The Coldstream Guards & the Royal Scots Dragoon alternate between a brass band and a marching bagpipe band focus, but this live album, North American Tour, 1981, is at its best when hiking through the latter territory. Especially invigorating is the way the snare drums are recorded, the sound immediate in a way that even a rap record producer would find exciting -- and it really isn't doubtful that such an individual would hear this kind of recording and take cues from it. As for the marching band stuff, it is more bland, hogging the lion's share of the first side with alternating tributes to the American -- mostly John Philip Sousa -- and British traditions from this field of music. The section of the "British History" medley devoted to sea songs demonstrates admirable use of dynamics, dropping down to a double pianissimo for the opening as if there were only a handful of musicians in the groups. "Battle of Glencoe" is a bagpipe highlight, properly evoking the pathos that can only be inspired by the tale of a cold-blooded, ruthless massacre.
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AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne