Thursday, 23 August 2007

Chant thy praise I ever will

Capercaillie are one of the most successful Scottish folk bands ever, having sold over 1 million albums. Their 1992 single "Coisich, a Ruin" was the first Gaelic song to reach the UK top 40; Sean Connery described their vocalist, Karen Matheson, as having "a throat surely touched by God".
The songs may be centuries old, but Capercaille mix them with modern, diverse instrumentation (exemplified by "Coisich a Ruin", or the African vocal duo featured on Beautiful Wasteland)
In 1995, they released a compilation of their soundtrack work, for various Scottish TV programmes:The Blood Is Strong. This included original instrumentals as well as traditional songs,including re-recordings of previously released work. Two of the re-recorded songs were previously only available on Capercaillie's (now rare) first album, Cascade, which was released in 1984. "An Gille Ban" is a rather different arrangement from the 1984 version (titled "An t-Iarla Diurach", The Earl Of Jura, on Cascade), replacing the sparse whistle-and-synth backing with layered synths, fiddle and percussion. "Maideanan Na h-Airidh" ("Maighdeanan Na H-Airidh", The Sheiling Lass ) sticks pretty much to the original piano arrangement, but changes key; some of the verses are removed.
It took me a while to get used to the new versions. Cascade is very simply recorded, and Matheson's voice sings higher; however, once I got used to the more complicated production, I realised the newer versions were just as good.

"An Gille Ban" (mp3)
"Maideanan Na h-Airidh" (mp3)

A podcast interview (August 2007) from the West Highland Free Press with Donald Shaw of Capercaillie (link)

Official Capercaillie website (link)

Lyrics with English translations are available at Celtic Lyrics Corner (link)

No comments:

Add to Technorati Favorites