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The Dubliners released three albums on the Transatlantic label between 1964 and 1966, but it wasn't until they moved to Philip Solomon's new Major Minor label in 1967 that they had their first real success. A Drop of the Hard Stuff was released in the spring of 1967 and started with what would become their biggest hit - Seven Drunken Nights. Although the risqué lyrics stopped the disc being played by the BBC Philip Solomon just happened to be a director of the offshore Radio Caroline so airplay was not going to be a problem! Anyone listening to Caroline in those days would have been VERY aware of the heavy rotation of Major Minor singles and the endless plugging of the associated albums by the station! This album, the rather unimaginatively titled More of the Hard Stuff, followed later the same year and carried on in much the same style as its predecessor and introduced us to Whiskey in the Jar.

A lot of the material released on the Major Minor label was actually very good indeed, and the four albums they released by the Dubliners still sound great today. It may be surprising then that these albums have never been issued on CD before - although most of the tracks have appeared on various compilations over the years. The Major Minor label ended up as a part of EMI and was mothballed for many years (it was briefly revived for a Morrissey album in 2010!), but EMI have now finally given the Dubliner's four Major Minor albums the re-issue they deserve.

The Major Minor albums include this one, its predecessor -A Drop of the Hard Stuff- from earlier in 1967 and the two albums from 1968 - Drinkin' & Courtin' and At It Again. All have been freshly remastered in 2012 by Peter Mew at Abbey Road studios from the original MONO master tapes (some compilations use the stereo mixes). The thin accompanying booklet contains an essay by John Tobler, front and back reproductions of the original sleeve, facsimiles of the disc labels, track details and a couple of photos of the band.

The Dubliner's numerous fans will have waited many years for these re-issues and they do not disappoint. A presentation of the four discs as a box set to mark the band's 50 years in the business would perhaps have been even better, but you can currently pick up the set of four from Amazon for less than twenty quid so they represent pretty good value even so. Newcomers to the band's music may be better off with a compilation album to start with - I would suggest EMI's Original Dubliners from 1993, which contains stereo tracks from the four Major Minor albums and also tracks from the band's next two albums after the band had moved to EMI.

This re-issue is a straightforward version of the original album in mono with no bonus tracks and is aimed at those who remember the LP and want to have good sounding versions of these tracks in the original album order. The single All For Me Grog is therefore not included here. For the target audience I give this CD five stars; pour yourself a large Jameson and enjoy some More of the Hard Stuff!
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From the start Ronnie, Luke, Barney, Ciaran and John invariably looked like characters straight out of a Flann O'Brien novel, five likely lads with a haystack of beards between them, and a utilitarian dress sense. The sound they made together was something else, though.
Go to the Chieftains for something more ethereal with harps, the Wolfe Tones for the overtly political stuff, or Altan for a wonderful contemporary folk band, but it's the plain old Dubliners who take you straight to the back room of a city pub, their unobtrusive musicianship offset by two incredible voices: that of Ronnie Drew - the Lee Marvin of Irish folk - and curly-headed Luke Kelly, possessor of one of the most thrillingly powerful voices of its kind. (Both are no longer with us, sadly.)
One or two of their hits - oh yes, they had hits! - back in the sixties seemed almost like novelty numbers, though hearing them in the context of these four re-released LPs from Major Minor they are simply part of the group's varied repertoire.
The revelation for me has been the (re)discovery of Kelly's boisterous singing, a man who really sang with all his heart and guts. Try his full-throttle vocal on The Shoals of Herring. He and Ronnie take a roughly equal share of the vocals on all four discs, with the occasional instrumental as a kind of interlude between songs.
I have no problem with the Mono recordings - far from it: they imbue these now classic records with a suitably rudimentary, honest sound that comes across loud and very clear.
Fourteen songs and tunes sung and played with innate musical integrity from one of the legendary Irish folk groups.

Essential.
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on 27 February 2013
I have music by the KInks, Dusty Springfield, and a lot of jazz in mono which I have no problem with - but I'm not keen on the mono sound here. I notice that the same tracks are also available in stereo as part of various compilation cd's. And from the clips I've listened to, I prefer it. Great tunes / playing though.
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on 12 May 2013
This is a classic re-issue of one of the early Dubliners albums with some classic songs on here, this is them doing some of their best material and still sounding fresh today. Well worth buying even if like me you have a lot of their stuff this is not a compilation and a good price too.
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on 15 October 2014
more of the same .. great
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on 6 March 2014
Have to agree with the other reviewer here. Most of the tracks are available as stereo in other cds, so why mono? Does it sound better in some hi-end cds? Or some people just want to relive their memory of a by gone era? A new mono cd produed in 2012? But for the great voices of the incomparable Kelly and Drew, this would deserve no star at all. And the same goes for 3 other cds: At It Again! [2012], Drinkin' & Courtin' [2012], More of the Hard Stuff [2012]. For heaven's sake look elsewhere, all Dub fans.
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on 18 August 2013
these first two albums are their finest and the following two.their early years were their best and they went on to world wide popularity.but its their early work you go back to.
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