26 June 2005

'Twould Set Your Heart A-Bubblin'

      So, here it is, Sunday morning, and though my Sunday mornings are never as Stevensian as I might wish (no complacencies of any peignoirs here), it's surprisingly nice.   For the first time in goodness-only-knows how long, I have my own computer again, that is, one entirely to myself.   Oh bliss, oh joy.   I think I had forgotten the feeling of having my own machine, and not having to accommodate space.   Oddly enough, this coincides with the recent discovery of an old CD packet that contained some discs I had long since assumed lost forever, so I'm listening to the Chieftains' The Long Black Veil (cover pictured at right, or the North American one, anyway).   The album's ten years old now, and far from perfect, but it has some enchanting moments, particularly those where the guest vocalists fit in so much than one would expect.   Mark Knopfler's version of "The Lily of the West" is looming away, Knopfler's voice sounding oddly at ease with the material.   Ry Cooder's vocals on "Coast of Malabar" remind me that he did (does) have a hell of a voice when he want to let it sing.   And then there's Marianne Faithfull, as withered and cigarette-haunted as ever, who brings a peculiar but undeniable authority to "Love Is Teasin'."   The less said about Tom Jones' "Tennessee Waltz," the better, though.

      The real highlight here is the album's last track, the rollicking "The Rocky Road to Dublin," which proceeds through enough movements to make the constipated jealous.   One movement sounds gay and tripping, another ominous, another rousing, and so on and so forth, thanks to the strange complement of the Chieftains in the form of the Rolling Stones (and Colin James on guitar and mandolin). It's a marvelous conundrum of sound, obviously improvised, guitars and fiddles flying about everywhere, with flutes and pipes and Charlie Watts' drums bouncing about in-between.   It's also one of the few songs for which the album credits Irish dancing, the percussive sounds of so much stomping obviously informing the rhythm, and mercifully not in one of those Riverdance fashions.   Clocking in at just over five minutes, it's one of those rare performances one wishes went another five, or even ten, minutes longer.   Absolutely spiriting, it's better for me than church, and almost incentive to think with more energy of the possibilities of those dreary things called Sundays.   One, two, three, four, five...

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