ALBUM REVIEW: ShamRocks – ‘FCP LIVE’ (2020)

With a new studio album on its way ShamRocks, founding fathers of Ukraine’s Celtic-Punk movement and originators of ‘Stout Rock’ – a blend of Irish, Scots, Breton, Finnish Folk -release FCP Live a album that sounds like it could have been recorded down Mannions!
When exactly did the ‘clampdown’ begin? Well for me it was a bit earlier than most as a couple of days after St. Patrick’s Day my Doctor rang me and told me the date for an operation and so I was confined to base as it were. This made my long walk up to the local Lidl to get 4 cans of Guinness to watch the Dropkick Murphys Live Stream my last venture out for quite a while. While those few days saw some fantastic live music streamed over the internet with the Dropkicks, Brick Top Blaggers, 1916 and Bryan McPherson standing out in my memory one Live Stream deserved a much wider audience but went under the radar a little and that was ShamRocks from far away Ukraine. On March 20th the Bhoys got together with a bottle or two of Jamesons and played one hell of a show over Facebook and You Tube. One hour + of some of the best Celtic-Punk played that weekend.

It‘s been four years since the release of their acclaimed debut album Captains Log which hit the dizzy heights of the Top 5 in that years London Celtic Punks Best Of 2016. A real innovative and interesting album that took songs like ‘The Rising Of The Moon’ and  ‘Wild Cats of Kilkenny’ and injected them with just enough of the original but with an equal amount of themselves as well. They followed this up the following year with an EP Ye Olde Chariot which did even better at #2 in our Best Of 2017 charts so this is a band with a pretty good pedigree and one that we are big fans of.

ShamRocks left to right: Serge Vdovychenko – Lead Vocals, Bass * Andrew Neretin – Guitar, Vocals * Alexey Sletkov – Drums * Anatoliy Khomenko – Violin, Mandolin, Vocals * Sergiy Khudoliy – Keytar, Accordion, Vocals *

ShamRocks have continued to play and tour in the intervening years and plans were laid this year for their follow up album which has of course had to be delayed. So in the meantime ShamRocks have handed us this. A live album which has taken the songs from their St. Patrick’s Live Stream session and seamlessly edited them together. The album features songs from both previous releases and also a handful from their forthcoming album. ‘We’ll Be Drinking’ kicks off the album and we are straight into it. I commented before that they have a way of recording that gives it a real ‘pub feel’ while not taking away any of the professionalism and that is evident here. These guys must be one hell of a blast to catch live… Well of course you can kind of experience that via that Paddy’s Live Stream here.

A couple of songs fell by the wayside but thirteen survive and end up on this forty-five minute album. The guys do play some well trodden Folk tracks like ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’ but add to it a skanking beat making it as different a version as I have ever heard. It even closes with something more resembling Reggae! Next up is their ‘pièce de résistance’ the amazing ‘Rising Of The Moon’ which takes John Keegan Casey’s, the ‘Fenian Poet’, 1866 poem and conjures up something absolutely brilliant. The tune is still (mostly) intact but ShamRocks have real fun here mixing the Sex Pistols song Anarchy In The UK into it and while it may upset some folk music snobs purists I thought it was an absolutely fecking belter! Serge has a great voice for this Punk/Trad/Folk hybrid switching from one to the ther with ease. The band have Anatoliy covering the Celtic bases on fiddle and mandolin and Sergiy on the keytar manages to replicate bagpipes as well as a myriad of other sounds too. ‘Bring It On!’ is a new song and from this showing I’m very excited to hear the new album.

A very catchy and hard driven Celtic rocker followed by the Bobby Sands penned ‘Back Home In Derry’. A song that began behind the bars of the Maze Prison in the north of Ireland has become a staple of the Celtic-Punk scene over the last few years. Popularised first I think by Neck but here the song becomes a thrashing Punk-Rock classic. ‘Yellow Ribbon’ is the shortest song here. A cover of the trad Folk song that is also the official anthem of the United States Cavalry! Not a song you may think you know but wait till you hear it. Like every cover here they may change and adapt and add to the songs but they still manage to make them instantly recognisable. ‘Roll The Old Chariot’ is next and starts off in acapella style before the mandolin comes in and you may suspect that the time for a slow one is now but ShamRocks soon blow the lid off and the song ends off speeding towards the end with Sergiy’s keytar sounding remarkably like Tex-Mex trumpet! ‘Sails To The Wind’ is another new one and has an American Celtic-Punk feel to it while ‘Kiltartin Cross’, based on the poem ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’ by Irish writer and nationalist W.B.Yeats, is a beautiful song and Serge’s vocals are fantastic as he sings in Ukrainian about an Irishman in WW1 fighting for Britain but dreaming off his home in Kiltartin in Galway. ‘Rogers Rangers’ is another new one and you get the feeling that the new album will be a lot more heavier Rock style then their previous stuff but still very much within Celtic-Punk. ‘Jacobites’ is the old Scots Folk rebel song, re-written by Robert Burns around 1791, about the 1688–1746 Jacobite risings. ‘F​!​C​!​P!’ is of course F**K Corona Patrick’s the name of this album and is dedicated to “all those who play Celtic-Punk… badly” and is a rollicking great ride through several styles of Celtic-Punk and has several auto-biographical passages I think! Great fun all together and one of the highlights of the album. FCP Live comes to an end with one of the great Irish Folk classics ‘Molly Malone’ and for once the Bhoys play the song straight up… except in Ukrainian!

ShamRocks are definitely one of the most innovative and original bands in the Celtic-Punk scene and usual deserve a much wider audience. The album is the fully fledged ShamRocks experience with no ‘post-production magic’ or any such nonsense, just the live mix with a bit of mastering on top and edited together to make something pretty damn good. I’m not a fan of live albums usually but every now and then I hear one that really hits the spot and as an example of their old and new stuff it’s well worth getting while we wait for their new album. I will end with the words I used to review their album as i don’t think I have said it better since.

“There is plenty to upset the folk purists (or snobs as I prefer to call them) here but these people like to keep Folk music locked up in a box. Put away and kept out of the hands of people who (in their opinion) don’t respect or cherish them as much as they do. Their way is noble yes but is also a surefire way to kill off folk music. They attacked the Dubliners and then The Pogues in their time and now they fawn longingly over the bands they once called sacrilegious.”

(Download or stream FCP Live on the Bandcamp player below) Buy FCP LiveBandcampHereContact ShamRocks  WebSiteVK.comFacebookYouTube

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