The fight against the British Empire by the Irish has long been an inspiration for many and this time for a Celtic-Punk album from Sweden! What better time to feature this album than Easter week. The time when in 1916 a small band of patriots rose up against the full might of the most powerful Empire in history.
Any regular readers will know that the sound of Celtic-Punk is now an international one. The reasons are many but above all it’s the love of the Celts and especially the Irish internationally that has made it so. Ireland’s 700-year struggle for independence from colonial rule has been the inspiration across the world for peoples fighting for their freedom so it is that it’s not uncommon to hear the odd rebel song thrown into many Celtic-Punk bands set-list. Rebel songs in Ireland date back to the first time a Irishman picked up a stone. It’s beyond doubt that English control over Ireland has been a bloody and a despotic one leading to genocide at it’s worse and the starvation of up to two million people and well over another million leaving for other lands, taking their anger and grievances with them.
Brigade 77 is the brainchild of Micke Ström, journalist and musician in Eskilstuna, Sweden. Active in the Punk scene for over 30 years he has always had an interest in Irish music and culture and was the tin-whistle player in a band called The Barcrawlers. The Barcrawlers were one of the best Celtic-Punk bands of their generation around the 00’s and were one of the first Scandinavian Celtic-Punk bands. It was from their ashes that the present day Sir Reg have arose. Brigade 77 is a solo project and Rebellion is the debut release including songs from different eras of the Irish fight for independence.
The album begins with the brooding ‘Intro’. A slow mournful dirge taking in the ‘Star Of The County Down’ that is followed by ‘Viva La Quinta Brigada’, the amazing tribute to those Irish members of the International Brigade, called the Connolly Column, who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939. Written by Christy Moore it’s become a staple on the Irish pub scene and names many of the people who left to fight in solidarity with the Spanish people. It’s sung pretty much how youd expect to hear it sung by a one-man band in any pub (well maybe not every pub!) in Belfsst or Derry or Glasgow. This is followed by ‘Fighting Men From Crossmaglen’, a more modern song again in tribute to the area of South Armagh that was perhaps the most staunchly Republican during the ‘troubles’. Again played mainly on keyboards its missing some crunching guitar but we get that next in the humorous ‘Sam Song’, a song dedicated to the use of surface-to-air missiles. Written by Gerry Ó Glacain in the late 1980’s during a time of high activity during the war. Black And Tans’ has become one of the more famous Celtic-Punk covers from this genre. Easily switched from Folk to Punk like here it has a chorus where it is seemingly impossible not to wave your fist about. Brigade 77 give it plenty of oompf and maybe could have turned up them guitars up a bit. ‘Irish Citizen Army’ is a song recently recorded by the Dropkick Murphys and tells of the life of the great James Connolly. He spent his entire life fighting for the rights of the poor and the workers and ended it executed while sitting tied to a chair while mortally wounded after the failed 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. A recent song it was written by The Blarney Pilgrims but made internationally famous by Black 47’s recording. Only a couple left and ‘Fields Of Athenry’ has in recent years usurped all others to become the most famous of all Irish rebel songs. Sadly the writer Pete St. John passed away just before St. Patrick’s day so the song is tinged with sadness at his passing. Rebellion finished with an instrumental ‘The Lonesome Boatman’, and the second song that the Murphys have covered. It’s a truly beautiful tune and The Fureys incredible version will be never be mastered but here is done with great spirit and is a great way to bring down the curtain.
(You can hear the whole of the album below via You Tube)
You hear on Rebellion influences as varied as Shane Macgowan, Gary Og, Shebeen, The Wolfe Tones but all mixed with Punk and naturally many different Celtic-Punk bands. Micke says
“My rebel songs are a bit different compared to those artists I am influenced by, but I wanted to take another path, or… maybe it’s because I’m not that great guitarist like Gary Og and the other rebel musicians =)”