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    $13.49 $11.49 list($18.98)
    1. Celtic Woman [Manhattan]
    $13.49 $5.43 list($18.98)
    2. Stand Up
    $11.99 $9.79 list($13.98)
    3. The Best of Van Morrison
    $7.99 $7.79 list($11.98)
    4. Moondance
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    5. Paint the Sky with Stars:The Best
    $16.98 $12.45
    6. Celtic Woman, Vol. 2
    $11.98 $7.22
    7. Pink Moon
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    8. A Day Without Rain
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    9. Book of Secrets (Bonus Dvd)
    $9.99 $8.60 list($18.98)
    10. Watermark
    $13.99 $12.14 list($17.98)
    11. Visit (Bonus Dvd)
    $14.99 $8.74 list($19.98)
    12. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship
    $13.99 $12.39 list($16.98)
    13. Celtic Woman
    $11.98 $8.00
    14. Five Leaves Left
    $9.99 list($18.98)
    15. Shepherd Moons
    $13.99 $12.14 list($17.98)
    16. Parallel Dreams (Bonus DVD)
    $10.99 $8.18 list($11.98)
    17. Astral Weeks
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    18. The Memory of Trees
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    19. The Farthest Wave
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    20. Local Ground

    1. Celtic Woman [Manhattan]
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.49
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    Asin: B0007GAEGC
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 26
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    Amazon.com

    Fueled by healthy public appetite for traditional melodies and quasi-ethnic roots, the crossover genre continues to flourish with this debut release from Ireland's Celtic Woman ensemble. The brainchild of Sharon Browne, Dave Kavanaugh (founders of Ireland's successful Celtic Collections label) and young Riverdance touring company musical director David Downes, CW's five young women musicians and vocalists offer up an ever pleasant, Eire-savvy fusion of folk, pop and classical influences. Avoiding the intrusive, club-beat/sex kitten window dressing of Bond, the ensemble tackles material that ranges from the expected (spare, lovely covers of "Danny Boy" and "Ave Maria") to more adventurous fare like "Nella Fantasia" (Ennio Morricone's vocal adaptation of his rapturous theme fromThe Mission) and Enya's "Orinoco Flow." Elsewhere, "The Butterfly" offers up fiddle-fueled take on their Riverdance parallels (which also get a workout on the live bonus tracks), if renditions of Downes' originals like "One World" and "Send Me a Song" and "Someday" from Disney's animated Hunchback of Notre Dame hew slavishly to the middle of the road -- which largely seems the album's easy-listening intention. --Jerry McCulley ... Read more


    2. Stand Up
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    Asin: B00082ZSP2
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 192
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    3. The Best of Van Morrison
    list price: $13.98
    our price: $11.99
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    Asin: B000009DDJ
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 265
    Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Van Morrison reputedly wasn't crazy about the idea of a greatest-hits package, and this set's haphazard programming--which leaps from period to period, style to style, tossing in two key singles by his mid-'60s band Them--speaks to his lack of involvement. Still, it rivals Moondance as Morrison's most popular album, and for a reason: like that classic, it offers one deeply soulful, spiritually and musically thoughtful track after another. Much of his more "difficult" work is ignored here; in fact, Best of... gives us an intriguing picture of a Van who's almost eager to please. --Rickey Wright ... Read more

    Reviews (85)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Pop Music the way it should be
    Van Morrison is one of the best songwriters out there. It's awesome to hear his voice and his songwriting talent skip around in different genres, from boogie rock like Brown-Eyed Girl and the spectacular Wild Night to British invasion hookey pop stuff like Gloria and Here Comes the Night to Cat Stevens-ish acoustic reflections like Sweetest Thing and Warm Love and finally to spiritual, decidedly Christian-themed lite rock like Cleaning Windows, Bright Side of the Road, and then God Shines His Light.

    There's something very cinematic about his music too. It sounds like it belongs in the movies. It has that way on perfectly capturing the mood of human emotion that seems perfect for a soundtrack.

    Unfortuantely, Morrison never really had the best voice around; he sort of screams with a little rasp- like a louder, fuller Dylan, but it's unique and adds a very Van-ish authenticity to his songs. Ultimately this CD is really just beautiful to listen to as a good collection of thoughtful, well-written pop tunes of various genres.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Bard of Belfast
    In the early 1990s Alan Parker filmed Roddy Doyle's wonderful book, The Commitments, about working class Irish kids trying to escape dead end jobs through the power of classic soul music. The band's lead singer--slightly pudgy but with a powerful voice and personality--reminded me at the time of a young Van Morrison. Of course, that's not much of a stretch--Doyle could very well have been basing some of his book on Morrison's early career.

    The Best of Van Morrison provides a nice synopsis of Morrison's first three decades as the bard of Belfast. Those humble beginnings with the band Them presents a sound that was as raw as any of the bluesmen and soul artists that he admired and is represented by three songs: the bluesy "Baby Please Don't Go," the anthemic "Gloria," and the ballad "Here Comes the Night." Van's voice sounds more like a growl in these songs, more like Mick Jagger than the warm, smooth sound that would become his trademark.

    The CD is not arranged chronologically, so I tend to group the songs by style rather than time period. Van's soul roots as a solo artist can be seen in how he favors background horns and female backup singers, as in "Domino," "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)," "Wonderful Remark," "Brown-Eyed Girl," "Warm Love," and "Wild Night."

    The flip side to that is his jazzy style, born from that blues beginning merging with the stream of conscience noodling that saw its fullest expression on Astral Weeks. These songs--"Sweet Thing," "Moondance," "Queen of the Slipstream," "Have I Told You Lately," "Bright Side of the Road"--often have unconventional structures, time signatures, or keys and reflect Van's experimentation.

    Often the purview of country music, Van likes the "story" song. His don't necessarily relate a narrative but instead capture characters or a time period. "And It Stoned Me" is a childhood reminescence, while "Cleaning Windows" tries to capture the simpler times when he performed manual labor.

    And, lastly, there's the songs of faith, not quite gospel, but like contemporary Christian with more moderate lyrics. These songs--"Full Force Gale," "Whenever God Shines His Light," "Dweller on the Threshold," and "Did Ya Get Healed"--could be maudlin, but there's something about the assuredness of the delivery that overcomes your doubts regarding the message, at least for the duration of the song.

    While containing all the radio hits, the total collection of 20 songs provides a great introduction to Van, who can be a little overindulgent and uneven in his albums. Once you become a confirmed fan, you're more likely to enjoy those experiments. Until then, this is your best one album collection.

    5-0 out of 5 stars In Response To IVAVARIO
    The new remaster has the unedited Brown Eyed Girl with the "Making Love in the green grass...." line intact.

    Now for the review, this is a great compilation for the Van Morrision newbie. It contains his most famous songs, Brown Eyed Girl, Moondance, Gloria (with Them), Domino, Jackie Wilson Said..., Wild Night, Have I Told You Lately..., And It Stoned Me, among others.

    The only song that should have been on here that wasn't is Caravan. Other than that a perfect 10.

    A++

    Once again, if you are irritated about the original taking out that infamous line in Brown Eyed Girl, get the remaster. It shouldn't be hard to find since the unremastered is out of print.

    1-0 out of 5 stars I Hate This Dude
    This horrible little idiot is SO annoying. His voice stinks and his lyrics are stupid. His music is only for idiots who are too brainwashed by outdated garbage music like this to realize that there is such a thing as a catchy beat.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Discovery
    Having grown up in Generation X, I had no idea who Van Morrison was until a few years ago when I bought this CD for my father. He listened to it and loved it, and I borrowed it from him recently. I consider Van a great discovery.

    I was blown away by how great the music on this album is. There are so many songs of Morrison's that I was familiar with but did not know that he was the singer. I feel very fortunate to have "discovered" such a great artist.

    Though I'm not very familiar with Van's work, some songs here have become favorites of mine. These include:

    'Have I Told You Lately': Later remade by Rod Stewart, this has become one of the classic love songs of all time. The original is best, with Morrison's throaty voice driving the vocals.

    'Wild Night': Another song that has been remade, the original of 'Wild Night' is a bit rockier than John Mellencamp's version.

    'Moondance': Now one of my favorite songs, 'Moondance' is a classic, laid-back jazzy tune with brilliant vocals and a terrific shuffle.

    'Brown Eyed Girl': Year after year, the oldies radio station in Cleveland places this song at the top of their "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list. There's a reason why.

    I've read a few reviews saying that this isn't as good a compilation of Morrison's material as could be made. I can't speak for them, because, as a newcomer, I don't know much about his music. I can say that this album is amazing, and has definitely done a good job of introducing me to the magic of Van Morrison. What more could a greatest hits album ask for? ... Read more


    4. Moondance
    list price: $11.98
    our price: $7.99
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    Asin: B000002KHF
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 492
    Average Customer Review: 4.85 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com essential recording

    Van Morrison went a long way towards defining his wild Irish heart with his first two classic albums: the brooding, introspective Astral Weeks (1968), and the expansive, swinging Moondance. If the first was the work of a poet, its sequel was the statement of a musician and bandleader. Moondance is that rare rock album where the band has buffed the arrangements to perfection, and where the sax solos instead of the guitar. The band puts out a jazzy shuffle on "Moondance" and plays it soulful on "These Dreams of You." The album includes both Morrison's most romantic ballad ("Crazy Love") and his most haunting ("Into the Mystic"). "And It Stoned Me" rolled off Morrison's tongue like a favorite fable, while "Caravan" told a tale full of emotional intrigue. Moondance stood out in the rock world of 1970 like a grownup in a kiddie matinee. --John Milward ... Read more

    Reviews (124)

    5-0 out of 5 stars My Own Private "Moondance" with Van.....
    This review refers to the Warner Bros. audio tape of Van Morrison's "Moondance"....

    I have to confess...I bought this "fantabulous" album on tape so I could pop it in my walkman and have my own private time with Van Morrison, his band and the exhilarating music. But alas, I always get caught. The music and the lyrics are just ones that I can't help singing aloud with(you know...'LA LA LA LA... LA LA LA'...), and playing on my own air instruments!

    The familiar and soothing voice, the soulful and oh so recognizable tunes, will "let your soul and spirit fly Into The Mystic". It's always "a marvelous night for a Moondance", and who could ever tire of "Come Running" and "Caravan". So 'rock your Gypsy soul', 'turn it up',and fall in love again to "Crazy Love".....'she give me love love love love...crazy love'.It'll 'seem like and feel like' a "Brand New Day" every time you play it.

    All the great sounds of the vocals and the band, including the wonderful solos sound great on this tape.If you are just starting to collect Van Morrison, start with this one.It's definitive of his work and one that you just won't be able to get enough of... 'And so you know, it's got soul'(see buying info for complete list of songs)

    Van..."Can I have just one more 'Moondance' with you"??? Just let me know and I'll "Come Running"....
    enjoy...Laurie

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's a marvelous night for "Moondance"
    Moondance is a wonderful album. Van Morrison is a truly gifted songwriter, not to mention his wonderful, yet unique voice. If you want to hear music that is more flash and glitz and commercialism, give Moondance a listen. Just reading the lyrics to this album could stir your soul. The lyrics are amazing, and the music is great too. In addition to the great acoustic guitar playing, bass and drums, Van has also added saxophones, flutes, clarinets and pianos to many of the songs, giving the album a rather distinct sound. My favorites are Come Running, Moondance, These Dreams Of You, Caravan and of course, the BEST song on the album, maybe Van Morrison's best song: Into The Mystic. This album would get 5 stars just for Into The Mystic even if all the other songs were bad. Fortunately though, that's not the case. Moondance is marvelous from start to finish.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Ice cold audio orange juice
    It's not as complex, beautiful and enigmatic as "Astral Weeks" and it's not as much of a soulful, one-two-punch workout as "Blowin' Your Mind," but for sheer, consistent, horn-driven happiness, you can't do much better than "Moondance."

    But because of my affection for those other two disks, I admit, I generally tend to underrate this album. But "Moondance" keeps coming back to me in the most unexpected ways at the most unexpected times: I'll hear "Caravan" in "The Last Waltz," or "Everyone" at the end of "The Royal Tenenbaums" or "Glad Tidings" three times in the "Sopranos" Season 5 finale, or notice "Into the Mystic" on the PA at the grocery store and be reminded that I need to let it out to play more often. That's the sign of a truly great musical work.

