Cl-Cm

 

Paige Claire (USA): Paige Claire (MGM SE-4738, 1971)
Pop/MOR
This is gentle orchestrated soft pop with more of a late sixties than an early seventies feel, including lovely versions of songs like ‘Make It With You’ and ‘Windmills Of My Mind’. Anyone liking this genre is sure to love the LP. GRADE: C+.

Clannad (Ireland): Clannad (Philips 6392 013, 1973)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
The long-running Irish family band’s first album opens with the brilliant ‘Nil Sé Ina La’, which sounds rather like a Celtic twist on Pentangle. A few other tracks are in a similar acoustic folk/rock vein, with some progressive tinges and elements of complexity, whilst others offer haunting balladry with faint neoclassical tinges. All the cuts work very effectively, adding up to an impressive and haunting debut.

GRADE: B–.
Clannad (Ireland): Clannad 2 (Gael-Linn CEF 041, 1974)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
Notwithstanding some unexpected fuzz guitar on ‘Dheannainn Sùgradh’ and occasional use of drums, this feels a little more traditional than its predecessor, with fewer of the Pentangle-like fusion elements. It’s an impressively melancholy set for sure, but with ‘Dheannainn Sùgradh’ being the best track by some margin it’s a shame they didn’t push the boundaries a little more often. GRADE: B–.
Clannad (Ireland): Dúlamán (Gael-Linn CEF 058, 1976)
Folk
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
The most traditional of Clannad’s albums by quite some margin, this contains some beautiful material. Although less inventive then any of their other early works, the album offers hints of their future in the dreamy, spacy harmonies of ‘Éirigh Suas A Stóirín’ and the jazzy bass line in ‘Éirigh Is Cuir Ort Do Chuid Éadaigh’. GRADE: C+.
Clannad (Ireland): Live In Concert (Ogham BLB 5001, UK, 1977)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
Like Dulamán, this is very traditional and all-acoustic, mostly consisting of material not appearing on their studio albums. Short and strangely inconsequential, although never less than pleasant, the album peaks on the superb closing version of ‘Nil Sé Ina La’, extended to ten minutes with some virtuosic solos and plenty of improvisation. GRADE: C+.
Clannad (Ireland): Crann Ull (Tara 3007, 1980)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
This transitional album recaptures the band’s past whilst signposting the way to its future. The opening ‘Ar A Ghabhail ’N A ’Chuain Damh’ begins in the same traditional folk mood as their last few albums, but then develops into an intricate Pentangle-like jam recalling their debut, built around acoustic guitar, funky electric piano, bongos and flute. Meanwhile, the rather eerie harp-led instrumental ‘Lá Coimhthioch Fan Dtuath’ shows the beginning of the atmospheric style that would bring them fame and fortune later in the decade. GRADE: B–.
Clannad (Ireland): Fuaim (Tara 3008, 1982)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp), Enya Brennan (occasional vocals, keyboards)
The band briefly added the younger Brennan sister to become a six-piece, but it doesn’t notably alter their sound. The complex, jazzy ‘Ní Lá Na Gaoithe Lá Na Scoilb?’ and the atmospheric ‘Mhórag’s Na Horo Gheallaidh’ are by far the best things on offer, but elsewhere this is a pleasant rather than groundbreaking LP. GRADE: C+.
Clannad (Ireland): Magical Ring (Tara 3010, 1983)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
This was the album that gave Clannad their commercial breakthrough, spawning a UK top five single in ‘Theme From “Harry’s Game”’. It’s also among their best, blending elements of traditional folk, electric rock, electronic textures and hints of new age across a mixture of trad, self-penned and covered songs. Highpoints include the atmospheric ‘Newgrange’, the unusual and slightly eerie ‘Tower Hill’ and an excellent version of ‘I See Red’. GRADE: B–.
Clannad (Ireland): Legend (RCA PD 70188, CD, UK, 1984)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
Following their success with ‘Theme From “Harry’s Game”’, Clannad went on to score the TV series ‘Robin Of Sherwood’. This collection of songs, instrumentals and incidental music from the show inevitably concentrates on the more impressionistic and ambient side of their repertoire; it’s beautifully put together and very atmospheric, but unsurprisingly a little inconsequential in parts. GRADE: C+.
Clannad (Ireland): Macalla (RCA PD 70894, CD, UK, 1985)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
The best cuts here (the eerie ‘Caislean Õir’, the elegiac ‘The Wild Cry’, the catchy ‘Closer To Your Heart’ and the beautiful, haunting ‘Blackstairs’) are simply outstanding, confirming that the band had matured into world-class songwriters. None of the other material is as good, but there are no obvious weak points, making this their best album overall. GRADE: B.
Clannad (Ireland): Ring Of Gold (Celtic Music CM CD 034, CD, UK, 1986, recorded 1979)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
This is a marginal case for inclusion, since it was allegedly a bootleg, featuring different recordings from the 1978 Swiss tour that yielded Clannad In Concert. However, Celtic Music is certainly a legitimate label, although one explanation is that this is a reissue of a vinyl LP from 1979 (whose provenance I have been unable to confirm; Celtic Music definitely issued a vinyl version along with the CD in 1986). The irony is that this features a better choice of material than Clannad In Concert, with excellent sound quality. GRADE: B–.
Clannad (Ireland): Sirius (RCA PD 71513, CD, UK, 1987)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan
