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CLANNAD

Prog Folk • Ireland


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Clannad biography
For decades CLANNAD have embodied the spirit and dedication of the proverbial musical family, which just happens to be related by blood as well. While they have navigated a number of distinct phases and less distinct transitions, and are generally and correctly classified as a folk group, they have always been so much more.

In the 1970s they were more closely allied to traditional Irish music, but with eclectic influences from jazz to rock, surely among them the PENTANGLE. While their international popularity was limited at this time, they blazed the path for a revival in Irish folk music, along with the CHIEFTAINS before them and contemporaries PLANXTY and CHRISTY MOORE. Recommended albums from this period - "Clannad" and "Dulaman".

Surprisingly, the 1980s were their most progressive phase, in which they pioneered a blend of pop, folk, ambient, and new age music. They not only sold a lot of albums, but inspired artists in the progressive world and beyond, from LOREENA MCKENNITT to IONA to ENYA, herself a family member and brief band member, to KARNATAKA to CAPERCAILLIE, ALTAN, and numerous other successful and obscure acts. All albums from this period are recommended to prog folk fans, with the exception of "Cran Ull" from 1980 which was more allied to their earlier period.

In the 1990s they achieved their greatest international success including a Grammy award for best new age album for Landmarks. The music from this period was pretty but generally lacked what little edge they had sharpened before. After an extended hiatus in which lead singer Moya Brennan embarked on a successful solo career, they returned to the stage in the mid 2000s and to the studio in 2013 to produce Nadur, revealing that not much had changed.

Clannad belongs on progarchives for their influence on numerous prog acts and their appeal to many prog fans, but mostly for their 1980s period in which they combined eclectic influences into their own unique take on Irish prog folk.

Clannad official website

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Something To Believe In Clannad UK 7" vinyl single record PB41543 RCA 1987 USD $13.48 Buy It Now 8h 54m
MAIRE BRENNAN AGAINST THE WIND 7" P/S (CLANNAD) UK USD $7.46 Buy It Now 9h 8m
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Imaginations - Various artists - vintage LP 1983 - VANGELIS ELTON CLANNAD FOCUS USD $6.78 [0 bids]
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CLANNAD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CLANNAD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.44 | 10 ratings
Clannad
1973
3.92 | 5 ratings
Clannad 2
1975
4.76 | 9 ratings
Dúlamán
1976
3.12 | 7 ratings
Cran Ull
1980
4.84 | 6 ratings
Fuaim
1982
4.78 | 8 ratings
Magical Ring
1983
3.15 | 10 ratings
Legend
1984
4.46 | 11 ratings
Macalla
1985
2.63 | 10 ratings
Sirius
1987
3.00 | 3 ratings
Atlantic Realm
1989
3.91 | 3 ratings
The Angel and the Soldier Boy
1989
2.27 | 7 ratings
Anam
1990
3.12 | 7 ratings
Banba
1993
2.44 | 8 ratings
Lore
1996
3.92 | 5 ratings
Landmarks
1997
3.95 | 2 ratings
Nádúr
2013

CLANNAD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Clannad in Concert
1978
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live in Concert
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Christ Church Cathedral
2013

CLANNAD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Pastpresent
1989
5.00 | 1 ratings
Live at Christchurch Cathedral
2013

CLANNAD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Past Present
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
In a Lifetime - The Ultimate Collection
1997

CLANNAD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Theme from Harry's Game
1982
0.00 | 0 ratings
Newgrange
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
I See Red
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
Robin /The Hooded Man)
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Almost Seems (Too Late to Turn)
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
Closer to Your Heart
1985
3.00 | 1 ratings
In a Lifetime
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
Something to Believe In
1987
0.00 | 0 ratings
Why Worry?
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
Seanchas
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
An Gleann
1998

CLANNAD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In a Lifetime by CLANNAD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1985
3.00 | 1 ratings

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In a Lifetime
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
3 stars The Irish Clannad was pretty popular in the eighties, and the album Macalla (1985) was, I believe, their biggest success. Today it seems to be the best known, and widely appreciated also. This single contains two songs from that album. 'In a Lifetime' is a duet with Bono (U2). From time to time one can still hear it on the radio, for it is a very beautiful and well done pop ballad, no doubt about that. Of course to some it may be syrupy, but I enjoy it. It has a melancholic and dreamy atmosphere, and Bono is a great choice to accompany Moira Brennan's ethereal vocals, there's a lot of passion in his performance.