    1-0 out of 5 stars he got stoned all rite!
    yo my parentz lissen tu dis cd! i mean theyre old, and i am an informed consumer uv hot topic clothing! so i must have a better taste in muzak, rite? i mean, da shtuff i lissen too is on da billbored chartz! like, American Idol peeps so bust Van da man fer rekord salez!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction in Van Morrison
    I was only familiar with the Brown Eyed Girl and Gloria Van Morrison but bought this because of the strong 5 star rating with nearly 130 reviews. They are right. This is a great CD filled with easily listened to (not easy listening) music. The lyrics are absolutely heartfelt. The speed of the music fluctuates from not to fast to slow and cool. This would be great entertaining music for a small group of people or just for that one person. ... Read more


    5. Paint the Sky with Stars:The Best of Enya
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $9.99
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    Asin: B000002NJH
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 375
    Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com essential recording

    New Age diva Enya first became widely known when her 1988 album Watermark sold 4 million copies and launched the single "Orinoco Flow." Her follow-up, Shepherd Moons, was even more successful, selling over 10 million copies despite its slightly lower grade of ethereal enchantment. In 1997 she released Paint the Sky with Stars, an assortment of her best work from these two early albums plus gems from 1995's The Memory of Trees and the soundtrack to the BBC series The Celts. The most melodic and atmospheric examples of Enya's lovely Celtic-flavored songwriting shine on this disc. Those unfamiliar with the former Clannad member will find charm in such sweet lullabies as "Marble Halls" and "China Roses" while delighting in the more energetic "Book of Days," "Storms in Africa," and "Caribbean Blue." Overall, an outstanding collection from an artist who gives New Age a good name. --Karen Karleski ... Read more

    Reviews (264)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Simply Inspirational Collection Of Songs
    I'm telling you, this CD is just SO GOOD! Enya is a wonderful new-age musician in my books. The best thing about this album is the fact that it comprises all of her best tracks from her previous albums, plus new singles like "Only If..." and "Paint the Sky wth Stars" which show that she is no less a great instrumentalist and vocalist as she was before. There are many likeable points about this CD, especially because it really gives you the mood of experiencing a musical journey as you go through different atmospheres with each single. It's truly magical: From sailing on the Orinoco and the blue Caribbean, you enter a Book of Days where Anywhere Is anything you want it to be, and where your consideration of "Only If..." speaks of opportunities you'd never come across in common life. Then you take a trip in history to recap the melodious beauties of the Celts, who rest by the lullaby of beautiful China Roses and as they stare at Shepherd Moons. Next, your journey takes a tribal turn and follows the power of Ebudae, where you get to hear the scary yet charming tunes of the Storms in Africa. Your journey then calms down and rests in peaceful Watermark, where the swipes of music's magical brush Paint the Sky with Stars. And as you take your last steps through the polished walls of Marble Halls, you finally get to be On Your Way Home, where you bear in mind The Memory of Trees. At the end of your listening adventure, you recall the reign of Baodicea, the Celtic King, before your journey through this powerful album comes to a solemn end. Listen to this album, it's really WONDERFUL! Even if it's your first time on new-age music, this CD will definitely make you much more versatile to the various genres of this inspirational form of music. Hope you enjoy this marvellous journey! Bon voyage!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Simply Magically Lustful Collection of Inspirational Songs
    I'm telling you, this CD is just SO GOOD! Enya is a wonderful new-age musician in my books. The best thing about this album is the fact that it comprises all of her best tracks from her previous albums, plus new singles like "Only If..." and "Paint the Sky wth Stars" which show that she is no less a great instrumentalist and vocalist as she was before. There are many likeable points about this CD, especially because it really gives you the mood of experiencing a musical journey as you go through different atmospheres with each single. It's truly magical: From sailing on the Orinoco and the blue Caribbean, you enter a Book of Days where Anywhere Is anything you want it to be, and where your consideration of "Only If..." speaks of opportunities you'd never come across in common life. Then you take a trip in history to recap the melodious beauties of the Celts, who rest by the lullaby of beautiful China Roses and as they stare at Shepherd Moons. Next, your journey takes a tribal turn and follows the power of Ebudae, where you get to hear the scary yet charming tunes of the Storms in Africa. Your journey then calms down and rests in peaceful Watermark, where the swipes of music's magical brush Paint the Sky with Stars. And as you take your last steps through the polished walls of Marble Halls, you finally get to be On Your Way Home, where you bear in mind The Memory of Trees. At the end of your listening adventure, you recall the reign of Baodicea, the Celtic King, before your journey through this powerful album comes to a solemn end. Listen to this album, it's really WONDERFUL! Even if it's your first time on new-age music, this CD will definitely make you much more versatile to the various genres of this inspirational form of music. Hope you enjoy this marvellous journey! Bon voyage!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Enya. I love you...
    When I first saw/listened to an Enya video (Orinocco Flow) on television back in the early 90's/late 80's - I thought she was... ...nice... ...but a wee bit...whacked. Or tootie-fruitie. Or whatever. With all the "...hoo! hee! ooh! ahh! oh! hoo! ahh! ee! oh! hoo!, etc." lyrics...

    Then, a few years later, over a period of several months, a mildly crazed girl friend force-fed Enya (...and 90's country music) down my gullet. Whether I dang wanted to hear it or not. Well...after an extended amount of time of this force-feed diet...I...began to...like Enya. In fact, I became mesmerized especially by "Watermark" and "Storms over Africa"? or...one of her other songs.

    That was about 10 years ago... and it's year 2004 now. And except for a rare occasion here and there - I have not listened to any Enya music at all. However. After wandering about and subsequently stumbling onto Enya on the site here over the past week or two - I found myself nigh brought to my knees in tears over the wondrous beauty of this fair maiden's music. It is SO BEAUTIFUL...! And relaxing! And hypnotic, and just plain...good for you...! It makes you feel good about yourself...and life...and just...Everything! (sigh...).

    Anyway, also - the site here confirmed my delighted suspicion that one of Enya's Lovely songs ("Book of Days") is the theme song for the "Out of Ireland" television program, broadcast on Public Television. (That I recently discovered a few months ago).

    So, as I find myself having been somehow guided back to Enya, on this here Amazon site, I am just thinking...that I may end up owning... a whole collection... of Enya tapes.

    My mildly...enthusiastic former girlfriend (who I am still friends with) done good...

    4-0 out of 5 stars Thanks For The Introduction To Mehdi
    I've always enjoyed Enya and this album is no exception, but while reading some of the customer recommendations posted on this page I discovered an artist by the name of Mehdi (pronounced meddie). After some investigation I found his site (SoothingMusic.Com) and listened to the samples...I was instantly blown away by the quality of this music and so I gave it a try and now that I have listened to his CDs several times I really must say that although I'm still a Enya fan I find Mehdi to be a tad more interesting. I have them both in my multi-disc CD player and love the way they compliment each other. I highly recommend that you give this artist a try or atleast just go listen to the samples, I have a feeling you'll be glad you did.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Enya is NOT a singles artist.
    Trying to review a "Best Of" from Enya is a very difficult assignment. A rarity among popular artists, Enya takes years at a time to perfect and polish her recordings until she decides they are ready, then releases the individual albums as stand alone pieces of work. That an occasional song breaks free and becomes popular is coincidental to the overall scheme of her music. While I must admit that "Orinoco Flow" drove me into a shivering bliss that first time I heard it on the radio, as soon as I got a copy of "Watermark," it was easy to tell that this woman was an artist as perfectionist.

    From that point on, I have eagerly awaited the next CD to complete its gestation and land in my disc player. So how does one regard the piecemeal way her first four albums are divided into a "Best Of" collection? Fortunately, Enya has a way with melody, so the songs per se are often memorable outside of context. Much like Enigma, Alan Parsons or Pink Floyd, sometimes a little swath of the album is still enough to convey the consistency of mood, and Enya is of the stature of those equally creative minds.

    In short, I have no trouble recommending "Paint The Sky With Stars" to the curious, although my first recommendation would still be to purchase the classic "Watermark" first. But if all you really need is the pleasantries of Enya to put some tranquility in your day, this "Best Of" set will do nicely. ... Read more


    6. Celtic Woman, Vol. 2
    list price: $16.98
    our price: $16.98
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    Asin: B00004S2TK
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 40179
    Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (2)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not the quality of the first
    I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of this CD, it took three weeks between the order and the time it arrived. Was it worth the wait? Yes, but I was still a little disappointed. It wasn't the CD that I was expecting. Celtic Women 1 was an amazing CD. This was still good, but not great.

    Still, the CD features some return visitors from the first and a few great songs amongst them. Aine Furey makes a triumphant return with the song Vanities child, which highlights her haunting voice. I anxiously await the release of her band, Bohinta's new CD.

    Highlights are:
    Rita Connolly - Valparaiso
    Fiona Joyce - Lifting the veil
    Aine Furey - Vanity Child

    If you don't have the first one, buy it first. Followed by the Faire Celts CD which is another tremendous display of the female Celtic voice.

    3-0 out of 5 stars worth the coin
    skip vol. 1 and buy this 2nd volume. It will keep you interested for more than one spin. ... Read more


    7. Pink Moon
    list price: $11.98
    our price: $11.98
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    Asin: B000025XKM
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 911
    Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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    Album Description

    Reissue of the late British folk icon's final full-lengthalbum, released in 1972. 11 tracks. Slipcase. Island. ... Read more

    Reviews (214)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Raw. Dark. Inspired.
    Nick Drake has been an underground hero for musicians for many years now but only recently got any real public attention because of a VW commerical. There's nothing wrong with VW using his song, it's just a shame that commercial success never happened for Nick when he was alive. He deserved the attention he has received in 1999 way back in 1970.

    Nick was an incredible acoustic guitarist with a diverse fingerstyle technique with great finger-rolls and clever melodies woven throughout complex harmonies and various tunings.

    Pink Moon is raw and dark but absolutely pretty at the same time --and precisely played with just one acoustic guitar and an occasional piano. His baritone voice is delivered in an often slurred and breathy haze with lyrics that convey a sense of despair and emotional nakedness. The chords in his songs will weave a Minor progression of almost hopeless despair then break into a Major bridge and rising vocal melodies that brings a hope of soaring transcendence into the light - only to have it dashed back down to the ground. Beautiful.

    My favorite track is "Parasite." His guitar line brings a sense of calm and reassurance -even thorugh lyrics filled with personal inadequacy and despair. "Pink Moon" is the lead-off track that was used by VW and gave Nick life after death. If this album came out today, it would sound completely fresh and new, unlike many other folk albums from the same time. Timeless.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best of a genius
    I "discovered" Nick Drake in a roundabout way, through the fiction of his fellow Brit, author Phil Rickman, who seems to have been profoundly affected by Drake's music. The only album of his that I could find in print way back then was "Way to Blue," a sort of "Best of" collection. And I thought that Pink Moon was the best of the songs. when the CD was remastered and released, I bought it,and although this phrase is trite and overused, I was blown away. I've listened to his first two albums, and read about arguments with his producer about whether or not to add the (unnecessary, IMO)horn and string sections. Nick, quite correctly, felt his music could stand alone. Why he was not successful in his lifetime, I'll never know. I don't think he was having a breakdown as he wrote and recorded "Pink Moon," I think he was finally allowing himself to speak without euphemisms or too much symbolism. It is Nick being Nick, and it is his best. Finally, you can hear his guitar clearly. Listen closely, and you'll see that he has been sadly underrated; I believe he was the best acoustic guitarist in the 20th century (no offense to Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton fans). The song "Which Will" is my favorite track from the CD; the theme of love lost and watching the beloved move on is not unusual, but what he does with it is magical. I also love "Pink Moon;" some months after hearing it, I learned that in British superstition, the sight of a pinkish or reddish full moon means that someone is going to die. Perhaps a foreshadowing of "Black-Eyed Dog"?

    If you only buy one Nick Drake album, make it this one. You won't regret it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite CD by my favorite musician.
    This has to be the most beautiful album ever created. I have probably listened to this CD 75 times, in full, since I got it, and every time I am almost put in a trance by the beauty that is Nick Drake's music. Nick Drake uses differen't tunings for his guitar that sometimes make it sound as if a mini-orchestra is playing on his albums, but is just the sweet, melancholy tunes of a hushed voice singing out lyrics and the strings of a lone guitar slowely winding an environment of peace and serenity around your life, letting you fully relax, and see the beauty in things. I may sound like a hippy, but this is no exaggeration, you must get this CD now, and cherish it forever, for once you hear these beautiful songs your life will never be the same, it will be better.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Let's get one thing straight about this record.
    Its average -- heh, virtually unanimous -- rating of five here probably has something to do with this: Nick Drake died, not certainly but quite likely a suicide, about two years after its release, and in retrospect this sounds like his suicide note, whether it was or not. It also has something to do with a car commercial that came out about 26 years too late to help Nick.

    And none of us should be ashamed of this.

    The facts of an artist's life are an inextricable part of his work. We've known this, cherished it in fact, since the first artist put a voice into music, or drew pictures and made gestures that expressed thoughts without words. Nick Drake was one depressed dude at the end. Either he killed himself deliberately or the drugs that did it -- and they were antidepressants -- were powerful enough to do it by accident.

    I got "Pink Moon" about five days ago and have played it about 35 times. The title track and the final one ("From the Morning") move me about as much as anything I've heard. Everything in between establishes a mood that could be interpreted as heavily flavored by sadness, if not dominated by depression. Even "Morning," a song of hope and uplift if ever was, is tinted by the small, haunting ache that attends the knowledge of death as an inevitable part of life. And the death that's on our minds is, unavoidably, Nick Drake's. It matters not why and how he died; it was too soon, this was his last record before it happened, and it colors -- unavoidably and rightly -- what we hear. When one knows how an artist's pain worked itself out in the artist's own life, it has an inevitable impact on how one receives the record.

