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The Chieftains, Voice of Ages (Decca) ***
FOR five decades the Chieftains have been the world’s most famous folk group. To celebrate half a century at the top, Paddy Moloney’s men have teamed up with some of the newest faces of alt-folk.
The result is technically perfect, played with consummate musicianship and sadly all rather bland. Lily Love with The Civil Wars is pretty and When the Ship Comes Down featuring the Decemberists a good stab, but we have to wait until almost the end for a medley of jigs and reels called Chieftains Reunion before they show what they really can do.
This is slick and masterly, but listen to Bothy Band or De Dannan and compare. In their hands these tunes soar with mesmerising energy and pace; the Chieftains, by comparison, plod along. Flautist Matt Malloy was once in the Bothy’s; he must be bored to tears these days.
• The Chieftains play York Barbican on June 12. Box office: 0844 854 2757.