'Indoor' is a more straight-forward pop song, a good example of the hollow (over-) production that Clannad were sometimes guilty of. Even though it's not really bad, apart from some phoney sax perhaps, I think it's clearly among the least interesting tracks on Macalla. It has cultivated time signatures and could have been much better than it is, with another kind of production. But anyway 'In a lifetime' is a pop classic of its time that deserves three stars.

 Clannad by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.44 | 10 ratings

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Clannad
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On this eponymous debut, Clannad present a brace of Irish-Celtic folk music with a few modernisations here and there influenced by the electric folk approach of the likes of Fairport Convention. The more placid, New Agey direction of some of their later work is more or less absent; what you do get in spades, even this early on in their career, is the semse of otherworldly majesty pervading the recording. With just barely enough psychedelic touches here and there to be regarded as mainstream enough for Phillips to release (despite the worries about the commercial viability of an album recorded entirely in Irish), this is an interesting early 1970s electric folk artifact.
 Legend by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.15 | 10 ratings

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Legend
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Robin of Sherwood was a TV series which brought together some really good ideas and a decent cast, but which I felt never lived up to its full potential. I kind of feel the same way about the soundtrack - it's pleasant and all, but it never quite catches fire. This brief album brings together most of the material that Clannad recorded for the show and reveals the main problem with the show's soundtrack: despite being rather gorgeous, it's also kind of repetitive (particularly on songs like Together We or Ancient Forest). This was more of a problem on the TV show than the album (they only had one snippet of fight music - Battles - which they used constantly so by the end of the series it got really tiresome), but even so it stops the album being a full-on classic.
 Macalla by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 1985
4.46 | 11 ratings

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Macalla
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by CapnBearbossa

4 stars Clannad were heading onto new musical frontiers in 1985 with Macalla: Simply put, they were building the bridge over a chasm between the world of late twentieth century rock and pop music forms, and that of ancient celtic (Irish, to be specific) folk music. This disc boasts a couple of first-time collaborations, both with Bono (of U2) and also with Mel Collins (of Camel and King Crimson fame), and both of them are used to great effect. The partnering of Maire Brennan's usual vocals with those of guest Bono on "In A Lifetime" speaks to the group's heading more toward rock music than they had before, whereas their inclusion of Collins on various tracks indicates they were also making a stab in a proggy direction (even if somewhat in an 80's pop/synth idiom reminiscent of MARILLION's Misplaced Childhood , published the same year). Still other songs, such as "Closer To Your Heart" point in the direction of light-hearted pop music.

Although as an Irish folk group Clannad been around since the early 1970's and were already acclaimed in their own homeland of Ireland, they'd just recently garnered sudden, huge international attention for the beautiful, ethereal soundtrack tune "Theme From Harry's Game" . In a curious turn away from what their musical character had been heretofore, they then made Macalla with as close as they would ever get to a straight-ahead soft rock sound. It's worth noting that Clannad's previous albums had mostly been anchored in tasteful folk-rock arrangements of ancient Irish ballads and jigs, though they sometimes -- seemingly very cautiously -- could be caught approaching the world of jazz-rock jams and peppering their records with their own sprightly compositions at various points between.

We still get a bit of the traditional Irish angle on this record in songs such as "Caislean Oir" and "Buachaill On Eirne", with lead vocalist Maire Brennan singing in that almost-extinct, ancient Irish language still spoken by the band members (understandable since they are all part of the same extended family and live in the Gaeltacht). Meanwhile, we're serenaded variously by saxophone grooves, acoustic guitars or synth melodies, usually against atmospheric and gentle sonic backdrops. Elsewhere on this record there are frequent and sometimes brash leaps into the pop/synth territory, occasionally maybe sounding a little cheesier than one would like, despite good hooks and a constantly solid sense of melody. In any case however, Maire is an adept lead vocalist who brings the proceedings back to earth, even while sounding the whole time like an angel.

I've owned and loved this record almost since it came out, although I would interpolate its success among prospective fans in the PA community as likely conditional. The music certainly enjoyable by an audience tolerant of Celtic-edged pop and soft rock tendencies. But, if you're expecting anything approaching hard rock or edgey prog ... well, you might be better off leaving this alone. MOSTLY AUTUMN might be more your speed.

