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Reviews
Proterra RUNRIG
Proterra
Ridge Records RR021





Top twenty singles, Top Of The Pops appearances, Carlsberg ad music and sell-out tours have marked the career of this Scottish six-piece rock outfit, which for three decades has celebrated Alba's history with a fierce nationalistic pride. To help them define their current musical and cultural standpoint the band recruited Brazil-based Scottish musician Paul Mounsey, whose contemporary grooves on Proterra sharpen but ultimately fail to modernise Runrig's stadium-Celt-rock oevre, based on unquestionable sincerity and decent musicianship though it is.

As ever, vast keyboard swathes swill around with assorted strings and peripatetic skirly pipes while drums and percussion pound the relentless anthem beat with occasional borrowings from elsewhere. Thus are illustrated songs of legend, aspiration and regret whose lyrical structures echo the bardic forms of old but lack the sparkle of true Lit: sun-soaked seas, crystal-clear fountains and phrases like "...we rise/soul kites in a diamond sky" trip the cliché meter on a regular basis.

The Gaelic material has always been Runrig's strength - here, An Toll Dubh (The Dungeon) evokes a genuine thrill of Celtic otherworldliness but it's an all-too-brief respite in a sea of overstated reverberama for the lighter-waving masses. Angels From The Ashes, a soothing but unmemorable piano instrumental, winds up a 'project' album which will be bought in cartloads by the band's huge international fanbase and unregenerated prog-rock fans.

Mel McClellan - September 2003

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Proterra by Runrig, marks a return to a rockier, harder edged sound after the folkier Stamping Ground CD. The vocal harmonies are richer as a result of their new keyboard players contribution. The songs vary from the anthemic (Proterra) to the more contemplative (Gabriels Sword). You get a variety of colours and textures in the music. The voices may change slightly but the quality of songs remains constant and it is this quality that has brought and kept a loyal fanbase, despite their infrequent visits south of the border. Whilst some of the songs may be considered sentimental, it would be sad to think that we are living in a world where there is no room for any sentiment! Listen and enjoy.
Mike Wiles, Somerset

It's rare that new music touches the soul as completely as Proterra. Recent albums have been patchy with sparkling new songs alongside reltively undistinctive material. Not so here. Not sinve the days of Recovery and Heartland has a Runrig album been so complete and so consistent. Indeed Recovery supplies the basis for two of the standout tracks on the album re-recorded with sublte grooves from Paul Monsey's keyboards. It has been a long time since I've been able to enjoy a runrig album from beginning to end and find every track has something intersting to offer, but I can with Proterra - a great return to form
Kevyn Smith, County Durham

Ok so it's not got the jig about the house beat of "Stamping Ground", but that was a mega album to live up to. I am a die hard fan, see them every year live etc, but even I took a couple of listens to get this album under my skin. This is a good album, and the revisit to the Old Boys & An Toll Dubh (the dungeon), originally on the Recovery album was inspired. My current favourite track has to be From The North, that may change when I see the boys live in December. With reference to Mel McClellans review, Runrig fans like a bit of chliche in the writing, seeing it as inspired lyrics, and for a band who has been making music for 30 years, and still keep selling out tours, we don't want any "modernisation" thank-you.
Liz Richens-Smith, Rossendale

This album has taken a lot of listening too but dont stop there .But it is well worth it . It isnt as easy listening as "once in a lifetime" but it is a work worthy of spending time getting to know it .Having been to Stirling i wasnt impressed then, now it has past the test of time!!! listen is my advice and listen it is so good when it hits you bang yes!!! not a singles album but one of great worth that is now on my computer all the time Runrig have always produced good albums this in my opinion is one of the best , where all have got involed and used there multitalents to the best everthing you could wish for and then some .Paul Mounsey must be worth his mention play play play is my advise!!!!!!!!!!!!!
David Alan Garrity, Tarporley

Another top album from a top scottish band that don't get enough recognition in the current music industry. Proterra, From the North, Day of Days- Fantasic, How many bands last 30 Years that keep producing new albulms and have at least two tours a year and keep the loyal Fan base extremly happy Scottish , they are just fantasic, Haven't still got over the amazing 30th Aniversary concert at Stirling Castle and the next tour is just around the corner. Long Live Runrig, see you in December.
Kate, North Yorkshire

I may only be 15, but i love Runrig! Since the age of 0 i have been listening to it! I luv this album! It's not my favourite, but it is more modern than the rest. At 1st listen i thought it was rubbish but i very quickly became addicted to it! I cant wait to see them live again on Nov 26
Suzanne, Cambridge

Well im 17 and Runrig are most defiantly my favourite band. I have been listening to them all my life and i really love their music. I think Proterra is one of the best albums and Brians voice??? he sounds like an angel the first time i heard it i fell in love with the album and its hardly ever off of my head phones or computer. I really reconmend the album and i think its brill.
Rachelle, Wigan

