The Capercaillie Collection

blending Celtic themes with
accessible rock arrangements

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DVD review

Review and HTML © Russell W Elliot 2000
all images © Survival Music 2000
Formatted for 800 x 600 or larger windows
Last updated: 21 July 2000
The Capercaillie Collection 1990-1996
Image © 2000 Survival Records Ltd
click on image to visit artists' website

From their homeland roots of Argyll in the highlands of Scotland, Capercaillie have been credited with being the major force in bringing traditional Celtic music to the world stage, and inspiring the great resurgance so evident today. The Capercaillie Collection 1990-1996 (Survival Records Ltd (UK) SURDVD 01, 2000) features the best of the band on video, as well as a re-issue of the classic in-concert special Two Nights Of Delirium. Photographs of Capercaillie as a group as well as the individual members are available here (visual menu opens in a new window).

The DVD features an intro that precedes five professionally shot (promo) music videos, a 20-track in-concert sequence, a band biography, thorough illustrated discography and stunning photo gallery. Video quality is tops throughout with frequent camera angle changes. The audio is crystal clear with the excellent production quality we have learned to expect from Survival Records, Ltd. Our DVD is in standard 4:3 PAL picture format with only one viewing angle, region codes 2-6, in disc format DVD-5. It runs approximately 70 minutes. Although we are located in region 1, our DVD plays fine on the computer. It will not play on our home theatre DVD player; a region 1 DVD will be released in August 2000.

The Music videos feature Capercaillie's most popular singles. Videography blends natural themes from the band's homeland with stunning motion pictures of the group performing. Centered on Karen Matheson, the band's lead vocalist, other members have been included in two of the video segments. Filmed to accompany a whisky advert for television and directed by Angus Cameron, the "Breisleach" video blends atmospheric images with others of Karen singing. In contrast, the upbeat "Coisich A Ruin" directed by Mike Brady features the entire band in a broad variety of settings. "Waiting For The Wheel To Turn," also directed by Brady, takes the video work one step further, showing band members performing together as a group and individually in gorgeous Scottish landscapes, in both monochrome and colour motion photography. We especially enjoyed the blend of emotive non-band video with that of the band performing.

Tony Vanden Ende directed the "Miracle Of Being" video which is by far the most atmospheric and lushly produced of the collection. Highly focused on Karen's performance, it also blends evocative natural imagery to further develop the mood and is visually stunning. The final music video in the collection is directed by Don Coutts. "Ailein Duinn" blends Capercaillie-unique videography of Karen Matheson with excerpts from the major motion picture Rob Roy . Those that have heard the group exclusively on compact disc will find the DVD to add a significant dimension to the overall Capercaillie experience. After seeing the music video portion of their DVD, these listeners' perspectives will be changed forever. The group's transformation to music video is significant. Any visual preconceptions will be forever replaced by the artists' video stage craft.

Prior to seeing Capercaillie at The [Southampton] Guildhall in September 1997 (review), we searched the UK extensively to find their video Two Nights Of Delirium to better acquaint ourselves with the group's live performance. While David and Mandy Shanks' excellent fanzine Sidetaulk regularly included reviews and letters from fans describing the band in concert, we wanted to see them on video in the several month period between when our tickets were purchased and the performance date. The video was deleted some time before and no copies, new or used, could be found. After the concert, we were no less motivated to find the video and continued searching over the next two years proved fruitless. One can only imagine our delight when Survival decided to re-issue the project on DVD. Would it live up to our expectations having now seen the band perform live?

Two Nights Of Delirium, directed by Tony Vanden Ende is comprised of live footage filmed in 1992 of the band's performances at the Capitol Theatre in Aberdeen and at the Nairn Harbourfest. The variation between the two settings is substantial. A Capercaillie concert is a professionally produced event in every respect. Lighting and stage work in the Capitol Theatre bas well as in the main tent at the Harbourfest are both carefully crafted and choreographed effectively. Two segments from the Harbourfest daytime show filmed in black and white present a robust acoustic recording visually in stark contrast.

The video completely captures the live performance atmosphere and, with lots of different angles used in the photography, is never boring. Scenes include entire band shots, individual close-ups and audience pans. The camera work provides perspectives not readily available to average concert goers. Closeups of the individual instrumentalists from behind or alongside add a significant dimension to the visual experience. Cuts are not overly abrupt and visual mixing techniques used to produce the video are effectively varied to maintain interest. Those that have seen the band will agree with those that haven't: this collection of concert video is a stunning souvenir of—and an equally excellent introduction to—the band's live performance.

Although live versions of the band's recordings were released on the two versions of Get Out (Survival Records Ltd (UK) SURCD 016, 1992 and 1999), the DVD is the first extensive compilation of their live music aside from the earlier concert release on VHS tape. The DVD format is so much more friendly and the production quality of both video and audio tracks is superb. The live atmosphere is effectively recreated in the first half of the concert video segment and returns later in the DVD. The electricity and audience connection are most evident in "Kenny Macdonald's Jigs."

"Puirt A Buil" and "Domhnall Dubh" are acoustic tracks taken from the Harbourfest performances. Video segments are taken during the daytime at a lovely marina and capture both the band and audience having a great time at the water's edge. "Crime Of Passion" actually mixes external video imagery with the Harbourfest main tent evening performance. This effect continues into the classic walking song "Alasdair Mhic Cholla Ghasda" blending video imagery from the marina with the band's dynamic on-stage work, well-choreographed lighting and enthusiastic audience participation inside the main tent at the Harbourfest that evening.

Although the production at the Capitol Theatre differs from the Harbourfest, audience excitement, choreography and lighting are largely shared. The Capitol Theatre segments are slightly more robust in their production quality. But having both environments on the video makes it that much more enjoyable. The closing track of the DVD, taken from the Capitol Theatre show, "Coisich A Ruin" shows an incredible band connection with the audience as they all stand to support the group during the performance.

In addition to the music and live video segments, a complete band history and discography are available from the DVD's main menu. A slide show featuring stills from the live performance segment and the DVD cover is also provided. The DVD is attractively packaged; complete credits are accompanied by small images of the band's nine Survival CD covers. Interested readers should browse further Capercaillie reviews at Musical Discoveries. These include: Live at The Guildhall, Southampton, UK (review), Dusk Till Dawn (review), and Glenfinnan (Songs of the '45) (review).

The new Capercaillie DVD The Capercaillie Collection 1990-1996 is a tremendous tribute to these talented artists. You can read more about the DVD and order it from here. Those that have only heard the band can certainly complete their Capercaillie experience by viewing this stunning project. Clearly worth a cross-country or trans-Atlantic journey, even for dedicated Capercaillie concert goers, the DVD is not only a must see! but also a must listen! Get yours today.

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