“Double Dubliners” by The Dubliners - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1972Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Recorded at Trend Studios, Dublin and Spot Studios, London. Produced by Phil Coulter. First issued in 1972 as “Double Dubliners” on EMI, and also known as “Alive and Well” on its 1973 Irish issue on Ram. The classic quintet is in place for this one: Ronnie Drew (vocals, guitar); Luke Kelly (vocals, 5-string banjo); Barney McKenna (tenor banjo, mandolin); Ciarán Bourke (tin Whistle, harmonica, guitar, vocals) and John Sheahan (fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin).

An original composition, “Free The People” opens up the album in a most contemporary fashion; it’s a surprise, but not an unpleasant one, to hear the group flirt with a folk rock style. An ominous tone clouds “The Springhill Disaster”, as Luke mourns the loss of 75 miners lives from the 1958 earthquake in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. Following the disaster (the third to strike the colliery), the operator permanently shut its mining operations in Springhill. The ballad had originally been done by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger in 1960. Further contemporary covers are included on side 1 as Ronnie sings an ode to the unsung truck-driving heroes, “Champion At Keeping Them Rolling”, penned by Ewan MacColl. This is followed by Luke’s poignant reading of “The Sun Is Burning” (originally done by The Ian Campbell Folk Group in 1963) which fears the nuclear apocalypse. For all of these new-found stylings, it’s a good auld pub stomper, “Gentleman Soldier”, which steals my utmost affection on this LP; a good-for-nothing good-time-Charlie takes advantage of his uniform, leaving a baby in tow in yet another port. Poor Polly!

Another standout track here is a recitation by Ronnie Drew of Pádraig Pearse’s poem “The Rebel” which foretold events to come in Ireland: “Beware of the risen people, who shall take what ye would not give. Did ye think to conquer the people, or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free? We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held, ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars!” Pearse would go onto take a leading role in the Easter Rising of 1916, for his part he would be executed by British forces. On a slightly more light-hearted note, “Smith Of Bristol” offers a late album highlight. The traditional, about a brutal Pirate who came to a violent end, re-uses the tune from their classic “Nelson's Farewell”. The auld admiral even gets a wee mention at the point where Smith’s demise is told. As always, there’s never a dull moment when Ireland’s famous five are in action.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:07] 7.2.png The Dubliners - Free The People (Phil Coulter, Bill Martin) Folk
A2 [03:05] 7.3.png The Dubliners - The Louse House Of Kilkenny (Traditional) Folk
A3 [03:54] 8.6.png The Dubliners - The Springhill Disaster (Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger) Folk
A4 [02:32] 6.1.png The Dubliners - The Musical Priest / The Blackthorn Stick (Traditional) Folk
A5 [02:40] 6.8.png The Dubliners - Champion At Keeping Them Rolling (Ewan MacColl) Folk
A6 [03:24] 6.7.png The Dubliners - The Sun Is Burning (Ian Campbell) Folk
B1 [02:06] 9.2.png The Dubliners - Gentleman Soldier [album version ’72] (Traditional) Folk
B2 [02:41] 7.5.png The Dubliners - The Rebel (Pádraig Pearse) Poetry
B3 [02:35] 5.9.png The Dubliners - The Gartan Mother‘s Lullaby (Traditional) Folk
B4 [02:48] 6.6.png The Dubliners - Drops Of Brandy / Lady Carberry (Traditional) Folk
B5 [02:25] 7.9.png The Dubliners - Smith Of Bristol (Traditional) Folk
B6 [03:20] 6.9.png The Dubliners - The Night Visiting Song (Traditional) Folk

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