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A Royal Record

Febbraio 2010
Non è propriamente pop ma è orecchiabile ed energetica la musica delle guardie reali di Buckingham Palace. La Decca, l’etichetta di Eminem ed Amy Winehouse, si è accorta del loro potenziale. Risultato? Il CD Heroes.

di Louise Johnson

File audio:

 The Band of the Coldstream Guards
The Band of the Coldstream Guards

Normally, you would see them outside Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. Now the soldiers who wear the distinctive red uniforms and bearskin hats have swapped royal palaces for the recording studios. The result is their new album Heroes.
Heroes came about after a £1m deal was signed with Decca Records last year. Decca looks after some of the biggest names in pop music, including Eminem and Amy Winehouse.
The label is also responsible for launching the careers of The Rolling Stones and Tom Jones. Hopes are high that Heroes will enjoy chart success too.

A MILITARY TRADITION

The Coldstream Guards Band is over 200 years old, and therefore one of the oldest military bands in the world. They have recorded music in the past but nothing on this scale. Their regular duties involve guarding the Queen and taking part in the event on every tourist’s agenda – the Changing of the Guard. You can also see them at the Trooping the Colour and The Edinburgh International Military Tattoo.
The track list on Heroes includes music from The Ride of the Valkyries, Nimrod and the film Gladiator. The musicians say that the album should appeal to all ages and tastes. The adjectives “‘emotional” and “epic” have been used to describe its sound.
But if playing a trumpet is difficult enough, doesn’t it make it even harder when you are wearing a heavy, furry hat? Lt. Col Graham Jones, the regiment’s Director of Music, said that the hat’s chin strap is slightly lower in order to make it easier to play certain instruments.

We’re in Business

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe Standard British accent

In 1962 Dick Rowe, an executive at Decca Records, famously turned down a new group called The Beatles. It was one of the music industry’s biggest mistakes, although Rowe later redeemed himself by signing The Rolling Stones, The Animals and Tom Jones.
Given the label’s rock history, its latest signing is rather surprising: the Band of the Coldstream Guards, who are the British army’s oldest marching band. Last year they signed a £1 million contract with Decca and released Heroes, an album of war tunes, on November 30th.
The band’s director of music, Lt. Col. Graham Jones, explained how this came about:

Lt. Col. Graham Jones (Standard English accent):

I looked at great friends of ours, of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and they’d released two albums with Decca and I thought, “Well, if the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, who we consider one of the best bands in the army, pipe bands, if they can do it, why can’t we?” So I then saw the Salvation Army Band issue a recording under the same label and then I definitely thought, “We should be involved in this.” So I then went about by finding out who to speak to, and I spoke to Tom Lewis, who’s the A&R guy at Decca, and I went in with a proposal, and he said, “Well, this sounds good, let me think about it and I’ll call you back,” and he called me back and said, ”We’d like you to offer you a contract” and so we were offered a contract to record an album for Decca.

AIR STUDIOS

He then talked about the recording process:

Lt. Col. Graham Jones:

We spent, in the end, three-and-a-half days in the studio, and it was interesting for the boys because we did quite a lot of work on click tracks, which is like a metronome playing in your ear, as opposed to watching me, the conductor, so that we could re-record it and get the tempos exactly right and then we could layer, by overdubbing, sounds onto it, which gives it this big epic film score feel to it, and then we could add different sounds and effects, once we’d finished in the studio, so it was a really great experience and the band really enjoyed being at AIR studios, it really is a superb place to record and it was the ideal place to put a military band to recording.


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Glossary

bearskin hats - cappelli di pelo d’orso.

have swapped - hanno scambiato.

came about - è stato realizzato.

a £1m deal - un contratto da un milione di sterline.

chart success - successo in classifica.

nothing on this scale - niente di questa portata.

duties - mansioni.

furry - peloso.

the chin strap is slightly lower - il laccio sotto il mento viene leggermente abbassato.

WE’RE IN BUSINESS

turned down - rifiutò.

war tunes - canzoni di guerra.

how this came about - come è successo.

pipe bands - orche-stre di cornamuse.

issue a recording under the same label - lanciare un disco con la stessa etichetta.

I... went about by finding out who to speak to - ho iniziato cercando di capire con chi dovevo parlare.

A&R guy - agente discografico (A&R sta per Artists and Repertoire).

the conductor - il direttore d’orchestra.

layer... sounds onto it - sovrapporre suoni l’uno sull’altro.

epic film score feel - sensazione di grande colonna sonora di un filmone epico.