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REL Records RECD593

Bagrock! Hmmm. Where do I start? Those of you who have heard these piping rockers before will know exactly what to expect, and those who haven’t, be warned!

Mashing up’ modern rock songs like Gary Numan’s Cars, Kings Of Leon’s Use Somebody, Don’t Stop Believing by Journey and (wait for it…) Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal with some classic and modern piping tunes, the Chilli Pipers certainly are in a genre all to themselves. The band boasts several pipers and a mix of guitars, keyboards, drums and brass and they certainly do rock it up. On stage, I bet they go down a storm, though I am not so sure it translates so well to a CD.

Highlights here are the mixing of Gordon Duncan’s The Sleeping Tune with the dark riffs of Eminem’s Lose Yourself – weird but it kind of works. And Gimme All Your Lovin’ on the bagpipes has surely got to be worth a listen – right? And then there is Coldplay’s Fix You combined with a pipe polka. Yes, you read that right! I’m not so sure about Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams done with a newly written strathspey though. Some things are just wrong. And I don’t think it needs the addition of the song at the end – it doesn’t fit. There are also some straight-up rocky bagpipe tunes like Jimmy Wards which is done well and I love the addition of the snare drum here.

At times this is something of a guilty pleasure – I enjoy it, but know that I probably shouldn’t. At other times, it is a bit cringey. But it is all good fun and it certainly made me smile. It will probably linger on the CD shelf and be brought out to ‘impress’ my non-folkie friends sometime after a few too many glasses of red.

Fiona Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.