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Iona Iona album cover
2.80 | 29 ratings | 6 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Turning Tide
2. Flight of the Wild Goose
3. The Island
4. White Sands
5. Dancing on the Wall
6. A'Mhachair
7. Vision of Naran
8. Beijing
9. Iona
10. Trilogy
11. Here I Stand
12. Columcille


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Bainbridge / piano, keyboards, Fretless (?) keyboard, acoustic and electric guitars, keys and sequencer programming, tambourine
- David Fitzgerald / alto, tenor saxophones, concert flute, Chinese flutes, piccolo, Flageolet, Irish whistle, tenor recorder
- Joanne Hogg / vocals, choirs, piano, keyboards

- Terle Bryant / drums, big bass drum
- Tim Hines / percussion
- Tim Harries / electric bass, Ouble(?) bass
- Troy Donockley / Uillean pipes
- Peter Whitfield / viola, violin
- Ian Thomas / voice

Releases information

CD What Records WHAD 1266 (1990)
LP What Records WHAR 1266 (1990)
MC What Records WHAC 1266 (1990)
CD Open Sky Records OPENVP3CD (Remastered Re-Release)

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Buy IONA Iona Music

Iona: Beyond These Shores (15 Tracks)Iona: Beyond These Shores (15 Tracks)
ForeFront / BMG
Audio CD$21.95
$5.36 (used)
Open Sky UK 2003
Audio CD$6.50
$6.45 (used)
Circling Hour by Iona (2006-12-19)Circling Hour by Iona (2006-12-19)
Open Sky UK
Audio CD$49.92

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IONA Iona ratings distribution

(29 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (21%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

IONA Iona reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars IONA are a Christian band from the UK who play a Celtic flavoured brand of music. They have taken their name from an island off the west coast of Scotland.Their attraction to this island can be traced back to a man named Columba who arrived from Ireland (563 AD) to set up a Christian monastery and mission base from which the gospel was spread into Scotland and Northern Britain. Columba would make Iona his home, and would live out his days on this island. Vikings would sack the monastery in 794 AD, and later in 806 AD Vikings would kill 68 monks. As a result the shrine was moved from the island to Ireland. Norse pirates would plunder the island and kill the Abbot and 15 monks on the White Sands in 986 AD. The last of the monks leave the island in 1204 AD. In 1591 AD Scots parliament passes an act suppressing all monasteries. In 1840 AD Iona parrish church is built by Thomas Telford. And finally in 1938 after years of neglect, the remaining abbey ruins begin to be restored by the founded Iona Community.These notes were taken from the bands liner notes in regards to the instrumental called "Trilogy" that tries to put into musical terms the history of the island of Iona.1400 years of history in less than 9 minutes. I felt this was important enough to write down because their albums focus so much on the island and it's history.

The band use a variety of traditional instruments such as uilleann pipes, Irish whistle, piccolo, flageolet, violin and bouzouki. This is an exciting album when you know the history, as the band try to focus on atmosphere and mood over melodic songs. Even the album cover has a mystery about it, as you consider all the history of the land on which the band is standing.

"Turning Tide" is a short song that is all about creating a haunting mood. With the uilleann pipes, acoustic guitar and synth washes leading the way. "Flight of the Wild Goose" is a fantastic instrumental. This was IONA's first ever composition.The wild goose is the Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit.Tempo shifts with some really good sax melodies and scorching guitar all contribute to make this song a highlight for me personally. On "The Island" we hear vocals for the first time on this album. She sings "Break the chains of this land, free the spirit of man". "White Sands" is a hauntingly beautiful song that brings to mind that tranquil place on the island of Iona where there was a terrible massacre.

"Dancing on the Wall" is dominated by vocals and drums and is quite catchy. It was inspired by the images of the people of Germany (East and West) dancing on the tumbled remains of the Berlin Wall. "A'Machair" is Gaelic for "A plain". It refers to the plain on Iona. This is one of my favourite songs on this album. It is incredibly atmospheric with flute, synths and sax before we get a beautiful melody of guitar and drums. "Vision of Naran" opens with fragile vocals as percussion, flute and guitar come in. "Beijing" is about the massacre of protesting students in China (1989). "Iona" was the first song that vocalist Joanne Hogg wrote for the band. How it came to be written is told by Joanne herself on the live album "Heaven's Bright Sun". "Trilogy" I touched upon in the beginning. "Here I Stand" has vocals and again mentions the wild goose. "Columcille" is written in memory of Columba (or Columcille). This is another Celtic song that sounds great.

Well this is where it all started for this amazing band. And although it's not their best album, it is very significant and a good example of the sound that they are famous for.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars "Iona" is not an easy band to approach. They play almost instrumental music in this album (their debut one). But when their lead vocalist (Joane Hogg) takes the mike, it is pure joy like for most of the prog-folk (?) ladies who are on the vocal command of their respective bands (Heather Findlay for "Mostly Autumn", Rachel Jones for "Karnataka" or Marcela Bovio for "Elfonia" for instance). "Iona" being probably more faithful to this genre than the ones I have mentioned.

The music played is very pleasant although this album sounds more as a soundtrack to my ears than a conventional album. Highlights are difficult to point out. It is more a collection of average songs IMO. Pastoral and spacey moods are the TM for this album. Sometimes, some flat songs as well, like "Iona". If you are in need to sleep, I bet you : this is the one to listen to. Pretty weak. No melody, just a recitation backed up with very, very light piano notes.

