The Bothy Band evoked universal praise from audiences and critics alike. They are that rare combination of genius, harmonic subtlety, rhythmic drive, and vocal clarity that moved Rogue’s Gallery to dub them, “the most important Celtic band of the rock era.”
From their very first album, the Bothies attracted the attention of listeners on both sides of the Atlantic. When legendary fiddler Tommy Peoples was replaced by Kevin Burke for the group’s second album, Old Hag You Have Killed Me, which came out in 1976, none of the awesome power of the group’s initial surge was lost. It was that auspicious second album which contained a vocal tour de force with an unpronounceable Gaelic title, moving an unabashed fan to proclaim that “one listen to the quick-paced, strangely harmonized Fionnghuala (fuhwhun-NOO-whu-luh is close) will leave you convinced of their greatness.”
By the time their third album, Out of the Wind, Into the Sun, was released, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that siblings Mícheál Ó’Domhnaill and Triona Ní Dhomhnaill, rhythm genius Dónal Lunny, piping king Paddy Keenan, flute virtuoso Matt Molloy, and brilliant fiddler Kevin Burke stood at the very summit of Celtic music — a group admired by all, imitated by many, surpassed by none.
It was inevitable that the group would record a live album (in that bastion of Celtic music, Paris, France!) producing a wild, uninhibited set of music, “played with verve, and captured with truly great sonics.” Before you knew it, the band members had gone their separate ways, joining up with such celebrated progeny as Touchstone, Patrick Street, The Chieftains and Nightnoise. But the Bothies’ legacy remains on their four stellar albums, as well as a collection, The Best of the Bothy Band, released after their breakup.
Upon hearing this collection, Emily Friedman of Chicago Magazine was moved to deliver the following paean, which might serve as an elegy for the band’s tenure: . . . together they took jazz chords, Gaelic-language songs, taut instrumental interplay, and a deep sense of their shared Celtic past and created a body of music that still shines . . .This was one of the greatest of all bands; get this album and learn how much we lost when its brief career ended.”