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Information on Capercaillie

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Capercaillie is pronounced "Cap-ir-cay-lee", not "Cape-r-cay-lee" A Capercaillie is the largest member of the Grouse family (from the Gaelic words for Wood Grouse) and is an endangered species.


Fan club

Capercaillie Fan Club
PO Box 1155
G3 7TW


There is also a fanzine called Sidetaulk. Call Mandy Shanks on
Hopeman 01343- 835194 for more info, or write to her at:
21 Thom Street, Hopeman, Elgin, Moray, Scotland IV30 2SS (I think Charlie McKerron comes from Hopeman)


There is a Capercaillie e-mail list. Send a mail to
to sign up (it's managed by hand, so there may be a delay)


Album #1: Cascade (recorded 1984)
Lineup: Karen Matheson (lead vocal)
Joan MacLachlan (fiddle, vocal)
Marc Duff (Recorder, Whistles, Rauschpfeife)
Shaun Craig (Guitar, Bouzouki)
Martin Macleod (Basses, Fiddle)
Donald Shaw (Accordion, Keyboards, Fiddle)
Published by Taynuilt Records, Highfield, Taynuilt, Argyll, PA35 1JQ
This is the village which the band hail from and it's possible the
record company has some of Karen's earlier recordings when she was
with The Etives. The band met at Oban High School.
This is a really good album, but has no lyrics with it and is only on cassette.

Album #2: Crosswinds (1987):
No lyrics with this, many copies of the lyrics are available in books
though. Excellent album. Available on Green Linnet. The band
undergoes a line up change - Charlie McKerron joins on
fiddle, replacing Joan MacLachlan.

Album #3: The Blood is strong (1988)
Soundtrack for TV series. Very good tunes (most are quite
short though, as is the album). Includes lyrics and translations

Album #4: Sidewaulk (1989)
Similar in sound to Crosswinds. The first album with any English
on it. Full Gaelic and English lyrics supplied. Excellent album,
available on Green Linnet.

At this point the band leave the Green Linnet label and join Survival records. The fan club starts in a London suburb and later moves to the studio in Glasgow where the band do much of their recording. The sound becomes a bit more contemporary, the Gaelic content goes down slightly but the sound remains much more traditional than Runrig.

Album #5: Delirium (published 1991)

Coisich a' rùin (a 400 year old waulking song) from this album becomes the first ever Scots Gaelic tune to enter the UK top 40 after it becomes the theme tune for a UK wide TV programme featuring Prince Charles entitled "A Prince among islands". Charles appeared on this programme supporting Gaelic and has since appeared on TV talking in Gaelic.

The "Cape Breton song" on this album which Capercaillie allege has mutated so much the lyrics are meaningless is a real song with real lyrics. I am trying to get a copy of these lyrics. I find it hard to believe that they would select a song (of the thousands written in Cape Breton) in which no meaning is left to the words - kind of goes against the very first principle of Gaelic singing and that is to tell a story! The song is Oran Nan Téine. It was written by Lachlan Currie (Am Bard Ruadh) of Grand Mira and Boisdale (source: Songs Remembered in Exile, P90). It had been published in the newpaper The Casket in their Gaelic column, Achadh Nan Gàidheil. Date unknown. Song is about about a forest fire that got out of hand when a Cape Bretoner was clearing land to sow.

This was in the bio details of Mrs. JR Johnston(nee Margaret MacNeil) of Beaver Cove. It also mentions that it was also recorded from Mrs. David Patterson(nee MacNeil) of Benacadie.

For lyrics, see here

Album #6: Get Out - remixes and some new material. Worth getting for the Poll Tax song.

Album #7: Secret People

The following pointers to sources may be of interest to those seeking music and/or lyrics to the Gaelic material on Secret People

An Eala Bhan - Gaelic and English lyrics with sol-fa music available in "Orain nan Gaidheal", Vol 3, Bruce Campbell.
Published by Gairm, 29 Waterloo St, Glasgow G2 6BZ
ISBN 1 871901 27 8 (Ailein Duinn with lyrics, translation and sol-fa music is in Vol 1, Maighdeanan na h-airidh is in Vol 2). Ailein Duinn (lyrics, music and story) is also in Tocher 22 & 41, published by the School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh University EH8 9LD. There is also lyrics and the story behind the song at [9.3.12].

Hi ri'm bo - 4 part music and Gaelic lyrics only available in "Coisir a' Mhoid" Vol 2. Available from the Gaelic Books Council, Address in answer [7.3]. These are different verses to the ones Capercaillie do, however.

Tobar Mhoire - Lyrics in Gaelic and English available from Temple records to accompany Flora MacNeill's album "Craobh nan Ubhal"

Seice Ruraidh, part 1 - no source for this yet
Part 2 - Recorded by na h-oganaich - does anyone know which album and does it have the lyrics?

Lyrics for "Bonaparte" are in the Frequently Requested Songs section of this FAQ at [9.3.15]

Album #8: Capercaillie - the "Disco" album. Almost universally despised by fans of traditional music.

Album #9: To the moon

Album #10: Beautiful Wasteland
the words to Finlay's on Beautiful Wasteland can be found
in the Frequently Requested Songs section of this FAQ under [9.3.7] 'Sileas Puirt a beul'

More info on the Capercaillie website

Some Capercaillie lyrics are in the Frequently Requested Songs section of this FAQ

Karen Matheson also has a solo album "The Dreaming Sea"

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