Category Archives: Asturias

THE HISTORY OF CELTIC-ROCK MUSIC

Today the 30492- London Celtic Punks web zine is four years old today so what better way to celebrate our birthday than to give you this small but perfectly formed potted history of Celtic-Rock. We have never just wanted to be a place that only reviews new records we want to celebrate everything that makes us celtic-punks. Our love of our roots and our history and our traditions and the love that those with no Celtic ancestry have as well. Celtic-Punk is for all that share our common values of friendship and solidarity and the love of a good time. Music cannot change the world but it can certainly make it a better place to live in and in these uncertain times that is something we all need. The roots of celtic-punk should be important to us as that is where we come from and we must never forget that.

The London Celtic Punks Admin Team

Celtic rock is a genre of folk rock, as well as a form of Celtic fusion which incorporates Celtic music, instrumentation and themes into a rock music context. It has been extremely prolific since the early 1970’s and can be seen as a key foundation of the development of highly successful mainstream Celtic bands and popular musical performers, as well as creating important derivatives through further fusions. It has played a major role in the maintenance and definition of regional and national identities and in fostering a pan-Celtic culture. It has also helped to communicate those cultures to external audiences.

Definition

The style of music is the hybrid of traditional Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton musical forms with rock music. This has been achieved by the playing of traditional music, particularly ballads, jigs and reels with rock instrumentation; by the addition of traditional Celtic instruments, including the Celtic harp, tin whistle, uilleann pipes (or Irish Bagpipes), fiddle, bodhrán, accordion, concertina, melodeon, and bagpipes (highland) to conventional rock formats; by the use of lyrics in Celtic languages and by the use of traditional rhythms and cadences in otherwise conventional rock music. Just as the validity of the term Celtic in general and as a musical label is disputed, the term Celtic rock cannot be taken to mean there was a unified Celtic musical culture between the Celtic nations. However, the term has remained useful as a means of describing the spread, adaptation and further development of the musical form in different but related contexts.

History

Origins

Celtic rock developed out of the (originally English) electric folk scene at the beginning of the 1970’s. The first recorded use of the term may have been by the Scottish singer Donovan to describe the folk rock he created for his Open Road album in 1970, which itself featured a song named ‘Celtic Rock’. However, the lack of a clear Celtic elements to the self-penned tracks mean that even if the name was taken from here, this is not the first example of the genre that was to develop.

Ireland

It was in Ireland that Celtic rock was first clearly evident as musicians attempted to apply the use of traditional and electric music to their own cultural context. By the end of the 1960’s Ireland already had perhaps the most flourishing folk music tradition and a growing blues and pop scene, which provided a basis for Irish rock. Perhaps the most successful product of this scene was the band Thin Lizzy. Formed in 1969 their first two albums were recognisably influenced by traditional Irish music and their first hit single ‘Whisky in the Jar’ in 1972, was a rock version of a traditional Irish song. From this point they began to move towards the hard rock that allowed them to gain a series of hit singles and albums, but retained some occasional elements of Celtic rock on later albums such as Jailbreak (1976). Formed in 1970, Horslips were the first Irish group to have the terms ‘Celtic rock’ applied to them, produced work that included traditional Irish/Celtic music and instrumentation, Celtic themes and imagery, concept albums based on Irish mythology in a way that entered the territory of progressive rock all powered by a hard rock sound. Horslips are considered important in the history of Irish rock as they were the first major band to enjoy success without having to leave their native country and can be seen as providing a template for Celtic rock in Ireland and elsewhere. These developments ran in parallel with the burgeoning folk revival in Ireland that included groups such as Planxty and the Bothy Band. It was from this tradition that Clannad, whose first album was released in 1973, adopted electric instruments and a more ‘new age’ sound at the beginning of the 1980s. Moving Hearts, formed in 1981 by former Planxty members Christy Moore and Donal Lunny, followed the pattern set by Horslips in combining Irish traditional music with rock, and also added elements of jazz to their sound.

