* Prices may differ from that shown
Since I joined Ciao I have written about quite a wide range of music and this review brings me back to an artist and a style of music I have been raised on. Ever since I was about 5 or 6 I can remember listening to Donnie Munro in his previous role as the lead singer of Scottish folk rock band Runrig. To this day I still list the band as one of my favourites, despite Donnie leaving to do other things. Having attempted to forge a career in politics he gave up and returned to music to launch a solo career and this is one of the first albums I picked up from that solo career.
From Runrig, To Edinburgh, Then Solo
I have to admit that when I heard Donnie was leaving Runrig to pursue a career in politics with the Labour party I was very disappointed. His vocal style had really defined Runrig over the eyars and while Bruce Guthro has done an good job since stepping in for Donnie his vocals had been missed. Born on the Isle of Skye in 1953 he was a big part of the success Runrig enjoyed and once he lost the seat he was trying for in 1997 he decided that rather than return to Runrig he would go it alone and released his debut solo album in 1999, followed by this live album in 2000.
The style of his music sticks to the same successful formula that Runrig have enjoyed for so many years and the live recording is actually a mixture of songs from Donnie's debut album and tracks from his days in Runrig. The Scottish folk rock style still suits his vocals and particularly during the Runrig tracks you would almost be forgiven for thinking it was a Runrig album rather than a solo live performance from Donnie. The album itself was recorded at 2 venues during his 2000 tour, Portree Community Centre on the Isle of Skye and The Gaiety Theatre in Ayr.
There is a real danger when you hear a live album that the vocals and acoustics just won't work but thankfully the production on this album is incredibly clear. At times you hear a bit of crowd involvement, which on a live CD is good but it's quite minimal and the majority of the record is simple Donnie and his backing singers, which after all is what you are paying the money to hear. The quality of each track is very good and it makes for a decent album as your not really struggling to hear the vocals or instruments over one another, they blend perfectly together and that really works for this record.
Decent Track Selection
For fans of Runrig looking to find out what Donnie Munro is all about then this is the perfect album. He has chosen a good 50/50 split of Runrig material alongside tracks from his first album and this lets the album give you a taste of his new material, whilst still reminding you why you enjoyed his music in the first place. It includes a couple of my favourite Runrig tracks such as The Greatest Flame and City Of Lights. Both tracks are slightly different in style and the more upbeat City of Lights is a track that really reminds me of my childhood. From its slow meandering start to the looping guitars and the strong vocals really shows how Donnie was the real voice of Runrig.
At times the album has a far mellower side on tracks such as Morning Light, which meanders with a very different, slower, more purposeful guitar lead that accompanies Donnie's vocals very well. Then there are tracks like Dark Eyes that are a little slower still and really lend themselves to the old images you see of couples waltzing around a dance hall. Once you think the pace has dropped too much though it is picked up by tracks like Harvest Moon that return to the faster guitars and more upbeat vocals that City Of Lights had already demonstrated.
Even after 6 years of owning the album though there are still a few tracks that just don't really appeal to me. I often find myself skipping past Irene, which is a slower track that tries to raise its tempo at times. It just doesn't really hold the appeal the majority of the album has and its probably the only track that really doesn't appeal to me on the album. I'm also glad that he included a Gaelic track within the set list as during his time with Runrig it was their ability to make Gaelic music more accessible that added a different dimension to their music. For that reason the inclusion of Chi Mi'n Geamhradh is a very welcome addition to the album.
One For The Fans
I think if you are a fan of Scottish folk rock or in fact a fan of Runrig then you will enjoy this. His own material isn't quite as strong as the tracks taken from his time from the band and I think that probably explains why I still prefer Runrig without him to his solo material. This is a decent album though and one that gives a decent introduction to Donnie for anyone who heard him in Runrig. It's a good mixture of tracks and I think that's what makes this work as a decent live album rather than just being a live recording of his debut solo album. Overall a decent album, but just lacking that real spark that made Runrig with him as lead singer work so well.
The title of this review translates as: I see winter in the wind