An excellent follow up to the Stamping Ground album celebrating the old to the new.Paul Mounsey's contribution adds a haunting scope to Runrig's unique sound. A fans dream of 30 years celebrated.Slainte skyeman121
John A Scholes, Portree, Isle of Skye

I've been listening to Runrig for almost all of their 30 years. I see them in concert a number of times every year, travelling North of the border to see them on their home territory. I really can't imagine a more fitting album as celebration of 30 years in the music business. It is distinctly Runrig through and through (thank goodness), but shows a progressive edge through some tracks including the title track. Re-mixed versions of The Old Boys and An Toll Dubh are perfect indicators of how versatile the band are. I recommend this album. I personally can't stop playing it and think I may well have worn mine out as it's started to jump! I've just bought a second copy and wouldn't hesitate to buy a third, fourth......if need be. Long live Runrig. Fabulous instrumentals, inspirational lyrics and the voices of Bruce and Brian. What more could a fan ask? My 22 year old daughter is a serious convert and we can't wait for the 2004 dates to be released.
Desney, Sheffield

runrig are definitley my faveourite band ever .i love all there albums and they keep getting better .proterra has so many styles in one album its incredible brian has an amazing voice listen to it its great . radio's should play more
carrie, south wales

Proterra sees Runrig return to their full musical fore. The Stamping Ground consolidated Bruce Guthro's status as lead singer, and this album shows him progressing further still. Not since The Big Wheel has a Runrig album managed to blend energy with the most modern musical techniques- brought to the record here by Paul Mounsey.

This is a logical progression from The Stamping Ground, which was Runrig's return to full confidence after the tumultuous events of 1997 where it could all have ended. Indeed, Proterra's wide range of receptions from the media seems to indicate that many did not either expect or want Runrig to reinvent themselves. They have always been something of a thorn in the side of the music journalist- not trendy enough to glamourise, yet vibrant enough to sustain a huge and loyal fan base into their 31st year- Proterra is a statement that they are not stopping yet, and are back with a vengeance.

The album sets its own precedent with The Old Boys, a gentle and haunting reworking of their Recovery classic- now both versions are fan favourites. The same can be said of An Toll Dubh, also reworked by Paul Mounsey to have an epic quality. That epic element is best seen in From the North, a deeply atmospheric song about a warrior- a sort of coda to the love-it-or-hate-it Siol Ghoriadh from the Searchlight album.

The title track, though some may say not the best track on the CD, sums up the album- and Runrig's current status- well. Brian Hurren's vocals on the energetic There's A Need act as another sign that Runrig are in revolution in a similar way to just before their most successful album, The Big Wheel, catapulted them into the world spotlight.

Fans keener on the older Runrig music will be pleased with Faileas Air An Airigh, which could have come straight from the 80s album, Heartland. A Reiteach, meanwhile, is another Recovery-esque song with thumping percussion and that Gaelic vocal impetus driving the album towards its finish, with Blair Douglas' quiet and simple piano piece, Angels from the Ashes.

Proterra heralds a new dawn for this six-piece band of resilience, and although it could be more solid in certain places (a slight sense of hurriedness creeps in at the simple fade-outs on Empty Glens, There's A Need and Day of Days), the band will simply do what they always do: give us an even better album next time.
Adam White, Berkshire

Runrig's released yet another stunning album. The shere quality of their sound grows and grows on you. Maybe we thank god they have not produced rubbish that gets airtime because someone thinks that what the listerners want to hear . Long live rock - Runrig rock.
David Cox, Worcester Pk

What can I say but Proterra is another stunning album from Runrig and is probably the first album to really make a print in true Runrig history since the release of The Big Wheel.

What a year for Runrig with the release of Proterra, their 30th Ann gig at Stirling Castle and tons up on tons of awards as well as two numbers ones in Germany and Denmark.. there is absolutely no signs of this band slowing down and thank god.

There's a need see the introduction of Brians vocal talent and a fine vocalist he is as well. He has indeed made the Runrig sound richer with his vocal talent as well as his swirling keyboard sounds and big sounds. Brian alone is a crowd pleaser!