  • THE POGUES AND IRISH CULTURAL CONTINUITY (here)

Scotland

There were already strong links between Irish and Scottish music by the 1960s, with Irish bands like the Chieftains touring and outselling the native artists in Scotland. The adoption of electric folk produced groups including the JSD Band and Spencer’s Feat. Out of the wreckage of the latter in 1974, was formed probably the most successful band in this genre, combining Irish and Scottish personnel to form Five Hand Reel. Two of the most successful groups of the 1980s emerged from the dance band circuit in Scotland. From 1978, when they began to release original albums, Runrig produced highly polished Scottish electric folk, including the first commercially successful album with the all Gaelic Play Gaelic in 1978. From the 1980s Capercaillie combined Scottish folk music, electric instruments and haunting vocals to considerable success. While bagpipes had become an essential element in Scottish folk bands they were much rarer in electric folk outfits, but were successfully integrated into their sound by Wolfstone from 1989, who focused on a combination of highland music and rock.

  • HOW THE IRISH AND THE SCOTS INFLUENCED AMERICAN MUSIC (here)

Brittany

Brittany also made a major contribution to Celtic rock. The Breton cultural revival of the 1960s was exemplified by Alan Stivell who became the leading proponent of the Breton harp and other instruments from about 1960, he then adopted elements of Irish, Welsh and Scottish traditional music in an attempt to create a pan-Celtic folk music, which had considerable impact elsewhere, particularly in Wales and Cornwall. From 1972 he began to play electric folk with a band including guitarists Dan Ar Braz and Gabriel Yacoub. Yacoub went on to form Malicorne in 1974 one of the most successful electric folk band in France. After an extensive career that included a stint playing as part of Fairport Convention in 1976, Ar Braz formed the pan-Celtic band Heritage des Celtes, who managed to achieve mainstream success in France in the 1990’s. Probably the best known and most certainly the most enduring electric folk band in France were Tri Yann formed in 1971 and still recording and performing today. In 2017 celtic-punk band Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs fly the flag for Brittany singing in their native language and playing regularly and often accompanied on stage by Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Tan Ar Bobl’ (here)

Wales

By the end of the 1960’s Wales had produced some important individuals and bands that emerged as major British or international artists, this included power pop outfit Badfinger, psychedelic rockers Elastic Band and proto-heavy metal trio Budgie. But although folk groupings formed in the early 1970’s, including Y Tebot Piws, Ac Eraill, and Mynediad am Ddim, it was not until 1973 that the first significant Welsh language rock band Edward H Dafis, originally a belated rock n’ roll outfit, caused a sensation by electrifying and attempting to use rock instrumentation while retaining Welsh language lyrics. As a result, for one generation listening to Welsh language rock music could now become a statement of national identity. This opened the door for a new rock culture but inevitably most Welsh language acts were unable to breakthrough into the Anglophone dominated music industry. Anhrefn became the best known of these acts taking their pop-punk rock sound across Europe from the early-80’s to mid-90’s.

  • TRIBUTE TO WELSH PUNK ROCK LEGENDS ANHREFN (here)

Cornwall and the Isle of Man

Whereas other Celtic nations already had existing folk music cultures before the end of the 1960s this was less true in Cornwall and the Isle of Man, which were also relatively small in population and more integrated into English culture and (in the case of Cornwall) the British State. As a result, there was relatively little impact from the initial wave of folk electrification in the 1970’s. However, the pan-Celtic movement, with its musical and cultural festivals helped foster some reflections in Cornwall where a few bands from the 1980s onwards utilised the traditions of Cornish music with rock, including Moondragon and its successor Lordryk. More recently the bands Sacred Turf, Skwardya and Krena, have been performing in the Cornish language.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: BARRULE- ‘Manannans Cloak’ (here)

Subgenres

Celtic Punk

Ireland proved particularly fertile ground for punk bands in the mid-1970s, including Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, The Radiators From Space, The Boomtown Rats and The Virgin Prunes. As with electric folk in England, the advent of punk and other musical trends undermined the folk element of Celtic rock, but in the early 1980s London based Irish band The Pogues created the subgenre Celtic punk by combining structural elements of folk music with a punk attitude and delivery. The Pogues’ style of punked-up Irish music spawned and influenced a number of Celtic punk bands, including fellow London-Irish band Neck, Nyah Fearties from Scotland, Australia’s Roaring Jack and Norway’s Greenland Whalefishers.

