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ALAN STIVELL

Prog Folk • France


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Alan Stivell biography
Alan Cochevelou - Born January 6, 1944 (Riom, Auvergne, France)

Alan was the son of Georges Cochevelou, who had re-discovered the Breton harp, and became a builder of said instrument. He gave Alan his first harp when Alan was only 9, and the boy was playing concerts before he reached his teens. He took an interest in pan-celtic music and became a professional musician at the age of 21. His adopted surname means "source". While he possesses a charming voice in Breton, French and English, his status as the savior of the Breton harp is unshakable. His willingness to explore the integration of the harp with other instruments and styles is what puts him in the same class as jazz greats who helped break down stylistic barriers and achieve recognition across the spectrum.

His first two recordings were done in the early 60s and eventually combined on one release. They represent the more "authentic" side, containg mostly well known traditional tunes played on solo harp. He did not release again until 1971 with the groundbreaking "Reflets" that introduced his endearingly languid vocal style to the richly plucked harp and set the groundwork for what was to come. He made the traditional his own and his own traditional. His most regarded early album is the instrumental work that summed up what his family had done from the perspective of the harp - "Renaissance de la Harpe Celtique" in 1972. Pre-dating the new age genre by over a decade, it simultaneously shows how beautiful that style could be when wedded to an ancient muse, and the degree to which so much new age music is superficial pseudo-intellectual doodling.

A succession of other accomplished albums followed in the 70s, such as "E Langonned" (1974) and "Journee a la Maison" (1978). He upped the ante with "Celtic Symphony" (1979), a heavily orchestrated affair that garnered mixed reviews and was nothing if not ambitious. Later albums that tend to receive accolades include "Mist of Avalon" (1991), Brian Boru" (1995) and even the more hi-tech "Explore" (2006). Over the years his output has been prolific - of course, as with any venerable artist, much overlap and many compilations and rereleases make it hard to discern the true output of the man. While he remains highly respected, his earlier work tends to remain the most recommended.

Through his nearly 50 year recording career, Stivell has never stayed still. While his explorations have not always been of interes...
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ALAN STIVELL discography


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ALAN STIVELL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.10 | 10 ratings
Telenn Geltiek - Harpe Celtique
1964
3.70 | 21 ratings
Reflets
1970
3.97 | 42 ratings
Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique
1971
4.10 | 40 ratings
Chemins De Terre
1973
3.11 | 18 ratings
E Langonned
1974
2.37 | 11 ratings
Trema'n Inis / Vers L'ile
1976
3.00 | 13 ratings
Raok Dilestra / Avant D'accoster
1977
3.24 | 14 ratings
Un Dewezh 'Barzh 'Gr / Journe La Maison
1978
2.49 | 19 ratings
Symphonie Celtique - Tr Na ng
1979
3.83 | 11 ratings
Terre Des Vivants / Bed An Dud Vew
1981
3.86 | 7 ratings
Lgende / Mojenn
1983
3.00 | 6 ratings
Harpes Du Nouvel ge
1985
3.30 | 8 ratings
The Mist Of Avalon
1991
3.82 | 11 ratings
Again
1993
3.89 | 9 ratings
Brian Boru
1995
3.00 | 7 ratings
1 Douar
1998
3.38 | 8 ratings
Back To Breizh
2000
3.89 | 9 ratings
Au-Del Des Mots
2002
3.50 | 6 ratings
Explore
2006
4.00 | 2 ratings
Emerald
2009
4.50 | 2 ratings
AMzer
2015

ALAN STIVELL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.03 | 23 ratings
A L'Olympia
1972
3.56 | 15 ratings
In Dublin [Aka: Live in Dublin]
1975
3.60 | 5 ratings
International Tour
1979

ALAN STIVELL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ALAN STIVELL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 4 ratings
Master Serie
1990
5.00 | 2 ratings
Zoom 70-95
1997
4.33 | 3 ratings
The Best of Alan Stivell
2000

ALAN STIVELL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Tri Martolod/The King of the Fairies
1972
3.00 | 1 ratings
Wind of Keltia/Pop Plinn
1972
2.00 | 1 ratings
Tha mi sgith/Suite sudarmoricaine
1972

ALAN STIVELL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.97 | 42 ratings

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Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars 29th March, 2021: Alan Stivell - Renaissance de la harpe celtique (breton celtic folk, 1971)

There's some real beauty here, and it's a fascinating fusion, not just for the combination of French and Celtic (mostly Scottish) folk music, but for the fact that there are also blips of modern progressive rock and folk influence, and it really feels like a fusion of the ancient and modern more than anything. The meditative atmosphere can be quite welcoming, although I suppose its staying power can depend on how much you like bagpipes.

