standout track is Lily Love with The Civil Wars (and I will be buying their album now!) but most of the upbeat tracks are terrific especially the The Frost is All Over with the Punch Brothers and Lundu with Carlos Nunez and his band. The Chieftains Re-union with amongst many others Noel Eccles of Moving Hearts is also great fun. Only the slower tracks cost this a fifth star - My Lagan Love with Lisa Hannigan does little to improve on earlier versions by the likes of Sinead O'Connor or Kate Bush and the Bon Iver track is also unexpectedly insipid although it may well grow over time. Overall though a very good album.
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on 6 May 2012
I always thought the charm of folk was it was always last century! There are two types of music, bad and good, we always have our own taste, the Chieftains like many musicians who have worked at their craft over many years, hit a vintage time, not to all's likening; play on gents - play on.
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I was watching later With Jules Holland when The Chieftains were playing with The Carolina Chocolate Drops, what a wonderful sound. I just had to get the album and every track was just as good as each other track. One of a rare times that every track on this album I liked. I've played to a few of my friends and most have gone and got the album. WHAT A WONDERFUL ALBUM. I liked it so much I did my first review ever.

Kevin J Clarke
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on 4 June 2012
Paddy achieved a further resounding success with this, his latest project.
What never ceases to amaze me is how he can gather together artists from
such diverse backgrounds to produce an entity ideally in line with The Chieftains'
overall sound and aim. As a follower of Bluegrass and American Old Time music,
the music of these individual performers would'nt normally enter my collection,
but when they sing and play so attractively as here, they're a treat! Chieftains
fans - purchase!
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on 4 May 2012
I don't take my Chiefains music as seriously as some of the rather petty criticisms of this Cd and I've been enjoying them since they started back in the 60's or so; OK yeah one or two tracks aren't brilliant but the "Lagan Love" track alone is worth the money IMO; lighten up and enjoy the craic!
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VINE VOICEon 19 September 2012
I am a great fan of the Chieftains and have been for nearly 50 years so when I saw this on the tele I just had to have it. For the most part it really is excellent but there are one or two disappointing tracks in it that I think do drag it down a bit - for me at least. Unlike other reviewers I actually really like Paolo Nutini's contribution - its one of my favourites in fact - but there were one or two other tracks I found rather dismal - Down in the Willow Garden by Bon Iver for one. However, the excellent tracks by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Secret Sisters and The Low Anthem go a long way towards making up for the odd dismal dirge that creeps in. I am glad that I bought it and thankful for the fast forward button to take me swiftly over the less attractive tracks.
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on 15 May 2012
Very good first hear preview on jools holand and had to have a copy, only trouble is I downloaded it so no list of singers. Pablo N is from the west of scotland I think so his acsent is real ( maybe mid-atlantic for the rest of his stuff)
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on 28 May 2012
Voice of Ages (Special Edition)This is a brilliant cd and there is a dvd with it. If you enjoy listening to the Chieftains you will love this too. Well worth the money.
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