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Clannad Macalla album cover
4.30 | 23 ratings | 5 reviews | 26% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1985

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Caislean Őir (2:06)
2. The Wild Cry (4:41)
3. Closer To Your Heart (3:29)
4. In A Lifetime (3:08)
5. Almost Seems (Too Late To Turn) (4:51)
6. Indoor (3:53)
7. Buachaill On Eirne (3:08)
8. Blackstairs (4:15)
9. Journey's End (2:42)
10. Northern Skyline (4:58)

Total Time 37:11

Bonus track on 2003 remaster:
11. Caislean Óir (Planet Heaven mix) (7:01)

Line-up / Musicians

- Máire Brennan / lead vocals, harp
- Noel Duggan / guitar, vocals
- Pádraig Duggan / mandolin, guitar, vocals
- Pól Brennan / flute, guitar, percussion, vocals
- Ciarán Brennan / double bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals

- Bono / vocal duet (4)
- Anthony Drennan / guitar
- James Delaney / keyboards, synthesizer
- Steve Nye / keyboards, producer
- Mel Collins / saxophone
- Paul Moran / drums
- Danny Cummings / percussion
- Paul Bell / keyboards (11)

Releases information

Artwork: Mainartery with Anton Corbijn (photo)

LP Tara ‎- TARA 3016 (1985, Ireland)

CD RCA ‎- PD 70894 (1985, Europe)
CD BMG ‎- 82876 545002 (2003, Europe) Remastered by Ian Cooper with a bonus track, new cover

Thanks to kenethlevine for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CLANNAD Macalla ratings distribution

(23 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CLANNAD Macalla reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kenethlevine
5 stars U2's Bono had been enamored with CLANNAD since at least the "Theme from Harry's Game" in 1983, and, when the opportunity arose for a collaboration, heaven and earth were moved, poetically, for the brilliant "In a Lifetime", a concise ode to the immortality of passionate love. Apparently a major storm broke in during the sessions and is irascibly stamped on the result. Like much of Macalla, it has not aged well in the "traditional" sense; apart from the melodramatic vocals and period synthesizers, it is awash in the production values of its day, but. like all of Macalla, it manages to muster enough buoyancy to not only stay afloat but come out on top.

I picked up the album in 1986 on the strength of an aggressive ad campaign and, well, the low sticker price when the millions of fans failed to materialize. I was ever indifferent to U2, but very drawn to this unabashedly Irish band bridging the traditions with overt progressive influences, from RENAISSANCE to PINK FLOYD to MIKE OLDFIELD. This was 1986 and one had to steal furtive prog glances at the dark end of the street, and here was CLANNAD. I knew they were prog when nobody appreciated the extra copies I bought as gifts! Nonetheless, it was their first foray onto Billboard and did pretty respectably in the UK.

While sounding subdued today, "Macalla" was Clannad's deepest incursion into rock to that point, and only features 2 tracks in Gaelic. Haunting ballads like "The Wild Cry", one of the tunes with MEL COLLINS on sax, and "Almost Seems", still dominated, but the production was more spacious even as the arrangements were denser. The clever rocker "Closer to Your Heart" could not have existed without Mike Oldfield's "Moonlight Shadow", yet it is certainly no copy, while "Indoor" with its tandem female and male vocals is reminiscent of Jane Relf era Renaissance or ILLUSION. In fact, it has been offered that Renaissance could have moved towards a sound like this if they had not chosen a more synth pop path in the 1980s.

"Blackstairs" is a crepuscular masterpiece of mood with hypnotizing male vocals around an eerie chorus. Its transition to the joyous "Journey's End" is both jarring and necessary, a return to their primitive roots with a youthful exuberance that the normally staid family should show more. The album concludes with the reflective "Northern Skyline", highlighted by the more uptempo instrumental breaks on organ and lead guitar, the last of which affords a fitting climax to the venture.

While "Macalla" has been both blessed as Clannad's best and damned as the first step down to new age hell, the warmth of its melancholy could melt even the contemporaneous ULTRAVOX album three shelves over. The prog folk underground railroad of those dark days echoes through here.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Macalla came out at the height of Clannad's commercial success - hence Bono's appearance here on the duet In a Lifetime. That song is, to be honest, a bit of a clunker, Bono's vocal approach not really suiting the more ethereal atmosphere of Clannad's music, but the rest of the album is a decent bridge between the pop world and the Celtic New Age material they had become known for. Essentially, synth-heavy 1980s soft pop takes the place of folk in the Clannad formula this time around, but it's soaked in enough New Age atmosphere and ancient spirituality that the end result still feels satisfying.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Picked this one up while living in Wiltshire in 1986 cuz I was so blown away by the video of "In a Lifetime" on the tele. The band had been heretofore unknown to me (though they had been mentioned to me during my travels in County Donegal and Northern Ireland the previous year) and the music really grew on me quickly with Side One becoming a mainstay on my record player and car tape deck for the rest of the year. Side Two took a bit longer to get to know and like though the power and beauty of "Blackstairs" and "Northern Skyline" eventually won me over. The album even led me to venture into the band's back catalogue with some success though no Clannad album ever charmed me as well as this one (though a couple of the "best of" CDs have made their way into my collection--mostly based on my appreciation for and attraction to the band's contributions to radio, film, and television theme music).

Five star songs: "Caisleán Őir" (2:06), "The Wild Cry" (4:41), and the three songs cited above.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Macalla may be considered their 'anti-folk' album. Almost every track is in conflict with the concept of 'classic' Clannad. Only two tracks sung in Gaelic (Caislean Oir and Buachaill On Eirne). Only one traditional song (Buachaill On Eirne), all the rest was written by the band members, mostly P ... (read more)

Report this review (#1953864) | Posted by proghaven | Wednesday, August 1, 2018 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1583605) | Posted by CapnBearbossa | Monday, June 27, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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