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ALAN STIVELL

Prog Folk • France


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Alan Stivell biography
Born in 1944 in Gourin, Brittany, France, Alan Cochevelou was the son of Georges, 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 interest to more dogmatic progressive fans, ...
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Renaissance of the Celtic HarpRenaissance of the Celtic Harp
Import
Mercury Import 1990
Audio CD$6.49
$5.43 (used)
Beyone Words Au-Dela Des MotsBeyone Words Au-Dela Des Mots
Import
PID 2011
Audio CD$6.48
$9.03 (used)
Olympia 2012Olympia 2012
Import
Wrasse Import 2013
Audio CD$15.22
$11.97 (used)
Live in DublinLive in Dublin
Dreyfus 1994
Audio CD$19.98
$5.69 (used)
Back to BreizhBack to Breizh
Dreyfus 2000
Audio CD$16.99
$2.99 (used)
Brian BoruBrian Boru
Import
PID 2011
Audio CD$6.39
$9.03 (used)
EmeraldEmerald
Import
Keltia III 2010
Audio CD$18.99
$26.01 (used)
Brian BoruBrian Boru
Dreyfus 1996
Audio CD$34.99
$5.00 (used)
RefletsReflets
Import
Imports 2010
Audio CD$9.52
$8.18 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Zoom 70-95 by Alan Stivell (CD, Jul-1997, 2 Discs, Dreyfus Records (France)) US $10.99 Buy It Now 3h 2m
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ALAN STIVELL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.00 | 7 ratings
Telenn Geltiek
1961
3.74 | 15 ratings
Reflets
1971
3.61 | 23 ratings
Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (Renaissance de La Harpe Celtique)
1972
3.96 | 21 ratings
Chemins de Terre
1973
3.13 | 13 ratings
E Langonned
1974
2.22 | 8 ratings
Trema'n Inis/Vers L'ile
1976
2.85 | 11 ratings
Before Landing
1977
3.17 | 11 ratings
Journee a la Maison
1978
2.36 | 16 ratings
Celtic Symphony
1979
3.93 | 8 ratings
Terre des Vivants
1981
4.00 | 5 ratings
Legende
1983
3.00 | 4 ratings
Harpes du Nouvel Age
1985
3.20 | 6 ratings
The Mist of Avalon
1991
3.63 | 8 ratings
Again
1993
4.00 | 4 ratings
Brian Boru
1995
3.20 | 5 ratings
1 Douar
1998
3.17 | 6 ratings
Back to Breizh
2000
4.00 | 4 ratings
Au dela des mots
2002
3.25 | 4 ratings
Explore
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Emerald
2009

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

4.00 | 11 ratings
A L'Olympia
1972
3.31 | 7 ratings
In Dublin (aka Live in Dublin)
1975
3.00 | 3 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 | 3 ratings
Master Serie
1990
5.00 | 1 ratings
Zoom 70-95
1997
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Best of Alan Stivell
2000

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

ALAN STIVELL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Before Landing by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.85 | 11 ratings

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Before Landing
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.

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 Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (Renaissance de La Harpe Celtique) by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.61 | 23 ratings

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Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (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 mid to late 70s recordings with its blend of mournful (and occasionally spry) 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.

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 Chemins de Terre by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.96 | 21 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.

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 Chemins de Terre by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.96 | 21 ratings

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Chemins de Terre
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars The bridge

Coming from a family that, at least on my mother's side, used original folk music as the way it was intended - as a means to communicate with each other beyond words through dancing and facial expression when you hear that particular melody that goes way back with your blood roots. As far back as I can remember, my family has always ended big get-togethers spanning from weddings to birthdays - with a traditional song where everybody stands together in a huge circle, in one big meat embrace, singing about the land and nature where we grew up. When I was smaller, I didn't understand the significance of it, even if I did sense a togetherness beyond the mundane, - but as the years roll by, I've begun to look around at these familiar faces, and especially my grandfather - and quite magically during these musical family injections, his normal rock steady face begins to quiver and journey out above the wheat fields and forests. He looses himself for a moment or so, but I'm sure he goes somewhere. That's when it struck me, even if I think that most of these people listen to god awful music - that we as humans all have something that moves rock - inspires hope in us and strengthens the brotherly love. I may not be that different after all, I just don't enjoy Hansi Hiterseer...

