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GUEST REVIEW

A Touch of Class


The Pride of the Raven Flute Band, East Belfast.

Sometime ago a friend in a Glasgow flute band told me about a CD he'd picked up while parading in Belfast.  The CD was A Touch of Class by the Pride of the Raven Flute Band.  As a collector of flute band music, and also with it coming highly recommended, I purchased a copy.  I can tell you I was not disappointed!

The Pride of the Raven is known across the land as being one of Ulster’s premier melody flute bands.  Formed in East Belfast in 1968 they seem to go from strength to strength.  Their musical ability seems to improve with age as well.  This, to my knowledge, is their second recording, and a top class recording it is.  At the moment it has to be one of the top ten melody recordings on sale.

First track on the CD is The British Legion.  As we approach ‘Poppy Day’ it's quite poignant that this is the first track to be reviewed.  Every time I hear this tune I always think about the night of Remembrance that takes place in the Albert Hall, London, on the eve of the Remembrance parade at the Cenotaph.  This tune is, in my mind, one of the best on the CD.  The flute section is spot on.  The drumming is very tight and flawless.  Well done lads. A superb tune, always has been and always will be.  You have done this tune justice.

Track two is The Councillor.  I like the way the band plays this.  Nice melody with a bit of Blood and Thunder thrown in. I've heard this tune played by a number of bands before and feel they do it a injustice at times.  Nice to see the ‘Raven’ going to town on it!  I like tunes like this - that have a bit of ‘oomph’ in there.  Makes you stand up and listen.

Track three is not an all time favourite of mine, La Tambour Major.  Every time I hear this tune it always reminds me of the excellent William King Memorial Flute Band playing in the side streets of the Fountain on ‘Derry Day’.  They were flawless, like the Pride of the Raven!  The more I listen to your CD the more this tune grows on me.  Hope for us all!

Track four, well being a Scouser myself I can relate to the tune, Leaving of Liverpool.  I expected the band to be wearing Arran jumpers a la The Spinners.  There's not a Scouser alive who does not sing along to this tune.  Had me singing, had Pete Waterman knocking at my door.  Excellent lads that’s all I can say.  If I had one little criticism, thought the bass drummer was too loud.  But, hey what do I know?

Couer de Lion is track five.  This for me is the track that the flute section come alive on.  I like that the drums are just right, not to heavy.  Bass drummer is spot on.  An all round excellent rendition of an excellent tune.

An all time favourite of mine is track six, Rambling Irishman.  I'll keep this simple.  You played one of my favourite better than I could've imagined.  10/10 lads.

Stars and Stripes Forever is track seven.  Close you eyes and think back to the opening scene of A Few Good Gentlemen and the band crossing the parade field.  Could that not be the ‘Raven’?  Bass drumming on this is superb.  Not missing a single beat.  I'll be honest I'm not a great fan of this tune, no matter what band plays it, but the Pride of the Raven seem to give it something that makes listening to the tune bearable.  That is not a slanderous comment towards the band.  As stated I don't like the tune but you make it easier to listen to.

18th December/No Surrender is the eighth track.  Apart from The Sash, Derry Walls is up there as a good old Loyalist tune.  How many of us, who've listened to this CD, have not played their imaginary bass drum?  I have and will continue to do so.  Lads another 10/10.  For our technically minded friends out there, would it not be good to see the Governor, Alastair Simpson, giving his speech at the Apprentice Boys dinner when he said "Today we earned the rights for every Apprentice Boy to walk the walls of Derry" while the ‘Raven’ played Derry Walls as background music?

Track nine, Flag and Empire.  One word sums this tune up, Superb.

An old flute band classic, White Plume.  Track ten.  Another excellent rendition.  Drum section is so spot on.  Well done, to the bass drummer also.  Flute section 10/10.

The New Colonial is the eleventh track to feature on  A Touch of Class.  You can just picture the band, being led by their Drum Major in his red tunic and bearskin, turning the corner onto the Craigavon Bridge blasting this tune out.  Superb lads, superb.

Twelve down twelve to go.  Track twelve is 5th November/Protestant Boys.  There's not a bandsman alive that can not relate to this tune.  Very good, one little problem with it, too short!

Track thirteen is Regatta.  Before getting this CD I had never heard this tune.  Which is the good thing about buying melody music, you get to hear tunes that you would not hear at any other time.  This tune can take some getting used to. Still growing on me, so I will not give much judgement on it.  What I have heard up to now is spot on.  Good flute section. Good all round marching tune.

Track fourteen every Rangers fans dream, Every Other Saturday.  12/10 to the bass drummer.  Very good.  Would I be right in assuming that there is a little jig at the end of this rendition?  If so, liked it.  Added at certain edge to it.

Fifteen is King Cotton.  Very good rendition.  Not my favourite tune on the CD.  But, nevertheless nice to listen to.  Very relaxing.

Quite appropriate to me is track sixteen, Glaswegian.  I travel to Glasgow tomorrow.  Like this tune a lot.  Like the Blood and Thunder influence in it.  Yet again, 10/10 to the bass drummer.

King Review is the seventeenth track.  The band does this a lot of justice.  Especially, the piccolo player.  Comes in at the right time.  Some melody bands, I find, tend to overblow and overplay the piccolo.  Big pat on the back lads.

Eighteen, no Loyalist album is complete without these tunes on it.  Rifles/No Pope of Rome.  Would it be my imagination or is this not the tune to be playing as you approach the Bogside.  Lads, superb.  Had me on my feet singing to this tune, to the dismay and anger of my neighbours.

Track nineteen is On The Quarterdeck.  Love this tune.  One of my old time favourite naval related tunes.  I've seen other melody bands play this, but, not as good as you do.  Superb lads, superb.

Track twenty, well you just couldn’t, could you?  The Sash & The Lily.  I like this, no fancy introductions just straight in, the way The Sash should be played.  No fancy bass drumming, just giving it some wellie.  One for the twelfth morning next year I think.

Track twenty-one is La Festive.  Hhmmmm!  I just don't know.  Maybe it's me.  I don't know.  Not a lover of this, but the band do well.  It's hard for me to comment on this as I tend to skip this tune as I'm not a great lover of it.  What I have heard is very good.  Drummers on this are very good.  But!

First time I heard track twenty one, Black Bear.  I thought my, oh my.  Superb tune, played by any band, even better played by the ‘Raven’.  Excellent!

Twenty three, Killaloo.  I think the band have got the arrangement right with the track listing on the CD.  So many bands make the big mistake of starting with this particular tune.  To me, this can either make a CD or kill it!  Happily, this is an ideal tune to finish this CD off.  The band play it as well as any other melody band, if not better.  One hundred percent performance, well deserved all accolades for this CD.

Twenty four, The National Anthem.  Nothing I can say is there?

Robbie Gallimore

 

Thanks to Robbie for his review of the Pride of the Raven’s excellent CD, A Touch of Class. Robbie is also web-master of the Flute Band News.  In an effort to promote Ulster’s marching band culture, Glenwood Publications – the publishers of The Twelfth – is happy to recommend A Touch of Class.

For a copy of A Touch of Class, send a cheque/Postal Order (made payable to Glenwood Publications) for Ł11.00 (including p & p) to:
Glenwood Publications, First Floor, 316 Shankill Road, Belfast, BT13 3AB.  Due to high bank charges on non-UK cheques, readers in Éire and the rest of Europe should send €20.00 in well-concealed cash only.  North American readers should send US$22.00 in well-concealed cash only.

E-mail orders@the-twelfth.org.uk when you have placed your order.  We will then e-mail you back when your order has been received and dispatched.

 

 

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