Having evolved from a sort of Irish answer to Pentangle into a truly distinctive and original Celtic folk/rock band, Clannad bizarrely changed direction in an attempt to crack America. Sirius sees them backed by a host of prolific sessionmen (Russ Kunkel, Peter John Vettese, Robbie Blunt, Jai Winding, Mel Collins) and big name special guests (Bruce Hornsby, JD Souther) adding crashing drums, chunky power chords and eighties synthesisers and sequencers. The result is an utter mess, in which different traditions and genres clash horribly, and it sounds hopelessly dated today. Nor is the songwriting especially inspired (although with these arrangements, it’s hard to tell), but ‘Second Nature’ and ‘Stepping Stone’ are among the band’s best compositions. GRADE: C–.
Clannad (Ireland): PastPresent (BMG Video 790328, VHS, 1989, recorded 1983-1989)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan
The video version of the band’s eighties ‘best of’ set differs considerably from its vinyl and CD equivalent. Mixing promo videos (all mystical Irish landscapes and soft-focus band performances, as one might expect) with occasional live numbers and improvisations, it also includes brief interviews (which work very well) between some of the songs. On the downside, some of the songs (notably the sublime ‘Newgrange’) are presented only as snippets, whilst the previously unreleased ‘The Hunter’ isn’t up to much, being in the same rather heavy-handed late eighties vein as the Sirius album. Nonetheless this is a worthwhile and interesting set that deserves a re-release on DVD. GRADE: B–.
Clannad (Ireland): Atlantic Realm (BBC CD 727, CD, UK, 1989)
New Age/Progressive
Máire Brennan
The comparative commercial failure of Sirius was followed by a pregnant pause, filled with soundtrack work. This collection of incidental music to a TV documentary is mostly instrumental and mainly drops folk elements for a keyboard-based soft progressive sound, vaguely similar to some of former member Enya’s material. Whilst pleasant and relaxing, this is even more fragmentary and inconsequential than Legend. The original CD quickly went out of print and is now very rare, but the album has been reissued with alternate artwork. GRADE: C.
Clannad (Ireland): The Angel And The Soldier Boy (RCA PD 74328, CD, UK, 1989)
Progressive
Måire Brennan
Another soundtrack – this time to a cartoon. Naturally it’s much more upbeat than Atlantic Realm and in parts it’s even closer to a poor man’s Enya. The whole score only runs for 25 minutes, so it’s included twice – once without narration and once with. GRADE: C.
Clannad (Ireland): Anam (RCA PD 74762, CD, UK, 1990)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (lead vocals, harp)
This is the logical follow-up to Macalla that the last three albums weren’t – and ironically this was their biggest seller by far in the States. The jazzy shuffle ‘In Fortune’s Hand’ is excellent and the delicate ‘The Poison Glen’ is absolutely exquisite, but much of the rest is pleasant rather than remarkable, adding little to the impression left by Magical Ring and Macalla. GRADE: C+.
Clannad (Ireland): Banba (BMG 74321 13961 2, CD, UK, 1993)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
This remake of Anam (itself a remake of Magical Ring and Macalla) is undeniably pleasant and unremittingly predictable. There’s too much supperclub saxophone and too few really great compositions, but the level of craft is as high as ever and it all drifts by inoffensively enough. GRADE: C+.
Clannad (Ireland): Lore (BMG 74321 359752, CD, UK, 1996)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (lead vocals, keyboards, harp)
Once again Clannad repeat themselves without any hint of new ideas, but this is overall a touch better than Banba. Early copies came with a bonus EP compiling six of the band’s best-loved songs. GRADE: C+.
Clannad (Ireland): Landmarks (BMG 74321560072, CD, UK, 1998)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (lead vocals, keyboards, harp)
Clannad’s last studio album for fifteen years is slightly different to its predecessors on the uptempo tracks, with more electronic arrangements and greater use of percussion. The mood, however, is the same as ever, and this is another good album without any individually outstanding cuts. GRADE: C+.
Clannad (Ireland): Live In Concert (Koch KOC-CD-9674, CD, USA, 2005)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (lead vocals, harp)
This superb live set features material from all phases of their career and covers all aspects of their sound. The energetic jam on ‘Nil Sé’n La’ is highly impressive and serves to indicate just how soporific their studio records had become, and there isn’t a weak or misjudged moment. GRADE: B.
Clannad (Ireland): Christ Church Cathedral (ARC Music EUDVD0015, DVD, with booklet, UK, 2013)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Máire Brennan (joint lead vocals, percussion, harp)
The band use the spectacular setting of an ancient cathedral to great effect – the moment when the choir processes down the aisle between a nimble ‘Robin Of Sherwood’ medley and a stunning rendition of ‘Caeslean Óir’ must have been breathtaking. With material stretching all the way back to the first first album, this is a great overview of their career and a great live set full stop. GRADE: B.
Clannad (Ireland): Christ Church Cathedral (ARC Music EUCD 2441, CD, UK, 2013)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Máire Brennan (lead vocals, percussion, harp)
The CD version of the show omits two songs and some stage dialogue but captures the bulk of the music in its entirety. This isn’t as good as the DVD as it also misses out the choir’s spellbinding entrance, but it’s still an excellent live album. GRADE: B.
Clannad (Ireland): Nádúr (ARC Music EUCD2471, CD, UK, 2013)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
Clannad’s first studio album in fifteen years unsurprisingly displays zero artistic development. If, like me, you love their music, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this. If, also like me, you wish they’d start experimenting a bit more, you’ll be slightly disappointed. GRADE: C+.

