Irish Heartbeat (with the Chieftains) cover
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Irish Heartbeat
(with the Chieftains)

Mercury 834 496-2
(Released June, 1988)

  1. Star of the County Down (2:41)
  2. Irish Heartbeat (3:52)
  3. Ta Mo Chleamhnas Deanta (3:31)
  4. Raglan Road (4:43)
  5. She Moved through the Fair (4:43)
  6. I'll Tell Me Ma (2:29)
  7. Carrickfergus (4:23)
  8. Celtic Ray (3:47)
  9. My Lagan Love (5:19)
  10. Marie's Wedding (3:17)
    Total time: (39:05)

Paddy Moloney: Producer
Van Morrison: Producer

Review by Scott Thomas:
Irish Heartbeat, recorded with the Chieftains, is the first album-length collaboration of Morrison's career. Both parties benefit from the partnership. Though Van was loathe to bring any new songs to the project, relying instead on traditional and previously recorded pieces, he nonetheless seems to revel in the camaraderie. Listen to "Star of the County Down," "Marie's Wedding," and "Tell Me Ma." He hasn't had this much fun since His Band and the Street Choir! The traditional tunes also give our hero a chance to play roles far-removed from that of mystic poet; he is a love-struck farmer in "Star of the County Down," a love-struck angel in Patrick Kavanagh's "Raglan Road," and a down-and-out in "Carrickfergus." More important than what the participants gain from the collaboration, however, is what the participants bring to these venerable songs. Morrison's take on traditional Celtic music is unique because of his background and credentials in R&B, the blues, and jazz. It is a rare Celtic singer who can claim scatting, metrical game-playing, moaning, and shouting as part of his bag of vocal tricks. (Van's radical approach is most apparent on slower songs like "My Langan Love" and "She Moved through the Fair.") The triumph here is how Van and the Chieftains demonstrate their respect for tradition even as they are redefining it.

Irish Heartbeat's only obvious wart is its speeded-up version of "Celtic Ray" which betrays a kind of uncharacteristic clumsiness that is also present in their rendition of "Raglan Road." Though beautifully sung by Morrison, this song would only come into its own in subsequent live performances.

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