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Alan Stivell - Chemins De Terre CD (album) cover


Alan Stivell


Prog Folk

4.10 | 39 ratings

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4 stars Chemins de Terres was also released in other countries as From Celtic Roots, Attention! (German release on Fontana with awful cover, as was the case of the other Attention! series released in that country) and Celtic Rock (strangely also released in Germany, this on on Vertigo). I can understand why Alan Stivell would be included here in Prog Archives. It's because, in his brand of Celtic folk/rock, prog rock tendencies show up, and I'm willing to bet that Dan Ar Braz was very much in to the prog rock scene, as his guitar playing is frequently in the prog style of playing. That really shows with the cover of the Irish song "Susy MacGuire". Here Stivell sings in Irish Gaeilic (how he grasps these languages outside of Breton, I can't say). The music is undeniably Celtic, but at the end is proggy electric guitar playing. "Ian Morrisson Reel" is a truly stunning Scottish reel, with great Highland bagpipe playing in a rock context, not to mention fiddle playing. This is so incredibly intense, it'll blow you away. The album states it was written by someone named P. McLeod (can't get more Scottish than that name). I have found very little info on this P. McLeod, but at least we know it's neither a traditional piece of unknown origin, nor Stivell's original composition. "She Moved Through the Fair" is one of those often covered Irish songs that everyone including Fairport Convention has covered. This one has a stronger Celtic feel than many other versions you might have heard, his harp playing is also included. It also sounded like he needed to brush on his English. Then comes "Can y Melinydd", a Welsh folk song. This is a great piece, and I really enjoy the fiddle and banjo playing. Much more recently a Welsh folk band named Carreg Lafar did a great version of it on their 1995 CD Ysbryd y Werin (a great CD of Welsh folk music, and I think they're closet prog folk fans, as a lot of the music has that tendency, even though no electric instruments were used), although it's entitled "Ton y Melinydd". The reason for Alan Stivell's international recognition: he did not concentrate exclusively on Breton folk music (since Irish folk music, for example, gets the highest exposure), because if he did, he would not be know far beyond Brittany. "Oidhche Mhainte" is a Scottish song, sung in Scottish Gaelic. Surprisingly no bagpipes here, there's a more choral feel, with piano, reminding me a bit of Welsh choir singing (choir singing is a big Welsh tradition), although of course, this is Scottish. The second half is all Breton, except for one of his own compositions. All the songs are in his native Breton, and bombarde (Breton double reed instrument), fiddle, harp, guitar, bass, and drums. "Brezhoneg 'Raok" is his self-penned piece and it ventures into hard rock territory, with lots of electric guitar work from Dan Ar Braz. "Kimiad" is the closing piece, but a little Mellotron cello actually surfaces. This is probably the only Celtic folk album I've ever heard that had the Mellotron used, although it's only on one cut.

No, Alan Stivell won't appeal to the diehard prog rock fan, and if you have little tolerance for Celtic, it's best to stay away. I have to admit I'm not big on Celtic folk (so far it's been Alan Stivell and the Welsh group Carreg Lafar that had blown me away), but a lot of his albums have convinced me, and this is one of them.

Progfan97402 | 4/5 |


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