If someone had told us in 1969 that Mick and Marianne would share billing on a hit Chieftains album a quarter of a century hence, we would probably have freaked out big-time. But now at No. 24 on the Billboard chart is ""The Long Black Veil,'' a gem of a collectionby Ireland's most celebrated Celtic bandand a roster of big-name help. Paddy Moloney, the Chieftains' outstanding piper and producer, has deftly created a musical environment to suit each guest: Sting soars, Van Morrison croons and yaps, Sinead O'Connor amazes, Tom Jones chews up large pieces of furniture, Marianne Faithfull gives her four-packs-a-day voice a welcome airing out and the Rolling Stones are at their irreverent best. But it's the title track, sung by a keening Jagger over a stark accompaniment of bass, mandolin and didjeridu, that shines the brightest. If the thought of a jolly Irish jig sends you hotfoot to the nearest Ray Conniff collection -- hold fast. This is ancient music with the power to move both people's feet and their emotions. The Chieftains treat it with beauty, humor and, above all, fun.
Guy CooperIMMORTAL BELOVED.
The current Beethoven biopic is a slice of cornball heaven, but for all its cheesiness it never mistreats the music. A glittering cast (Conductor Sir Georg Solti, Murray Perahia, Yo-Yo Ma) produced original recordings for the soundtrack; the scenes were cut to match the rhythms and melodic arcs of the scores. But there's a hitch. While ""Immortal Beloved'' respected Beethoven, the soundtrack album (No. 68 on the Billboard chart) doesn't -- because the chunks of symphonies and sonatas don't make sense for just listening. It's the greatest hits of greatest hits, a starter kit for novice fans -- but mostly, it's merchandising.
Malcolm Jones Jr.