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Piping hot

Pauline McLean | 13:36 UK time, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Their bear-skin hats are soaked through - "nothing that a spell under a hair-drier won't sort" - but the band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards play on for the photographers in the pouring rain.

It's in marked contrast to the weather in which they recorded the album they're launching - Spirit of the Glen: Journey.

They were half way through the recording of the album in Edinburgh earlier in the year when they were called on a six-month tour of duty in Iraq.

As soldiers first and musicians second, they had no option but to abandon recording.

But they didn't bank on record producers Tom Lewis and Jon Cohen following them to Basra.

When the producers first approached record company Universal, they were refused permission. Insurance, they were told, would be impossible to arrange.

But the duo were persistent and in August this year, persuaded all involved to allow them to set up a mobile recording studio in the camp at Basra.

The biggest problem once there was the heat - for both equipment and personnel, particularly the pipers.

Then there was the constant threat of rocket attack - "It's the only time I've gone into a recording studio wearing a flak jacket" says Tom Lewis.

But they found solutions in unlikely places. Flowers of the Forest - a lone piper's lament with a poetry recital - was impossible to record amidst the hum of the camp's generators.

Eventually, they found the quiet they needed at the end of the runway.

The CD is out in December in time for Christmas. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards hope to be back from Iraq by then too, having set a new record as well as made one.

It's believed to be the first album recorded in a war zone.

BTW - I am told actress Ashley Jensen isn't applying for American citizenship as reported in an earlier blog but a green Card to continue working in the USA.

It was that application which prevented her from returning to Scotland for the Bafta Scotland awards last week.

She was however able to make her own transatlantic contribution to Children in Need's celebrity rendition of "I Have A Dream".


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