    I join the people who thank Volkswagen for this record. I never saw the VW ad; I don't watch TV enough to do that. But I sure read enough about it here; and I only recently found that the wonderful lavish sounds I'd been hearing as sign-on music back in the early-mid '70s on good ol' WMAL-FM were Nick's own "Bryter Later." So I can claim to be one of the fogies who Knew Him (sorta) When. But only the one piece. That and the VW ad -- what's all this about a damn ad? -- prompted one of my best album purchases ever. I'm torn -- just run back to the store where they have his other two studio releases, nine-ninety-nine the pop? Or spring for "Fruit Tree"?

    Drake's first two albums are lusher, more lavish, more produced, more, well, what? optimistic. Then this one. Nick, his guitar, and a smattering of overdubbed but perfect piano. It would be interesting to have heard "Pink Moon" AFTER his first two records, instead of hearing it first. The contrast between those discs and this one is startling enough as it is. If you want to hear folk guitar played about as well as it can be, accompanied by a voice that, light and almost airy as it is, seems to triple the weight of the lyrics, Do not pass Go. Head straight to this record. If you don't have "Pink Moon" yet, and kind of wish there wasn't quite so much production on those two lovely Drake discs you do have, pick this one up. 'Cause the production is, well, not. I think it's wonderful that we got to hear not only as much of Nick Drake as we did, but as many different sides. I wouldn't want the first two records without the overdubbed strings and keyboards. This one, likewise, is perfect, just as is. Stark, painful, full of despair and full also of hope and appreciation for the beauty the artist saw in the world. It's just as in the first two records, but expressed differently and just as spot-on beautifully.

    Don't feel bad that you first heard about Nick Drake from a car salesman. Carlos Santana was right: It's getting it, not how, that counts. You have the music now, is what matters. The world is beautiful and it's OK. Play "Pink Moon" again, and again. That's Nick, telling you so.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Buy two copies
    It is a damn good thing that this man is not alive today. His purity and ethics would have left him in an even deeper state of depression if he were to suffer the fandom his music has earned him as well as the use of his music for commerical purposes. People this sensitive are gifts to the world, but they usually implode and lack the coping mechanisms to survive in modern society. Nick was a walking open wound, a raw exposed nerve and one listen to his art will reveal this. What an amazing thing that he was open enough and talented enough to bear his soul in a way that makes us feel ours so.

    The second track, "Place to Be" makes my chin quiver every time and cry most of the time I hear it, and I am not ashamed to admit it. There is something exquisite, decadent and enlightening about indulging in this artist's "dark" music. Depressing and melancholy? Yes, certainly. Beautiful, nuanced, and intimate? More so. I can say, as a heterosexual male that if I had a time machine, I would go back to 1972 and embrace this guy, tell him everything will be alright, and take him of a road trip through the wilderness. And I'd bring a tape recorder. ... Read more


    8. A Day Without Rain
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000050XEI
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 632
    Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    As each new Enya release has washed over all who have ears to hear, as each heaven-touched work leaves admirers sitting speechless in slack-jawed wonder, questions eventually come to mind: Might her layered, choral-like approach gradually become predictable or stale? Will she ever exhaust her deep reservoir of soul-stirring ideas? Remarkably, A Day Without Rain, Enya's fourth release since her 1988 breakthrough, Watermark, establishes new artistic heights for the gifted Irish vocalist and keyboardist. The project, polished and refined over a five-year period in the company of longtime collaborators Nicky Ryan (producer) and Roma Ryan (lyricist), may qualify as her best yet--a radiant, beatific collection of works that command attention with their cathedral-like resonance as they soothe your spirit with some of Enya's loveliest, most graceful voicings ever. The disc's opening three tracks (including the spellbinding "Only Time") form a gorgeous trilogy that suggest Enya has deepened her focus on the nexus where sophisticated pop and regal mysticism, the twin rivers of her singular sound, form a seamless intersection. The disc's gentle timbre is disturbed only once, and in memorable fashion, with "Tempus Vernum," a marshalling of mythic sonic forces that brings to mind the theme from the De Beers diamond commercial, but with a Celtic/Goth edge. Additional highlights abound. The closing "Lazy Days" will leave your soul dancing in a shower of flower petals and sunshine. A wonderful recording. --Terry Wood ... Read more

    Reviews (634)

    2-0 out of 5 stars A day without Enya
    While I have always been a huge fan of Enya's beautiful music, my long wait for her 2000 release, after a gap of 5 years...ended...dare I say it?...in disappointment. Was I expecting anything different? Perhaps lovelier melodies, as heard in the timeless "Storms in Africa" or "Faerie Tale", "Orinoco Flow", "Ebudae" "On my way home".....frankly, somehing was missing. I will however mention the one notable exception to my ears: the lovely and enchanting "Lazy Days" , which makes you hum along instantly, in its simplicity and melodic melancholy. While people rave about Enya's "New Age" (I wonder what that is?) music, few people bother to acknowledge the beautiful and mystical lyrics of Roma Ryan, who is, very aptly, half Enya. Her lovely poetic talents shine briefly again in "Lazy Days" and "Wild Child". Perhaps what ruined the mystical experience of enjoying Enya's music was the music itself...or lack of it. Though one could argue that any of these songs could be lifted out of a previous Enya album, to my ears, the music is lacking..in vibrancy...emotiveness...and the spiritual beckoning that was so blissfully present in her earlier works. Perhaps it is time for Enya to try something different...maybe use some different instruments! Having said such a mouthful, I will also venture to say that I would still buy her new music, which is, after all, infintely better than having to listen to bawling boy bands and untalented puerile pre-teens sing insipid tunes to a generation bred on MTV.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Magician of the Irish Princess
    This CD contais the marvelous Only Time, which was one of the soundtracks of "Sweet November". It's gorgeous.
    Enya continues being my favourist singer of all time. Her voice is amazing and in each of her CDs you have something very special.
    Wild Child is a piece that tell us how to take advantage of every single moment of all our lives. Again the singer and composer tell us to seize the day.
    In Only Time we found roads that leads to love. The song is perfect for the film.
    It is dificult to elicit the best song, because all of them has a peculiar charateristic.
    The CD is wraped up with "Lazy Days", contrasting, in my opinion, hardworking days with the relaxing ones".
    You listen to Enya once and then you'll be completely adicted to her gorgeous voice. You just get very anxious to get her next CD.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Short and Sweet
    The latest from Enya builds from all the basic themes of her almost 15 years of solo albums. (Hard to believe that long a time has passed!) And like all those albums before, or at least from "Watermark" on, the formula stays the same. Highly polished dreamscapes meant to evoke moods, mostly of the relaxed and contented variety. As "Only Time" proved in the aftermath of 9/11, music that aims to calm can still bring beauty to a tragic situation, and peace to troubled hearts.

    The opening three songs of "A Day Without Rain" could easily be the best ten minutes of music Enya has ever performed. And I, for one, will not moan over the disc's brevity. Better to have a half hour of near perfect artwork than to have it marred by extraneous filler. (Example, the wretched "radio mix" of "Only Time" that crowbarred a hip-hop rhythm track in a ploy to make it airwave friendly.) It takes Enya up to five years to craft her records, and almost to a T, they come out fully formed, seamless whole pieces. If I want more, I always have well worn copies of her other CD's to slip into the disc player.

    "A Day Without Rain" does contain one jarring surprise, the dark "Tempus Vernum." It will surprise many who view Enya as little more than the empress of bland, as the breif latin chant breaks the surface calm of the album with something a little more stirring. It caught me off gaurd enough that it has become one of my favorite moments on the album, and one of the few times on an Enya album where she breaks the formula. It still makes me hungry for more albums, but I guess I still will have to wait another five years!

    5-0 out of 5 stars you just are going through a teenage "i am so goth" phase
    I've read reviews saying "This is the most boring music out there" and critizing the New Age music. Let me inform you that maybe 8 out of 10 people who said that are probably teens going through the death/black/goth phase. The thing about New Age? It's inspiring (I'm sure Black Sabbath is *sarcasm). It's beautiful and it takes talent (talking fast in a microphone or groaning is not talent). And it has a way of relaxing you, and even making you feel like you're in a cloud. Enya is no less different. Her purpose is not to get you angry. Her songs are insipiring and beautiful, just like her voice. This CD is great and I especially love "Deora ar mo chloí" and "Flora's Secret" and "Only time". This music is great, and if you want to forget about stresses and preassures, hear this CD for a while.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Day without Rain
    Our first Enya CD. Love it as it is very relaxing. Ordering a copy for or Daughter stationed in Iraq. ... Read more


    9. Book of Secrets (Bonus Dvd)
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0002VEX7S
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 1050
    Average Customer Review: 4.78 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (396)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Nice!
    I have never heard of Loreena Mckennitt in my whole life. I hardly even listened to newage music before. However, I listened to the preview of the songs to this CD and it opened a door for me. I bought this CD and "the vist". "The Book of Secrets" is definitely the better of the two in my opinion. The instruments were great. Very powerful when played in conjunction with Loreena's voice.

    1. Prologue
    Not bad, but it didn't really hit me like the other songs.

    2. Mummers' Dance
    This song has a great melody playing throughout. Vocals were also good.

    3. Skellig
    Very very soothing string work in this song. Top knotch.

    4. Marco Polo
    This song is a nice change. It's more suited for the percussion fan, but still enjoyable.

    5. Highwayman
    Again, awesome string work at the start. This was the highlight of the song for me.

    6. Serenissima
    What can I say? The strings are again a hit. A very soothing instrumental.

    7. Night Ride Across the Caucasus
    Like most of the songs on this CD, this song has a great intro and the vocals fit in quite nicely. The song has good percussion work here, but it's not as heavy as Marco Polo. The strings too, do a great job.

    8. Dante's Prayer
    No better song could have been used to conclude this CD. The way that Loreena sung this song was by far the best in this piece, especially when the piano and the strings come in. Very moving stuff. Great lyrics.

    This CD had a very good mix between the vocal and instrumental elements, which is why I thought that it was better than "The Visit" which is more vocal orientated. There is nothing wrong with this ofcourse, as it depends on the taste of the person.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Music for the soul, plain and simple.
    There are not words to describe the beauty of Loreena McKennitt's voice, nor the lyrics to her songs--all are simply profound, beautiful, and left me with tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.

    I can't say I've got an average 14-year-old's taste in music, for my likings run in that of Enya and and more "soulful" music, for lack of a better word.

    Thus, this album clearly suited my love for those shivers that go up your spine when you listen to something with such meaning, power, and amazing beauty.

    My favorite tracks would have to be "The Mummer's Dance", naturally, because it is also what prompted me and many others to buy the album in the first place. Fun and catchy with beautiful music, I never get tired of this song.

    "Santiago" satisfies my uncontrollable desire to hear the beyond gorgeous sounds of Arabic music. Similar sounding to "Santiago" and the Arabic-sounding tracks of "The Mask and the Mirror", this song makes me feel like running through the desert sands of Egypt... a strange personal fantasy of mine. =D

    And then there is the notorious "The Highwayman", which left me breathless, in tears, and nearly trembling. I can't describe this poem-based song in words. For one, it is written to an old poem, which in itself is amazing--but put to music, the result is stunning. Beautiful vocals, haunting tune, powerful music, period. All I can say is "Wow" with a giant capital W.

    Actually, that's really all I can say for the entire album.

    Wow.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Thanks to Amazon and Snaps for Loreena
    Hi guys and girls, i just want to say a big 'thanks!' to Amazon for showing me the wonderful talented Loreena, i have always liked this kind of stuff, and my favourite has to be Enya, but she hasn't released anything new for a while, and i have all of her CD's. Anyway, Loreena is a wonderful singer and her songs are just magical. I say that if your into Enya or anything like that - give Loreena a go - she will surprise you:)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely Relaxing Music
    I recommend Loreena's music to anyone who is stressed out. It is one of the most relaxing CDs that I have ever purchased. It sort takes you to a state of tranquility and focus. I know you will love it if you hear it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Near Perfect!..A Great Production!
    Every song here is unique, and a very nice addition to the great Celtic tradition. The linear notes are very informative too, in showing the many potential links between Celtic and other cultures, even Greek and Siberian. But the last song "Dante's Prayer" is among the finest I've ever heard anywhere. I was knocked out the first time I heard it, and still play it several times a week! Thankfully the lyrics are printed in the notes, since Loreena does have an accent that can be tough to follow for a state -sider. An album for the ages, with the grand finale (Dante's Prayer) that you'll replay for many years to come! ... Read more


    10. Watermark
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $9.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000002LRR
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 771
    Average Customer Review: 4.74 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com essential recording

    Enya's 1988 recording Watermark achieved landmark success with her groundbreaking use of multi-tracking technology to fuse new age and Celtic themes and instrumentation. The meticulous production defines her sound and achieves continuity even while weaving together tender ballads, piano pieces, massively layered vocal harmonies, and symphonic synthesizer movements. Although Enya's pristine voice isn't especially strong, her lead vocals possess a vulnerability that reflects the lyrics' sense of personal searching. From the ubiquitous, frothy single "Orinoco Flow" (which was used to hawk Crystal Light on TV) to the hard, bold edge of "Cursum Perficio," Enya's style remains fresh and engaging today.--Richard Price ... Read more

    Reviews (153)

    4-0 out of 5 stars I Was Torn Between 4 And 5 Stars!
    Although this album of hers was produced in '88, I'd only (shamefully) purchased it a few weeks ago. It's frankly an excellent album, as always, but I got the awkward feeling that Enya had started out..."stiff". The fact that this was only her second new-age album - after an unsuccessful first from '83 to '84 - was accepted willingly by me on why all the tracks on this CD seemed to carry similar atmosphere - almost same tunes and similar rhythm. Honestly, because of this, I wanted to give her 5 stars, but considering the standards she's met up to today, I'd say this is mere second-hand work on her part (hence, a 4-star rating)! Nonetheless, it's definitely a new-age compilation worth listening to, for it's very clear why Enya shot to fame producing this CD! There're of course the three tracks which shortly made her the unprecedented superior diva in the era of new-age music, "Orinoco Flow", "Storms in Africa" and the title track, which is a beautiful piano recital, "Watermark". But not all the other songs and musical pieces are disappointing fillers (nah! You wouldn't expect that from her, would you?); other masterpieces include "The Longships (EXCELLENT instrumentation and voice budding)", "Miss Clare Remembers (a recital as wonderful as the title track)", "Exile (if you liked "Paint the Sky with Stars")", "River (a marvellous instrumental adaptation of "Orinoco Flow")" and "Evening Falls (a mystical lullaby)". This album would reassuringly still give new fans a good impression of this musical queen; as for those who have been avid all this while, you simply CANNOT miss this out in your collection!

