Spanish pirates The Groggy Dogs are back with their second album of trad Irish melodies and sea shanties with a spicy touch of Punk, Ska and Metal.
These guys more quickly and no sooner than Grog O’Clock land on our doorstep their second album arrives too. That debut album, Grog O’Clock was a front-runner for the London Celtic Punks debut album of the year, narrowly losing out to The Outcast Crew but it did make the Top Twenty of the best Celtic-Punk album’s and was well received across the internet. It’s available for only a single Euro and it really is a great album with some great covers and a couple of absolutely killer instrumentals.
Album #2 carries on it was will become I am sure the signature Groggy Dogs way. Covers, originals and instrumentals all paying homage to songs of the sea and the poor sailors that sailed them and sang those songs many years ago.
April sees only the bands second anniversary and if Covid can be thanked for one thing then it is the forming of The Groggy Dogs and since the ending of the lock down they have sprung out of the traps playing live at every single opportunity. Mauro, already a veteran of several Seville based Celtic projects wanted to play Celtic music with a bit more forceful sound and soon joined by the rest of the band and, no doubt the ‘Sea-Shanty’craze from a couple of years back on Tic-Tok, they settled on the idea of Prate-Celtic-Folk-Punk! AS we have said before their is no more than a fag paper between Celtic-Punk and Pirate-Punk with it overlapping constantly so it was no wonder that they soon came to our attention.
Still Groggin’ begins with ‘To Sea Once More’ and the familiar sound of the ocean and tolling bell. A fiddle led lament slowly drifts along before it erupts into a cover of the seafaring classic ‘Old Maui’. The song has become a bit of a staple among the Celtic-Punk community with it often sung acapello. Traced back to the mid-19th century it tells the story of a whaling ship returning to Maui in Hawaii after a long season of whaling.
“once more we sail with a northerly gale through the ice and wind and rain”
Canadian legend Stan Rogers released the best version I have ever heard but the song was made famous in our circles by The Dreadnoughts on their early album Legends Never Die. The Groggy Dogs stick closely to the Dreadnoughts version but add a fun video where the pirate quintet bring us a funny story about a robbery attempt adds to the song’s legacy. Their are so many sea-shanties ready for The Groggy Dogs to mine I was hoping to hear some more obscure covers and ‘Leave Her Johnny’ fits that bill perfectly. In sailor folklore ‘Leave Her Johnny’ was always saved for the very last duty of voyage. It dates back well before it first appeared in print in 1917 and exists in several forms but none quite as different as this one! Knowing you would soon be home would put the crew in great cheer so I’m sure their souls would well approve of the half-Ska/ half-Punk cheerful, bouncy tune given it here.
On their debut album I was especially impressed by the couple of instrumentals and am again here, starting with ‘Grog Party’. A true measure of a decent Celtic-Punk band is the ability to turn their hand to a trad song and here you would think them a Ceili band except for the thrashy guitar and Ska breakdown. Excellent stuff that would be welcome in any Irish public house in the world! The two pre-release singles for the album were ‘Old Maui’ and ‘The Dreadnought’. Another unusual sea-shanty classic and not one I had heard before. Telling of the true story of the ship of the same name, a clipper, built in 1853 in Massachusetts that was the fastest of her time until she sank while in Cape Horn in 1869. The band sing it kinda slow and sound incredibly like the band of the same name here.
Time for another of The Groggy Dogs ace instrumentals and ‘Grog’s Reel’ is another great mash up of trad Irish/ Celtic and more modern sounds without losing any of its old charm. We almost near the end and time for a more familiar song with ‘Katie Bar The Door’. The exact origin of the phrase, meaning ‘watch out, trouble is on its way’ is unknown but it originated in the southern United States and one possible explanation is it was taken from a Scottish ballad called Get Up and Bar the Door published in 1776. The lads be big fans of The Dreadnoughts album Legends Never Die as this another from it that sadly doesn’t differentiate too much from their version. The album’s curtain comes down with their third instrumental ‘The First Grog’ and again it is bloody marvellous. Mashing up the trad Folk melody with Punk, Metal, Ska, Reggae and still leaving it sounding like the song is from the 19th century!
A truly talented group and another great album from them. If I did have one slight criticism it is that they need to stamp themselves much firmer on the more popular covers but even these are excellent versions that more than give the band I have mentioned a run for their money. The production for the album is top class and the many Folk and Rock instruments merge together perfectly. The Groggy Dogs are definitely one to watch especially for those who prefer the ‘folkier’ side of Celtic-Punk but still with plenty of oompf to go along with.
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Tagged: Dreadnoughts, The Groggy Dogs
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