Proterra has been the strongest release for Runrig in a long time, thats not to say none of the rest of them are good - they are and Proterra marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new era, an era and which they plan to crack America, good luck guys.
Callum, Scottish Borders

proterra is amazing never before have i so easily put an album on repeat runrig are superb..if u havent already check out stamping ground and big wheel not to mention the rest amazing..i love them!! they bring the sunshine to my life! x
karen, glasgow

I have been a huge fan of Runrig for many years now, having enjoyed their early "small" sound, the "big" sound of the 90's, and the "new" sound since Bruce's arrival. But I have to wonder whether I got the same CD all these other reviewers listened to. I think there are some great MacDonald tunes in there, but it's difficult to hear them because of the 80's synth drum tracks that are pasted over the top of every song except the final one. If this is due to Paul Mounsey, all I can do is pray fervently that his association with the band is a temporary aberration. I have to repeatedly play "Recovery" now to remove from my brain the image of "The Old Boys" and "An Toll Dubh" hijacked by some out-of-work dance party cover band. What a disappointment. I feel betrayed. :-(
Eric, Glasgow

runrig can do no wrong in my book.truly the greatest.long may they reign supreme.
max, morpeth northumberland

I've been a fan for about 6 years, ever since a friend from the UK introduced me to "The Mighty Atlantic". I fell in love with the band's blend of quality and clean lyrics, anthem rock sound and Gaelic overtones. When I found out they were getting a new lead singer, I was apprehensive. But Bruce (and now Brian) havce laid to rest any fears of change I may have had. Runrig just keeps getting better, and Proterra is the culmination. Did someone say we could get them to tour in the USA? That would be a dream come true!
Roger, Gaston, Oregon, USA

yes, Top20 Singles in der UK but No 1 in Denmark (CD Runrig - 30 Year Journey) and No 1 in Germany (DVD Day of Days, both in 2004). Proterra are one of the better Albums but only a small replacement for a live concert (me at 19.4.05 next).
Alexander, Rheingau, Germany

Must admit that I liked the predecessor even more. Stamping Ground - as one of my forerunners wrote - may be called something of a once in a lifetime work. But of course, Proterra is a worthy piece of music celebrating the 30th anniversary of a celebrated band. Shall I say it was Runrig, that openened the door to celtic music for me and stirred my emotions for Scotland. Eagerly awaiting a new release to come.
Marcus, Wissen, Germany

Being a new fan to Runrig I must say how impressed I am with them in general and this album in particular. As a fan of Big Country I find them very easy to including the melodic acoustic songs. The folk influences are spot on and remind to the hybrid sounds used by bands such as Clannad, The Levellers and The Men They Couldn't Hang. Proterra is such a quality album with not one weak track on it. Heading To Arcadia sent a shiver down my spine when I first heard it. I have been so impressed by this band that I will be travelling to Scotland to see them live in December. For any fan of passionate, emotive, sweeping music rush out and buy this album.
John, Plymouth

this album marks a mile stone for runrig,old boys from the orignal recovery album redone for this album is a excellent revamp.this album is well worth a listen.
steven brown, walsall

Proterra was supposed to be a landmark album, and dammit those Macdonalds have done it again. I remember the morning it came, I jumped out of bed and ran down to listen. The Old Boys didn't appeal to me the first time but once Proterra kicked in, I knew this album would be great. Gaelic tracks may be less now with Bruce but they are still great, Faileas Air An Airigh is ma fav track from the album. The gaelic maybe less but Bruce's contributions are right up there with Calum and Rory, All The Miles being a song I just sing everywhere. This album is everything its supposed to be, a celebration of time. Blair Douglas' Angel From The Ashes is a wonderful touch, as is the inclusion of Recovery tracks. An all round perfect album, but why is Paul Mounsey's name on the cover?
Chris Sharp, Leeds

I am a latecomer to Runrig, found them in 1992 and could not believe the sound! Superb band both on record and live. I have been to concerts (as recently as 7th December 2005 at Usher Hall in Edinburgh)and collected all of their music catalogue. I loved them with Donnie and Bruce is an excellent frontman. Let's not analyse Runrig but just enjoy them, after all 30+ years in the music business is no mean feat, especially when they still sell out concerts.
Jan Davies, Burton on Trent

The Stamping Ground was a mighty album with a definite folk feel, but Proterra is a worthy follow up and may be their most consistently excellent album since the Big Wheel, albeit with a rockier, more modern feel. The reworkings of The Old Boys and An Toll Dubh from Recovery by Paul Mounsey are excellent and follow on from his contribution to Running to the Light on the last album. Proterra, Day of Days and Empty Glens are excellent, the latter being a reference to the young Gaels leaving the Highlands to find futures elsewhere. Gabriel's sword is gentle Guthro song and From the North is an epic with obvious Tolkein influences. The rest of the tracks are just good, solid songs except for A Reiteach, with its haunting Gaelic lyrics, and Heading for Arcadia, a Malcolm Jones instrumental special with pipes and guitar over electronic percussion and swathes of keyboards; the highlight of the album. Notable is the contribution of Brian Hurren, now clearly established on keyboards, who also contributes for the first time on vocals - and how. He has a superb voice and adds a new dimension to an already superb band. All in all, another masterpiece from the veteran celt rockers. Long may they continue.
Tony Fisher, York UK

RUNRIG the best band ever every cd brought out just get,s better and better hope they will be here again soon
Mary, hawick scottish borders
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