    5-0 out of 5 stars The volume? Well, turn it up, turn it up...
    Watermark is a unique album, totally fantastic! It's incredible how a person - just 27 years old at that time - was able to create an album like this. I like the whole album, but I have two favourite tracks; the first is one of Enya's greatest hits... yes, of course it's the spectacular Orinoco Flow! The second is Storms In Africa which was a hit too, though a much smaller one. Other songs which I prefer are Cursum Perficio, River and The Long Ships but, as a mentioned before, the whole album is great. The music is from 1988 but that's impossible to hear, it could well have been the music of today.

    Here comes a short description of the tracks on Watermark:

    1. Watermark - Instrumental; very relaxing
    2. Cursum Perficio - Latin; pretty powerfull, special*
    3. On Your Shore - English; beautiful, relaxing
    4. Storms In Africa - Gaelic; great, wonderful, special*
    5. Exile - English; beautiful, pretty calm
    6. Miss Clare Remembers - Instrumental; relaxing
    7. Orinoco Flow - English; great, powerful, wonderful, special*
    8. Evening Falls - English; beautiful, pretty calm
    9. River - Instrumental; nice, beautiful
    10. The Long Ships - Gaelic; pretty powerful, special*
    11. Na Laetha Geal M'óige - Gaelic; calm and relaxing

    * Hard to say why these songs are special, but perhaps because they don't sound like any other musical stuff. There's only one person that's able to create songs like these and her name is - Enya. You must hear them, but don't forget to try her remaining albums such as Shepherd Moons and The Memory Of Trees.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A New-Age Dynasty has Begun
    Enya, one one the most talented musician I've ever heard, truly gives it all in this single CD. It wasn't new; I've heard songs by Enya in the past but I have never listened to all of them. In Watermark, one of her oldest albums, gently and beautifully expresses the contents of her heart. Her music has become a real inspiration to others and myself. When I first listened to Watermark, the first track, I realized that this is pure gold in music form. Anyone who wishes to explore some of the earliest and beautiful works by Enya must have Watermark. As the Editorial Review states, her first debut of this cd made a huge imapact on its' listeners. This cd personally impacted my outlook on New-Age music. It made me realize that new things can be found in old work. The effect on its' listeners is very calming. The instrumental music in addition with Enya's voice induces relaxation and will alleviate stress. Her heavenly voice, at a gentle pitch, helps sooth and put a smile on ones' face. This is a truly inspirational work by whom I consider the "Diva of New-Age" and listening to her wonderful achievments will have the same effect as it did for me.

    4-0 out of 5 stars WATERMARK: 5 STARS, 4 STARS FOR ENYA
    I enjoyed the cd but Enya has previously made much better cds. watermark is an amazing cd and i highly recommend it if it is your first enya cd but if youve heard enya many times, i would move on to so,thing morelike, Best of Enya.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of my top 5 CDs of all time
    I was a DJ in high school when I happened upon a used cassette of Watermark. I remember picking it up and thinking "oh, this is that singer who has that strange song Orinoco Flow out on the radio." I had only heard Orinoco Flow a few times, but it was getting tons of airplay. I decided to pick it up (even though my tastes in music were totally inapposite to Enya's style). I took the tape home--and I swear--I had to sit down because I was so overwhelmed by what I was hearing. I recall thinking "this is the single most beautiful voice I've ever heard in my life." From that point on, my taste in music changed dramatically. Funny that it all started with ENYA. I played the album for my parents and my siblings and they were equally stunned by its beauty.

    Watermark's production is immaculate and showcases Enya at her best (although I like everything she's done). I am amused by the bone-head comments made by Enya-haters who say "this music is sooo boring," or "it is so pretentious." It's like hearing a deaf mute gripe that Mozart's Requiem is dull or self-important. SHUT UP, BE SILENT, and take your tone-deaf selves to the local ska shop! Enya's music is only dull to individuals who have tin ears or are so musically disinclined that the don't know a whole note from a hole in their heads.

    I also strongly disagree with people who say that Enya's voice is "weak." She sings in a very traditional style (the style is called sean-nos and is exemplified by aspirated/breathy singing). You'll hear no fake SOUL DIVA sliding (a la Mariah Carey or Crustina Aguilera). That's because the Irish have a traditional singing style that is not influenced by the western classical tradition (or any pseudo-gospel/soul style). Enya's range and almost vibrato-less singing is really incredible. I don't think there are many others who can match her purity of tone (maybe Lisa Gerrard who is almost superhuman).

    Anyway, this music changed my entire musical perspective and still moves me to this day. It will always be the most important musical revelation in my life.
    If you don't own it, you need to go drop the $2.99 and pick it up :-) ... Read more


    11. Visit (Bonus Dvd)
    list price: $17.98
    our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0002VEX32
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 2780
    Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (154)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Traditional Values
    "The Visit," recorded in 1992, has demonstrated, by its longevity and popularity, how important a position it holds in Loreena McKennitt's body of work. Based strongly in her Celtic roots McKennitt is as comfortable with traditional tunes as she is mixing old casks with new wine to make statements that are a pertinent today as they might have been 100's of years ago. The 'old religion' is mixed adroitly with modern spirituality to add a mystical texture that will haunt the listener long after the songs have ended.

    Loreena's musicality is unimpeachable. I love her voice, which is capable of a rich variety of intonation and emotional content. Much of her work uses old dance rhythms based on fine drumwork by Al Cross and Rick Lazar. Indeed, all of her musicians are first class, and recording qualities are superb. Whether you are a Celtic music addict, a New Ager, or an old Folkie you will find much to enjoy here.

    'All Soul's Night' is a striking combination of Japanese imagery and Celtic ritual with a dancing, percussive rhythm. In 'Bonny Portsmore' McKennitt sings a lamentation for the great oaks of Ireland, cut down for lumber by British military and shipbuilding interests. 'Between the Shadows shows off the singer's unique ability to write crossover tunes that combine Middle and Far Eastern influences with Celtic rhythms and instrumentation.

    'Lady of Shallot' is one of my very favorite McKennitt songs. It is a pure, folk-like capturing of Tennyson's poem of an elven woman who is cursed to die if ever she let's herself love. It is a showcase for the singer's voice, which moves over her entire tonal range. 'Greensleeves' is a complete surprise. Emulating Tim Waits, McKennett produces an eerie, bluesy version that could almost have been written yesterday. 'Tango in Evora' is exactly that, combining Brian Hughes Balalaika, Hugh Marsh's fiddle and McKennit's voice in a lilting performance.

    In the 'Courtyard Lullaby' pre-Christian symbolism is used to evoke the flavor of old Europe's deepest spirituality. A thematic structure which is evoked again in 'The Old Ways,' but at a far faster pace. For her final piece, McKennitt chooses the mourning song from Shakespeare's Cymbeline, a play about the conflict between Roman and Celt. It is a fine setting, evoking both the tragedy and nobility of human mortality, and serves as a perfect ending.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A lady to reckon with
    I'm not a big fan of McKennitt's, but I've always liked "All Souls' Night," so I bought the album for that. I enjoyed it in general, but was unexpectedly blown away by "The Lady of Shalott." I've loved the poem ever since I first read it in my pre-teens, but I couldn't imagine how it could be set to music effectively: the language isn't particularly difficult and the story is told in a linear fashion, but Tennyson's verbal picture-painting is sometimes complex, even on the printed page (e.g., "Willows whiten, aspens quiver,/Little breezes dusk and shiver ..."). McKennitt handled this gracefully by creating a ballad-like tune, with a flowing accompaniment that mimics the motion of the river; aside from an occasional cello or violin flourish, and some moments of vocal harmony, she presents the poem simply and straightforwardly. The result is that the music enhances the poem but never gets in the way of the language, and I think this song is brilliant. (As for her Tom Waits-ish version of "Greensleeves," however, I give her credit for a nice try, but it just doesn't work for me.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome CD
    While you can get all the songs on the live CD, the studio versions of the songs are by far more beautiful and haunting. She has a way in this cd, just like the others, of taking you away into another world. I highly recommend getting this CD.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Loreena McKennitt - "The Visit"
    I became familiar with McKennitt some years ago when the haunting purity of her voice captivated me...and I have been hooked ever since. While I am not totally mad about "all" of her selections, her voice more than makes up for that. What I find most marvelous is her ability to put music to wonderful poetry that I have read and been enthralled by since I was a child.
    I am now a Professor of Art at a New England College. When I'm teaching about the Pre-Raphaelites or paintings of Dante's Inferno, I often play her music "The Lady of Shallott" or "Dante's Prayer." The students are often blown away by the beauty of the music flowing through the seminar hall while I'm flashing scenes of different paintings of the Lady of Shallott. They often come up after the class to ask who the singer was and how they can get the music. So through the last 5 years, mulitplying 3 classes a semester times the number of college students per seminar, I feel I am priviledged to have been instrumental in spreading the beauty of this artist's voice to people who would otherwise never have heard it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars All Bow to the Goddess Loreena!
    I have been a fan of Loreena's since I first heard "The Mummer's Dance" in 1997. This is one of the most beautiful albums I own; it's haunting and atmospheric. I only wish it was longer!

    ALL SOUL'S NIGHT: A great open to this set, this one of Loreena's most well-known songs, and for good reason! A woman known for having lots of international influence in her music, this is one of the more obviously Celtic songs on the album. I am reminded very much of the novel "The Mists of Avalon" as she sings of the pagan rites.

    BONNY PORTMORE: The liner notes tell us this is a traditional song, and it's hard to believe. It's very environmental, and sends a good and timely message. It's heartbreaking, and Loreena sings like an angel.

    BETWEEN THE SHADOWS: This instrumental piece is one of my favorites. It would be wonderful on a soundtrack. If you like this, also check out the album "Maidens of the Celtic Harp-" it's lovely.

    THE LADY OF SHALLOT: I'm obsessed with all things Arthurian, and this twelve-minute epic is no exception. Loreena McKennitt is a genius- who else would have the daring to put Tennyson's famous, albiet lengthy, poem to music? Thankfully she did, and the world is better because of it!

    GREENSLEEVES: The most "different" song here, Loreena sings this song as Tom Waits would have, and it's rather jarring at first listen. But it will grow on you as it has grown on me. This dry old traditional comes to life when Loreena gets ahold of it!

    TANGO TO EVORA: Another instrumental piece, very Spanish in flavor (of course!). Loreena has said that most of her songs are written as she travels, and in this case I am not surprised. "Tango to Evora" adds some variety to this album. Cool.

    COURTYARD LULLABY: Quintessential mood music. When people think of Celtic music, this is the type of song they think of. Cliche in that since, but cliches become cliches for a reason, don't they?

    THE OLD WAYS: Magnificent. My favorite song on the album. Worth buying the CD for. It begins and ends with an enegetic jig, and the centerpiece of the song is the first chorus. It is trancelike and very melodic. It will find its way into your head and stay there for days, and you will not mind.

    CYMBELINR: Here, Loreena puts some of Shakespeare's words to music, and the result is a flawless, fitting end to the album. It is quiet and breathy, leaving you time to mull over the songs you have just heard.

    In short- listen to this and come away a different person.

    Buy it and you will not be disappointed. ... Read more


    12. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    list price: $19.98
    our price: $14.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00005QZWI
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 231
    Average Customer Review: 4.58 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    Score composer Howard Shore has informed this first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with his distinctly modern sensibilities. Revolving loosely around a brief, heroic brass theme, this epic is infused with a powerful rhythmic thrust and a musical range that encompasses centuries (from the Renaissance pastoralism of "Concerning Hobbits" to the fiery, Prokofiev-influenced drama of "A Knife in the Dark"). Key to the score's sense of mystery and magical place are the rich choral passages that are interspersed throughout, some so ominously gothic they make The Phantom Menace's "Duel of the Fates" sound almost sunny by comparison. Enya's contributions ("The Council of Elrond" and the song "May It Be") add a sense of organic tranquility, but it's Shore's Wagnerian-scaled orchestral score that should long be cherished by admirers of film music and hobbits alike. --Jerry McCulley ... Read more

    Reviews (402)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Enjoy ur journey to Middle-Earth
    There were few music genius composers in my list like James Horner (composer of Titanic, A Beautiful Mind, Bicentennial Man, The Mask Of Zoro, Braveheart etc.) & Hans Zimmer (composer of the soundtracks of The Last Samurai, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) When I saw the first scene of the movie (Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Rings), I decided to add the music composer to my list! I'm a big fan of orchestral music and vocals. This music makes you feel the moments of the journey to Middle Earth that the fellowship of the rings had to go through, starting from the soft music in the Shire, to the emotional moments between Aragorn & Arwen, and to the dreadful sensation that evil was so close to achieving its goal.