I get that same feel with Alan Stivell, and I can just imagine old Celtic families dancing around to a wee little ditty listening to some of the more traditional tracks on offer here. If you don't know Stivell, then imagine this musical prodigy from the 19th century suddenly stepping into a time-machine - ending up in the 70s with all these long haired musical pioneers - searching back and forth in time and history for something special, unique - something that touches the soul. Alan shows them what he can do with the Celtic harp, which he has been playing since the age of 9 - and by a strange touch of faith, a truly stunning meeting of new and old takes place. Stivell actually means source, and when you listen to this record - you quickly realise why. Dulcimers, banjo, fiddle, all kinds of acoustic guitars - that beautiful otherworldly harp as well as something I'd never ever dream of infusing in a rock setting, had I not heard Korn actually, which is the bagpipes. All of this creates original Celtic folk music - yet somehow that's not entirely what it's all about. Just like ELP were about bringing the classical world into the rock n' roll - you too have that same sense of fusion here. There's electric guitars and bubbly organs - shining through in the midst of things, emanating a certain psychedelic rock attitude, - as well as sprucing up the endemic folky atmospheres with a modern peep into the start of the 70s, where everything was a-go. It was indeed a time of magic - finding out what musics could be glued together to form some kind of new and enticing cohesive whole.

Alan Stivell's voice is something that deserves a paragraph for itself. Like a twitching baby bird in the morning sun - a frail piece of organic mater, his voice shakes and trembles without ever becoming whiny or depressive. This man pushes forth sentences like setting small paper ships to sea in a puddle. They fit so beautifully with the harp - hitting those same kinds of intimate heights - oozing heartfelt warmth.

There are moments on this album that make my skin crawl like a welcoming rush of young baby caterpillars climbing my torso. It's beauty like crystal, though never as sterile and clear - it is folk music with heart and soul - something dug straight out of the ground like a pound of potatoes - something familiar and old. The last track for example uses bag pipes in a way that stretches the imagination - and serves up something entirely different than all those burial scenes you get in Hollywood flicks - though a thousand times more gripping and essential - essential in a manner that makes you think you're from Ireland or Scotland and have fought with William Wallace, but in a modern war where you afterwards went out drinking beers and listened to blues whilst dancing, twirling and yelling profanities in the street. This music bridges time itself - brick by brick - all the way back to the original Celtic tradition - straight up to the electric guitar and all of the fire it brought with it.

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 Celtic Symphony by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.36 | 16 ratings

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Celtic Symphony
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

2 stars Tír na nÓg can be translated as "Land of Youth". It's an outerworld where the people of Goddess Danu, "Tuatha De Danann" went after leaving Ireland. It's an island far in the West similar to the Viking's Valhalla and the story is about Oisin brought there by the queen Niamh.

This island is imagined made of three concentric circles, and those are the three parts of this symphony.

The first circle stands for 20:45 minutes starting with a Krautrock mood for the first 5 of them. It makes me think to Amon Duul but in this case it's music, not just a trippy band playing bongos on the beach. After this a Keltic section starts. It contains some female speech and this part is quite similar to Lucia Hwong. Effectively Stivell played on her "Secret Luminescence" more or less in the same period. When the speech ends it's just celtic which turns into a chaotic symphonic part close to the end when the celtic mood is restored by the pipes.

The second circle is 19:12 and opens totally symphonic. After 8 minutes a typical Stivell's harp brings the listener to Bretagne, but the surprise is at about minute 12, when there's the most progressive part of this track. It's clear why the only other review of this album currently on PA makes a distinction between the first 30 minutes and the rest. Who likes the Clannad of the 70s or bands like Malicorne will surely like the second half of this "circle" on which bass and drums add a touch of prog to the druidic ambient.

