Trafford Centre, Regent Court, Dumplington

Brass Banding Goes Pop: EM60’s 2020 Advent Calendar: 23. Don’t Stop Me Now

The ultimate feel good song in brass band form

  • Piece: Don’t Stop Me Now;
  • Composer: Freddie Mercury;
  • Arranger: Philip Harper.

What can we say other than “a Happy Christmas Eve Eve to you all”? Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now encapsulates excitement in a little under three minutes. From the 1978 LP Jazz, it has pure pop sensitivities whilst retaining the Queen sound. Despite this, Brian May had little love for the song, because he felt it eulogised Freddie’s hedonistic lifestyle.

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Church Of St James, Crowden (Barrie James, 2018).

Brass Banding Goes Pop: EM60’s 2020 Advent Calendar: 15. Faith

One of the UK’s biggest selling singles of 1987 in brass band form

  • Piece: Faith;
  • Composer: George Michael;
  • Arranger: Philip Harper;
  • Soloist: Rhys Cave.

Following on from Wham’s track record in the UK singles chart, George Michael became a hugely successful solo star in his own right. After Wham! split up, he complemented his two solo Number One singles (Careless Whisper in 1984, and A Different Corner in 1986) with a best-selling solo album in 1987. The result was Faith, and today’s Brass Band Advent Calendar Door focuses on its title track.

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Darranlas from Penrhiwcaradog Farm (G. Evans, 2009).

TV Review: Our Lives: Battle of the Bands

East of the M60‘s review of BBC One’s documentary on brass banding

Our Lives: Battle of the Bands: BBC One, 27 May 2019, 7.30pm

  • Presenter: Ruth Madoc;
  • Musical Director (Tredegar Town Band): Ian Porthouse;
  • Musical Director (Cory Band): Philip Harper;
  • Executive Producer (BBC Wales): Christina Macaulay;
  • Executive Producer (Yeti Media Ltd): Siân Price;
  • Producer and Director: Gruff Rees.

© 2019 Yeti Media Ltd for BBC Wales.

Brass banding seems to be at the back of the queue in relation to television coverage these days. Before the late 1980s, BBC had Champion Brass which gave our brass bands a national arena for viewers who couldn’t afford the trip to the Royal Albert Hall. There was also similar competitions organised by ITV franchises, most notably Granada Television’s Granada Band of the Year.

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A Brass Band Advent Calendar: 21. Don’t Stop Me Now

Having a good time? Not long till Christmas now…

Queen’s back catalogue and brass band music: it is amazing how the two art forms work so well together. Could Freddie Mercury have been the next Roy Newsome had he landed in Leeds/Bradford Airport instead of Heathrow? Strictly speaking, the use of popular music as a brass band concert item or album staple fulfils two purposes. One is to show off how good a brass band arrangement could sound. Another is to introduce newcomers to brass band music.

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