Clash of the Ash - Runrig (Single)

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Clash of the Ash - Runrig (Single)

Single Track from Runrig - Genre: Rock - Release Year: 2007

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Review of "Clash of the Ash - Runrig (Single)"

published 14/09/2010 | davidbuttery
Member since : 23/01/2001
Reviews : 447
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About me :
(3rd Jun '15) - Having another go at this. Will be fairly relaxed; don't expect me to review something every day. But I'll be around and about!
Super
Pro Hugely catchy, nice Scottish flavour without intimidating we southerners!
Cons Lyrics are a bit thrown-together
very helpful
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Quality of Lyrics/Music
How does it compare to the artist's other releases?

"Just play for the glory"

An Aird - the home of Fort William Shinty Club, scenically located behind Morrisons!

An Aird - the home of Fort William Shinty Club, scenically located behind Morrisons!

The songs put out by the exceedingly Scottish folk-rock band Runrig are not always the easiest of groups for a Sassenach such as me to get into. After all, some of them are quite strongly political - nothing wrong with that, of course - and the briefest look at the video of some of their concerts will show that many of their fans are a little too much towards the "Alba gu bràth"* end of things for an Englishman ever really to feel at home with. On top of this, they sing a lot of their songs in Gaelic. I'm all in favour of this, and only wish I could get to grips with it myself (the difficult orthography and grammar don't help!) but it can make it tricky to keep up. And when the songs are political and in Gaelic, sometimes the day just isn't long enough...

All that said, it would be a shame to cut myself off from Runrig entirely when some of their music is as catchy as is "Clash of the Ash". This one is in English, and is only political in its digs at the overpaid, pampered world of more mainstream professional sport, and that is something I can very happily join in with. More mainstream than what, you may ask? The answer to that question is simple: shinty. That, of course, may well prompt another question: what is shinty? This isn't a review of the sport, so I'll confine myself to saying that, very roughly, it's halfway in between hockey and the Irish sport of hurling. Shinty is largely confined to the Scottish Highlands, but in many places there (Fort William, for one) it is the number one sport, ahead of football.

"Clash of the Ash" is taken from Runrig's 2007 album, Everything You See, which itself is worth a listen. That album features a shinty player on the cover - one Gary Innes, of the recently all-conquering Fort William club - and as a very fine musician in his own right (his Wikipedia article rather endearingly phrases this as "a wizard accordion player") he has on occasion been known to join Runrig on stage, including for this very song. Not on the MP3 download, though, which features the band's more usual personnel, chief among them lead vocalist Bruce Guthro - who despite a very strong performance here isn't, in fact, Scottish! (He hails from Canada's Cape Breton Island, but has been with Runrig for more than a decade now.)

If you're used to some of Runrig's more anthemic (dare one say "sentimental"? Yes, I think one does) songs, such as their hugely popular if frankly rather overblown live performances of "Loch Lomond", then you might perhaps be a little surprised to discover that "Clash of the Ash" is a fun, uptempo number which could easily have been a single. Handy, that, because that's exactly what it was. It didn't threaten the charts (though it wouldn't have disgraced them by any means) but it's certainly a very easy song to learn and to like, and so catchy that you may well have it pinging around inside your skull for days whether you like it or not. The beat is very strong, the bridge is simple but effective (can you learn to repeat "Ooh! Aah!"? If so, you've got the basics) and the long instrumental outro brings proceedings to a close in a most satisfying manner.

The one weak link in the song is the standard of the lyrics, which to be honest do seem a bit thrown together at times. "We're running late, it's way past ten / We're driving through the straths and glens" is not going to win any plaudits for literary merit, let's put it that way. Still, the words do trip easily off the tongue, and while the several references to shinty can seem a bit awkward the first time you hear the song, after a while they seem to settle in quite nicely. It helps if you have at least a very basic knowledge of the game ("Chuck him in with the camans at the back of the bus" - a caman is a shinty stick**) but you really don't need to know even as much as you would about football to appreciate (or otherwise) "Three Lions".

For me, Runrig's best performances are the live ones they do at smaller gigs, rather than in the impersonal, rally-style atmosphere of a football stadium or the like. There's a video on YouTube of them playing this song live: it's cut with several short segments showing shinty matches, but to my mind the film of the band themselves is much better. The venue is quite small, and both the musicians and the packed crowd are clearly having a fantastic time; I'd love to have been there. The MP3 version sold by Amazon is billed as being "& the Tartan Army", which did sound ominous, but in fact that mostly refers to the rendition of - guess what? - "Loch Lomond" that was also on the physical disc. "Clash of the Ash" is perhaps slightly "over-bassed", so not quite as good as the live version, but otherwise it's a very solid rendition, and for 69p from Amazon I think it's something of a bargain.

* "Scotland for ever", more or less; the phrase is commonly used by the pro-independence movement.

** They're generally made of laminated hickory these days, but "Clash of the Laminated Hickory" doesn't really work, does it?

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Comments on this review

  • Templar19 published 21/09/2010
    I used to hobnob with some of these guys in Edinburgh very many moons ago.
  • Ouroborussian published 19/09/2010
    Really interesting background information, as always. Be back with an 'E'.
  • carcraig published 16/09/2010
    I saw Runrig live many a time back in the day when Donnie Munro was still their front man. And I was in the stadium when that recording of Loch Lomond was made!
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Product Information : Clash of the Ash - Runrig (Single)

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Single Track from Runrig - Genre: Rock - Release Year: 2007

Product Details

Genre: Rock

Artist(s): Runrig

Release Year: 2007

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