Clannad (Ireland): Turas 1980 (MIG mig02092, double CD, with digipak, 2018, recorded 1980)
Folk
Máire Brennan (principal vocals, harp)
This excellent double album captures (I assume) an entire gig in superb sound quality. The feel of the music is generally more traditional than their contemporary studio albums (notwithstanding a fine extended version of ‘N’il Sé Ina La’ that closes the CD version), but the performances are beautifully judged and the band’s engaging stage presence significantly enhances the mood. GRADE: B–.

Clannad (Ireland): Rarities (BMG, download, 2020)
Folk/Rock
Máire Brennan
This collection of mostly eighties and early nineties oddments – remixes, single edits, soundtrack contributions and more – provides a pleasant postscript to Clannad’s career. Focusing on the dreamier, trippier end of the band’s repertoire, it’s a lovely and relaxing collection, but it also makes clear how little variety (or indeed progression) there was in their mid-period work. GRADE: C+.
See Máire Brennan, Enya, T With The Maggies, Various ‘From Lagan To Lee’

Clarion (Italy): Clarion (Mellow MMP 142, CD, 1993)
Progressive
Liliana Bodini (lead vocals)
Clarion was a duo of keyboardist Paolo Clari and flautist Gianni Cristini; the former had been a member of Zauber in the late seventies, appearing on the Il Sogno album, and the reformed Zauber provide the musical backing here. Aside from the song ‘Canzone Del Mare’, the album is entirely instrumental, offering relaxed, pastoral keyboard and flute-led music (unsurprisingly) without the modernistic touches afflicting Zauber’s previous work Est. Three of the songs are taken from a rock opera called ‘Natale’ by Clari, Zauber mainstay Mauro Cavagliato and seventies Zauber member Anna Galliano, whilst the closing ‘Orgelwaltz’ is an archive Zauber recording from 1977.

GRADE: C+.
See also Tale, Zauber

Rona Clarke (UK): Utopian Dream (Westwood WRS067, 1976)
Folk
Rona Clarke (lead vocals, guitar)
A beautiful and delicate reading of ‘I Once Loved A Lad’, sung in her native Scottish accent, is by far the best thing here. However, Clarke’s real passion was clearly for singer/songwriters, as there are three Donovan and two Joni Mitchell numbers, performed in a high-pitched, jaunty faux-transatlantic manner somewhere between Mitchell and Melanie. These songs don’t do much for me, but there’s also a pleasant cover of Lesley Duncan’s ‘Love Song’ (wrongly credited as ‘Love Story’) and three competent originals, all with simple backing from acoustic guitar and electric bass. GRADE: C.

