I remember the days way before the Internet. I do my research of what’s new and cool in music magazines and newspapers.Sometimes through movies(end credits) and TV shows.That’s how I discover artists. Publications like Time Magazine,Newsweek and locally published musicmags(with guitar chords) were really helpful. There are music reviewers who are so good that they give you an accurate detail of what the music sounds like way before you get hold of the album.
I got hold of my very first Chieftains album The Long Black Veil in the mid-90s . My collection was growing then . I had
friends come over and I bragged about my collections that no one in the town or country has heard of. But then again , my
taste even in literature was already defined at that time-way before I hit my 20s. The first track will tell you at times
all about the whole album. Sometimes you’d be surprise.That’s why I will never buy a single. I am an album guy and I love
how the songs work together to create an album. I love the high and low moments. I love the suspense of what the new track
will bring. It’s like wading through sonic geography where songs are landscapes. I love the liner notes, the album
artwork, the lyrics ,musician credits, where it was recorded..even how the new paper smells. My hands shake and my heart
beats so fast every time I open a CD or cassette tape out of the plastic wrapper. And there I just described what I felt
like when I got my first Chieftains album-or any album that I love.
In short time I became a huge fan of this Irish band(though rock bands U2 and The Cranberies were so popular here that students from every University even know how to sing a lot of songs from their albums). My favorite hangout was either the library or record stores. I kept an eclectic gang around(metalheads,Goths,nerds,ethnic musicians,poets etc). I listened to all kinds of music but made sure this type of music has a special place in my shelf. For years The Chieftains never ever disappointed the public with their releases. Several Grammy Awards and TV specials can attest to that. And Tears of Stone is one of the greats that came out before the end of the decade. Too sad it was never made available locally at that time. So I had to wait more than 10 years to get hold of this beautiful album(and having the money to get music too,instead of saving my allowance for clothes,shoes and even food just to buy a CD). But the wait or time is never an issue. Music like this never gets dated after all. So I a giving the spotlight to this album today.
Released February 22,1999
Producer: Paddy Moloney
1. “Never Give All the Heart” – 2:50 (Anúna and Brenda Fricker) Irish Choir Anúna dazzles here vocally. I ‘ve always been a fan of their airy choir approach. Brenda Fricker’s narration adds a poetic touch to this haunting track.
2. “A Stór Mo Chroí” – 3:46 (Bonnie Raitt) Boys on the Side movie made Bonnie Raitt’s very familiar with “You Got It”. Her sad whiskey meets Ealr Grey tea flavoured contralto is perfect for this mournful track.
3. “The Lowlands of Holland” – 3:46 (Natalie Merchant) Former 10,000 Maniacs vocalist contributed beautiful and strong distinctive vocals here. ..and these stormy seas came between my love and I”It’s hard not to feel like dying as she sings this last line.
4. “The Magdalene Laundries” – 4:59 (Joni Mitchell) A very touching subject involving nuns and ‘ cast the first stone those who have not sinned’ kind of narrative. You can almost see Joni Mitchell’s indignant expression as she sings each line .
5. “Jimmy Mó Mhíle Stór” – 4:37 (The Rankin Family)Like rubies on stony ground, the vocals provided by this musical family shifts between the angelic and the earthly.
6. “I Know My Love” – 3:54 (The Corrs) Andrea’s lead vocal adds a pop touch in this fast gypsy flavored track.
7. “Factory Girl” – 4:23 (Sinéad O’Connor) It is hard to hear Sinead’s beautiful haunting voice and not be moved by it.
8. “Deserted Soldier” – 4:39 (Mary Chapin Carpenter) This is sung in Gaelic flawlessly by an American Country singer.Each word flow effortlessly like golden chocolate. The second part of the song is a jig with her bright tinkling piano.
9. “Ye Rambling Boys of Pleasure” – 4:33 (Loreena McKennitt) A Celtic album is not complete without the rich vocals of this amazing Canadian singer. Expect the sae dramatic appeal found in her albums.
10. “Sake in the Jar” – 4:28 (Akiko Yano)So what happens when Japanese vocals meets Irish music? The combination is as exquisite as Sake in the Jar.Akiko Yano (Akiko Suzuki) has already established herself as pop and jazz musician in Japan since the release of her 1976 album Japanese Girl.
11. “Raglan Road” – 6:19 (Joan Osborne) “One of Us” became a grunge anthem in the 90’s. Very few knows what happened after. Well this one happened after, and this is an excellent performance by Joan Osborne who I remember fondly with that nose piercing.
12. “Siúil A Rún” – 4:35 (Sissel Kyrkjebø) After Titanic, Sissel joined the Chieftains not only through recordings but also touring with the band. This Viking fairy has never failed to enchant us with her own album releases. Her flawless airy soprano just glides in this track like an ethereal blanket, while singing in Gaelic.
13. “The Fidding Ladies” – 10:23 (Natalie MacMaster, Eileen Ivers, Maire Breathnach, and Annbjørg Lien) Expect a party of virtuosity as instrumentalists of epic proportion gather here. The toe-tapping track makes you want to have another round of that Guinness.
14. “Danny Boy” – 5:28 (Diana Krall) Jazz meets folk.Canadian Diana Krall who is married to Irish rocker Elvis Costello, adds her own sultry contralto vocals to this sad traditional track. She gives an ai of those 50s black and white films. And this song also ends this wonderful album that will surely be rediscovered for decades with its beautiful vocals, instrumental arrangement and choice of material.