It’s about time we did another Real McKenzies write-up. This time, you’re gettin’ the full whack; the kilted Canadian legends have a best-of album, the aptly titled Float Me Boat. It floats ours sure enough, and we‘re sure you‘ll feel the same. Let‘s get into it.
The Real McKenzies’ music could be described as waking up with a hangover, but getting up anyway to fight the day. With their short-and-fast, nae-nonsense approach, this band has always put the “punk” into Celtic punk. I first heard of them while living in Berlin, and believe me, the Germans quite like these guys too.
We kick things off with opening track “Chip”, taken from 2008’s Off The Leash. True to form, the band let their trademark sound loose on us, a bagpipe rock style fronted by Paul McKenzie’s unmistakable vocal. Paul may have founded the McKenzies in 1992, almost a decade after The Pogues came about, but he’s played a key role in popularising Celtic punk, shaping it into the genre we all know and love. It also proves again that you don’t need to be in Scotland or Ireland to feel the fervour of the music, start a band and light shit up.
“Smokin’ Bowl” and “‘Cross The Ocean” make early appearances on the record too. The former is primarily a punk track, with the bagpipe takin’ a back seat for most of it. “Ocean”, meanwhile, is that riff-led romp that’ll get ya dancin’. A foray into pirate rock with humorous verses and some singalong in the choruses. I particularly enjoy givin’ this one a spin, but then I’m an Alestorm fan, so go figure 🏴☠️
To put the flag up even higher for my now-home of Scotland, “Scots Wha’ Ha’e” also makes a welcome entrance in the first half of the album. The McKenzies’ take on it doesn’t quite feature the original lyrics by Rabbie Burns 😉 But having said that, it’s as rousing as ever. Another one I can recommend.
“Spinning Wheels” is one good choice for the latter half of the record. The band get the banjo out for this one, and tell us about their relentless gigging experiences around the world. The shout of “Prost!” gives the nod to Germany, my home of six years and one of THE countries for any Celtic folk/punk band to go to.
Soon after, we get to “The Big Six” – or at least that’s what I like to call ’em 😉 Here the band lines up six songs that are firm favourites, ranking among the best McKenzies anthems ever recorded. We start with “Bugger Off”, a song that leaves nothing to the imagination with its ferocity, including a delightfully un-PC use of the word “cunt” 👍🏼 “The Tempest” follows up, and I like this one because it’s longer than yer average McKenzies song. A fine example of a seaman’s shanty.
“You Wanna Know What” brings the speed back. The tin whistle leads the way here, and Paul delivers a strong vocal take to match. “Culling The Herd” is the interesting one – a clean guitar riff fighting the vocals in the verse, giving the song a mystical twist as only the McKenzies can do it. “Due West” boasts another gallant McKenzies riff in what is generally a gallant McKenzies song, and of course, we can’t leave out “Barrett’s Privateers”. This is the band’s own tribute to Mr Stan Rogers, a Canadian folk music legend. It’s a shame the band’s rousing take on “Northwest Passage” wasn’t included as well, but better one Stan song than none at all. We’ll include it below for ya.
Drink some more
Last but by no means least, we reach track #23, and “Drink Some More”. A final hurrah to an epic best-of that looks back over 30 illustrious years, and will have ye playin’ your air bagpipe for many a day to come. All in all, not a bad achievement, given that Paul once claimed he only started the band to “get revenge” on his family, who dressed him in a kilt as a youngster and made him sing and dance to Scottish music! 😉 They planted a seed, and the best results can be yours on this CD.
To get a copy and support the band, buy Float Me Boat online; various outlets have got it, one place for UK fans to get it is HERE. If ye ditched your CD player a while back in favour of streaming, then you can listen on Spotify, Apple Music or (hello French readers!) Deezer. And be sure to show the band some love by stoppin’ by their Facebook and Instagram pages.
Now…you’ll get nae more this article, so you’d better bugger off 😉