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KRL / Monarch CDMON896

It's a while since the last Glasgow Police album, and the character of piping CDs has changed somewhat. Now officially called Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band, they are joined on this live recording by singer Rachel Walker, guitarist Ewan Robertson, bassist James Lindsay and ivory tinklers Allan Henderson and Michael MacNeil - none of whom is officially part of the boys (and girls) in blue. While the arrangements may be more modern, the music is classic Glasgow Polis: a good two dozen pipers and almost as many drummers belt out favourites from The Ramnee Ceilidh to Auld Adam.

Reels, jigs, marches, airs, hornpipes and strathspeys - Ceolry covers the full spectrum of pipe band music. There are no competition sets as such - no constantly shifting medleys, no MSRs - but all those components are presented separately, plus many imaginative concert pieces. There's a batch of lively jigs including Ronald MacKenzie Of Milton & Mabou and The Judge's Dilemma. There's a delightful slow version of the reel Farley Bridge from Duncan Chisholm's Strathglass trilogy. Two tracks include vocals from Rachel Walker, both with strong Uist connections: one a trio of Gaelic songs arranged for pipes and the other a long piece incorporating words and music from World War One. The mixing of pipes and vocals in a live concert is accomplished very successfully here, and in fact the only sound quality issues on this recording are a slight muddiness when the whole band is running at full blasting power.

A drum fanfare is almost obligatory on any band CD, as are a couple of pipe solos. Scott Barrie and Scott Giffin step up as soloists, with their own arrangements of hornpipes, jigs and reels, mainly from the modern flash virtuoso repertoire. The band finishes with a big set of traditional reels, from the Glasgow party tune He Man Do to that old Silly Wizard favourite The Pitnacree Ferryman. Well over an hour long, Ceolry is an impressive performance from one of the great Scottish pipe bands.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 108 of The Living Tradition magazine.