Clartés (France): Moi Qui N’Étais Rien (Trinité TRN 10 007, 1974?)
Folk
Performed by a ten-strong group of teenagers, this Christian folk LP has a definite school project feel. As is often the case with this sort of thing, the standard varies considerably, with the album ranging from eerie and haunting female vocal folk to less remarkable singalongs with massed vocals. Like almost everything on Trinité, this is a very rare LP. GRADE: C+.

Alasdair Clayre (UK): Adam And The Beasts (Acorn CF 252, 1976)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk
Emma Kirkby (joint lead vocals), Victoria (occasional vocals, guitar)
An odd album indeed, falling broadly under the folk or singer/songwriter banners, but with strong theatrical and even music hall elements. Clayre sings in a nervous, stilted and often high-pitched manner that ups the strangeness quotient, but several numbers are performed by female singers and have a more haunting, tranquil and traditional feel. Overall, this sounds hopelessly out of time for the mid-seventies, and more resembles the sort of hippie whimsy that was surfacing on small labels circa 1968. GRADE: C+.

Cleanliness & Godliness Skiffle Band (USA): Greatest Hits (Vanguard VSD 79825, 1969)
Jugband
Annie Johnston (joint lead vocals, guitar, woodblocks, mandolin)
The name and sleeve photograph make them sound like a silly novelty outfit, but as skiffle bands go this is a good one: eschewing fast-paced, music hall-style material, they opt for slow, spare country folk and blues. For sure, this isn’t a classic (though ‘Lotus Blossom’ is rather beautiful), but it is thoroughly listenable, which is unusual in itself for the genre. The band also operated as the Masked Marauders.

GRADE: C.

Cleves (New Zealand): Cleves (Infinity SINL-934031, Australia, 1970)
Progressive
Gaye Brown (joint lead vocals, organ)
The band originated from New Zealand, where they operated as a beat group named the Clevedonaires, but spent most of their career based in Sydney. Their sole album offers organ-led progressive with melodic original songs betraying their pop roots and occasionally displaying Eastern and psychedelic influences. This is not complex or challenging music, but it is very accomplished and consistent, with fine musicianship throughout, including some deft bass playing and powerful guitar leads. Further, their only cover version (the ubiquitous ‘Summertime’) is superb, with the band really transforming the song into their own style. The group later relocated to the UK and issued two singles under the name of Bitch, plus one solo 45 by Gaye Brown. GRADE: B–.

Cleves (New Zealand): The Musical Adventures Of The Clevedonaires, Cleves And Bitch (Frenzy Music FRENZY110, CD, 2015,

recorded 1966-1973)
Pop/Rock
Gaye Brown
This excellent compilation complements their sole studio album, featuring five songs (out of eight) that they released as  the Clevedonaires, eight as Cleves (three from singles and five from their LP) and eight as Bitch (three from singles and five cuts from their unreleased album, leaving out one B-side). The result is a fascinating précis of the development of rock music, showing the band moving from soft pop through freakbeat, psychedelia and prog to glam-tinged hard rock and ballads. Most of the music is of a high standard, but I’m baffled as to why they didn’t drop the five album tracks and include more rare stuff: come to that, why not issue a double CD compiling absolutely everything they recorded in their three guises? Oddly, the vinyl variant (Real Groovy RGLP007) has a quite different track listing, featuring ten Bitch songs on the first disc (with the addition of ‘Chicken Girl’ and ‘At The Party’) and the entire Cleves album on the second, dropping the Clevedonaires material entirely. GRADE: C+.

Clickhaze (Faroe Islands): EP (Tutl HJF 91, CD, 2002)
Metal
Eivör Pálsdóttir (principal vocals)
This Faroese band’s sole release (which is more of a short album than an EP, running for 28 minutes) has an unusual style. The best description would be ambient gothic metal with trip-hop and slight industrial edges; another comparison would be mid-period Third & The Mortal when Eivör Pálsdóttir is fronting the band and a more minimalist twist on Musique-era Theatre Of Tragedy when Petur Pólson is offering his deadpan delivery. The results are interesting enough that I wish they’d stayed together and got a few albums under their belt. GRADE: C+.