    ALL of the music are worth listening to, esp. the ones with the vocals e.g. The Prophecy, The Treason Of Isengard, A Knife In The Dark, Flight To The Ford, The Council Of Elrond, The Bridge Of Khazad Dum, Lothlorien, The Great River. I also loved the (Breaking of the Fellowship), which reflects the will to pursue & true friendship . I could listen to the soundtrack many times during the day, and still the amuzement does not fade away!

    The addition of of the song (May it be) performed by Enya was a great touch! The song reflected the main theme of the first part of the Lord of the Rings. I started to listen to Enya after that song.
    I noticed that some music were not incorporated in the Extended DVD version like the music of the (Great River), but it was part of the ordinary DVD movie.

    Great Work Mr. Shore. ur work speaks for itself! This is a must-have-on-your-shelf soundtrack CD in addition to the original movie. 5/5.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Powerful and Moving Spoundtrack
    First of all. I was SO enthralled with the movie and how the music seemed to fit every mood. The way Howard Shore was able to capture the essence of each scene was truly beautiful. And as much as I enjoy listening to this CD (I've had it a week and so far I have completely listen to it about half a dozen times) it has the same issue as almost every soundtrack. The music is based around 3 - 4 main themes, and depending on the screen action, it's mostly only the tempo that changes. This of course doesn't change the beauty of the music, just explains why the music begins to grow old quickly.

    One thing I liked about Shores music here is how he chose certain styles for different characters. For instance, the Hobbits are represented by an almost Irish folk style. Beautiful yet solitary in sound and mood. Also the two songs included here by Enya match well. Her voice adds vocal expression to a wonderful melody.

    I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys beautiful orchestral music. Although I probably will stop listening to this for awhile I will most definitely keep revisiting it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Musical Score!
    In my opinion, the original motion picture soundtrack to the Lord of the Rings is the perfect musical score. The music is composed, orchestrated and conducted by Howard Shore, who in my opinion can be listed among the greatest music composers such as John Williams. Enya also contributes to this soundtrack, having composed and performed the music score for the ending credits, and performing the theme for Aragorn And Arwen. Contains 18 tracks:

    1. The Prophecy

    2. Concerning Hobbits - the music theme for the sequences set in the Hobbit-inhabited land of the Shire.

    3. The Shadow of the Past - the music score that blends in with the part where the nature of the Ring is discovered.

    4. The Treason of Isengard - One of the best scores of the soundtrack. It is the theme for the sequence in which Saruman becomes a traitor and battles with Gandalf.

    5. The Black Rider Another great musical score. This theme is for the journey of the four Hobbit companions through the Shire and for the encountering of the Black Rider.

    6. At the Sign of the Prancing Pony - Frodo Baggins adventures in the town of Bree at the Inn of the Prancing Pony is what this score is for.

    7. A Knife in the Dark - The theme for the continuing journey of the hobbits in which sequence they arrive at the ruins of a temple and find themselves battling Ringwraiths.

    8. Flight to the Ford - The Theme for the flight of Arwen and Frodo to Rivendell to escape the Black Riders.

    9. Many Meetings - The theme for Rivendell, where the Elves abide.

    10. The Council of Elrond - This is among the best scores in the album. The theme for the Council in Rivendell concerning the fate of the Ring. Also features Enya performing Aniron, the theme for Aragorn and Arwen.

    11. The Ring Goes South - The theme for the sequence in which the Fellowship of the Ring sets out on their journey to Mordor.

    12. A Journey in the Dark - The theme for Moria

    13. The Bridge of Khazad Dum - The theme for the treacherous journey to the Bridge of Khazad Dum in Moria and the crossing over and escape from Moria. Another of the ones that are among the best scores on this album.

    14. Lothlorien - The theme for Lothlorien, the woodlands of the Elves, through which the Fellowship of the Ring passes through in the film.

    15. The Great River - The theme for the departure from Lothlorien.

    16. Amon Hen - The theme for the encountering of the stone of Amon Hen.

    17. The Breaking of the Fellowship - The score for the dispersion of the Fellowship of the Ring, in which only Frodo and Sam are left to continue the quest to destroy the Ring.

    18. May it Be - The song performed by Enya. It is the score for the end credits of the film.

    If you loved the film, buy this soundtrack. It is well worth the purchase price. For more information there is a site called ... I eagerly anticipate the soundtrack for the next LOTR film.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Overblown album by an under qualified composer
    Alright, I have viewed the last 70 reviews, and except for a few "minor quibbles" over "missing tracks" and such, there were no actually anti-Shore reviews. This is quite possibly one of the most over-rated and derogatory musical scores of all time. It is obvious that those who gave positive feedback to this have NEVER listened to true choral music or real classical. To be perfectly honest, all "sung" tracks are completely ripped off of Carmina Burana (of which I am sure all you "Shore lovers" have never heard of). He has taken the very best of wonderful 19th and 20th Century composers, and remixed them with absolutley disastorous results. In fact, not only is this album an abomination, but the way it fits with the film is even worse. The reacurring themes grow irratating at times sounding like a comic book movie, and at others, sounding like expensive versions of music from Saturday morning cartoons. But I can't blame Peter Jackson-- he's tone def!! This is great music to those who know nothing about it-- and to those who say "well it won 2 Acadamy Awards for best score", I tell them this "Titanic won 11". So just shut up about this being a "visionary score." In about ten years it will blow over. However, PJ's masterpiece will remain in history forever (hopefully with a different score).

    5-0 out of 5 stars (Respectfully Untitled)
    In this world, there exists a handful of human creations so epic, finding words for such things almost seems a way of devaluing the work. Unfortunately, as this soundtrack is one of them, we have but no choice other than cave in and write. If we do not, it would essentially be as if such grand feats were never accomplished in the first place.

    To keep the review to a moderate and digestable length, there will be no specific documentary of each period instrument, harmonic change, melodic theme, and relation of how the audio translates to supportive information for the visual cinematic cues. Just know that 1) there has been a supremely creative effort to have very specific instruments enhance the mood and storyline, 2) a new and surprisingly fresh (though ironically reminiscent of a time long ago) chord change awaits the turn of every corner, 3) the carefully constructed (while non-academic) themes seem to come alive in a character every time while on screen, and 4) the music for each respective scene is so powerful in the film, it convinces the audience - if subconsciously - that there is indeed no other choice of sounds other than the precise ones that have been chosen and printed to film and cd forever. Don't get me wrong, there are also items # 5-infinity which we'll omit for interest of time.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Howard Shore is a living legend and genius to the fields of both musical composition and speaking to the soul. With all of the aforementioned elements, he has done what perhaps Professor Tolkien himself would bow down to: he has taken the ridiculously detailed blueprints for a whole different world, and created the same world all over again, in the form of auditory stimulation. The laborous contriving of entire ficticious languages are masterfully superimposed as thunderous choirs, on top of what sounds like a 10,000 piece orchestral behemoth soundscape.

    From the characteristic playful music of the Hobbits to the hellishly heavy thunder of Mordor itself, this soundtrack will take you through an emotional journey of its own when you have nothing to watch along with the music. The way the themes cross moods and reappear reincarnated at later locations, in different forms, proves an intuitive influence at work in Shore's mind- much from Bach and Beethoven themselves, but not just in the traditional sense. Much successful experimenting with all musical elements make the resultant cd unpredictable and largely enjoyable all at once. Although anyone can appreciate this soundtrack, I do maintain that a firm knowledge of the literary masterpiece "The Lord of the Rings Trilogy" will augment the listening experience beyond belief. To love the story, as I do, blows it through the stratosphere.

    A word should be put in for Enya as well. Whereas many soundtracks are comprised of an agitatingly asymmetric combination of composed music and [category: other], "Fellowship..." just can't seem to do any wrong. Indeed, when watching the movie, her passionately moving "May It Be" feels right at home with everything else. It was smart to include a derivation of one of the score's main themes as Enya's own melodic inspiration. Her music, too (represented by two pieces here), is masterfully executed and produced. Whoever included her made a wise call as talent/booking director.

    Howard Shore, and all involved, deserve more than can be offered in any tangible reward. The three movies/soundtracks as a whole will have taken a few years out of everyone's lives who were dedicated to the project, and those years shall go down as a triumphant landmark on the achievenment of mankind, as opposed to a vague haziness of wasted time for each individual. Howard Shore and director Peter Jackson have done more in three years of their lives than what most hope to do in a lifetime. ... Read more


    13. Celtic Woman
    list price: $16.98
    our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B00000FC34
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 7323
    Average Customer Review: 3.25 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (4)

    1-0 out of 5 stars buy vol.2
    Few selections good. If you love Loreena McKennitt
    keep buying her work, skip this cd and buy vol.2 of this title.
    Vol. 1 will not keep your ear interested for long.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful voices
    This CD is a beautiful compilation of many of today's contemporary female Celtic artists. Loreena McKennitt singing Annachie Gorden is a perfect example of the beauty that can be found in this edition - almost as beautiful as Mother Eire herself. Marian Bradfield, Melanie O'Reilly and Aine Furey, all contributing tracks show the wide variety of singing styles and popularity of many of the artists including. The songs selected tend to be traditional, but with a new spin such as Rita Connolly singing Ripples in the Rockpools. All of the songs whether traditional or contemporary are all timeless classics.

    3-0 out of 5 stars new celtic woman cd
    I was disappointed with this cd only because I had thought the music would be in a more traditional celtic style. Although the musical and recording quality is quite fine, most of these sections are in a pop/rock or folk sound. The selections that are more traditional celtic sound include only those by McKennitt and Ni Dhomhnaill. If you're looking for a contemporary vocal female sound in general, you will probably like this recording but the composers could be from a number of Western countries besides those of Celtic origin.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great compilation of contemporary celtic music
    This is a terrific album. Some compilation albums can be uneven, this is consistently good. Loreena McKennitt's Anachie Gordon is very good, from one of her earlier albums. I especially like the 4th track, Tonight Is Just For Us. This is a CD I'll listen to a lot.

    I also like the fact that they published the lyrics in the liner notes.

    With the explosion of celtic music, there is a lot available - good, bad, and mediocre, and of course a lot of it depends on personal taste. To gauge similar tastes, I also like Loreena McKennitt, Clannad/Maire Brennan, Sinead O'Connor, the Putamayo Celtic Women of the World 1 (but not 2), and the Women of Heart series. ... Read more


    14. Five Leaves Left
    list price: $11.98
    our price: $11.98
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000026FOA
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 1823
    Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
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    Album Description

    Reissue of the late British folk icon's 1969 debut album.Ten tracks. Island. ... Read more

    Reviews (57)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Autumnal Beauty
    Looking for an album to go with your favorite sunset? Nick Drake's debut encapsulates a mood of tragically transient beauty. The acoustic guitar style drifts between folk, country blues and Celtic flavored finger picking (I'm not much of a musician, so that's kind of a guess-ta-mite), with accompanying instruments that are simple and subtle: piano riffs, conga drums, and the occasional bass. On several tracks chamber music string sections and various wind instruments add a surprisingly effective and eerie compliment. Mostly, however, the album's mood and tone is created and sustained by Drake's ethereal voice. Only several notches louder than a whisper, it sounds as if it comes from a half remembered dream or a nineteenth century opium haze. "Three Hours" and "The Cello Song" are particularly haunting. A playful piano part belies the uncomfortable lyrics of "The Man In The Shed" that sting of the depression that would eventually consume him (he committed suicide in 1974). Drake released only three studio albums, his second "Bryter Later" contains a number of good songs, but many of the jazzy arrangements don't work as well. On his third, "Pink Moon", he is alone with his guitar; it's an excellent album, but his vocals take on a harsher more pained edge, which can be a little uncomfortable considering his previously mentioned exit. On "Five Leaves Left" all the elements come together in a gorgeous sonic whorl. Percy Bysshe Shelley would have dug this album.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "Time has told me you're a rare, rare find.."
    Whether you know it or not, you've heard Nick Drake before. Maybe it's from his other albums, maybe it's from that VW commercial, maybe it's just the sound of that quiet bleakness we all feel when sadness comes to the door and doesn't want to leave. This music lives with all of us. It exists in quiet lonely nights, chilly autumn evenings, and the muted grey of the world when it's been raining all day. During his too-short musical career, Nick used music to look at those little feelings we all have and give them an exquisitely beautiful voice.