Clannad albums before this one are a bit more idiosyncratic (uneven in their production and style, though certainly even in terms of being very soulful, inspired, and very competently composed and performed). If you are looking where to go after or instead of Macalla ... Be advised that 1987's Sirius strayed briefly in a hard rock direction, trying out collaborations with already established stadium rock acts (Bruce Hornsby and Steve Perry of all people!); and then, with Anam and other efforts in the 1990's the band backed off again into the realm of introspective, mellow, but well-produced albums of airy Celtic ballads and soft jazz. Macalla, though, is probably the most accessible for someone sampling the work of Clannad especially if coming from outside of a familiarity with celtic-influenced rock.

 Christ Church Cathedral by CLANNAD album cover Live, 2013
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Christ Church Cathedral
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars It's a live album but it could be intended as the Clannad's definitive compilation. All the phases of their career are represented and the choice of the songs is I think the best possible. It seems that the time isn't passed for the band as they sound as fresh and clean as more than 30 years ago. So clean that if it wasn't for the applause at the end of each song I couldn't imagine that it's a live.

All their periods I was saying. Yes, but listening to the classics like Crann Ull or Eleanor Plunkett is like listening to new songs because the production is better than on some of the old albums. Thanks to the technology. Of course they play almost in the same way as before. The recording is really improved.

The only song which sounds very different is their biggest hit "In A Lifetime". Before this song I never thought that I would have missed Bono. I'm everything but a U2 fan, but his performance on the studio version of the song was so good that the guy who plays his part has a very hard job on which he doesn't succeed much. The melodic line and the choirs are identical to the studio version, so the difference is easy to hear. Luckily, this is a great song so even if the singer can't be compared to Bono, he does his job good enough.

In any case the whole album is full of highlights. The other song from Macalla is "Caislean Oir" which I think is better in this version with the choir arranged differently in the second half of the song. There is space also for the other "hits" like "Theme from Harry's Game" and "Robin of Sherwood".

An excellent live album and a very good starting point for who wants to explore Clannad for the first time.

 Nádúr by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Nádúr
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars Paul Brennan left CLANNAD after the uneven and atypical "Sirius" album from 1987. They released 4 studio records in the 1990s after his departure, before the whole band embarked on an extended hiatus of 16 years, concentrating on personal projects punctuated by live appearances. Since my favorite Clannad albums include Paul (a mere statement of fact without judgement) , I was most curious to see how his return would affect "Nadur".

It all begins auspiciously with their most progressive track since the 1980s, "Vellum"; a hypnotic number with trance like group vocals and atmospheric keyboards over economically strummed acoustic guitar. Suspenseful, dramatic and melodic, it's also their most accomplished original composition since those long gone days.

For the rest, while nothing approaches its hushed brilliance, what is refreshing is that, popular reviews to the contrary, the album sees Clannad pierce the hermetic bubble that often seems to encapsulate its members and shield them from every emerging trend. In "Rhapsody na Gcrann", I sense a mood akin to unbridled joy, at least in Clannad terms, ushered along by mandola and vocal harmonies. I can't help feel that Paul had a hand in "Turas Domhsa chon na Galldachd", which could have come right out of 1982's "Fuaim", as well as in "Brave Enough" with its anthem like chorus and Duke Special's voice. Then there is the most out of character boisterous commentary of "The Fishing Blues", which channels fellow Irish great CHRISTY MOORE, and guests Eamon Murray on harmonica. Luckily, for old fans, they can still deliver a "Maire" ballad, in the form of the reverent, near hymn like "Song in your heart".

A few missteps can be excused, mostly in the naively partisan lyrics and uninteresting melody of "A quiet town" and the soporific closing number. Free for so long from the pressure of meeting studio deadlines and commitments, "Nadur" finds Clannad revealing their inner nature again, their endearing timidity and fragility enveloping an unshakable sense of place and purpose.

 Landmarks by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.92 | 5 ratings

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Landmarks
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars It was third time lucky for CLANNAD with their album "Landmarks" finally anointing them a Grammy for best new age recording, although perhaps this may have had more to do not having to compete with ENYA that year. The title itself is somewhat misleading as it suggests compilation more than new studio release. I don't want to give the Grammy people too much credit for astuteness but this is a vast improvement on "Lore" in almost every way, and probably Clannad's crowning achievement of the 1990s.

Firstly, the track lengths are more appropriate to the group style, which more than compensate for the relatively short overall running time. In addition, lead guitar has been well incorporated into several songs including the mesmerizing opener "An Gleann" (almost improved upon in the trance like "Cantoma" mix version appearing as bonus track) and the romantic "Court to Love", which includes uillean pipes. The keyboards on the outstanding Gaelic number "A Mhuimin O" help propel the infectious rhythm, and here the group reaches a rapprochement with RUNRIG.