The third circle is unlikely the inner as it's really bigger. It takes more than 30 minutes and starts with harp and wind instruments which behave like birds in a cool spring morning. You can like it or not, but this is the kind of music that I effectively expect from Alan Stivell. The following section sees Alan singing on a piano base which is later improved by flutes and female voices. As often happen in music, knowing what a song is about helps in being more receptive. In Tír na nÓg there are no illness and no sickness. It's a land of eternal youth and this part sounds like a hymn, a ritual. At minute 8:30 bass and drums are added and Alan's vocals are now a choir. Back to prog. At minute 16, more or less, there's the most happy moment of the whole album with a captivating rhythm, pipes and winds but after one minute only it moves into minor chords and fiddle. Still prog folk but darker. It's a section of sudden changes: drums and bass accents for a while, then bodhran and flute, then pipes. Each single part is quite good but it's not easy to follow. At minute 20 it's the usual (good) Stivell, the kind of music for which he's included in the prog-folk subgenre, for 3 minutes only...the druid ritual restarts, then another sudden change transforms the song in a sort of march, then a good celtic moment...then stop describing. Too many changes.

This is the defect of this 30 minutes track. Even if the transitions don't make it discontinuous it's almost impossible to follow. Each single part is good. at minute 25 there's a bit of funky, too, but transitions apart, I don't see the difference between this 30 minutes single track and a soundtrack made of 1 minutes short tracks.

With more continuity and cutting out some useless parts this album could have been very interesting but in my opinion it fails to meet the objectives. Good if you like the genre, well played and with some very good moments but if celtic folk is not your pot stay away from it. I like this album but to be honest I can't rate it with more than 2 stars.

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 Chemins de Terre by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.96 | 21 ratings

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Chemins de Terre
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by Progfan97402

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.

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 In Dublin (aka Live in Dublin) by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Live, 1975
3.31 | 7 ratings

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In Dublin (aka Live in Dublin)
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

3 stars I didn't know that Alan Stivell was on PA as I always thought he was just Folk, not properly prog. However this album has some prog moments, in particular "Delivrance" that's my favourite track here.

It's has been my first Stivell's vinyl and it's still the one that I prefer. I was lucky in chosing this one because my second (and last) purchase was Tremain In'Is that's only harp and voice. Too much also for me.

"Spered Hollvedel" is an impressive slow instrumental based on organ and a sort of trumpet. Electric guitar follows. Very folky but progressive enough. It fades into the mentioned "Delivrance" on which Alan speaks "Et sons venue les temps de delivrance" (The time of freedom is come). A song about wars and people's freedom with a reference to Palestine.

"Ha Konpren't Vin Erfin" may be kobaian. I think it's Breton and I have no idea of what he says. A song with no drums and bass. Just keyboards, harp and voice. It's possible that what I perceive as keyboard is some traditional instrument.

It's followed by another Breton song but with a country-blues rhythm played on acoustic guitar: "Tenwal Eo'r Bed". After some, it's joined by a wooden flute on unison with Alan's voice.

"Digor Eo An Hent " starts with harp and voice, even if harp sounds very similar to an acoustic guitar. the only accompainment is provided by keyboards (this time they are keyboards for sure). A slow, maybe romantic, song.

I have to say that I really like Alan's voice that fits perfectly in this kind of music.

Now it's time for a celtic traditional (I think it is) initially lead by violin first then by flute and harp alternatively. Welcome to the 13th century. I don't know what proggers may think but I like this genre.

"Pachpi Kozh Pachpi New" Is another celtic instrumental. Traditional? I don't think but I'm not sure. It sounds traditional but some passages make me think to something modern.

"Laridenn" is a surprise. It's a fusion between celtic and funky. The band sings in choir and reminds in some way to the Renaissance's debut. Celtic melody and funky rhythm. I also have the impression that the only word that they say is "Funky", but it could mean everything in Breton, who knows? After two minutes there's a violin solo and the rest of the song is pure celtic. Unusual.

Harp is back as leading instrument on "Ton-Bale Pourled" until Drums, keyboard and guitar turn it into rock. Half rock song, then celtic again.

"Bal Ha Dans Plinn" is progressive. Long notes of electric guitar, odd tempo sudden changes in rhythm and melody, drum interludes, this is an instgrumental that proggers can love and also the longest track. (5 minutes...).

This live is closed by "An Droiou". A medieval-like instrumental. The rhythm is given by people's claps which support a dou of wind instruments. Good to close a live. Unfortunately the production decided to fade it out privating us of the possibility to enjoy the final. I hate tracks fading out, and this is unacceptable on a live.

I don't know if this is the best album of Alan Stivell as I have only two. It's a good album for lovers of the genre, so it fits into 3 stars.