    Ok, fine, I'll start talking like a normal person now. I realize those comments seem a little silly. It's easy enough to describe how this music sounds, but it's not as easy to convey the emotional impact it might have. Everything about this 40-minute jewel is beautifully composed, elegantly performed and topped off with Nick's simple understated lyrics, which read as well as poetry. His voice and guitar (pretty tricky guitar work, too) are backed up by changing accompaniments: some electric guitar and bass at times, some flute, some quiet conga percussion at others, and most often a smooth string section providing just the right bittersweet background. It's quiet folk melancholy with an addicting quality that can't really be explained. Not everything here is quite as sad as "Way to Blue" or the eerily prophetic "Fruit Tree," either. "Saturday Sun" adds some relatively upbeat jazzy piano, although it remains low-key to the end. "Time Has Told Me" is uplifting in its timeless simplicity. "Man in a Shed" is a wistful boy-girl tune, but the theme is as un-cliched and downright humble as I've ever heard it.

    Five Leaves Left was Nick's first album, and overall the most realized - he took over a year putting it together after all. If you don't like the sound of strings and flutes you'll probably want to hear the later Pink Moon instead, which is basically just Nick and his guitar. Either way, just make sure you check him out somehow. Any Drake offering is a treasure not to be missed.

    5-0 out of 5 stars boy this guy could write a song
    A lot has been said about Nick Drake. I recall a Rolling Stone quote calling him "The saddest songwriter ever" or something to that effect. I think the fact that he died so young, possibly by suicide, tends to make people comment on how sad he was and how dark his music is. Well, some of his music may be dark, like Three Hours or Black Eyed Dog, but much of it is light. So don't expect this to be a depressing album.

    With that said, this is an incredible album, although I feel it pales slightly in comparison to Pink Moon. While some people have said the strings hurt the album, I have a feeling they are only looking for a guitar shred-fest. While Drake was an excellent guitarist, his music was not based on technique and thank God for that. Most of his best stuff (on Pink Moon) was a lot simpler, guitar-wise. I for one think that the string arrangements really help some of the songs.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The words perfect, beauty, and sadness weaved into song.
    This is one of three albums by the best musician, in my opinion, to ever step within this world of confusion, rushing, and absence of relaxation. Nick Drake may have made this album in the 1960's but the sounds have not aged at all, and will remain forever in my mind as the most beautiful songs ever recorded. This would go perfect for sitting alone at night, relaxing in light afternoon sun, or watching the hazy colors of a sunset replaced by the black calm of night. Get this CD, my friend, you will not regret it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars First of too few leaves...
    ...in the book of Nick Drake, "Five Leaves Left" is one of two fairly lush (by folk standards) records he committed to the listening public - such as it was, for him, at the time - before (as legend has it) mounting depression over his lack of commercial success played its role in the creation of the bare-bones guitar beauty "Pink Moon," his final record before dying of an overdose of antidepressants in 1974 at age 26.

    My first Drake record was "Pink Moon." Within a few days, and about 35 listens, I'd rushed back to the store to liberate this record, "Bryter Later," and the just-released "Made to Love Magic." Such is the power of Drake's melancholy grip on the dynamics of wispy voice, intricate guitar, wrenching lyric and mood-perfect accompaniment. I'm still listening - I've heard every record at least twice - but the jury is no longer is out in my mind: the world overlooked a genius here, just as he predicted it would in this record's second-to-last cut, "Fruit Tree." He wasn't, one thinks, singing of himself, although he did that almost too well. But he might as well have been: "Safe in your place deep in the earth/That's when they'll know what you're truly worth.../They'll all know/That you were here when you're gone".

    "Five Leaves Left" has painful, hopeful, joyful (too few), and despairing bolts like this all through it. "Time Has Told Me," the opener, celebrates a great love while already lamenting its future loss, Drake's and Richard Thompson's guitars weaving a beautiful country atmosphere: "Time has told me/Not to ask for more/For someday our ocean/will find its shore." The second song, "River Man," is apparently overproduced for many, but I found the background strings but a natural extension of the emotional strain Drake's voice always seems just too slight to hold. It's too easy to confuse his vocal treatments with lack of emotional commitment, I guess; it's the only way I can explain the rare such accusation I've heard. I simply consider it the best voice at conveying soul-empty ache bound up with wonder that I ever heard on a record. At the end of "Cello Song," he does an almost-perfect vocal duet with the title instrument, such that I at first couldn't tell one from the other. I could go on; you could read most of the rest of the day. I haven't come up with favorites yet. I thought I was about to, then every one I didn't get on first listen suddenly started striking home. Nick Drake is like that, at least he is when you didn't fall in love with the song on first listen. Which seems to happen less than half the time. Given that I'd consider this far from "easy" listening, that's nothing short of remarkable. His stuff draws you in; it seems to fit the mood. Play this record, wherever you are, and it will work to draw out the best - and the most beautifully painful - of wherever you are and whatever you are doing. I don't tear up often when listening to music. I am happy, really, to say that Nick is making this a rather common occurrence. The pain you hear in his records, you've felt many, many times. It just never had a soundtrack before.

    You just have to hear it. You just have to hear this record, the next and last two he made - in short, all the Drake you can lay your hands on. (There's so little that your excuse just got eliminated.) I don't think anyone came closer to creating a complete record collection with so few albums. Nick Drake is that good. ... Read more


    15. Shepherd Moons
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $9.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000002LRT
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 1057
    Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com essential recording

    The success of her first international hit, Watermark, confirmedEnya as less a singer or songwriter than a sonic architect: working withproducer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan, the classically-trainedpianist built vaulting cathedrals of sound, framed by luminous piano, shimmeringsynthesizer orchestrations, and, above all, the seemingly infinite layers ofvocal harmonies she plied on every song. The deeply romantic Celtic pop on its1991 successor, Shepherd Moons, sustains the same spectrum of hushedreverie and surging, rhapsodic releases, as well as its mix of ballads, floatingmidtempo pieces, and forays into Celtic and Latin--and it's every bit asseductive.The terminally hip will sneer, but it's no accident that"Caribbean Blue," the best known song here, managed to sneak ontomodern rock, top 40, "adult alternative" and public radio playlists.--Sam Sutherland ... Read more

    Reviews (120)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Music As Always, But...
    I've been a great fan of Enya for the past few years and it was only recently that I came across this album of hers produced in 1991 (shame on me!). As always, she's a great musician and vocalist and captures wonderfully a night under Shepard Moons. However, you kinda get bored of the whole CD after a while - not all of them really capture your attention, like tunes from her later albums and '88 tour de force "Watermark". Still, most of the songs are truly magnificant. If you get this CD, listen out for "Ebudae", "Marble Halls", "Carribean Blue", "Afer Ventus" and, especially, "Smaointe". It took her great effort to write this 6-minute song of hers (it's her longest song yet!), and great skill, for its ambience surprisingly carries you through the song rather well! Yup, definitely worth looking out for nonetheless - if you're an avid Enya fan, buy this CD still. But if you've never heard her music, this wouldn't give you a very good initial impression of her; try her other records like "Watermark", "The Celts (a must-hear)" or "The Memory of Trees". Once you think you're prepared for the power of her true music, GRAB, BEG OR STEAL "Paint the Sky with Stars"! Enjoy!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great Music As Always, But...
    I've been a great fan of Enya for the past few years and it was only recently that I came across this album of hers produced in 1991 (shame on me!). As always, she's a great musician and vocalist and captures wonderfully a night under Shepard Moons. However, you kinda get bored of the whole CD after a while - not all of them really capture your attention, like tunes from her later albums and '88 tour de force "Watermark". Still, most of the songs are truly magnificant. If you get this CD, listen out for "Ebudae", "Marble Halls", "Carribean Blue", "Afer Ventus" and, especially, "Smaointe". It took her great effort to write this 6-minute song of hers (it's her longest song yet!), and great skill, for its ambience surprisingly carries you through the song rather well! Yup, definitely worth looking out for nonetheless - if you're an avid Enya fan, buy this CD still. But if you've never heard her music, this wouldn't give you a very good initial impression of her; try her other records like "Watermark", "The Celts (a must-hear)" or "The Memory of Trees". Once you think you're prepared for the power of her true music, GRAB, BEG OR STEAL "Paint the Sky with Stars"! Enjoy!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Music from Above
    When I first heard her first single "Orinocho Flow", I wasn't crazy about the song, and am still not. But over a decade later I borrowed several Enya CD's from a friend and was blown away. The most emotional and beautiful track on this CD is "Evacuee".

    Though not every track is equal to the next, many of her songs are incredible, on this CD and her others...they touch your soul like no other songs can. If Heaven has music, then this would be it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another World
    Shepherd Moons is unlike any other Enya CD. It plays songs to make you feel as if you are in another world. This easy listening CD includes 12 amazingly done songs. Only four of them are instrumental; Shepherd Moon, No Holly for Miss Quin, Lorthlorien, and Afer Ventus. The other 8 include the voice of Enya with lyrics. Instruments used are like no other. I find myself either just enjoying the instrumental pieces, or singing along. This CD also includes the song included in the credits of the movie, "Far and Away" with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. This song is called, Book of Days is track number 7.

    Overall, this is a must buy! If you're looking for music to sing along to, easy listening, or some New Age music this one should definitely be considered. If you are an Enya fan and prefer her instrumental music instead of lyrical music, The Celts by Enya is the one to go with. But if you are looking for the majority of the music to be lyrical with that fantasy feel, look no further!

    Lyrics from Track # 2: Caribbean Blue

    So the world goes round and round,
    With all you ever knew,
    They say the sky, high above
    Is Caribbean Blue

    If every man says all he can
    If every man is true
    Do I believe, the sky above
    Is Caribbean Blue?

    If all you told was turned to gold
    If all you dreamed was new
    Imagine sky, high above
    In Caribbean Blue

    This song is an example of her starry and earthy themes to her music, particularly to this CD. It is melodic and poetic. Another addition to this CD is the song, "How Can I Keep from Singing" track number 3. This is an old Quaker Hymn, sometimes song even in church, but Enya sings it with her own unique style. I think the song in itself is appropriate for this CD.

    Everything is simply amazing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars the celtic beauty
    i have had this cd since it came out, before enya was known. it is still one of my favorites along with "Watermark".talent rules and endures. ... Read more


    16. Parallel Dreams (Bonus DVD)
    list price: $17.98
    our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B0002VEX1O
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 1599
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    17. Astral Weeks
    list price: $11.98
    our price: $10.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: B000002KAT
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 2435
    Average Customer Review: 4.64 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com essential recording

    Never mind that Van Morrison is one of the most indelible songwriters of the 20th century--take each album on its own terms. On 1968's seminal Astral Weeks, a twentysomething Van Morrison can be found belting his gospelly, bluesy vocals in just as fine a form as he would be 20 years hence. In the sociopolitical context of the times, the album cried out about such ubiquitous '60s themes as cultural oppression and social upheaval. But it is Morrison's vocal dexterity and passion that maintains such timeless appeal. Take tracks like "Madame George" or "Cyprus Avenue" and you'll find such beautiful mourning, it'll be clear why modern songwriter Sinéad O'Connor once publicly exclaimed: "Van Morrison should be friggin' canonized." --Nick Heil ... Read more

    Reviews (175)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Look at the reviews:
    If popular sentiment means anything to you, 62+ people have written reviews for this CD. They tout it as the greatest, sweetest, best album of all time. My opinion echoes this. I love this album and everything about it. I love the sloppy offbeat harpsichord. I love the fact that "Madame George" is 12 minutes of the same three chords. I love Van's garbled rants of love and life. The album sways from folk to jazz in a seamless Van Morrison style. I have come across people who haven't liked this album or Van Morrison in general. Their reasons are that most of the songs don't have a beat and they can't understand what Van is saying. It's true most songs don't even have percussion and "Beside You" barely holds to any tempo at all. And how many times did you have to listen to Madame George to understand the lyrics? But, the album isn't really about having a great dance beat or easily accessible lyrics. I take this album as a more personal statement. For the most part, it isn't radio friendly. But if your only criteria for a good ablum are dancable beats and catchy generalizations as lyrics, them I wouldn't recommend this album anyway. "Astral Weeks" is timeless. It has a pureness to it that a lot of people have identified with. It is probably one of the most perfect albums ever written because of its rough edges. And to think that it was done in a week...

    5-0 out of 5 stars Childlike Visions Leaping Into View
    This is probably my favorite album of all time. I've listened to it countless times, and it never gets old. Those other reviewers who don't "get it" make a few valid points:

    1) It isn't perfectly played.
    2) The songs aren't polished.
    3) It isn't Van's strongest collection of songs.

    First of all, it isn't necessary for great music to be note-perfect. ASTRAL WEEKS is about the magic of improvisation-- the suspended thrill of playing (and listening) on the cusp of discovery. In that way, the album is a perfect marriage of music and lyrics, as Van bends and twists the language in an effort to TRANSCEND the earthly significance of his words, to conjure a piece of heaven out of the frustration and pain that wracks his existence. Like Ray Charles did 15 years prior, Van fuses gospel and blues, the sacred and the profane.

