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I always hear about the 1965 Royal Airs as being the best of the VFW era.  As someone who's heard only Cavaliers recordings from that time period, I'm curious what makes the 1965 Royal Airs everybody's favorite.

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1 hour ago, Skeletor '96 said:

I always hear about the 1965 Royal Airs as being the best of the VFW era.  As someone who's heard only Cavaliers recordings from that time period, I'm curious what makes the 1965 Royal Airs everybody's favorite.

To me, the '65 Royal Airs just seemed to be a well-balanced corps, with Truman Crawford brass arrangements that were cutting-edge for their time... and a show that, again IMO, just seemed to flow better, make more sense, than some other "throw a bunch of tunes at the wall and see what sticks" programs that were not uncommon for that era.

I never saw the '65 corps in person... a couple of years before my time... so I'm basing my thoughts just on the recordings I've heard, and from the recollections of friends who did see them. 

Edited by Fran Haring
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58 minutes ago, Skeletor '96 said:

I always hear about the 1965 Royal Airs as being the best of the VFW era.  As someone who's heard only Cavaliers recordings from that time period, I'm curious what makes the 1965 Royal Airs everybody's favorite.

The Royal Airs had a great second half of the 65 season and it was the only VFW they won.  But in 65, they won the AL Nationals, the VFW Nationals, and the CYO Nationals.  The top three in that era.  You may have missed this audio of their VFW performance in the Madison City of Angels thread.      US Marine Col. Truman Crawford was their horn instructor.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Lz7-V_Vt-w

Over the many years of the major contests, other corps won them several times, but the RA were lights out late in 65.

Edited by Ghost

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I'm with the OP regarding the Cavaliers of that era. A great corps. 

Their early version of "Bully"... circa 1965-66... remains to this day one of my all-time favorite drum corps tunes. 

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I saw them in Mc Cormick Place when they won the '65 VFW.

One of my mentors was judging, and he found a perch for me and my friend, Tommy Howell, one row behind the GE judges, from which we watched the entire finals show.

In my opinion, it would be futile to try to describe the Royal Airs. The audio recording exists, of course, and it's amazing, but even that pales by comparison to "being there".

This must be considered in the context of drum corps in 1965, and I'm not sure that's possible anymore. A "big" horn line had 45 brass. There were no keyboards, timpani or other pit instruments. The Royal Airs didn't even feature contra basses that season and may have had only 2 of the newly-introduced mellophones. And then there was the drum line, and their marching design and skill. One would have to immerse oneself in the corps music and standards of the era to fully appreciate the Royal Airs.

The late Gail Royer claimed they were the best corps he had ever seen. I'm with him. (Ok, not the "late" part.)

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Overhyped, but a first rate corps. Their drum line was not great. As I recall, Illegal E rotary crooks on their bass baritones. This sounds like sour grapes, but their corps could never match their legend.

Edited by old vanguard
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" Illegal E rotary crooks on their bass baritones"

More likely, these were Full Step, as opposed to Half Step rotors. Those were legal, and had been for years. They lowered the fundamental pitch of a "G" instrument 2 semitones, and were sometimes referred to as "F" as opposed to "F#" (one semitone) rotaries. (I will defer to Ken Norman on all of this, as he's pretty much the world's foremost authority on the subject, especially regarding Mid-West corps.)

They had a downside in that it would be impossible to play chromatically, even in the limited way a Half Step device would have allowed, but they did permit lower tones for the bass baritones, and Truman Crawford took advantage of that.

Just curious: Does Old Vanguard mean "Skokie"? If so, you probably encountered the Royal Airs more frequently than I.

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Oh this brings back memories.  Yes they were great, ESPECIALLY for their era.  Set so many standards.

Bear in mind a couple of items:  Corps at that time were still pretty local,  Most members were from the area, not traveling across the county to march (yes a few exceptions but a rarity).  The Royals were still a relatively "new" unit in '65.  If I remember, they started out as a parish corps in maybe '58.  Also, most members were still high schoolers, not the college 20-21 year old , music majors like today.

In any comparisons, we need to always keep in mind the circumstances and development of the activity at that time.

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1 hour ago, ironlips said:

 

" Illegal E rotary crooks on their bass baritones"

More likely, these were Full Step, as opposed to Half Step rotors. Those were legal, and had been for years. They lowered the fundamental pitch of a "G" instrument 2 semitones, and were sometimes referred to as "F" as opposed to "F#" (one semitone) rotaries. (I will defer to Ken Norman on all of this, as he's pretty much the world's foremost authority on the subject, especially regarding Mid-West corps.)

They had a downside in that it would be impossible to play chromatically, even in the limited way a Half Step device would have allowed, but they did permit lower tones for the bass baritones, and Truman Crawford took advantage of that.

Just curious: Does Old Vanguard mean "Skokie"? If so, you probably encountered the Royal Airs more frequently than I.

Compared to you, Ken Norman and others, I know next to nothing about music composition/arranging.... but just from listening, Truman Crawford's arrangements for the Royal Airs included things like the lower brass carrying the melody at times... which was definitely not the norm back then.

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The E rotary attachments were not allowed. I am well aware of F  and F# rotaries, having played both of them at various times. 

There were several corps who used t E rotaries on their bass baritones. Cambridge Caballeros, Cavaliers, Royal Airs, Geneva Appleknockers come immediately to mind.

I was a Mel Tierney, Skokie, Chicago, Lincolnwood Vanguard, and was on staff with the Des Plaines Vanguard.

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