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Information on Runrig

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Fan club

Runrig Fan Club, 1 York St, Aberdeen AB11 5DL Scotland
Tel: 01224 573100 Fax 01224 572598

Runrig as a name for the band is a term Blair Douglas thought up when he was studying in Glasgow. A rig is a strip of farmland and a run is a series of those strips. The run-rig system of farming is no longer used, but the marks of it can still be seen particularly on Skye where the core of the band is from. The term run-rig is a Scots word. The Gaelic is "raon ruith"


Play Gaelic (good, very folky, last 2 tracks are very good, limited lyrics in Gaelic available from fan club)

Highland Connection (v good, my favourite, mix of ballads and heavy rock, lyrics supplied, but no translations. I have translations of Cearcall a' chuain - one of my all time favourite tracks and an easy one to sing along to and learn).

Recovery (v. good, close second, similar to Highland Connection. Translations for Gaelic available from this point on). The last one with Malcolm Jones playing the pipes.

Heartland (v. good, slightly more commercial than previous two, less Gaelic) Cutter and the Clan (OK. considerably more commercial than Heartland. 2 Gaelic tracks. An uabhal as airde is a very good song from this album)

Once in a lifetime (live album featuring material from previous 4, but only 1 track from Play Gaelic- Chi mi'n Geamhradh)

Searchlight (OK. More commercial than "Cutter", 2 Gaelic tracks)

Big Wheel (improvement on Searchlight. Commercial, but some good tracks, 2 Gaelic tracks)

Amazing things (rather bland and middle of the road. Some good tracks, but many forgettable)

Mara (a theme album; excellent production masks some rather middle of the road tunes)

The band seem to be struggling to make their albums more and more commercial in sound and the Gaelic content of each is nearly always lower or the same as the last. However, they don't seem to be having much success outside Scotland. They are the biggest selling band in Scotland, and I think Donnie Munro is a very good singer. It's ironic that Capercaillie have managed about the same success with singles as Runrig yet Capercaillie's single was in Gaelic and a lot more traditional. Runrig are perceived as too Scottish by many non-Scottish audiences and their following is very heavily biased towards people from Scotland or with Scottish connections.
You might wonder why this should be so. You would never hear it offered as a criticism of Bob Marley that he was "too Jamaican", of Bruce Springsteen that he is "too American", or of Madness that they were "too English". With regard to Gaelic, it is a problem peculiar to English speakers that they are often reluctant to appreciate music in languages other than their own.

Runrig have played a major part in bringing Scottish music up to date and reviving the Scottish folk scene, and interest in the Gaelic language. However, I wish they'd accept that they're not going to have a major breakthrough in popularity overseas and go back to the feel of their earlier material. This early material, particularly pre-"Cutter" gets a better response at concerts in Scotland.

The fan club has all the albums and can be reached at the address above. Many of the band currently live in the Edinburgh area though Calum and Donnie both have homes in the Highlands. Malcolm Jones is seen frequently at folk events in Edinburgh and also plays with Freeland Barbour in "The Occasionals" ceilidh band. Donnie has bought a house in Portree and was the Labour parliamentary candidate for the Ross, Skye and Inverness West constituency in the 1997 General Election. Calum MacDonald lives in Mid Ross.

Donnie Munro announced in May 1997, after failing to win the Ross, Skye and Inverness West seat in the UK General Election, that he wished to follow a career in politics. His last concert with the band was in August 97 at Stirling Castle. The band received about 200 tapes from people seeking to be the new lead singer and auditioned a number of people, however they took out an advert in The West Highland Free Press, 27-Feb-98 advertising for others to come forward. The band was particularly keen to get someone with strong Highland connections and there was talk that the band are wanting to increase the Gaelic content. Donnie's replacement was announced on 18-Jul-98 and is the Nova Scotian singer Bruce Guthro.

There is also an excellent instrumental album called "An ubhal as airde" played on whistles and synthesisers - this album contains material which Runrig have either written or recorded. More info on this follows:

The Highest Apple - An ubhal as airde

An intrumental album played by Steve Gwyn Davies (recorders and whistle) with Sabine Barnes-Rauch (orchestral synthesiser). All songs on this album have previously been written by or recorded by Runrig.

on Vital Records, 1 Waterloo, Breakish, Isle of Skye, IV42 8QE Scotland released 1994, available on CD - VITAL CD02 (interesting to find out what else is in their catalogue!)
it's about 40 mins long and contains 17 tracks (between 35 seconds and 4 mins).

also available from Canan at mailto:
7.99 pounds for cassette (code CSAUAA) or 11.99 for CD (code CDAUAA). Some bilingual lyrics included.

May also appeal to fans of Enya. This album contains "Clachan Uaine" which is the only song I know of that Runrig have written but not recorded themselves (Mairi MacInnes recorded it on Causeway; she sings on Runrig's Heartland album).

Music information

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