6.7 (2nd listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 Chemins De Terre by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.10 | 40 ratings

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Chemins De Terre
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Alan breaks out of his gentler rock-infused presentations of traditional Celtic (Breton) folk music to issue full-on rock renditions of classic Breton folk tunes.

1. "Susy Mac Guire" (3:35) What sounds like a kind of modernized version of an old folk song suddenly turns rock with the introduction of a lead electric guitar in the final minute after Alan has stopped singing. Not a fan but I have to admit that it doesn't exactly ruin what was a nice Prog Folk song. (8.75/10)

2. "Ian Morrison Reel" (4:09) a very rock-ified version of an old Celtic reel. Smooth but not really a fan.(8.5/10)

3. "She Moved Through The Fair" (4:13) a more gentle though still electrified rendering of this classic Celtic tune. Nice. Great singing. Kind of a JOHN MARTYN sound and feel. I love the harp work. A top three song for me. (9/10)

4. "Can Y Melinydd" (1:59) flat and dull. (4/5)

5. "Oidhche Mhait" (1:53) great more-traditional rendering. Love the vocal work. The organ is nice, too. (4.4/5)

6. "An Dro Nevez" (3:45) fiddles dominate the opening before rest of the pagan music ensemble joins in, but then drums and electric bass join in and make it a rock song. (Nice bass play; drums are fair.) Strumming rhythm electric rhythm guitar joins in for the next. Then banjo while the electric guitar starts infusing some lead licks here and there. A completely instrumental song, the weave is most successful when drums and electric guitars stay out (though the guitar becomes respectfully distant [muted] in the final minute].) (8.75/10)

7. "Maro Ma Mestrez" (3:08) an a cappella song sung in what sounds like an Arabic (or Gypsy) tongue. (Is this Breton/Breizh?) It does sound familiar from all of the SEVEN REIZH albums I've collected. (8.75/10)

8. "Brezhoneg' Raok" (3:08) what starts out sounding like an Ian Anderson-led JETHRO TULL rock song turns into an outright LYNYRD SKYNYRD jam as multiple instrumentalists solo each for all the attention and glory over the final minute and a half. I don't know why I feel as if I'm betraying someone or something, but I'm ending up loving this! (Bassist Dan Ar Bras is really good!) (8.875/10)

9. "An Hani A Garan" (4:11) another great acoustic folk weave over which the lead singer seems to dive into another foreign (non-French, non-Gaelic) language. It is, admittedly, quite beautiful--even heart-wrenching. A top three song. (9.333/10)

10. "Metig" (4:07) swirling organ rises and is then joined by male vocal and then male chorus vocals in antiphonal support but then at the very end of the first minute violin introduces the rest of the band--a real ensemble of troubadours (using hand drums instead of drums). At 1:49 searing electric guitar joins in ejaculating intermittent lines to mimic/mirror the violin. Machine gun like snare drum and Scottish drum work also join in, taking the fore for a bit before the whole ensemble bursts into song together. It is interesting and kind of works. (8.66667/10)

11. "Kimiad" (3:34) a distant parade of bagpipes seems to move in the background behind the warm, intimate gentle picking of an acoustic guitar (or two). Male lead singer enters at the end of the first minute to sing a plaintive tale of woe in a low tone, within the mix, for the rest of the beautiful song. (8.875/10)

Total time 37:52

I have to admit to being quite resistant to the rock-roided versions of old classics (or even modern-sounding new compositions/variations of Celtic themes). It's kind of the same effect/reaction I've always had to Keith Emerson's rock treatment of classical pieces. But I have to give Alan credit: here, on Chemins de terre, Alan and company have made them work. Plus, he's incorporated enough respectfully more-traditional versions of the Celtic fare to allow me to slowly get used to the more aggressive rock versions or applications.