    For those of you hear only hippy-dippy (...), you're obviously missing the unbearable heartache that haunts these songs. Cypress Avenue deals with unrequited, perhaps forbidden love. Madame George captures the mixture of joy and sadness that comes with lost innocence, getting on "the train" that takes one away from a place of safety and comfort. Ballerina is a burst of effusive passion, but the object of the singer's affection is separate from him, a spectral fantasy that he can only gaze on with paralyzed amazement. Thank god these rough gems weren't polished for radio consumption-- their unique, spontaneous quality would have been ruined.

    I concede that this isn't Van's strongest collection of songs, but it's hard to think of these tracks as "songs" in the conventional sense-- impressionistic sketches, maybe, but they hardly lose any artistic merit because of that. ASTRAL WEEKS is not a jazz album, but it certainly brandishes a jazz mentality-- the triumph of feel over form, emotional release over craftsmanship. If that's not your cup of tea, then proceed directly to MOONDANCE. But if you're searching for a true musical journey-- in the truest sense of the word-- then ASTRAL WEEKS is the apogee.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Eternal
    I have only recently got into Van Morrison, I have to say, so this review is coming from a 23 year old from Belfast, who is only beginning to realise the impact Van's music has had. I must also admit that I had a strange bias against Van, for only a few years ago when playing his (and my) hometown he turned his back to the audience for his entire performance... While I was not there, that arrogance and ignorance really put me off the man, and unfortunately, that little portion of his music that I had heard...

    So now, having given this album a chance; my friend recommended it as one of his favourites of all time; I have to admit that, no matter what stories I have heard of this artist, his music is something absolutely eternal and mesmerising.

    From the stunning opening chords to the title track, through the absolutely seminal "Cyprus Avenue", "Madame George", "Ballerina" and "Sweet Thing", I have found an album with such undeniable heart and warmth that I know it will stay with me forever as one of the very few albums to have changed my perception of music.

    Perhaps it is the unbelievable vocal talents of the man, the jazzy and superb musicianship or just maybe the fact that I can (100%) identify with the visions this man is painting through his lyrics... It is not something I have experienced before whereby a lyric such as "Down on Cyprus Avenue" or "Sandy Row" can conjur such vivid and mesmerising images to my mind... I live just 5 minutes from the lovely Cyprus Avenue and I know it well. Thankfully I do not know Sandy Row too well; a scummy, horrible area of Belfast these days, I am proud never to have ventured deep into it. I do also know the house where Van grew up however, my father having taken me and my friends many times passed the house (which is now adorned with a brass plaque with his name) in east Belfast, just around the corner from my own house. It is maybe these insider views of the area I know that Van grew up in that help the pictures become clearler and more poignant... But his voice and passion can never be denied... It is truly something to behold, whether it be the vast epic of "Madame George" or the fiery jazz bombast of "The Way Young Lovers Do", you can never deny this man doesn't hold perhaps the most original, impressive voice in music... ever.

    This album, it must be said, seems (to me at least) to be his absolute masterpiece... Moondance is an album I have always heard since I was growing up... I never listened to it specifically, but it was always on in the kitchen when I was a kid...and, while I have yet to hear much of his later work, it is a journey I am going to fully enjoy and cherish. A man, a genius and an absolute legend. Beautiful album.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Van gets lengthy and ambitious
    All of Van's stuff from this era is brilliant. Astral Weeks is considered to be his masterpiece. It is very good. But, do we really want to hear Van break into one of ethereal chants for five minutes? The songs are great but they suffer from this kind of self indulgence that the other albums don't have. Van' really at his best when he's to the point. He can still manage the whole zen thing if he wants to, just tone it down. "Warm love" is perfect on this one.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best Van album, so good it's spiritual
    I must admit that I haven't heard every single Van album (I missed hearing alot of his earlier albums), but this is the best I heard--better than Moondance, Wavelength, and all his newer stuff--by far. A few years ago I picked up Astral and Moon at the same time and Moon hardly gets spun.

    There are some quality issues with the recording where some sonic distortion appears, but I never really noticed it after the first listen. I actually kind of like it, it's so unlike today's over-produced stuff. Van went into the studio, laid down the album in 2-3 days, and it was done...and the magic comes through. ... Read more


    18. The Memory of Trees
    list price: $18.98
    our price: $14.99
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    Asin: B000002N3N
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 2272
    Average Customer Review: 4.65 out of 5 stars
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    To many people, Enya has become synonymous with new age music. Her haunting voice, clear and crisp above richly woven musical arrangements and adaptations, represents some of the best in the genre. Her performances on The Memory of Trees justify the Celtic songster's reputation. Songs like "China Roses" and "Hope Has a Place" complement the simple elegance of traditional folk music with luxuriantly layered instrumentation and highly crafted studio production. The ultimate effect is dazzling, to be sure. Whether she sings in English, Gaelic, or Latin, Enya conveys a profound, if slightly disconcerting, mix of spirituality and sensuality. --L.A. Smith ... Read more

    Reviews (103)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Enya at her esoteric best!
    THE MEMORY OF TREES, combines esoteric grandeur, various historical Gaelic elements, enigmatic phrases, with lyrics that brace the line between comprehension and obscurity in a most effective way. This was my first Enya album ever, and I'm really glad I started my collection with it. Out of all of Enya's many albums, it sets a mood the best. Starting with the breathtaking 4:19 title track instrumental, Enya begins to create a mood of happiness tempered by reflection, so effectively with vocals that are both haunting and joyous along with magnificent instrumentation. This song then moves to the fast-paced "Anywhere Is" (one of two singles off the cd). "Anywhere Is," may be the most heavily lyrical based Enya single, but she quickly goes through them all, painting a feeling of a journey, of choices made, following a course, and misdirection. Part of what makes this song so successful is the abundant rhyming; Enya's lively, vital voice; and its rhythm. "Pax Deorum," five minutes of amazing Latin, certainly sets a mood, with a darker tone. It's a powerful song, with apparent voice layering, amazing instrumentation, and a very good beat. The passion of "Pax Deorum" segues into the elegance and beauty of the Gaelic "Athair ar Neamh" (meaning "Father in Heaven"). This song is truly beautiful, with Enya lightly moving through the gorgeous Gaelic stanzas. "China Roses," which clocks in at 4:47, is a majestic masterpiece, painting a scene with ethereal elements, and has a Utopian feeling about it. The synthesizer on this piece is quite remarkable, fitting the tone of "China Roses" perfectly. "Hope Has a Place," is romantic, true to life, and, judging from the way Enya sings it, very introspective. It features some of the grander elements of songs like "Angeles" and "Caribbean Blue" from Shepherd Moons, incorporating sweeping, drawn out stanzas and peaceful, heartfelt lyrics. "Tea-House Moon," is playful, with an almost circus like feeling. "Once You Had Gold," is a serene, elegant and genteel. Many sections of the song are done in the way you'd expect a lullaby to be done; yet it has more practical application than a lullaby, with very truthful lyrics that touch the soul. "La Soñadora" is as majestic as it is an auditory delight, especially with the edition of the Spanish lyrics. The darker feeling in the beginning segues brilliantly into the chorus of voices in the middle section of the song and then concludes with the same feeling of the beginning. "On My Way Home" (the second single off THE MEMORY OF TREES), is an upbeat, happy, and retrospective song that signals the end of the remarkable journey that is THE MEMORY OF TREES. It's a fitting conclusion to "Anywhere Is" and the entire cd.

    THE MEMORY OF TREES encompasses various themes, various languages, and incorporates stunning instrumentals throughout. Enya has frequently said she tells a lot about herself through her music, and I think that's particularly apparent in THE MEMORY OF TREES, which, by the end of its 44 minutes, truly moves you. If it's the first piece in your Enya collection or last, it certainly does not disappoint.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Enya ... Simply Irresistible
    Let's drop all our differences and sit down and take a listen of Enya's THE MEMORY OF TREES. It's a brilliant album and how can you not like it with such a fabulous title track. Enya is already creating magic without using words. "Anywhere Is", the second track and also the first single from the album is probably the most worded song from Enya in a long time and it's simply stunning. I think nobody can be as inventive and speak in such a perspective through their songs. Whenever I recommend this CD to my friends, they all laugh at me and think that I am being a complete idiot. Despite constant criticism, I have not liked Enya any less and strongly believe that I don't need to see a doctor. My friends describe it as "Mental institution music for those who cannot afford to see a psychiatrist to help them improve upon their mental illness". Never the less, I suppose that's what you get when your friends are 17 year old males (So am I). So, I strongly recommend you get yourself a copy of THE MEMORY OF TREES and the stand out tracks are "The Memory Of Trees", "Anywhere Is", "China Roses", "Tea House Moon" and "On My Way Home". Totally brilliant CD. Well worth your while and best of all, you won't regret it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Pure and utterly beautiful ...
    Some music touches your heart in ways nothing else can. This CD contains just such music. This music is atmospheric and uplifting. Enya has a voice like fine crystal, pure and beyond compare. The most beautiful track on this CD is Athair Ar Nearmh - it has crystal clear beauty of such quality that you can only imagine the angels of heaven being capable of achieving it - you just need to close your eyes and feel the beauty of it. I am in complete awe ...

    5-0 out of 5 stars Pure Beauty
    Music from Heaven; her songs touch your soul like none can.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dreamy unearthly magic continues with Eire's one and only!
    Who knows why I initially considered this to be a duff album by the woman with the most beautiful voice in the world. Maybe I was expecting Shepherd's Moon Part II and saw Memory Of Trees as Shepherd's Eclipse. The songs didn't leap out to me? Well, listening to it for this review, it finally did, and I've embraced it like I have her other albums. The four years inbetween albums was worth it.

    Of the opening instrumental title tracks, "The Memory Of Trees" is the most potent, sporting the usual instrumentals, pianos, haunting wall-of-sound choir-like vocals, pounding drums recalling "The Longships" from Watermark.

    The brisk "Anywhere Is", whose dominant tempo reminds me of a horse having a gentle canter down a park, is backed by strings and backing vocals. There's an interesting motif in the first line of her reaching a horizon but finding another, where something that looks like an end is actually a new beginning. Bit like life, isn't it?

    "Pax Deorum" is a Latin track begins with a cold dark wind, which sets the grim bass pulsing keyboard permeating throughout the song, as well as an ominous sound that sounds a bit like a foghorn, though not as loud or brash. This part sounds a bit like an incantation. Her voice alternates between a soft but lower register and her full vocals.

    The piano (and later some other instrument) ballad "Athair Ar Neamh" is a sad but beautiful sung tune, full of yearning. Makes me want to learn Gaelic. My favourite song here, and Enya sounds her best singing like this.

    The wistful, reflective piano only instrumental "From Where I Am" is a variation of "Miss Clare Remembers" from Watermark, with some shades of "Epona" from the Enya album.

    "China Roses" is one of her visual and visionary poetic songs and it's an enchanting delight to hear. I see melodic strains of what would later become "Only Time." That wall of sound really enhances her vocals, and the following lyrics really create the image of a dreamland: "A new moon leads me to/woods of dreams and I follow/a new world waits for me/my dream, my way" and "Rain and river, a world of wonder/may be paradise to me". Gosh, how I love this woman!

    OK, all you romantics. "Hope Has A Place" is the song for you. Enya's vocal echoes hauntingly here and that dreamy wall of sound is in full bloom. And how's this for some sagely advice: "Look to love/you may dream/and if it should leave/then give it wings/But if such a love is meant to be/Hope is home, and the heart is free." I can't decide whether I like this better than "Athair Ar Neamh."

    The third instrumental, "Tea-House Moon", has some Oriental strains, with some otherworldly synths and conjures the image of one looking up at the stars. As for the title, a nod to Teahouse Of The August Moon, set in post-WW2 Japan and starring Machiko Kyo?

    "Once You Had Gold" is a proverbial seasons come, seasons go type, and has a mystical sense of why things go wrong: "No-one can promise a dream for you/Time gave both darkness and dreams to you." and "What is the dark, shadows around you/why not take heart in the new day?"

    "La Sonadora" is her first Spanish song and it's more an interlude. The backing wall of music rise to a crescendo in the song's midsection.

    A reminiscing night traveller's thoughts comprise "On My Way Home", where "I remember all the best days/I'm on my way home/I can remember every new day" is surrounded by the dreamy wall of sound.

