By EW Staff
Updated March 17, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

Ol’ Blue Eyes must be green with envy. Although Frank Sinatra lured the likes of Bono, Luther Vandross, and Anita Baker to join him on his Duets I and II, those albums don’t match the star power harnessed on The Long Black Veil, the 31st album from Ireland’s favorite sons, the Chieftains. The Rolling Stones, Sting, Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor, Tom Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Mark Knopfler, and Ry Cooder perform beautifully arranged traditional Irish tunes that combine equal parts haunting melody with rollicking revelry. For the most part, the Chieftains have long been confined to world-music , and folk bins, as well as the lower echelons of the charts. But after making an astonishing debut at No. 24 on Billboard’s pop chart, Veil will go gold less than two months after its release and is racing toward the top o’ the pop charts worldwide. ”It’s total madness the way this album has gone through the roof,” says chief Chieftain Paddy Moloney, following an exhausting day of interviews, photo shoots, and a Late Show With David Letterman appearance. ”It’s surprising because I don’t consider this record a musical masterpiece; it’s just a very free, loose jam session with good friends.” These friends, according to Moloney, made unique experiences of the sessions, often turning them into wee-hour hooleys. With the Stones, for instance, ”we ended it at six in the morning, drinking Guinness with Keith Richards.” Although such collaborations are nothing new for the Chieftains (Paul McCartney, the Who, and Bob Dylan have all participated in spirited sessions with the band), this could be the breakout album of their 31-year career. Why do stars clamor to record with the six Irishmen, all in their 50s? ”We’ve been musicians’ musicians for so long,” reasons Moloney, who then reconsiders: ”I guess we’re just a lot of fun to be around.”