The Yacoubs broke away from Alan and produced two albums in the next year (Pierre de Grenoble and the Malicorne debut). The choice of the Yacoubs to collect and render songs from the greater French traditions instead of Bretonese songs leads me to believe that they were inspired by Alan but chose (perhaps out of respect for Alan) to stay out of Alan's territory--a commitment Malicorne would remain steadfast to for the band's duration.

B/four stars; an excellent excursion into Prog Folk's rock side, something every prog lover should hear (though not all will necessarily like). If you like the folkier side of Jethro Tull, you'll probably like this.

 Tha mi sgith/Suite sudarmoricaine by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Tha mi sgith/Suite sudarmoricaine
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars In between releasing 3 classic albums in the early 1970s, Brittany's Celtic harp revivalist was busily flooding the market with singles of high quality that presumably could not or would not fit on those albums. Interestingly, this one appeared in several forms, both with "Tha mi sgith" on the first side and others with "Suite Sudarmoricaine" as the headliner. Both would become popular in a live setting, but it's hard to find this version of "Tha mi sgith" other than on 45, which makes this unassuming issue all the more desirable.

While this interpretation of a traditional strathspey from the Outer Hebrides offers the usual blend of Stivell's benevolent vocals, fiddle, colourful lead guitar from Dan Ar Braz, and solid percussion, I've heard more captivating versions from the likes of SILLY WIZARD and Canadian band CLAN from many years ago, as "Hewing Bracken", with achingly morose lyrics.

For the trad arranged "suite" on the flipside, while it begins promisingly thanks to lively and Latin American styled guitars and flutes, once the vocals pierce the illusion the deflation is instantaneous. Normally repetition is handled craftily in Stivell interpretations, but here the shouted mouth music is beyond tedious. Surprisingly, this is the more popular of the two, and readily available on compilations.

"Tha mi Sgith" is this the sole reason to seek out this 45, but I'm going to recommend that you content yourself with one of the live versions, such as on "Olympia Concert", which is livelier and adds organ to the ensemble, rather than spend the rather lofty sums expected on eBay for a lesser product.

 Wind of Keltia/Pop Plinn by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Wind of Keltia/Pop Plinn
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars Another ALAN STIVELL classic single from the early 1970s consisting of two tracks that never appeared on an original album, "Wind of Keltia" and "Pop Plinn" both became mainstays of his live set and appeared on countless compilations.

"Wind of Keltia" was an original composition he co-wrote with banjo player Steve Waring, and confirms his ability to expand the living tradition and not simply revitalize it. A languid ballad prioritizing his warm voice and clear English lyrics, its main accompaniments are his own harp and whistles. In the final movement, lead guitar joins in, likely from the agile hand of long time associate DAN AR BRAZ, but the pace is not altered, just the intensity. It ends in a harmonious interplay of strings and whistles.

The flipside, "Pop Plinn", is a rowdy instrumental in which electric guitar and organ predominate, and has all the trappings of early 1970s prog with a 1960s psychedelia hangover, making it a breezy listen. Time is allocated for his plucking prowess as well. This is an ideal live track as it shines the spotlight on the musicians as well as the ensemble, with a reassuring elasticity in the proportions.

While both tracks are classics, I think the availability of compilations, like the superb "Master Serie", which include both in their original forms, along with various concert performances. renders the 45 somewhat superfluous. Still if you want just a soupcon of the mighty wind blowing from Keltia, this could be all you need to feel refreshed.

 Tri Martolod/The King of the Fairies by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1972
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Tri Martolod/The King of the Fairies
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

— First review of this album —
4 stars During his most prolific and influential period of 1971-1973, ALAN STIVELL not only released several albums and toured, but also offered a series of equally significant singles. Some of these were later supplanted by live renditions in popularity, but his original version of "Tri Martolod" remains one of his most beloved, a Breton tale of three sailors in dialog as they cross from Brittany to Newfoundland. It dates back to the 18th century and has since been covered by numerous artists in the Celtic world and beyond, but Stivell is generally credited with reviving the piece with an utterly stunning and riveting rendition.

The track begins with Stivell delivering the compelling melody on harp with other acoustic instrumentation before the dialogue begins, with each sung part intersecting with the next, repetitive motifs and vocal harmonies sealing the sense of wonder. Violin also swirls about as the song develops, and even some organ appears towards the close of the track to enhance the original themes.

