Even if you are familiar only with the Irish Rovers' hit single, "The Unicorn", we're certain you will find this "Best Of" album a delightful collection of songs. If you are already a fan of the Rovers, you know that their music consists much more than simple renditions of sentimental ballads, as folk music is so often interpreted. Their sound is the result of years of elaborating on and refining traditional Irish musical idioms. Whether a rousing and spirited sing-a-long or a sad and mournful tale, the group's arrangements are refreshing and contemporary. They possess that extra measure of wit and poetry shared by all the Irish. But their scope is much broader than the Emerald Isle and their Irishness is neither a gimmick nor an obstacle. With a rich and varied repertoire spanning many countries, they appeal to an unusually wide range of people of all ages. Their approach to music is pure and honest and they perform skillfully with great style and virtuosity.
The Irish Rovers are five men of diverse musical background, and all of them hail from the north of Ireland. Brothers Will and George Millar performed with their sister as children and were billed as the Millar Kids. Will, who once played with a calypso steel band, plays guitar and banjo. George is also a guitarist, and he and Will are both accomplished vocalists. Wilcil McDowell is their cousin and accordionist who remembers winning the All-Ireland Accordion Championship before forming his own band and touring extensively in many countries. Close friend Jim Ferguson provides the group with a lyrical tenor voice and sings outstanding solos as well as harmonies. Joe Millar, who is also a cousin of Will and George, plays accordion, harmonica and electric bass, and provides bass harmony on vocals. Their beginnings as a group resulted from the Millar family immigrating to Canada. Will eventually found his way to Calgary, where he performed in various clubs.
Then a guest spot on a children's television program led to his own daily show called "Just For Fun". In the meantime, George and Jim had formed a group in Canada, and when they appeared as guests on Will's show, The Irish Rovers had indeed been formed. Soon Wilcil and Joe came from Ireland to join the group, and one of their first decisions was to record Shel Silverstein's song called "The Unicorn". The record was an immediate hit in Calgary, which happily claimed the group as a local phenomenon despite their overseas origins.
"The Unicorn" became a smash hit throughout Canada and the U.S. Since then the Rovers' popularity has spread rapidly via numerous network television appearances and extensive nightclub tours, not to mention their recordings which have earned them six gold records. Today they are stars of their own television show, called "The Irish Rovers", now in its second year as one of the most popular series in Canada.
Choosing "The Best Of The Irish Rovers” from the abundance of material in the group's repertoire was not an easy task. With the help of requests from their legions of fans, however, we think these selections will serve well to display the warmth and magic of The Irish Rovers. And for those who would like to hear the rest of The Irish Rovers, their recordings are available on these fine Decca albums: