Friday, 27 December 2013

The Archivist: Runrig - The Big Wheel

I used to work, many moons ago, in a store that sold extremely high quality audio equipment. You know the type.  where you had to make an appointment to hear a set up of your choice. We also sold CDs - from when they were first released. So I spent many an hour listening to music that I would never have come across. One such CD was Heartland back in 1985. By a band I'd never heard of called Runrig. Unusually, half of the tracks were in Scottish Gaelic. But, not understanding the language wasn't really a barrier as the songs were still very good.
So I kept an eye on them and they continued to release good albums which contained both songs in English and their native Gaelic.

The band formed way back in 1973 by brothers Rory & Callum Macdonald in their native Skye. Their sound has been described as Celtic Rock.
In 1991, in my opinion, they released their best album, The Big Wheel. Again, it followed the template of their earlier albums but with only two tracks sung in Gaelic and the majority in English. With Donnie Munro's soaring vocals & Malcolm Jones' guitar both featuring, they produced an album of widescreen proportions. With the Macdonald brothers providing all of the tunes, the album was both tuneful and uplifting. Although it also has it's quieter and more reflective moments too.

The landscape provides inspiration for a lot of Runrig songs.

They are also an excellent live band. I've seen them on several occasions over the years and they've always put on a great show.
They even had a hit single with Hearthammer, with Rory on lead vocals.
The album ends with the rather majestic Flower Of The West.
With their next album, Amazing Things in 1993, they even had a couple more hit singles.
And with the album Mara in 1995, they had another hit album.
This was the last Runrig album to feature vocalist Donnie Munro. He was replaced by Canadian Bruce Guthro who remains the vocalist.
Although Rory Macdonald also sings some of the songs on the album.
Donnie, while pursuing a career in politics, has also released some really good solo albums.

And in 2012 - The Macdonald brothers, Rory & Callum, released their first album away from Runrig called The Band From Rockall. And a fine album it is too.
Twitter - for info - @Runrig1973

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