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THE CHIEFTAINS by John Glatt

THE CHIEFTAINS

The Authorized Biography

By John Glatt

Pub Date: July 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-16605-2
Publisher: St. Martin's

 Among Frank Zappa's last public statements was this: ``U2 is maybe the most popular and successful export coming from Ireland today, but there's no comparison between the musical quality of what they do and what the Chieftains do.'' Glatt ably explains why. Zappa is one of dozens of musicians, writers, and actors to go on the record for Glatt (Rage & Roll: Bill Graham and the Selling of Rock, 1994, etc.) in this heavily researched account of the career of 58-year-old Irishman Paddy Moloney, the band's leader and driving force, et al., from relative obscurity during the folk and rock eras of the '50s and '60s to their Grammy-winning albums of the '90s and their collaboration with several prominent musicians on The Long Black Veil. All along, the Chieftains have enjoyed the admiration of Seamus Heaney, Peter O'Toole, and the Rolling Stones, and Glatt's legwork is apparent in interviews not only with such diverse luminaries, but also with the the band's families, former members, and associates, and even with actor/director Ron Howard, whose film Far and Away is one of many scored by Moloney. Particularly amusing episodes feature the always cantankerous Ulsterian Van Morrison and a band visit to China that ultimately led to their being named the official musical ambassadors of Ireland. As an unofficial ambassador, Moloney has dabbled in the music of French Brittany and Spanish Galicia, and Glatt does a fine job of impressing upon the reader the Celtic heart of the Chieftains, from their fluency in the Irish language to their endless searches for links between Celtic culture and music in other corners of the world. And unlike other writers, Glatt avoids the temptation to slap a political label on this band that comes from such a politically torn country. Though he offers little to the uninitiated, Glatt has written an indispensable chronicle for the casual listener, the die-hard fan, and all levels in between. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)