    Compared to her first three albums, Enya's voice is more mesmerizingly beautiful than I've ever heard. She seems to be a one-woman band here, as it's "all instruments and vocals by Enya" per the credits. There's more a wall of dreamy sound here--check out how many times I've mentioned this. Repeated listenings will tell whether it'll dislodge Shepherd's Moon as my favourite Enya album. ... Read more


    19. The Farthest Wave
    list price: $17.98
    our price: $13.99
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    Asin: B00008OE0Z
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 2314
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    In many ways, Ryan personifies Irish-America, a far-flung tribe who love their country yet were born into what their immigrant forebears perceived as exile. Generations later, they still cherish the music, literature and history of their ancestral homeland. Ryan's eloquent soprano keens and soars as her context shifts between ancient peat fires, long ago Appalachian spring-times and the bittersweet romanticism of a modern singer-songwriter. Her heartbreaking duet with Galway native Sean Keane, "What Will You Do, Love?", describes the plight of a loving couple facing separation. On the final track, she breathes new life into "Home Sweet Home?", a ballad which has long and unfairly been consigned to the chestnut barrel. Accompanied by a parlor piano, squeeze-box and a lonely-sounding whistle, frosted with delicately ironic vocal dissonances, the song speaks eloquently of those who feel displaced, even on their own doorsteps. Producer/fiddler John McCusker and team are perfectly in synch with the bandleader¹s haunting vocals. --Christina Roden ... Read more

    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars SUCH A VOICE
    If there is a more engrossing and beautiful album out this year, I'd be amazed.No naval-gazing song writing, no fascination with unhappiness. Cathie Ryan has an Irish/American voice to die for - perfectly suited for her own lovely compositions and for doing full justice to traditional songs from Ireland, Scotland and England.After two great records as lead singer with Cherish the Ladies, she has just come out with her fourth solo cd.THE FARTHEST WAVE is the second produced by the great John McCusker and both are beautifully buoyed by the many talents of the Rusby clan-John is the husband of the peerless Kate Rusby-and all those at the aptly named Pure Records in Yorkshire.Cathie seems unable to utter anything but the most lovely phrasing when she sings.That would be enough to please any listener.But, here she has forces aplenty assisting her.The guitar work is matchless throughout-especially John Doyle's and Kris Drever's.The multi-instrumental John McCusker brings that beautiful work he's displayed to such great effect on all of Kate Rusby's cds: fiddle, whistles, and cittern.He's also written a great jig and a smashing reel for this collection.Phil Cunningham's accordion has a personality all its own and appears throughout.Backing vocals are splendid-especially Karine Polwart's. The songs are so good that it's difficult to pick favorites-I won't try.Notable, however, is the traditional ROUGH AND ROCKY which Cathie heard originally on Emmylou Harris's great early album, BLUE KENTUCKY GIRL.If you can imagine one of the most beautiful voices in the world singing the following verse from the traditional (and by Dermot Henry), "As the Evening Declines," you may get the idea how great this work is:

    You can have all your gold, the high king of all metals
    With soft talk and kisses we'll never want better
    And the west of a ditch is the best of all settles
    Glory o, glory, glory when the evening declines
    Glory o, glory, glory as the evening declines

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Captivating Experience
    From the extended instrumental introduction to the opening song, "What's Closest to the Heart", to the four-part harmony of the final number, "Home Sweet Home", you will be transported by the music on this CD. While each of her "solo" effort CDs continues to top my list of favorite music, this one is the cream of the crop. As always, her singing is distinctive, and expressive; a perfect fit for each song. The arrangements and instrumental work are flawless. It would be difficult to match the number of "goosebump" moments produced by this album. You may want to listen to this CD in the car on the way to or from work, but you might miss some of the beautiful, intricate instrumentation. You may be tempted to listen to it as background music, but you will miss the touching lyrics. No, the best way to listen to this music is in quiet, with someone you love, and a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and let yourselves be completely taken in by the experience. ... Read more


    20. Local Ground
    list price: $17.98
    our price: $13.99
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    Asin: B0007GAE1C
    Catlog: Music
    Sales Rank: 1309
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    For their 10th album, the veteran Irish ensemble has gathered 13 traditional and newly composed tunes. These are transformed via singer/fiddler Mairéad ní Mhaonaigh¹s Gaelic-speaking Donegal birthright and gussied up by the group¹s modern yet reassuringly earthy acoustic arrangements. The set list includes several of the jaunty dance tunes that are the soul of Irish music; Is the Big Man Within/Tilly Finn¹s Reel is an especially fine example. But Ní Mhaonaigh¹s fragile, girlish soprano creates many of the album¹s most memorable moments, Adieu My Lovely Nancy and a lullaby, Dun Do Shuil linger in the heart and ear. She and her husband, accordionist Dermot Byrne, own a pub in a small village called Teelin and it must be a great place for musicians to swap songs and tell tales. Indeed, the entire album has home-town warmth to it, a sense of achieved heritage that is at once soothing and invigorating. --Christina Roden ... Read more

    Reviews (5)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Altan -- timeless celtic soul music
    Not having heard Altan before, I took a chance on LOCAL GROUND, convinced by those who said this was one of theirbest, and I'm certainly glad I did -- the format is songs with lovely vocals by Maread Ni Mhaonaigh, who also plays fantastic fiddle, alternating with instrumentals, lively toe-tapping jigs and medleys of reels.I listen to all sorts of music, I'm not immersed in this style, and so I lack the knowledge to compare this album to other traditional Irish music.I do know Altan has the reputation of being the finest of its kind in the world, and based on LOCAL GROUND I can see why.Absolutely timeless, this is music that humans might have made from the beginning of time and might be making until the end of time, with joy, sorrow, love, regret, nostalgia, longing, and sheer celebration of being alive another day!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Round the House and Mind the Dresser
    Nobody does Irish-traditional better than Altan, though they seemed to have lost some of their edge and authenticity since leaving the marvelous Green Linnet label.All that has changed with the release of this CD, perhaps their best since "Harvest Storm". The joy has returned to their jigs and reels (and nowhere in the genre can you hear tighter ensemble playing), and they will indeed make you dance around the house.They've gone back to some numbers from earlier in their career, like "Tommy Peoples", but they've also brought some "new" ones with unusual time changes.In contrast, their ballads and songs have a deeper ache, thanks to the fragile soprano of fiddler Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, who seems to get better with each album.It's interesting to reflect on the history of some of the songs here.For instance, the band learned "Adieu, My Lovely Nancy" from an American friend, who learned it from a woman from the Ozarks, who in turn learned it from her Irish-immigrant grandfather. So the song seems to have come full circle."The Wind and the Rain" is a revelation too:it's a story of a young woman's murder of her sister, and her sister's unusual vengeance.It's been told in several versions, including "The Bonny Swans", popularized not long ago by Loreena McKennitt.And Bob Dylan "borrowed" elements of the lyrics and melody for an early work of his, "Percy's Song".But history aside, there's no question this band is heir apparent to the Chieftains, as they expertly carry Irish Celtic music into the next generation.They found the spark again, and Frankie Kennedy must be smiling down on them.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Native Song
    Well, anyone fanatical enough to be interested in making fine distinctions between Altan's albums surely realizes Harvest Storm and Island Angel were miraculous.It brings to mind -- to my mind, anyway -- Yavanna's lament (she who created the Two Trees of Valinor): "Even for those who are mightiest under Iluvatar there is some work that they may accomplish once, and once only."It doesn't seem right to judge this album less than five stars just because those others were off the end of the scale.

    Local Ground is similar to their earlier albums, in contrast to certain of the more recent ones, which were throwing out signs of drifting into popground, at least in matter of the song selection (which is my chief interest).One of those (which shall remain nameless) was drifting pretty far, and for some reason had a concentration of English songs (some of them being a bit slow and somewhat unmelodic) that obscured the whole Gaelic aura of the thing.Although I might not have noticed this had I not listened to it every day for three years (I told you I was a fanatic).

    I'm not sure I agree with the official reviewlet, above, claiming Mairead has a girlish soprano -- whatever that is.This comes across like an offhand and harmless remark by someone who doesn't know any better.A beautiful voice is more like it.I tell you what, sit in the third row sometime; it might happen that she'll sing "Uncle Rat."There is nothing girlish about it.What might be more to the point is that she is a native speaker of Donegal Gaelic, and so she renders the songs therefore with precision and authority (also the English ones).Most languages sound better sung (especially by a woman or a female chorus) than they do spoken, but there is a peculiar indescribable magic to the Gaelic songs, deriving largely, as it seems to me, from the language itself.

    Altan is sitting on a treasure: Irish music in general but in particularly song.Liam O'Conor and the late Derek Bell, in their book Traditional Songs of the North of Ireland, put it like this: "The Gaelic Songs are incomparable."Typical laconic Irish understatement.But there is not much to be added to that observation other than to say it is most certainly true.And here, in Local Ground, we find more treasure brought out into the open.The track most interesting (and which is not a song) is perhaps "Sport," composed by Peadar O'Riada, of Cuil Aodha (Cork gaeltacht, I believe).The modern musicians can still turn out a tune, if that is an issue here.Perhaps it caught my eye because I've been to Cuil Aodha.I heard Cliar deliver "Si do Mhaimeo I."There were three of them singing, and it was overpowering.Though there is nothing so massive on this album, yet overall it is energetic, lyrical, and memorable.It is reminiscent of Blackwater; it might be considered a little brother to Blackwater.And it includes an alternate version of one of the songs earlier appearing there (I love alternate versions, both the idea and the execution).Of course there is fiddling, too: the fiddles "sing," so to speak.They always do.Nor is that all; Altan has a very rich sound, as they are all virtuosos who play extremely well together.A lullaby concludes the album, one that is beautiful, beautiful, done with a mother soprano, with an echo of the Otherworld.

    Thank God for Altan.


    5-0 out of 5 stars A Rejuvenated Altan:lively jigs,reels and gorgeous vocals!
    They're back!The lovely Queen Mairead of Irish traditional music is back! She is truly one of the larger than life personalities for her beautific voice, easy smile and laughter, and her whole sense of musical enjoyment.This is a new album, new material and renewed energy. Altan has been with us since the 80's and have been easy to take for granted as Irish traditional music history after a "best of album," a "finest" album and a gap of time. Just when we are ready to bid a fond farewell, they are rejuvenated and back with the inspiration of yesteryear. Mairead's beautiful voice, and spirited fiddle playing, teaming up with her husband, Dermot Byrne playing button accordian, are a grand picture of marital and musical harmony.Ciaran Tourish is back with very spirited lead fiddle.Then there is the solid foundation of Altan music, the excellent bouzouki (deep voiced, large mandolin) playing of Ciaran Curran. He has been one of the real pioneers of this instrument. He teams up with the excellent veteran guitar player, Daithe Sproule.If all lead instruments were muted, this two person team accounting for more than a 60 years of experience between the two of them would be astounding. Jim Higgins is back again on bodhran and provides an extra snap to the faster pieces to get your toes tapping.Taken as a whole, this album repeats a previous Altan formula of playing lively, music and then changing the pace with gorgeous vocals from Mairead. This is a must have for any Irish Traditional Music collection.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Their Best Post-Frankie CD
    Absolutely understand that it is not in Altan to turn out a bad record, even if they came perilously close to becoming the baby-boomer Chieftains (venerable, but hardly exciting), what with the tour with the faux-Mairead (to paraphrase Joan Cusack, 'sure you're blond and can play the fiddle, but that doesn't make you Mairead.') and the parade of guests on recent CDs. But it seems rather convincingly that what drove Altan all through the Green Linnet years has resurfaced, resulting in what is the best CD since ISLAND ANGEL. There is a root sensibility to this that always infused the early records but was becoming lost in the move to a big label. What had been authentic was teetering on cliche in the Virgin-Narada releases of the past years. None of that is the case here.
    Instead, Mairead seems more in charge of the proceedings than ever and Dermot Byrne has found an urgency to go with his fleet command of the button accordion, kinda like a Belfast flautist I remember from some years back. It was never just the technique, but the fire within. Dermot's playing is quantitatively and qualitatively different and that pushes this band in ways it hasn't been pushed since the 90's. At the risk of committing heresy, the attack on the second set of reels, leading off with "Tommy People's" ( a reel covered on the Ceol Aduaidh CD) packs a dynamic that actually transcends the earlier take from Frankie, Mairead and the inimitable Ciarn Curran. And while we're on the subject of Curran, I haven't heard him this fired up outside of a live set ever, and it is a joy, in fact one of the reel seminal joys of Irish music to hear Ciaran Curran lit up and playing like his life depended on it. The most unsung hero of the Irish bouzouki ever asserts himself, balls forward, and Altan is the better for it.
    There is a terrific take on all the songs. "Adieu, Sweet Lovely Nancy," otherwise a chestnut, verging on party-piece, is given just enough of a countertempo to put a little something in the trunk. That is true throughout the disc, courtesy of unofficial seventh member, percussionist Jimmy Higgins. Steve Cooney drops in for a bit of even heavier bass, though not quite as slap driven as Manus Lunny in Capercaillie. Carlos Nunez appears twice with his earthy gaita playing, and it all serves less to highlight what neat friends they have, and more to underscore what great musicians can do when they surrender to the confidence of Music.
    Any complaints? Quibbles only: the reverb is a little too Clannad on "Amhran Pheadar Bhreathnaigh". And why on earth is it necessary to put an FBI warning on a nice bit of graphics. I suspect mairead gave some thought to the artwork selected. Is it really necessary to put a legal threat overlaid upon it? The only other element I continue to ponder is the under-utilization of the voice of Daithi Sproule. In addition to being one of the exceptional guitarists in any discipline, Daithi's Derry accent brings a bittersweetness that is the absolutely perfect compliment to Mairead's unique pipes. In Concert, the man who is essentially at this point the George Harrison of Irish music, gets his couple of tunes, and his backing harmonies give a dimension to the songs they so desperately need. Yet, on CD, you'd have a good night's fun picking out his contribution. Don't quite get that. Lennon and McCartney never quite got it either. There's likely a Derry seige on ALL THINGS MUST PASS somewhere in the pipeline. Let's hope it arrives in the context of his work with Altan.
    All in all, though, 5 stars. Altan has recovered the ground, to analogize Heidegger. This is the Truth. Listen. ... Read more


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