  • FROM OPPRESSION TO CELEBRATION- THE POGUES TO THE DROPKICK MURPHYS AND CELTIC PUNK (here)

Diaspora Celtic Punk

One by-product of the Celtic diaspora has been the existence of large communities across the world that looked for their cultural roots and identity to their origins in the Celtic nations. While it seems young musicians from these communities usually chose between their folk culture and mainstream forms of music such as rock or pop, after the advent of Celtic punk large numbers of bands began to emerge styling themselves as Celtic rock. This is particularly noticeable in the USA and Canada, where there are large communities descended from Irish and Scottish immigrants. From the USA this includes the Irish bands Flogging Molly, The Tossers, Dropkick Murphys, The Young Dubliners, Black 47, The Killdares, The Drovers and Jackdaw, and for Scottish bands Prydein, Seven Nations and Flatfoot 56. From Canada are bands like The Mahones, Enter the Haggis, Great Big Sea, The Real McKenzies and Spirit of the West. These groups were naturally influenced by American forms of music, some containing members with no Celtic ancestry and commonly singing in English. In England we have The BibleCode Sundays, The Lagan and others.

  • THE EFFECTS OF NEW DIASPORA CELTIC PUNK: THE CREATION OF A PAN-CELTIC CULTURE (here)

Celtic Metal

Like Celtic rock in the 1970s, Celtic metal resulted from the application of a development in English music, when in the 1990s thrash metal band Skyclad added violins, and with them jigs and folk voicings, to their music on the album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth (1990). This inspired the Dublin based band Cruachan to mix traditional Irish music with black metal and to create the subgenre of Celtic metal. They were soon followed by bands such as Primordial and Waylander. Like Celtic punk, Celtic metal fuses the Celtic folk tradition with contemporary forms of music.

  • CELTIC-METAL’S TOP FIVE BANDS (here)

Influence

Whereas in England electric folk, after initial mainstream recognition, subsided into the status of a sub-cultural soundtrack, in many Celtic communities and nations it has remained at the forefront of musical production. The initial wave of Celtic rock in Ireland, although ultimately feeding into Anglo-American dominated progressive rock and hard rock provided a basis for Irish bands that would enjoy international success, including the Pogues and U2: one making use of the tradition of Celtic music in a new context and the other eschewing it for a distinctive but mainstream sound. Similar circumstances can be seen in Scotland albeit with a delay in time while Celtic rock culture developed, before bands like Runrig could achieve international recognition. Widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding voices in Celtic/rock is the Glasgow born Brian McCombe of The Brian McCombe Band, a pan Celtic group based in Brittany.

In other Celtic communities, and particularly where Celtic speakers or descendants are a minority, the function of Celtic rock has been less to create mainstream success, than to bolster cultural identity. A consequence of this has been the reinforcement of pan-Celtic culture and of particular national or regional identities between those with a shared heritage, but who are widely dispersed. However, the most significant consequence of Celtic rock has simply been as a general spur to immense musical and cultural creativity.

EP REVIEW: UNION BLOOD- ‘Working Class Pride’ (2017)

From the land of pipes and drunx comes this new EP of streetpunk and Oi! from Galician band Union Blood.

union-blood-ep
Bit of a departure for London Celtic Punks with this EP from the newly formed Street punk band Union Blood. Formed last Summer in A Coruña in Galicia now that city may ring a bell for celtic-punk fans as it is the home town of famous celtic celtic-punk band Bastards On Parades. As it goes Union Blood began last year as a side project but as Bastards On Parade announced on their Facebook page
“Hey! We wanted to let you all know that we are taking a break for a while. Different circumstances don’t let us keep the rhythm of traveling and tours we used to, so we will wait for the right time to come back as this band deserves.
See you soon you bastards!! Cheers”
Now Bastards On Parade, who took their name from the Dropkick Murphys song and played with them numerous times, worked their collective arses off over the years with their touring and even washed up over here a couple of times including a short and not particularly well organised tour (by us!) with The Lagan. So they are deserving of a break but what has stepped into the breach in the meantime you ask? Well what we have here is Union Blood’s first release and it has all the influences of Oi! bands past and present that you would expect flowing through it. Now I never been a skinhead but use to be a big fan of Oi! and one of the things about Oi! is that it was/is the British sound that completely dominates. Bands like The 4-Skins, Cock Sparrer and the Rejects seem to influence every band no matter where they come from and Union Blood are no different.

