Capercaillie is a Scottish folk band that was founded in 1984 by Donald Shaw and led by Karen Matheson. Capercaillie performs traditional Gaelic and contemporary English songs. The group adapts traditional Gaelic music and traditional lyrics with modern production techniques and instruments such as electric guitar and bass guitar, though rarely synthesizers or drum machines.
Capercaillie at Nuremberg, 2005
|Genres||Scottish folk music, traditional Gaelic music|
|Labels||Survival, Vertical, Valley Entertainment|
|Past members||Joan McLachlan|
Originating from Argyll, a region of western Scotland, the band is named after the Western capercaillie, sometimes called a wood grouse, a native Scottish bird. Their first album, Cascade, was recorded in 1984.
Capercaillie's repertoire includes both traditional Gaelic songs and tunes, as well as modern English-language songs and tunes, composed by other folk writers and musicians, or by members of the band. The group often adapt traditional Gaelic songs and music using modern production techniques, and often mix musical forms, combining traditional lyrics and tunes with modern techniques and instruments such as synthesisers, drum machines, electric guitar and bass.
Capercaillie's first two albums, Cascade and Crosswinds featured few modern instruments and the tunes and songs were played in a more traditional arrangement. However beginning with later albums such as Sidewaulk, and the soundtrack of The Blood Is Strong, Capercaillie began to experiment with adding funk bass-lines into certain tracks, as well as synthesisers and electric guitar. This fusion style gained Capercaillie chart success in the 1990s, on albums such as Delirium and Secret People (see Chart Success, below) and reached its peak in the albums To the Moon and Beautiful Wasteland, with the remix albums Get Out and Capercaillie being released during this period.
Since the 2000s, Capercaillie have drawn back slightly from the heavy fusion style featured on their albums the 1990s, and their more recent albums from Nàdurra (2003) up to At the Heart of It All (2013) feature more traditional arrangements and instruments, while still retaining a slight fusion feel, although not to the extremes of their albums of the 1990s.
The opening track from their 2000 album Nàdurra, "Skye Waulking Song", is used in the Edexcel Music GCSE Specification from 2009 onwards. The song is in the world music section, and is used as a representation of traditional folk music combined with rock music.
Their 1992 EP, A Prince Among Islands, was the first Scottish Gaelic-language record to have a single that reached the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart: "Coisich A Ruin" peaked at No. 39. Another single, "Dark Alan (Ailein duinn)" reached No. 65 in the UK Singles Chart in June 1995.
- Cascade (1984)
- Crosswinds (1987)
- Sidewaulk (1989)
- Delirium (1991)
- Secret People (1993)
- To the Moon (1995)
- Beautiful Wasteland (1997)
- Nàdurra (2000)
- Choice Language (2003)
- Roses and Tears (2008)
- At the Heart of It All (2013)
- Live in Concert (2002)
- The Blood Is Strong (1988)
- Glenfinnan (Songs of the '45) (1998, recorded in 1995)
- Get Out (1992) (a compilation album of B-sides, remixes & unreleased studio and live tracks)
- Capercaillie (1994) (a compilation album of re-worked and remixed tracks)
- Karen Matheson – vocals (1984 – present)
- Charlie McKerron – fiddle (1986 – present)
- Michael McGoldrick – flute, whistle, uilleann pipes (1997 – present)
- Manus Lunny – bouzouki, guitar (1989 – present)
- Donald Shaw – keyboards, accordion (1984 – present)
- Ewen Vernal – bass (1998 – present)
- David "Chimp" Robertson – percussion (1997 – present)
- Che Beresford – drums (1998 – present)
- James Mackintosh – drums (1992 – 1993, 2000, 2013)
- Marc Duff – whistle, recorder, wind synthesizer, bodhrán (1984–1995)
- Fred Morrison – Highland small pipes and low whistle (1995–1997)
- John Saich – bass, guitar (1988–1998)
- Shaun Craig – guitar, bouzouki (1984–1988)
- Anton Kirkpatrick – guitar (1988–1989)
- Martin MacLeod – bass, fiddle (1984–1988)
- Joan Maclachlan – fiddle, vocals (1984–1986)
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 221. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 92. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Capercaille:Roses and Tears: by George Graham". The Graham Weekly Album Review # 1525. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
- "Capercaille". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 3 January 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
- Eur (2002). International who's who in popular music. Europa Publications Limited. Retrieved 9 January 2011.