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CLANNAD: "LEGEND"


Reviewed by DAVE FRANKLIN


In the early eighties there was a TV adaptation of the Robin Hood story. Robin of Sherwood was a classic of its era and has stood the test of time well. It was also responsible for aiding the careers of a number of actors who were to become household names. Michael Praed played the lead to be replaced by Jason Connery when the former moved to Dynasty and then into relative obscurity. Clive Mantle, Nicholas Grace, Richard Addie and Ray Winstone were also along for the ride.


This version of the story was a downbeat, grubby re-telling of the story' mixed with mysticism and superstition but ultimately a realistic version of the myth. There was only one choice when it came to providing the required ingredients for the soundtrack, Clannad, and for many people this soundtrack and the music they provided for the whole series was the first taste of this unique Irish band.

This album also provided the band with a BAFTA for best TV soundtrack. After writing the theme for Harry's Game and obtaining a surprising top five hit, they released the successful album, Magical Ring. Legend was the 1984 follow up album and brought them to prominence. The rest is history. The opening track is the series theme tune, Robin (the Hooded Man), and this track really sets the pace for what is about to follow. With its mix of medieval and modern and its rich vocal, it captures the essence of the music of the album and of Clannad in general.

This album was in no way a departure for the band, more a well-timed opportunity to reach a wider audience. Now Is Here features Marie Brennans glorious vocal with incidental riffs and background melodies weaving through the piece but never detracting from her voice. Herne is a piece of strange beats and exotic sounds, suited to the mystical nature of the character in the series. The strange thing about this soundtrack, and indeed the band as a whole, is that they can use modern day electric instruments, synthetic sounds and contemporary gadgetry and still end up with a set of songs that feels right for the period. Of course, the songs are not authentic in the historical sense, but they portray the mix of history, romance and the mystical that the series relied on.

Harps and mandolas are used side by side with modern guitars and keyboards, nowhere better that in Strange Lands, but at the end of the day it is the vocal arrangements that stand this album apart. The elven charm of Marie, combined with the real world backing of the male elements of the band, create a wonderful mix. The romantic and wistful track, Lady Marian, provides some lovely harp music coupled with a haunting flute, and sums up the scene where Robin and Marian first meet. "You are like a May morning" he says as he leaves her chamber, a line I bet we wished we all had thought of.

Whether you are looking for an introduction to Clannad, are a fan of the TV series, or just looking for original and memorable music, then this is for you. The TV series remains a classic, this soundtrack a forgotten gem and the band themselves one of the most innovative bands to come out of Ireland.