ALBUM REVIEW: SPOTTED DOGS – ‘The Old Disgrace. Live’ (2021)

We don’t get many live albums to review but when we do they tend to be pretty decent. Swedish band The Spotted Dogs new album of fast Irish Folk is no different and transports you from your home direct to them and even puts a pint in your hand too!

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Well you wait all year to review a new Swedish release and then you get two in the same week and not only that but both from the charming (so I’m told) old city of Gothenburg. Surprisingly there’s no overlap so some healthy competition for each other and let’s hope this is a start of a beautiful relationship!

We dig with whitening knuckles in the Irish soil and find the vein of hard swinging Celtic-Punk. Just surrender, lace up and roll up!

Like most bands the original inspiration can be traced back to a handful of bands and likely subjects The Dubliners and The Pogues figure heavily in The Spotted Dogs sound. Formed way back in 1995 by five spotty Swedish teenagers they spent their early days playing at illegal clubs in boathouses along the archipelago outside Gothenburg. As they became more well known and the popularity of Irish music grew so they progressed to the pub scene around the city. From the start the Bhoys knew they wanted to play Irish Folk but with Punk-Rock attitude and over the years their sound has developed into a more faster style though more akin to Flogging Molly than the Murphys. An early decision was to drop any slow ballads from their set and keep their set upbeat and more in keeping with the pub setting. These days The Spotted Dogs spend their time playing mostly Punk clubs in western Sweden.

The Old Disgrace kicks off with that auld London Irish favourite ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’, one of many here made famous by Ronnie and Luke and co. It’s fast and furious yet totally accessible. Like a band at your local Irish Centre who decide to unload for the last few songs when everyone’s a little more ‘relaxed’ (!). This is followed up by a couple of Celtic-Punk / Irish Folk standards and ‘Follow Me Up to Carlow’ and ‘Come Out Ye Black and Tans’ could well be my favourite rebel songs and their tempo has made them perfect for Celtic-Punk bands to adapt and you’ll not beat ‘Black & Tans’ for a shouty chorus. Next up is ‘Connolly Was There’ a song recently recorded by the Dropkick Murphys telling of the great role the Irish labour leader James Connolly played wherever he went. Born in Scotland he enlisted in the British Army serving in Ireland where his parents had emigrated from. He would later desert and eventually move to Ireland where he organised the Dublin workers in the Irish Citizens Army. He would fight in the 1916 Easter Rising where he was shot and captured and eventually executed. His execution would be roundly condemned for given no more than a day or two to live he was unable to stand for the firing squad and so he was tied to a chair and executed. Last rites were given by Father Aloysius Travers and asked to pray for the soldiers about to shoot him, he said

“I will say a prayer for all men who do their duty according to their lights.”

‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’ follows and it never ceases to amaze me that people can keep up with the words, especially here played at this speed. ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ written by Leon Rosselson, and made popular by Billy Bragg (remember when he was good?) took it into the charts in on the Between the Wars EP, released towards the end of the momentous miners’ strike in 1985. The song tells the story of the Diggers, a group of radicals radical group who set up what was effectively an agricultural commune at St George’s Hill near Weybridge in Surrey amid the tumult of the English revolution. These days St. Georges Hill is a collection of golf courses surrounded by the mansions of the mega wealthy and no monument to the men of 1649 stands. One thing to take notice of here is Anders vocals. Loud and clear and able to carry a tune you get the impression he could belt out a ballad if the band would let him! He almost gets the chance next and while ‘The Foggy Dew’ may be what passes the closest to a ballad here it is by no means in the true sense of the word. Another ‘rebel’ song embraced by the Celtic-Punk scene this is a great version. The last three songs whizz past in no time at all and are all famous ‘pub’ songs for want of a better word. ‘Join The British Army’, ‘Greenland Whale Fisheries’ and finally ‘Muirsheen Durkin’ give the six-piece band a complete work out and though the album may only last just over twenty-five minutes theirs more energy in it’s ten songs than many double that.

The songs on The Old Disgrace were all recorded live at a concert at Pustervik in central Gothenburg and the recording is absolutely note perfect. Shut your eyes and you could almost be there. There’s nothing original on this album to be honest and why that my sound bad don’t be put off this album is fantastic. Passion, pride and the pursuit of a bloody good time. If you’re going to perform an album of covers then my advice to you is to do it like The Spotted Dogs do.

(You can listen to The Old Disgrace on the Bandcamp player below. It’s available as a **FREE** download so follow the link below and grab yourself a copy)

Download The Old Disgrace  Bandcamp

Contact The Spotted Dogs  Facebook 

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