from left to right: Ruper, Arenga, Dopi, David

The EP begins with ‘Working Class Pride’ and its straight forward skinhead rock with David’s welcome, and familiar, voice rasping his way through a fast and catchy as hell number about having pride in your background. In a world where the working classes are hated by the elites (to be fair they always have been) for not voting the way they are told or being coarse or unruly and for simply not doing as we are told we only have each other. With the left around the world hellbent on destroying itself by the adoption of lunatic and poisonous identity politics a new left is needed that in the words of someone who should know is a new left that is
“from the class, for the class, of the class”

‘Reckless And Bones’ is up next and the chugging guitars are still evident but also the catchy gang chorus and “whoa whoa” too. Traces of Bastards On Parade here and with a piper in there we would be away!
The best song on the EP for me is the anti-fascist anthem ‘Blood On The Streets’ and cor blimey guv’nor it is a cracker. I won’t stray in cockney rhyming slang I promise but this song is an almighty foot tapper and fist shaker. Slightly slower and a lot heavier than previous tracks but by God it’s a class song.

The EP ends with the song ‘Brawlers’ which is another great song and dedicated to the Bhoys football team Deportivo de La Coruña. So there you have it songs about brotherhood, football, drinking and fighting the good fight. All played in such a way that if you were a fan of Bastards On Parade you would love this too. Great songs with interesting and well thought out lyrics and, most importantly of all, extremely good and catchy songs!
(you can have a listen to the EP below but only two songs feature so to get the whole four tracks you will have to buy the vinyl single)
Get The EP
Download- FromTheBand (First two track)  For Vinyl- USA: CrowdControlMedia  Europe: Oi!-Punk  Spain/France: CROM Records
Contact Union Blood

2015 REVIEWS ROUND UP PART TWO- WILL TUN AND THE WASTERS, SKONTRA, LOUISE DISTRAS, HAPPY OL McWEASEL, THE CUNDEEZ, ANTO MORRA

This year has been quite brilliant for celtic-punk releases. In fact it has been far the best year since we began doing this here thingy. Good news surely but it also sadly means we didn’t get a chance to review everything we received or heard. So after catching up with our North American cousins (here) last time in Part 1 this time round we catch up with some a wee bit closer to home.

WILL TUN AND THE WASTERS- ‘The Anachronist’s Handbook’  (BUY)

Will Tun And The WastersThis album release came accompanied with the sad news that lead singer Will Tun was leaving the band. An amicable split and the rest of The Wasters have decided to carry on without him and so this is the swansong of Will Tun’s Wasters. Formed in 2010 by a gang of students based all over southern England Will Tun And The Wasters released a smattering of EP’s and singles and managed to get pretty popular so it was only a matter of time before an album was due. I suppose losing your lead singer would also also help lose a big slice of momentum as this album sneaked out rather than be unleashed and that was a mighty shame as this is a album deserving of being unleashed! Impossible to pigeonhole they were a hard working bunch ready to arrive from several starting points to play gigs at a drop of a hat. Though starting off more as a folk/celtic/ska-punk band they never stopped evolving and traces of hip-hop, Balkan and Latin found a home and nowhere more so than on The Anachronist’s Handbook. Twelve songs and over fifty minutes long the album takes you on a roller-coaster ride of musical styles but its the accordion and fiddle that stand out for me as well as Will’s great distinctive vocals. The energy is infectious and ‘Red & Black’ and ‘A Criminal’s Waltz’ could be The Pogues but whatever genre they turn their hand to they master it. The album ends with ‘Downtime’ another album highlight but this time a reggae/ska beat dominates. I really hope The Wasters can regroup and carry on (as they do intend to) as they would be sorely missed.

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SKONTRA- ‘Foguera’  (DONATE/FREE DOWNLOAD)

SkontraHere’s some authentic celtic-punk for you played by Skontra from the city of Gijón in the celtic region of Asturias currently under Spanish control. There is a school of thought amongst celtic scholars that to be a true authentic celtic nation you must have your own language but if to be truly celtic is based on culture then we must instead expand our thinking to include both Asturias and their neighbours Galicia as well. Celtic culture is alive and kicking and the people are especially proud of their celtic roots. Formed in 1991 Skontra this is their fourth full length album and the thirteen songs are mingled with elements of punk, hardcore, ska and reggae but always with a celtic base and with the traditional Asturian bagpipes leading the way. Seven of Foguera’s songs are in their native Asturian and the rest in Spanish so can’t tell you what the songs are about but its all dead catchy and if you’re looking for a comparison then this would please all you Real McKenzies fans but its very well played celtic-punk that ought to get you all moving your feet. Typical of Skontra is the fantastic title track which includes just about everything that makes them tick. They have made the album available for free for download so you’d be a mug not to get this fantastic album.

