Glenfinnan CD Cover
Image © 1998 Survival Records Ltd.
Click on the album cover to visit the band's official website.

Album Review

© Russell W Elliot 1998

Last Updated: 30 December 1998

Capercaillie is now well known in the Celtic crossoverarena as a group that engenders extreme -- at times intense -- loyalty from their fanbase. Indeed, every issue ofMandy and David Shanks' Official Capercaillie Fanzine Sidetaulk contains news,reviews and letters fromthe band members and Capercaillie enthusiasts worldwide who are totally enamoured with the band's music and Karen Matheson's vocals in particular. Live performances illustrate the passion that fans have for Capercaillie's music.A concert review written during the band's Beautiful Wasteland tour furtherillustrates the point.

Perhaps a unique hallmark of both the group and their label, Survival Records,is the reciprocal loyalty and commitment hey have to Capercaillie music enthusiasts. This year's releasesare truly a testament to both Capercaillie and theirfans. The band's first complilation album - Dusk Till Dawn ~ The Best of Capercaillie(SURCD 023) (review) contains seven of the top eight tracks in the poll sponsored bythe Fanzine earlier this year. Their most recent release,Glenfinnan (Songs Of The '45), (CAP6) was released almost a month later exclusively via mailorder and iscurrently being shipped to those that have responded.To drive the point about reciprocal loyalty home, Survival Records will send the album's lyrics ifthe request is accompanied by a S.A.E.

The Capercailliewebsite provides a thorough background behind the songs andshould be visited to get a full historical perspective. Fromtheir website, "These songs were recorded in the summer of 1995 for a specially commisioned TV programme made by BBC Scotland. The programme was made for the 250th Anniversary of the last Jacobite rebellion, and wasfilmed at Glenfinnan where the standard was raised on the 11th August, 1745." Capercaillie fans tuned in and tapedthe show for a variety of reasons; some did so to capturethe recorded music and now, thanks to Survival Records andCapercaillie the music is available on this stunning CD.

There are nine wonderful and typically-Capercaillie tracksthat mix traditional and modern instrumentation with lyricssung primarily by Karen Matheson. All but one of the trackshave lyrics; one is an instrumental. The first seven of thetracks are the "Songs Of The '45" and there are two "additional" tracks included on the CD.

The first of these is a traditional piece arranged by Capercaillie entitled "Smuladach Mi's Mi Air Maineol" which wasrecorded for ITV's production HighTops (TheNatural World). The other was composed by Capercailliewith a Psalm sample courtesy of the School of ScottishStudies; it was recorded for the ITV documentaryThe Making Of Rob Roy.

The band have recorded soundtrack and incidental music extensively. Their 1996 album The Blood Is Stong (SURCD 014) is a compilaton of work done for television and includes tracks from the shows: Highlanders, A Prince Among Islands and the Grampian Television series of the same name as the album The Blood Is Strong. They alsorecorded several tracks for the Rob Roy soundtrack and a single from the soundtrack album entitled "Dark Alan" (SURCD 55) was released by Survival Records in 1995.

The seven "Songs Of The '45" work well with thetwo additional tracks and form a cohesive album thatwe quite enjoy. While one or two are reminiscent of recordings the artists have done before, only "An Fhideag Airgid" was instantly recognisable as a track that Karen Matheson recorded on her 1996 solo album, The Dreaming Sea (SURCD 020). The final track"Poem For Glenfinnan" is also very reminiscent of aCapercaillie recording we've heard before and isa stunning track to close out the album.

As we've learned to expect from Survival Records, recording and production quality is top notch. Equallyhigh quality artwork and a lovely booklet accompany the CD. The scan of the front cover above does not do itjustice.

We certainly hope that Survival will secure rightsto reissue Capercaillie's debut album Cascade sometime in the future. Many fans, especially those that were introduced to Capercaillie long since the album's release, are interested in obtaining this album on CD.

Glenfinnan (Songs of the '45) is a wonderful, albeit short, album that must be heardto be fully appreciated; it is yet another testamentto the band's vast contributions to television and film. The album, coded by Survival as a 'promotional' CD, is highly recommended to the band's fans -- new and old -- and should be ordered now while it is still in print!

For details please visit the Capercaillie website:
or write to Survival Records, PO Box 888, Maidenhead, Berks SL6 2YQ.
Capercaillie E-mail:

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