13 tracks: Portnahaven * Let’s Recycle * Ye Jacobites By Name * Corryvreckan * Parade * Coming Home * Still Gonna Die * No More Sailing * Only Remembered * Risk Frost * Staggering Home * Moor Road * North West Passage.
The McCalmans, in their 44th year on the road in 2009, are known around the world for their strong vocals, their prolific output of new songs and their idiosyncratic chat on stage.
Their annual tours of Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands are legendary, and they still have time to undertake a Highlands and Islands tour of Scotland each summer, prior to their Edinburgh Festival Fringe gigs. Their tough touring schedules are legendary and over the years they have recorded twenty-six original albums plus many compilations. The covers of all these albums are reproduced on the front cover of Coming Home.
In the 44 years, there have been few line-up changes and in total there have been only five McCalmans - Ian McCalman (current member), Hamish Bayne (retired in 1982 to concentrate on making fine concertinas), the late Derek Moffatt, Nick Keir (current member who replaced Hamish) and Stephen Quigg (Derek’s replacement).
Ian McCalman will shortly retire from The McCalmans, and so the group that has been a part of the Scottish folk scene since 1964 will be no more. They have chosen a live format for Coming Home, that always has been their real strength. The album was recorded on tour in Scotland and Denmark in folk clubs, village halls and theatres.
The Macs have recorded over 400 songs and as usual this is an album of almost completely original material, starting with the title track Coming Home by Steven Clark, a song of welcome to refugees from other lands. Ian says that The Moor Road is the only song he’s written entirely on location, namely, the south end of Bute, the birthplace of his father. Let’s Recycle is a rewrite of Midlothian Council’s Recycling instruction booklet and Corryvreckan is Nick’s song about a girl’s ambition to escape to the Hebrides from a grim Edinburgh estate.
Ian heard the story of a family in Bonnyrigg still at war because of the bitter Miners’ Strike of 1984 and wrote When The Risk Of Frost Is Over. Victory Parade is a song of World War One recruitment in the north of Scotland, inspired by Ian’s production involvement in the album Far, Far From Ypres.
Portnahaven is Nick’s song of Islay dreams and No More Sailing is another home-coming song about Morar, recorded a few miles from there, in Arisaig. Still Gonna Die is Shel Silverstein’s answer to healthy living. The Ian McCalman Folk Group (as they were known in the sixties) recorded Ye Jacobites By Name in 1966 but they always try to include a golden oldie in new CDs.
Northwest Passage is the late Stan Rogers brilliant song, which The Macs have included because, quite simply, they like singing it. Five O’Clock in the Morning is Martin Harbourne’s song of Stornaway fishermen, Staggering Home is Ian’s tongue-in-cheek prequel to Wrecked Again and Only Remembered is a traditional song which the group were asked to sing on the Far, Far From Ypres album.