Clockbrains (USA): Everything You Want (Fancy Basket Toy Company FBTC-HG-1, with insert and sticker, 1990)
Rock/Garage
Lynne Porterfield
This low-budget guitar rock album borrows equally from psychedelic, progressive and new wave music in its stylings, with a varied yet cohesive selection of tracks covering quite a range of ground. There’s nothing really outstanding here, but this is a solid set throughout and one of the better examples of American alternative rock of its era. GRADE: C+.
Clockbrains (USA): The Other Side Of The Sky (Fancy Basket Toy Company FBTC-CD-04, CD, 1994)
Rock/Psychedelic
Lynne Porterfield (principal vocals, guitar, bass)
A big step forward from their debut, this retains a few punk and garage edges but is largely ethereal and psychedelic. Anyone liking American alternative rock will love its powerful guitar textures and laconic vocal style. GRADE: C+.
Clockbrains (USA): Dropped From The Sun (Fancy Basket Toy Company FBTC-CD-05, CD, 1996)
Rock/Psychedelic/Metal
Lynne Porterfield (joint lead vocals, guitar, bass, shaker)
The band’s final album offers their usual indie/grunge/psych mix, and once again is mostly good rather than truly great. However, this is certainly their best LP, containing some really excellent moments: notably the trippy opening Beatles cover, followed by their best-ever composition in the shape of the absolutely superb ‘Sleep Like The Driver’. GRADE: C+.

Tracy Cloud (USA): Love Changes (No label, CD, 1995)
Singer/Songwriter/Progressive
Tracy Cloud (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Tracy Cloud provided very occasional vocals on the first couple of Glass Hammer albums, when they were a duo of Fred Schendel and Steve Babb; they repay the favour by producing her solo album and providing most of the musical backing. Unsurprisingly, this has a Glass Hammer-like dreamy mood in parts, though for the most part it’s is in more of a singer/songwriter vein, with lush, slightly symphonic rock backing. Vocally, her inspiration was clearly Kate Bush, and she sings well enough even if she’s a touch fey in parts. GRADE: C+.
See also Glass Hammer

Cloud Atlas (UK): Beyond The Vale (No label, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2014)
Progressive
Heidi Widdop (lead vocals, percussion, whistle)
Heidi Widdop was the original female vocalist in Mostly Autumn, before Heather Findlay, and it shows: the stately neoprogressive here, replete with hard rock moves and delicate folky ballads, will be instantly familiar to Autumn fans. How this compares to their oeuvre is moot: this isn’t the equal of, say, Passengers or Sight Of Day, but it's a touch better than some of their more straightforward albums. GRADE: C+.

See also Stolen Earth

Cloudsongs (UK): Cloudsongs (Longman LG 79001.8, with booklet, 1977)
Pop
Vivienne McAuliffe (joint lead vocals)
With Nick Pallett and Vivienne McAuliffe on vocals and Root Cartwright on guitars, this language tuition LP effectively represents a reunion of Principal Edwards Magic Theatre. There’s no musical resemblance, however, as this is whimsical seventies pop, although the McAuliffe-fronted ballads ‘Let’s Talk’ and ‘Johnny Come Home’ are somewhat above average. GRADE: C.
See also Affinity, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre

CMU (UK): Open Spaces (Transatlantic TRA 237, 1971)
Progressive
Larraine Odell (principal vocals, percussion)
This elegant jazzy progressive set blends songs and instrumentals, and mixes originals by the husband-and-wife team of Roger and Larraine Odell with a few covers. Elements of blues, folk and avant-gardism are incorporated, and the album showcases some fine and elegant musicianship. If it has a downside, it all feels rather detached and academic, with the band never cutting loose and jamming – but perhaps that’s to be expected from an outfit whose full name was Contemporary Music Unit. GRADE: C+.
CMU (UK): Space Cabaret (Transatlantic TRA 259, with insert, 1973)
Progressive

Larraine Odell (joint lead vocals)
This is unrecognisable as the work of the band that cut Open Spaces, partly due to line-up changes, but mainly because newcomer Richard Joseph writes and fronts the first side. Retaining some faint jazzy undertones, it offers relaxed, melodic symphonic prog with a mildly psychedelic edge; the results are not as varied or adventurous as their first, but I find this the more consistent and satisfying of their releases. GRADE: B–.

See also Roger Odell's Beatifik

CMU Senior Banquet (USA): CMU Senior Banquet (CMU AIP-1055, 1969)
Folk/Rock
Effectively a single-sided album (since the second consists of brass band and bagpipe music), this university project LP is now very rare. Side one offers some lovely folk/rock with a slightly anachronistic feel but also more than a touch of Jefferson Airplane, with a mellow mood similar to some of Paul Kantner’s compositions. Whilst there’s nothing very distinctive here, this is certainly a very enjoyable listen.

GRADE: C+.

See also Roger Odell's Beatifik