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 Celtic Symphony by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.36 | 16 ratings

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Celtic Symphony
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by toroddfuglesteg

1 stars I always get very weak knees when I hear the word celtic associated with music. THIN LIZZY and RUNRIG is some of my favorite bands and I also like to explore other Celtic and Keltic bands from both Ireland and my home in the West Of Scotland. So I dipped my grubby fingers into my pockets when this album came up for sale.

This is an album in three parts and full orchestra of vocals, harps, scottish bagpipes, whistle, bombard, flute, percussion, keyboards, guitars, bass guitar, drums, fiddle, mandolin, bodhran, uilleann pipes, spoken word, kena, sitar, tampura and a choir. Yes, this is not the staple prog rock diet. The result is a symphony, no less. This is not a prog folk album.

The first thirty minutes is difficult to sum up without using language not suitable for a gentleman. Or in my case; a fat looser. But even a fat looser has standards.... The plonking of these instruments in an aimless manner is mindnumbing. I have seen films with his holyness Dalai Lama with Buddhist one-tone only chants and music from long horns. This album sends me some associations in that direction. Maybe I am stupid and uneducated, but the first part of this symphony is as pointless as watching paint dry. A symphony is meant to have movements and some developments. This is just pointless monotone drivel with no developments.

The last half picks up a bit. Some interesting electric guitars are added without enhancing the quality of this album. But too little, too late. This album has one tone and one tone alone. It is mindnumbing boring. It has been described as challenging and ambitious by the one who sold me this. Maybe I am too ill educated and earthly for this type of music. But with a small degree in philosophy and a love for mountains, Ikea furniture and chicken dinners; this album is not for me. This is the first review of this album and I would urge anyone else to give it a try though and review it here.

1 star

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 Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (Renaissance de La Harpe Celtique) by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.61 | 23 ratings

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Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (Renaissance de La Harpe Celtique)
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by Chris S
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars I was first treated to this album in about 1975 and whilst I appreciate the album in terms of themes and melodies it never really reigned supreme. The celtic harp playing is wonderfully hypnotic at times and Alan Stivell shows his true talents but there are a whole host of other fine musicians that lend a hand to this studio offering. The bass in particular stands out nicely accompanied by great choral arrangements. The standout piece of music would have to be ' Gaeltacht' but my personal favourite is ' Ys' the opener and it is IMO more distinctive sounding than the rest of the album. Alan Stivell was for this reviewer and early pioneer of the harp, others followed like Andreas Vollenweider and even some of Vangelis's work is similar but of course Stivell has that folk edge to his music. The album is good and would be a great starting point for anyone wanting an initiation to this French artiste. Two and a half stars.

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 The Mist of Avalon by STIVELL, ALAN album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.20 | 6 ratings

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The Mist of Avalon
Alan Stivell Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Gone are the new age 80s, and with the 90s comes a greater eclecticism, which is where Mr Stivell excels. "The Mist of Avalon" is his "Myths and Legends of King Arthur", a mythic tale with a celtic slant. This is a lusciously produced work with some of his most spirited harp playing, often seemingly strummed like a guitar, not to mention a cornucopia of pipes, woodwinds, and female vocal accompaniment to go with the man's own beyond trilingual tongue. It also rocks more than most of Stivell's earlier material.

The album opens strongly with "La Dame du Lac", which introduces all its best elements in barely 4 minutes. A moving song, it bodes well for the disk, and the next few tracks, whether instrumental or vocal (such as "Guenievre") maintain that high level of appeal. However, quality if not adventurousness seems to decline somewhat as the CD suffers from that, "gee I have 60 minutes to fill when 35 used to be enough" syndrome. It seems to lack a focal epic of sorts, with the longest tracks clocking at less than five and a half minutes, the fine "Horses on the Hills" and closer "The Return". And in general the vocal exercises seem to work better as they approach his vision of a unique historical document. Particularly admirable is the foretelling of the more electronic influence adopted by groups that were barely yet on the scene such as Afro Celt Sound System, Martyn Bennett, or Deep Forest, but Stivell seemed to incorporate the dance rhythms without the heavy technology, which is all the more impressive.

A flawed "masterpiece", "The Mist of Avalon" is nonetheless a fascinating work that holds up to repeat listens, even if its entertainment objectives are sometimes mist.

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

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