Another blast of raw energy from the other C&C music factory, Frank Klepacki’s music from the immensely popular Red Alert PC strategy game brings into sharp focus the elements that made his music from Command & Conquer such a compelling listen even away from the computer. Gone are most of the soundbytes within the music (the chilling refrain of film-footage “sieg heil” samples in “Hell March” being an exception), Klepacki brings in da funk in full force. “Mud” is perhaps the best example of what he achieves with the music from this game: funky, atmospheric, moody, and rhythmic, without relying on a hit-you-over-the-head-with-it, four-beats-to-the-measure techno beat at all times. Though further games (and soundtracks) in the Command & Conquer series were released, their music seldom got better than this.
Though it was offered on Westwood Studios’ site for a long time, The Music Of Command & Conquer: Red Alert is now out of print.
- Hell March (6:24)
- Radio (4:05)
- Crush (3:49)
- Roll Out (3:54)
- Mud (4:48)
- Twin Cannon (3:55)
- Face The Enemy (5:36)
- Run (5:13)
- Terminate (5:20)
- Big Foot (5:15)
- Workmen (4:44)
- Militant Force (1:50)
- Dense (5:02)
- Vector (4:18)
- Smash (8:07)
Released by: Westwood Studios / Electronic Arts
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 72:20
Serving as a bit of a musical mission statement for Afro-Celt Sound System, their debut effort starts off with two numbers which are still among their strongest: “Saor / Free” and “Whirl-y-Reel 1”. “Sure-As-Not / Sure-As-Knot” wears a bit as it throws in samples of children chanting in its second half, though admittedly that’s just my taste speaking there. The two “Whirl-y-Reel” cuts are a preview of the fast-paced, dense percussion dance tracks that will become the Afro-Celts’ specialty in the future, and Sound Magic largely lacks the serene vocals that also become the group’s hallmark in later outings. Still, it’s well worth a listen; recommended tracks include “Whirl-y-Reel 1”, “Inion / Daughter” and “House Of The Ancestors”.
- Saor / Free / News From Nowhere (8:21)
- Whirl-y-Reel 1 – Beard And Sandals Mix (7:21)
- Inion / Daughter (4:15)
- Sure-As-Not / Sure-As-Knot – Jungle Segue (9:58)
- Nil Cead Againn Dul Abhaile / We Cannot Go Home (7:20)
- Dark Moon, High Tide (4:12)
- Whirl-y-Reel 2 – Folk Police Mix (5:27)
- House Of The Ancestors (8:01)
- Eistigh Sealad / Listen To Me / Saor reprise (10:53)
Released by: RealWorld / Virgin
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 65:48
You know, I’ll be the first to fess up that I’m not exactly a Thistle & Shamrock Listener (not that it’s a bad show, and not that I don’t like the music). And I’m a little wary of the mania for all things Celtic that has pervaded the underbelly of pop culture for the past decade or so, despite the fact that I’m able to trace my own lineage straight back to Ireland. Something about everyone embracing this culture just because it’s “in” bugs me – and many of the supposedly Celtic musical acts out there aren’t peddling the sound of old Eire, but rather of Enya, whose sound I associate with new age music more than I do anything that sounds distinctly Celtic. But I’ll expound on this soapbox more later. With all my griping, you’re probably wondering why in the world I even bothered with this CD.
The answer is the wonderful second track, “Mary Of The South Seas”, written and performed by Tim and Neil Finn. Aside from their dedicating the song to their mother’s Irish origins, your guess is as good as mine as to why two performers born and raised in New Zealand are on a compilation of “modern Irish music,” but it’s a lovely song all the same.
There are other good reasons to dig this one out, however; Sharon Shannon’s “Cavan Potholes” is a nicely traditional (and simultaneously modern) Celtic-flavored instrumental. Adam Clayton and Bono of U2 fame turn in a low-key number, “Won’t You Be Back Tomorrow”, and Sinead O’Connor turns in “On Raglan Road”. Toward the end of the disc, the tunes become more traditional and the readings become more tongue-in-cheek – I’m thinking primarily of Elvis Costello’s rendition of “The Night Before Larry Was Stretched” here – but in fine Irish tradition, the producers of this compilation probably expected us to have downed a couple of pints by this point, so I’m willing to forgive.
Though I originally bought it for one song by a couple of favorite artists, Common Ground quickly opened my eyes to some more good music. And I’m happy – and perhaps just a touch proud – to say that the whole thing smacks more of real Celtic music than a lot of the product that wears that label these days.
- O Bhean A’ti – Maire Brennan (5:13)
- Mary Of The South Seas – Tim and Neil Finn (5:08)
- Tomorrow – Bono and Adam Clayton (4:36)
- Cavan Potholes – Sharon Shannon (4:10)
- Help Me To Believe – Paul Brady (5:56)
- On Raglan Road – Sinead O’Connor (6:05)
- As I Roved Out – Brian Kennedy (4:32)
- The Night Before Larry Was Stretched – Elvis Costello (5:09)
- Mna Na H-eireann – Kate Bush (2:53)
- Whistling Low Errigal – Davy Spillane with Donal Lunny (4:08)
- My Heart’s Tonight In Ireland – Andy Irvine (3:36)
- Cathain – Liam O’Maonlai (3:27)
- Bogie’s Bonnie Belle – Christy Moore (3:18)
Released by: EMI
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 58:11