The B-side is a rare studio version of a well known traditional instrumental "King of the Fairies", which generally appears in live form on most compilations. The lead instrument is the violin, with acoustic guitar backing, and later spirited lead guitar layered on top, building to a crescendo and a sudden end. The piece has been covered by many, including fellow prog folk pioneers HORSLIPS, but Stivell's might be the best of all.

With the A-side being one of Stivell's best ever pieces, and the B-side pretty rare in the form presented, this 45 is highly recommended, and would warrant 5 stars if no reasonable alternatives were present, but most will probably be happy enough with their presence in some form or other in one of Stivell's numerous compilations or live recordings.

 Chemins De Terre by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.10 | 40 ratings

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Chemins De Terre
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

5 stars "Chemins de Terre" celebrates a raunchy wedding between Celtic and Rock and roll music. While at times violent culture clashes occur between the in-laws, ultimately they all fall into bed together in a happy heap in the wee hours. Alan Stivell, who had already produced several groundbreaking disks by this time, with his adept fingers and old soul vocals blew this tsunami over the Celtic world. If he didn't quite launch the careers of DAN AR BRAZ and GABRIEL YACOUB, both of whom play prominent roles on "Chemin de Terre", he certainly changed their courses. In the meantime, in Nantes, TRI YANN were taking note, and, in waves across the channel, bands like STEELEYE SPAN, HORSLIPS and PLANXTY were under the spell as well.

Offering a seamless blend of the traditional and original with the raucous and the ethereal, STIVELL offers a varied assortment of instrumentals and songs that never drag. Fiddles, harps and pipes are all predominant but so are the more traditionally rock instruments and even a touch of mellotron strings on the closing number. The alternative currents running through this subversive recording do not seem contrived in the least, even though it's clear what Stivell was trying to do, and he certainly didn't try to hide it, which is perhaps part of its charm.

It's a little difficult for me to pick the now oft covered traditional songs as highlights even though "Suzy MacGuire" seems to have captured the primordial atmosphere in its grooves. For me, the album peaks on the gorgeous but brief Scottish song "Oidche Mhaith" with Stivell largely unaccompanied on voice and harp, slowly brought to term by organ; the breathless pipe led instrumental "An Dro Nevez" and its banjo and rhythm and lead guitar layers; and the mournful Acapella "Maro Ma Mestrez". I'll also add the lovely "An Hani a Garan" which which combines the sensitivity of "Reflets" with plucking reminiscent of "Renaissance de la Harpe Celtique". But nothing here is remotely superfluous, even if some prog fans may balk at the predominance of traditional instrumentation.

While Stivell has enjoyed a charmed career by any yardstick, and his "Renaissance de la Harpe Celtique" remains perhaps his best known, "Chemins de Terre" represents arguably his most significant contribution to Celtic Rock as a thriving genre, and the endearing subset of those earthy folk we classify as prog.

 Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.97 | 42 ratings

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Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars This is an album that was recommended to me by the music reviewers in Audiophile magazine and for which I have always been extremely grateful as I consider it a masterpiece of beautiful melodies and one of the earliest successes at putting Celtic music to electric rock band accompaniment. 1. "Ys" (8:49) is the proggiest song on the album opening with gentle waves on the beach sounds followed by some gorgeous chord sequences and eventually joined in by with double bass/cello and hand drums, and wooden flute. (10/10)

2. "Marv Pontkalleg" (3:34) is a stunningly beautiful song performed on solo harp. (9/10)

3. "Extraits de manuscrits gallois: Ap Huw and Penllyn" (2:58) is a pretty if odd-tempoed piece for solo harp. (8/10)

4. "Eliz Iza" (2:56) is an amazing little piece with the support of chamber strings, choir, and, at the end, bagpipes, drums and electric bass. (10/10)

5. "Gaeltacht Medley: Caitlain Triall/Port Ui Mhuirgheasa/Airde Cuan/Na Reubairrean/Manx Melody/Heman Dubh/Gaelic Waltz/Struan Robertson/the Little Cascade/Briagh Loch Iall/Port an Deorai " (18:53) contains parts and pieces of 11 traditional folk songs. Beautifully done. One can only wonder what the lyrics to these songs would sound like with Alan's accompaniment.