This melancholic mood is the biggest problem of this album. Fifty minutes to propose very similar music all the way through. There will be some good sax here and there of which "Trilogy" is by far the best moments of these. Very much space-rock during the intro. The Celtic influences being noticeable a little later. This is my preferred song but I could hardly mention that it is a highlight.

I can't really be over-enthusiastic about this work. Lots of ambient music, at times melodic. Great instrumental breaks are scarce ("Trilogy" holding some of the best of this album).

I guess that depending on your expectations, you might like / dislike this offering. I tend to be more on the down side for this work even if the closing number "Columcille" is a wonderful piece of instrumental music. Two stars.

Review by JLocke
3 stars Warning: This is VERY celtic in style, so if you dislike flutes, bagpipes, mellow tunes and choir, you should steer clear of this gem.

Otherwise, I think anyone with a truly open ear will find this to be an amazing adventure of sound! Truly magnificent. I would have to say that the sax is potentially the most annoying or the most beautiful instrument in any given song. It all depends on how it is presented. Sadly for me, I found myself gritting my teeth every time a sax or otherwise loud horn was featured on this album, and there are many instances. However, what is additionally included are some truly emotionally uplifting melodies, with beautiful vocal performance and top-notch musicianship. The only setback is the obnoxious wind instrument that belongs more in a slow pop song than a celtic rock album, but hey, who am I to make that final call? Listen and decide for yourself if the additional instruments are out of place.

So, clearly celtic in influence, why exactly is Iona considered 'Prog Folk'? Well, while the irish vibe is definately there, there is enough originality to this that makes it I think stand alone and rise above the other similar-sounding celt-rockers. There are also a couple of straightforward pop songs that should uplift anyone's day, nomatter how bleak it may seem.

I use the term 'uplifting' alot, no? Well, indeed, this album is not dark at all, nor is it moody, epic or even obscure lyrically. But as I have said before, more easily-swallowed music is just as good as some of the more prolific greats such as Yes or Tool. It is just a different breed of the same style of music. IONA, as the album is titled, is Iona's debut album, apparently, and while I have not heard any other releases from them yet (I plan to order more very soon, however), I can see where this type of mixing electric music with celtic folk stylings can easily become repetetive and uninspiring, so hopefuly the Iona clan branched out into other realms of music in their later releases, otherwise I may have to tag this as a one-hit wonder, which Prog is no stranger to. I hope that isn't the case, though, as I hear and see the potential in Iona to become a great Prog Folk band that will be revered for generations to come. Now, if only more people knew about them . . .

Oh yeah, and happy (if not unique) listening.

Review by Epignosis
2 stars At times, the music sounds like that which is conveniently found near the candles and home décor in stores like Target, with titles like "Tribal Relaxation" or "Irish Rain." This Celtic-inspired music is never unpleasant in the least, but it certainly isn't anything groundbreaking, interesting, or even great. It's refreshing and soothing, but to be honest, there's nothing beyond that.

"Turning Tide" Soft keyboards with gentle vocals and pipes introduce the album.

"Flight of the Wild Goose" The highlight of this piece is the moving electric guitar. While the saxophone is pleasant, it isn't my thing, but the backing instrumentation is well done. The bass tone is especially good.

"The Island" Lovely piano begins the third track. Finally, there are lyrics, delicate though they may be. This is a solid song, if a bit repetitive.

"White Sands" Gorgeous flute and acoustic guitar play throughout this gentle piece.

"Dancing on the Wall" This is closer to straightforward music (Christian-themed rock, perhaps). It's not a bad song, but nothing spectacular.

"A'Mhachair" Calming synthesizers begin this one. A saxophone cuts through, in a way taking things back to the second track.

"Vision of Naran" Fretless bass and acoustic guitar give way to the lovely lead vocals. It isn't Joanne Hogg's most compelling performance, but she still sounds great. The song itself, however, is enchanting and one of the best pieces on the album. I love the melody.

"Beijing" Some pseudo-Oriental instrumentation and melodies make up this track, which, were it not for the title, might have stood on its own without coming across as trite. This is a prime example of the Pure Moods music I in a way referenced in the introductory paragraph.

"Iona" The song for which the band derives its name is more placid music with gorgeous feminine singing. Her pronunciation of that one word is heavenly and beyond words. I am speechless.

"Trilogy" The saxophone is back, again over airy synthesizer. Unfortunately, it's a dull piece that generally sounds like it should be a soundtrack for a steamy 1990s made-for-TV movie sex scene.

"Here I Stand" A lone female voice begins this short song. The pipes are a very peaceful addition.

"Columcille" Light synthesizer and bagpipes finish off the album.

Latest members reviews

3 stars "Iona" was a nice debut which set the tone for this great band. Its themes concentrated mostly on the history of the Scottish island of Iona, from which the band got its name. "Turning Tide" opens the album with some of the lovely ethereal textures the group is known for. The keyboards and Uillean p ... (read more)

Report this review (#634534) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Iona's debut album is not their best effort. Yes, most of the elements of the Iona sound are already there, but it doesn't manage to hold my attention. About half of "Iona" is instrumental. The instrumentals sound like a mix of generic jazz-rock and Celtic instrumentation. Iona's biggest weakn ... (read more)

Report this review (#40694) | Posted by harm s. | Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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