Instead of just contenting themselves with pretty and airy arrangements too frequently derailed by their own inertia, Clannad engages the audience with a surprising light jazz instrumental in "Golden Ball", reminiscent of early MOVING HEARTS and including jaunty sax by MEL COLLINS. Even when they return to ultra chill in "Bridge of Tears", a ringer for contemporaneous LOREENA MCKENNITT, they introduce a few vocal twists. "Autumn Leaves are Falling" compares to PENTANGLE at their best, with Collins again embellishing in style.

It has been said that it's all in the details with CLANNAD, and "Landmarks" seems to have included those omitted by "Lore". 3.5 stars rounded up for a release that almost lives up to its name, and remained their most recent album for almost 15 years.

 Lore by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.44 | 8 ratings

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Lore
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars With the previous "Banba" being CLANNAD's top charting studio album in the UK, bolstered by the theme song from "Last of the Mohicans", the band decided to focus on the more meditative "mood music" aspect of their style in "Lore".

The production and harmonies are impeccable as always, and new songs like "A Bridge" and "Trail of Tears" show that the formula has aged well if not actually been upgraded. Unfortunately, over the course of 50 minutes, the net effect is one of diminishing returns. While "From your heart" and "Dealramh Go Deo" might be hailed as pearls of delicacy on an album of more varied material, here they mix unctuously into the impermeable atmosphere and barely elucidate even an embryonic new age consciousness.

The most telling and unfavorable characteristic of "Lore" can be gleaned from the track running lengths, in which by far the most vibrant song, "Alastair Macolla", with its swirling synths and call and response vocals, is relegated to two minutes while the moribund "Trathnona Beag Areir" drags on for six and a half. "Seanchas" is the only other offering that actually shirks the unwavering placidity that apparently pacified band, critics and fans alike.

"Lore" might just be the weakest Clannad album in terms of balance and impact, even though it does sound lovely. It also signaled the completion of their metamorphosis from folk rock elder statesmen to polite new age proponents. Not quite the stuff of legend.

 Live at Christchurch Cathedral by CLANNAD album cover DVD/Video, 2013
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Live at Christchurch Cathedral
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by Theo Verstrael

— First review of this album —
5 stars An stunning live performance by one of the best folkrock bands around, performed in a serene environment. Maire Brennan is flawless as ever but it's not her briliant performance alone that makes that this dvd is farabove par. It is the interplay within the band, the unique atmospheric character of these traditional songs, the new arrangements of several songs, for instance with the addition of a children's choir and a string quartet and the utmost concentration by the musicians to perform the songs well that takes the viewer to higher grounds. Highly recommended because it shows this great yet underrated band perfectly well!
 Banba by CLANNAD album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.12 | 7 ratings

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Banba
Clannad Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars After the somewhat generic "Sirius" and the very timid "Anam", CLANNAD must have done some soul searching, as "Banba" marks something of a return to the style of their peak mid 1980s period. Unfortunately, it's still a bit too self conscious in its mellowness to approach prior classics, even as it gained the group a spate of accolades on both sides of the Atlantic.

Tracks like "Struggle", "Soul Searcher" and "Sunset Dreams" are tight lipped, slick, and wispy to a fault. Even "I will find you", popularized by its use in "Last of the Mohicans", is bailed out by its mesmerizing Native American chants and eerie electronic keys. The opener "Na Laethe Bhi" is so similar to "Harry's Game" that its gorgeous melody is partially annulled.

Luckily MEL COLLINS' saxes and flutes remain compelling and dominant, but the major upgrade is in the vocals. Most of the highlights, like "Banba Oir", "There for you" and "The Other Side", offer ensemble singing and a more full band backing that counteracts the group's at time overly fragile demeanor. Still, when it comes to interpreting traditional songs freshly and hauntingly, it's hard to beat Maire and her brethren on the otherworldly "Cad de sin don te sin". The well known Breton band TRI YANN interprets the same tune in "Korydwen et le Rouge" equally well yet differently, which proves how much can be achieved through the additive blessings of nature and nurture.

"Banba" showed that Clannad was still a work in progress in 1993, which is a compliment for a group that had been around for over 20 years, Even though it does not match the pioneering spirit and beguiling consistency of earlier releases, it's worth exploring if you enjoy spacey well produced Irish folk with exquisite harmonies.

Thanks to kenethlevine for the artist addition.

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