For those not already in the know (this reviewer included), The Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons) is a “cavalry regiment of the British Army, part of the Household Cavalry.” At least that’s what wikipedia has to offer us on the subject. As a group The Blues And Royals go back almost 350 years (the Blues first formed in 1661), now traveling the world to perform. This latest release, as the title suggests, is a salute to American high school marching bands and serves to recognize the generosity and kindness shown to them by their American hosts. As the liner notes tell, “The music chosen reflects the broad range played by American Bands ranging from contemporary pop to classic Sousa marches, not forgetting on eof the biggest musical successes of recent years; Disney’s High School Musical. And fans of the American high school marching band will find plenty to like here as the band indeed traverses genres and decades, intermingling marching band classics like “The Stars And Stripes Forever” with popular film compositions and more contemporary tracks like James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful.”
The mixture of musical styles works with varying levels of success. While some tracks are granted a more grand dynamic, others feel a bit out of place when given this sort of presentation. Obviously the film score tracks fit right in with the Blues and Royals. In this category we have epic pieces from Star Wars: A New Hope, Pirates of the Caribbean, and “The Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Each of these tracks is perfectly befitting a professional cavalry band (the Band is known for playing while mounted on horseback) and the music on these tracks shines through. Some of the pop, while expertly played, loses a bit of it’s pop attitude when played with such precision and expertise: many of the moments in “Billie Jean” and “Your Song” don’t particularly lend themselves to the quiet drama they’re given by these musicians. Other tracks fall somewhere in between. “The Final Countdown” sounds fairly spectacular in its treatment here – especially for fans of “Arrested Development” who will recognize it as Gob’s theme.
This is an entertaining album, and a gem for fans of the Blues and Royals – or marching music in general, but it’s not for everyone. If you find yourself waiting for half time at football games just to hear the bands play then you might as well go out and buy this album now, but if that’s not your style, this album isn’t likely to change your mind.
Zach’s Rating: B-
Perfect For: Let’s see… maybe marching band fans
Stay Away if: You want orchestra classics or pop music but not both
To purchase High School Salute, visit Amazon