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Review: Full Boar by Saor Patrol

Whereas as editor of Chanter I occasionally receive CDs to review - one of the few perks of the job I suppose - I do also sometimes put my hand in my own pocket and buy one as well. This one was slightly different, however, as I came upon the band - Saor Patrol (pronounced shore patrol and deriving from the gaelic word for freedom) in the wonderful world of Youtube. I then looked up their website and bought this CD as an MP3 download. Welcome to the twenty first century…

The band, on this album at least, consists

of highland pipers Charlie ‘Chick’ Allan and

Jesus Paton plus three drummers - Kev

Johnston, Marcus Dickson and Ally

McClelland - and on the final track Paul Kane

on electric guitar. Other CDs from the band include more guitar but I liked the sound on this album, so this was the one I opted for even though it was this final track which tempted me to a purchase.

So what is the music like? The website describes it as ‘Tribal or Celtic rock’ which doesn’t tell you much except that it is very much from the ‘alternative’ side of things. The piping is possibly not what would appeal to a Highland piping aficionado in that although it is very clean and precise, there seems to be very little in the way of traditional Highland gracing going on. And the drumming is definitely not what you would expect from a Highland pipe band either - the drums themselves being of the type

normally associated with samba bands, but played with a pounding rock beat throughout. Very compulsive, in your face stuff.

If you’re familiar with bands such as Corvus Corax and Schelmish from Germany, then this is very much in the same vein, though less medieval and rather more Scottish. And just as you’d find the German bands in unlikely venues for early music groups, such as heavy metal gigs, Saor Patrol also gets around to places not normally associated with pipe bands such as the Rock and Blues Custom Bike Show in Derbyshire (29th July to 1st August).

Some of the tracks on the album weren’t quite to my taste, however, such as track 6 - ‘Wallace Bled’ - a rendition of a version of the tune I know as ‘Bruce’s Address’ over thumping rock drumming. Didn’t quite work I felt. Others however, really hit the spot, such as the afformentioned track with the electric guitar ‘Solveig - gone electric’ and ‘The Stomp’ which was entirely drumming. In fact there was another track that was simply nearly five minutes of drumming but unlike in military style drumming solos they maintained the same samba-rock beat throughout and it had my toes tapping and me wondering what tunes I could play along to it.

The beauty of buying online is that you could hear samples from each of the tracks and in fact you could buy individual tracks if you wanted at just 79p. Sadly because the samples were taken from the beginnings of the tracks they didn’t really give you much of a clue as to how the tracks developed and with one of their albums - a live recording - all you got was the introduction to the next song. Not a lot of use really.

So I opted for buying the full album and payment, £9.99, via Paypal was simple enough as was the download itself which took about 30 minutes on broadband. Strangely most of the tracks, although correct for the album, carried the wrong titles and some seemed to think they were off a different album entirely.

If you want to see what they’re like for yourself there are loads of videos of them on Youtube, or just go to their website (