One of the finest early examples of folk music integrating with the support of both classical and electrified rock instruments (organ, bass and drums). I've always thought, since I first heard this album in the late 1970s, that GENESIS must have heard this album before they set out to do Selling England by the Pound because there are melody lines in Renaissance of the Celtic Harp that are heard note for note from the guitars in several songs on Selling England--notably in "Cinema Show," "Firth of Fifth," and "Dancing with the Moonlight Knight." More than a coincidence? Hard to believe.

 Raok Dilestra / Avant D'accoster  by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.00 | 13 ratings

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Raok Dilestra / Avant D'accoster
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by dsbenson

3 stars I'm a big fan of Alan Stivell's work, which includes very soft and lyrical albums (especially earlier in his career), a middle period of proggish experimentalism, and later jazzy world music.

This is probably his most proggish album, and tells a story which, thankfully, I cannot understand since I don't really care for a history lesson. If you omit the short spoken text pieces, it's a really good album, with a much harder edge than most of his work. Definitely in the prog-folk vein, with the Celtic/Breton influence very strong.

Recommended to Gryphon fans (musically it's very different, but it's got a similar acoustic instrumentation).

It's a shame that he felt the need to include the English spoken word sections (although there aren't that many). The sound of the album would be stronger without the spoken word. Of course, he's trying to tell a story. But unless you speak several languages you're not going to follow it anyway if you're listening to the English language version, so the English is just a distraction.

 Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.97 | 42 ratings

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Renaissance De La Harpe Celtique
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

5 stars "Reflets" represented a teaser of STIVELL's early 1970s recordings with its blend of mournful (and occasionally playful) vocals with harp and other folk accompaniments and a little rock thrown in. It alluded to his indefatigable drive, now 4 decades old, to keep the tradition alive by holding its feet to the fire. "Renaissance de La Harpe Celtique" seems to be STIVELL apologizing for having forgotten his raison d'etre, that being to truly revive this blessed instrument with the help of a complement of the most committed Breton musicians of the time. This album is precisely what it claims to be, thereby silencing those who might cry "pretentious". Its influence on myriad performers to follow assures its status as a turning point in Breton, world, new age, and progressive music, none of which says anything about its own artistic self-sufficiency. For that, you have to listen, because no description could do justice to the ardent meticulousness herein.

Stivell wisely includes an array of traditional instrumentation that complements the harp, among which are the bombarde, pipes and flute, all of which he plays as well, a battery of cellos, and the cultivated guitars of one DAN AR BRAZ, all in proportional perfection. Whether basking in the shimmering opener "Ys", the elegant neo classical "Eliz Iza", or the multi part multi national "Gaeltacht", one is moved by this 37 minute mantra. Stivell never allows the listener to stray, not just because of the constant shifts and the breathtaking virtuosity, but because all other thought, reverie, even fantasy is rendered mundane in its company.

As I've implied, the thousand vessels launched from "Renaissance..." have too exerted their own influence and contribution in realizing the dream of one Alan Cochevelu, harp player, passed down by one Jord Cochevelou, harp maker. The best news for you is that this dream is one to which you can return as often as you wish, to be reborn alongside it.

 Chemins De Terre by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.10 | 40 ratings

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Chemins De Terre
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by Einsetumadur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 12.5/15P. Hands down, this record which is actually buried in oblivion, features about 30 minutes of pure magic - electric folk of its finest kind and not a bit less majestic and unique as the critically acclaimed work of Steeleye Span and others. And the remaining 10 minutes are absolutely good, too!

I got this album when I didn't have a clue what Celtic folk was actually about. You cannot imagine how amazed I was when I dug that one out after having falling in love with all the electric folk stuff from the UK. And it's today I found out that Dan Ar Bras (later of Fairport Convention) and the Yacoub siblings (of Malicorne) contributed to that album as well.

The farewell song Kimiad is just an experience of its own. I'm a big fan of Steeleye Span's Saucy Sailor, but this one tops it for me. There's Alan Stivell's gravelly voice, the fluent acoustic guitar picking, the majestic wailing of the bagpipes, the sad and low-key rolling of the percussion - and an extended mournful Mellotron cello counterpoint (at 1:50) lamenting underneath this overwhelming piece of beauty. Kimiad actually is a Breton farewell song, and every departing man or soul who is released to these sounds may be envied - it's really that good. The brief Oidhche Mhaith isn't a tad less fascinating, but restricts itself to the swirling backing of Alan Stivell's harp and Pascal Stive's Hammond organ. Marie Yacoub, a gorgeous folk singer who was sadly underused on Malicorne's debut album, is one of a bigger bunch of backing voices, but is easily distinguishable. The moment when the Hammond organ enters is proof against everyone who believes that folk music and electronic instruments don't belong together.

