Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pure Grief: Capercaillie and "Ailein Duinn (Dark Alan)"

Capercaille tones down our random tune for today with a moody piece called Ailein Duinn (Dark Alan). Capercaillie is a Scottish folk band formed in the 1980s. They are named after the Scottish wood grouse. They perform traditional Gaelic songs along with songs in English of their own composition or by others, and often mix traditional songs with modern recording techniques, rhythms and instrumentation. At first sticking fairly closely to traditional styles and instrumentation, in the 1980s they added funk bass lines, synthesizers and electric guitar to traditional songs. In 1992, their EP A Prince Among Islands was the first Gaelic language record to reach the top 40 of the UK singles charts They have since been moving back toward more traditional music while retaining a slight fusion sound. Ailein Duinn can be found on their 2005 best hits album called Dusk Till Dawn: The Best of Capercaillie, and another best of album, Grace and Pride: The Anthology 2004-1984 (2004). As far as we can tell, it was released originally in 1995 on their To the Moon album, but it was also released in 2017 on Capercaillie's re-recorded songs that appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Rob Roy. Ailein Duinn is a traditional lament, written for female voice by Annie Campbell for her lost love Alan Morrison, a sea captain who was lost at sea shortly before they were to be married. Campbell composed the lament and then apparently committed suicide - her body washed ashore near where Morrison's was found.