Runrig - The Cutter & The Clan

Published Tuesday 14th April 2009
Runrig - The Cutter & The Clan
Runrig - The Cutter & The Clan

STYLE: Celtic
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 78314-15244
LABEL: Chrysalis CDP3216692

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

Down the years I've experienced a number of musical epiphanies. There was that time in 1962 when I finally got to hear the Isley Brothers' original version of the secularised gospel whoop-up "Shout"; that time in Pete Russell's Hot Record Store when I experienced the unbridled limits of avant garde jazz with Albert Ayler; and that moment during the opening credits of the BBC's 1990 World Cup coverage that opera finally stopped being a no-go area for me thanks to the Luciano Pavarotti's stunning rendition of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma". But one of the most powerful occurred in 1987 when I'd gone to Greenbelt and there on mainstage was a band who had already gained stardom in Scotland but were still unknown to me and indeed the bulk of the Greenbelt throng. Runrig were, for me, completely mind-boggling and I rushed to buy 'The Cutter & The Clan' then newly released by Chrysalis Records. It quickly became one of my favourite albums and is the benchmark by which all subsequent Runrig albums would be judged. Here was a perfect synthesis of two vastly different musical elements - loud, stadium rock music and haunting Gaelic folk. Out of this Runrig brilliantly created something fresh and thrilling and now (20 years on I can attest) timeless. Everything fits on 'The Cutter & The Clan' - the huge production by Chris Harley where the reverb-drenched drums sound like thunderclaps, Donnie Munro's keening vocals with their extraordinary emotive, man-of-the-highlands timbre, those eerie Celtic-style harmonies and vocal improvisations, and the unexpected twists and turns in the arrangements, like the dazzling entrance of the bagpipes on "Pride Of The Summer", that nagging guitar riff on "Rocket To The Moon" or that haunting hymn-like chorus on the Gaelic closer "An Ubhal As Airde" - all are utterly captivating. Not all members of Runrig were believers of course, and some might question the right of a mainstream act like Runrig to be included on a "music made by Christians" website like Cross Rhythms. But the band's chief songwriter Calum Macdonald is a deeply committed Christian who succeeded in writing songs that while focusing on his beloved homeland are suffused with a holistic spirituality which sees the hand of the Creator in the grandeur of the mountains and the brooding magnificence of the locks. I listened to this album for the first time in more than a decade recently. It magnificently stood the test of time.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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Sample Track Listing:
1. Alba [Listen]
2. The Cutter [Listen]
3. Hearts Of Olden Glory [Listen]
4. Pride Of The Summer [Listen]
5. Worker For The Wind [Listen]
6. Rocket To The Moon [Listen]
7. The Only Rose [Listen]
8. Protect And Survive [Listen]
9. Our Earth Was Once Green [Listen]
10. An Ubhal As Airde [Listen]

This track data is supplied by the Cross Rhythms CD/DVD review library. Please note that CD tracks may vary according to release region or product version.

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