In spite of Stivell's thick accent, or maybe even because of it, She Moves Through The Fair is my favorite interpretation of that English ballad, which is surely the best-known tune on this album. The harp spins relentlessly around the calm drone of the bagpipes in the second half of the song, at some places the acoustic guitar takes over the job of swirling around without me actually realising the change in instrumentation, and who would have thought that adding some distant tablas to the instrumental playout of the track could be so effective? Usually, tablas on folk records annoy me (Steve Ashley's Stroll On is an exception), but this is simply perfect. An Hani A Garan is another ballad which falls into the category of the previously mentioned songs, but adds an icy three-part tin whistle (or 'pipe', as Morris men mayhap would put it) arrangement which takes over the lead in the last minute of the song. A treat!

But some of the recordings on this album drive the folk rock approach even further. The most radical and hard-rocking one is the Ian Morrison Reel, a blasting piece of folk'n'roll with a marvellous fiddle tone and more bagpipes rushing away on a tight rhythm of drums, bass and electric guitar. Check out the early albums by the Scottish band Run Rig, too, if you're into this particular kind of folk rock. Brezhoneg Raok (I think this means 'Breton Rock' in English) is a rock number composed by Stivell, and although it's got hardly any relation to folk music it suits the rest of the album fine. Some might call Dan Ar Bras' electric guitar tone a bit murky, but I get on with it really well since he doesn't dominate the songs and because what he plays is really good - fuzzy dual lead guitars, some theatralic string bends and jazzy flourishes. And most importantly the rhythm section isn't just another copy of Dave Mattacks et al., but a machinery of its own, as the weird but successful Celtic/jazz fusion mix-up of Metig reveals. This piece moves from spacy Hammond organ carpets beyond a dance part with some wordless singing to some military drum rolls before entering into a swinging band coda. Utterly enjoyable music, and this applies to all of the aforementioned tracks!

The three pieces which are 'only' in the 4-star realms are An Dro Nevez, Can Y Melinydd and Maro Ma Mestrez. The first one is a jig type of piece floating away on a laid-back band groove, bagpipes and fiddle taking the lead and mountain dulcimer and a slightly funky electric guitar in the background; it's just a wee bit too long for its own sake with the same melody being repeated over and over again. Can Y Melinydd, with - as it seems - dual lead vocals by Alan Stivell and Gabriel Yacoub and Yacoub's sister on spoons, is a pretty upbeat song led by banjo and twisted bass lines. Maro Ma Mestrez turns out to be more psychedelic again although the first verses - sung a capella - actually promise a more traditionalist rendition of this tune. It's a spacy lead guitar and, again, the Hammond organ which finally turn the cards during the second half of the song.

This leaves us with the opener Suzy MacGuire, which is one of the rare examples in which true psychedelia and folk music touch each other at the right place, creating something really groundbreaking altogether. In the very beginning there's only Alan Stivell and a muted drum, but then the dulcimer enters the fold and propels the song further on until Stivell's reedy harmonium adds a grievous note to the song. In the end you find crashing cymbals, swirling harps and wayward piano vamps turn around a reverberated electric guitar solo. A real piece of genius again!

First of all - this album brought the tentative ideas of the French electric folk group Malicorne to perfection. They were much too diffident and stubbornly traditional on their very first album which came out at around the same time (although the magic La Pernette makes a difference). Chemins De Terre is among the real classics of the seemingly inexhaustible folk genre and, as other reviews have already stated, manages to create that special connection between you (as the listener) and the earth you stand on - at least if you want to. If you have the chance to visit the countries where this kind of music comes from, be it Ireland, France, Scotland, England or maybe even parts of Germany - use your time to empathise with the country and the music. This album is the perfect soundtrack for a day at the sea. As well it is a suitable addition to the collection of anyone who has at least some relation to folk music.

Thanks to kenethlevine for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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