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  Darby O'Gill is a high-flying stage show band with an Irish surprise around every corner, even if the music is not terribly
"traditional". Their emphasis is on fun and frivolity. Oh, there are authentic Irish pieces, it's true, but the
Irish Christmas
keeps its eye on the bigger picture -- holiday entertainment that cuts across all cultures.
   The ample liner notes here are indespensable. The lyrics are fascinating and dense, and (on at least two occasions)
lapse into an Irish brogue that would be difficult to fathom without the written words. All the essential information is
presented in fine form for the listener to follow.
Irish Christmas Rollick opens with a rousing "Christmas Comes but Once a Year", which embodies what a
Christmas rollick is all about: good food and good company! The next tune, "
Ha'e Yersel' a Canty Wee-Bit
", is just "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" doused heavily in Celtic spirits -- it's terribly charming,
sending all your "tribles" out of sight. The album takes an exciting turn with the traditional spiritual "
Children, Go Where
I Send Thee
", which has a dramatic rock-n'-roll treatment, including a driving bass foundation. Bagpipes blaze on the
unusual treatment of "
Carol of the Bells" and set the mood for "Auld Lang Syne". Very cool!
   The 14 tracks contain the traditional and the unexpected. For example, a traditional Irish stage band to feature "
You Santa Claus
" or prison tunes ("Christmas in Prison" and "Christmas in Jail"), or Leonard Cohen? Still, the
pieces of this fascinating puzzle fit together oh-so-nicely, making for a heartwarming and deeply satisfying package.
   My favorite song on the album? It's Leonard Cohen's "
Hallelujah", which I suppose is not really a Christmas tune at
all. It is, however, a most amazing composition, and it is about faith on its own terms. Darby O'Gill's rendition is riviting.
   Hand 'round the whiskey in tumblers, and drink to Darby O'Gill. It may be time for your very own Irish Christmas
Rollick this holiday season!
-- Carol Swanson
Buy this CD
  Ever wanted to celebrate Christmas and St. Patrick's day at the same time? well, here is your present. Darby O'Gill
write a lot of songs about drinking, it's true...but the band is top-notch in terms of muscianship and this album delivers the
goods just like Santa Claus to all the good lil' Irish lads and lasses.
   Of particular note on the CD are the two spoken-word tracks courtesy of band-leader Scott Messer "
Just Before
" and "A Christmas Story", one which describes the moral mis-adventures of an Irish-American boy whose
mind is set on the goodies left by Santa, the other is one's account of the Santa controversy itself: real or fiction? ("A
Christmas Story" appropriately leads into the popular holiday tune, the jazzy "
Zat You, Santa Claus?").
   If you like witty tunes, check out "
Hae Yer'sel a Canty Wee Bit Christmas", the Scottish version of the popular
christmas jazz standard. Messer does one fantastic, authentic Scottish acent and delivers some superb vocals in the tune.
Then of course, are the holiday drinking/rowdy Irish tunes. "
Christmas Comes But Once a Year", "Christmas in
", and if you want to get really Irish, "Mrs. Fogarty's Christmas Cake".
   Messer adds a few extra lines to these three traditional tunes and Art Kohenke plays some beautiful mandolin on
"Christmas in Kilarney". Ken Andresen plays some killer accordion on most of the album. So whether you're at a
Christmas party and you're Irish, Scottish, Welsh, or just love hearty, laid-back pub tunes, then order a tall glass of an
Irish Christmas Rollick.
--Edward Burke
  Christmas Dinner with all the different personalities of a family, this Christmas CD has a little bit of everything with Irish
Flavor, of course.