The Bothy Band,
Old Hag You Have Killed Me
(Green Linnet, 1982)

Back when Celtic music was still new to me and I was often choosing albums based on minor details such as the band's name or cover art, my eye was caught by a title in the Green Linnet catalogue (a fine source for Celtic music in America, by the way). I ordered the album based on title alone ... and I wasn't disappointed.

The album was Old Hag You Have Killed Me, and the musicians were the legendary Bothy Band.

The musicians comprising the Bothy Band would later become a veritable Who's Who of great Irish musicians. Fiddler Kevin Burke first achieved prominence here, replacing the recently departed Tommy Peoples (large shoes to fill, indeed). Matt Molloy honed his flute and whistle playing. Donal Lunny, Triona Ni Dhomhnaill and Micheal O'Domhnaill shared vocal duties and played a wide assortment of instruments, too. And Paddy Keenan (described by Lunny as "the Jimi Hendrix of the pipes") went wild on the uileann pipes, whistle and low whistle.

Although the Bothy Band was to be a short-lived enterprise, those musicians would later spend time in some of the seminal bands of Irish tradition: Planxty, Patrick Street, the Celtic Fiddle Festival, Relativity and others.

But this, from their early years, is a great place to start. Old Hag You Have Killed Me includes some wonderful tracks from the Bothy years, from electrifying traditional set pieces like "Music in the Glen," "The Laurel Tree," "Farewell to Erin" and the title track, to the slow ballads "Tiochfaidh an Samhradh (Summer Will Come)," "Calum Sgaire" and "16 Come Next Sunday," and the a cappella chant "Fionnghuala."

This is a worthwhile addition to anyone's Irish music collection. Although not as polished as they would become in later years, this is still a gob-smacking good album which captures the fun of the Irish traditions. And it's albums like this which paved the way for the giants of today such as Altan, Deanta and Dervish.

[ by Tom Knapp ]