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4.3 out of 5 stars
Macalla
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2004
I own six Clannad albums, the first of which I bought twenty years ago. Macalla, originally released in 1985, is not just my favourite Clannad album, but one of the best-loved albums in my entire collection. I believe it is their strongest and most widely accessible work. Whereas their earlier albums were strongly rooted in the traditional folk genre (lovely, but not always accessible to the eclectic listener) and their later albums leaned more strongly towards pop and new age (to my folk-leaning ear, usually too sweet and over-produced), Macalla is a beautifully conceived crossover album. The majesty and beauty of Clannad's traditional folk harmonies and Celtic musicianship are enriched and enhanced on Macalla by exciting, sophisticated pop, rock and jazz influences. The lead vocalist, Máire Brenna, is the star of the album. Máire's haunting, clear and delicate voice has never sounded more beautiful or compelling than it does here. Her vocals on the standout track 'A Wild Cry' are nothing short of ravishing. Other particularly fine tracks are 'Caislean Oir', 'In a Lifetime', 'Almost Seems (Too Late to Turn)', 'Buachaill on Eirne' and 'Northern Skyline'. Interesting changes in pace throughout the album provide entertaining contrasts. 'Indoor' is a sparkling, exhilarating pop-rock track with guitars, drums, sax, heartracing lead vocals by Máire and gorgeous harmonies which are all reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac at their very best. 'Closer to Your Heart' is a jaunty, enjoyable, guitar-based pop track, and one of their best-known songs. Perhaps the odd track out here is Blackstairs, with one of the Clannad men on lead vocal, which nevertheless provides a pleasant, gentle interlude. In summary, Macalla is a beautiful, timeless album of melodic folk pop, representing Clannad's career best.
This 2003 digitally remastered reissue with new artwork includes one bonus track, 'Caislean Oir' (Planet Heaven Mix), as well as new sleeve notes and rare photos. Clannad's official site reports that Pol Brennan oversaw the remastering from the original tapes, and that the band are very happy with the results. Despite what I feel was a misjudged decision to replace the striking 1985 black and white artwork - with Máire in Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' pose - given also that the original CD was issued with frustratingly minimalist sleeve notes, giving no track credits, this reissue is therefore to be highly recommended on all counts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2013
I couldn't make up my mind which version to buy, the original RCA release here Macalla or the remaster. But then I realized that neither costs very much and ended up getting both. I guess I'm glad I did.

The album itself is excellent, and there's nothing to add to the other reviews. On the remastering I'm not particularly impressed. There's a little more detail, but nothing that's a revelation. The new bonus remix of the opening track is, I'm afraid, a disaster. It's so tried to take a tune, to add a driving beat, and call it a remix. And the opening is very ethereal, moody. This is destroyed in the remix. I suppose it's just not for me.

On the other hand, at least the remastered version has a decent booklet, the original release is rather sparse. The only downside of the new booklet is the horrid new cover art. You can get around it somewhat because - on the back page of the new booklet - the original artwork has been included (thank goodness).

So anyway, if you're looking to buy this disc, I'd say go with whatever the cheapest option is. The newer version is okay, but the new cover art and the needless remix are really poor.

It's certainly good music though!
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VINE VOICEon 14 May 2010
A very sublime and atmospheric album consisting of ten thought-provoking songs - including the upbeat 'Journeys End' - slipped in just before the end which is somewhat different from the rest of the album.

I was first drawn to this group by the hit 'Theme From Harry's Game', ('Caislean Oir' is a similar track here) and was later 'sold' when I saw the video of 'Almost Seems Too Late To Turn' shown on a late night TV show.

All ten songs are full of atmosphere and when you're in a certain mood really impressive, and these have great impact. No wonder I later became a big fan of 'Enya'!

A very beautiful album!

N. B. Also features the hit 'In A Lifetime' featuring U2s 'Bono'!
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on 13 April 2013
Having seen them live a few weeks ago this disc did not disappoint. Although nowehere near as good as a live performance Macalla showed up all the facets of their work very well indeed.
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on 17 June 2015
I expected a bit more from this much-hailed classic. Popped it into the charity shop after trying to like it, haven't missed it since.
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on 7 August 2013
Lovely and restful, great to listen to when cooking as it really calms me down after a stressful day, the good stuff never dies!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2014
I first purchased this album on cassette when it was originally released and I finally updated to CD last week. It's taken me a long time to do this as I never really liked Macalla when I first bought it. I was hoping something might have happened in my physche over the years and I would love this album. Nothing has changed as I still don't like it. I know that this album is touted as one of Clannads best - I just don't understand why. My favourite tracks are Caislean Oir and the beautiful Buachaill on Eirne. I must also be one of the few who don't really like In A Lifetime - at least when I saw them perform this there was no screeching Bono or Brian Kennedy - so that was good. One surprise track was Blackstairs - mainly as one of the Brennan men is singing lead which is always a nice change - I think it's Pól as he wrote it and it doesn't sound like Ciarán. The absence of flute and whistle on this album is really annoying to me as I love these instruments. Too much synth , not enough Irish songs and too pop orientated for my liking. I'm pleased I have now completed my Clannad CD collection with this album (don't have Sirius - that's a different story) and I am sorry I still don't like it. Thank goodness they have -as Pól stated - gone back to go forward - with their new album Nádúr.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 14 May 2010
A very sublime and atmospheric album consisting of ten thought-provoking songs - including the upbeat 'Journeys End' - slipped in just before the end which is somewhat different from the rest of the album.

I was first drawn to this group by the hit 'Theme From Harry's Game', ('Caislean Oir' is a similar track here) and was later 'sold' when I saw the video of 'Almost Seems Too Late To Turn' shown on a late night TV show.

All ten songs are full of atmosphere and when you're in a certain mood really impressive, and these have great impact. No wonder I later became a big fan of 'Enya'!

A very beautiful album!

N. B. Also features the hit 'In A Lifetime' featuring U2s 'Bono'!
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on 31 May 2015
I love Clannad, have done for years so I was thrilled to have it back on CD
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on 24 June 2015
... but I bought it for my Dad and he loves it!
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