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No, not *that* type of grime. If you were hoping to read about Dizzee Rascal, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. I mean Grimethorpe. It's one of those names that, if you made it up in order to put into a story, would almost certainly be rejected as ridiculously obvious. Yet it's no joke: for those of us old enough to remember Michael Heseltine's programme of pit closures in the early 1990s that finally ended Britain's status as a truly major coal producer, Grimethorpe means rather more than just being the inspiration for the film "Brassed Off".
The Grimethorpe Colliery itself ceased to exist in 1992, but its world-renowned band played on, and continues to do so to this day. It's not just some media-friendly gimmick, either: this is a serious operation that has won the National Brass Band Championship on no fewer than four occasions, and scored well at the European Championships to boot. However, like all bands of any stature they have to pay the bills, and so there is a necessity to come out with commercial recordings from time to time. This is such a one.
I have to say that I am not particularly keen on the cover design, which looks rather as though it was thrown together at the last minute by a couple of sixth-form students. It's frankly unimaginative and boring, and the yellow (well, brass-coloured, if you're feeling generous) text does not have enough contrast against similarly-coloured parts of the background. I suppose the band may have been trying to avoid the "Ayup, what tha lookin' at?" stereotypes associated with the area, but I'd rather have pictures of either coal mines or rolling dales than this rather dull effort.
Anyway, the CD contains 14 tracks and runs for just about an hour, which is more generous than most modern pop albums, although that's not saying a great deal. Grimethorpe have stuck to the tried and tested here, and all the tracks chosen are from extremely well known films (or, in one case, franchises), so this is clearly not intended to be a disc played in a concert-hall-like hush, but one to have on in the background on a cold winter's evening, with the fire (sadly gas in my case) going, when you could do with a bit of warm brass sound to keep out the chill.
As you might expect, the marches on the album are the most obviously suited to a brass band, and it's very nice for once to hear the first track, the march from The Great Escape, without any parping toy trumpets or tuneless whistling from thousands of football fans. However, I rather prefer a later march, "Colonel Bogey" (as made famous in The Bridge Over the River Kwai) which is played with great zest and verve. Ironically perhaps, this one *does* include whistling, albeit fairly restrained, but here it fits perfectly with the setting.
My favourite tune on this disc was not hard to pick out. I've always been a great fan of John Williams' theme for Jurassic Park, and the Grimethorpe Band's version of this is an absolute triumph: warm, evocative and deeply moving. Had album production been up to me, I would have placed this last of all. Unfortunately that position is filled by the "Barbarian" theme from Gladiator. Now, I really like that film, but less so this tune, and even for an epic an eight-minute closing track is enough to drive one to distraction!
Another less successful track is the main theme from Rocky, which is given a rather unfortunate percussion background which is just too light and tinny, thus making what should be an exciting experience feel more like a rainy Saturday in watching ITV World of Sport circa 1982. Nor was I all that taken with the "Superman" theme, which sadly seemed a little bit by-the-numbers, wandering about rather vaguely at times with just too many twiddles: yes, they're very technically impressive, but a slightly calmer rendition would have paid dividends and given this excellent tune space to speak for itself.
All that said, most of the disc's content is very good to excellent. The James Bond Medley is a lot of fun (even if its chronological arrangement means that it's almost impossible for its later segments to match the incomparable Goldfinger theme), "The March of the Charioteers" from Ben-Hur has all the appropriate martial qualities, and a tune I've never really liked all that much - Forrest Gump's "Feather Theme" - won me over completely with a remarkable display of tenderness. Oh, and - almost inevitably, but no less enjoyably for all that - we get the Star Wars main theme as well. Use the flugelhorn, Luke!
You certainly don't have to be a brass band nut to enjoy this compilation. What a specialist might make of Grimethorpe's effort here I have no idea, but I found it a very pleasant way to pass an hour, despite the small niggles mentioned above. I doubt it's a record that's going to leap straight into anyone's personal top ten, but nor does some dreadful surprise lurk within. Given its low price - a snip at just £4.28 on Amazon - this CD seems unlikely to disappoint.
1. The Great Escape - March
2. Braveheart - For The Love Of A Princess
3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
4. James Bond - Medley
5. Superman - Theme
6. Bridge On The River Kwai - Colonel Bogey
7. Forrest Gump - Feather Theme
8. Star Wars - Main Theme
9. The Dam Busters - March
10. Rocky - Gonna Fly Now
11. Jurassic Park - Main Theme
12. Ben-Hur - March of the Charioteers
13. Chicken Run - Main Theme
14. Gladiator - Barbarian
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Great Escape (march)
2 Braveheart (For the love a Princess)
3 Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom (medley)
4 James Bond (medley)
5 Superman (main theme)
6 Bridge On The River Kwai (Colonel Bogey)
7 Forrest Gump (Feather theme)
8 Star Wars (main theme)
9 Dam Busters (march)
10 Rocky (Gonna fly now)
11 Jurassic Park (main theme)
12 Ben Hur (March of the charioteers)
13 Chicken Run (main theme)
14 Gladiator (Barbarian horde)