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LOUISE DISTRAS- ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’  (BUY)

Louise DistrasMaybe not a celtic-punk album but Louise has popped up supporting both The Mahones and Bryan McPherson in the last year and her folky-punk solo set is right up our alley. She has been called the next Frank Turner but as I don’t think she went to the poshest most exclusive school in Britain I reckon we can ignore that. There’s no style over substance here, what you see and what you hear is what you get. ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’ is twelve songs of over half an hour of folky punk that sometimes veer into almost poppy tunes like the great ‘Bullets’ but then the album goes in a direction that (very) early Bragg or Springsteen at his best would approve of. Plenty of harmonica (I love that) and great politics too. The politics of the working class and its struggles in every day. The spoken word title song is amazing and delivered in Louise’s broad Yorkshire accent sounds about as authentic as some others don’t. The use of both acoustic and electric guitar and the poetic lyrics and every song is both catchy and meaningful. No filler or fluff here and though not as punk rock as Louise is with her full band this album certainly shows an artist who is on her way to stardom.

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HAPPY OL’ McWEASEL- ‘Heard Ya Say!’  (BUY)

Happy Ol McWeaselFrom the first moment I heard this album I fell in love with Happy Ol’ McWeasel’s brand of joyous uplifting celtic punk rawk! Formed in 2007 in the Slovenian town of Maribor this is their second album and while on No Offence they relied maybe a little too much on traditional folk covers on this album they decided to take the more risky route and play only their own songs and I tells you it works… and it works well! All the usual instruments are here as well as accordion, fiddle, and banjo making as authentic a celtic sound as you are likely to hear in celtic-punk in 2015. Most important of all through the album’s twelve tracks you get the feeling that the band really love doing what they are doing. Their is a real sense of enjoyment running through this album and though you could bracket it with Flogging Molly style celtic punk it certainly ploughs its own trough too though it certainly could compare with bands like Rancid as well. Well played instruments, clear vocals and these fun-loving tunes are a definite hit. Its criminal that bands like Happy Ol’ McWeasel don’t get the applause they deserve but they are definitely one of the scenes best bands. They have given us an album that doesn’t just pump out standard celtic-punk rock but something with a whole lot more substance. One of the best productions on a album I have heard helps a lot but this innovative band will go far I am sure.

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THE CUNDEEZ- ‘Sehturday Night Weaver’  (BUY)

The CundeezIf their was a prize for best pun in a album title then Dundee band The Cundeez would walk it. Do you get it? Anyway this is their third album and with each one the band have got more polished and accomplished. Saying that it’s still ramshackle punk rock in all its glory. The lyrics are mostly either political or a bit daft and shouted in a raw Dundee dialect and combined with the punching guitars, pounding drums and occasional bagpipe The Cundeez certainly offer something well different to yer usual punk rock fare. The opening song is pure bagpipes and well played they are too but with the next song ‘Scaffie Radio’ the album steers away from celtic-punk into more standard (but still very good) punk. Elements of ska too especially on the brilliant ‘Rooota’ The pipes return occasionally and the album ends with a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’ where the pipes return again to great effect. The rest of the album rocks by and can’t wait to catch them live from what I have heard they put on a great show.

The Cundeez unashamedly Dundonian working class band promotin the culture an havin a laugh!

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ANTO MORRA- ‘Patriotism Is Not Enough’ EP  (BUY)

Anto MorraNow this EP from London Celtic Punks favourite Anto Morra sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb here. I can say that freely as it was Anto himself who said it first! Those coming along to this EP expecting more of the same as Anto’s previous releases will get a shock as what you get here is hardcore ‘finger in the ear’ folk music that brings back reminiscences of people like Ewan MacColl and Pete Seeger. Famed for his wordplay and the way he somehow manages to inject the spirit of punk  rock into his London Irish acoustic folk Anto has come up here with something very novel and you can listen to the whole EP below on the Bandcamp player first before you buy. Again the amazing fellow London Irishman and artist Brian Whelan has provided the artwork and the whole EP is a tribute to Edith Cavell. Edith was a nurse and is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides during the First World War. She aided some 200 Allied soldiers to escape from German occupied Belguim and it was for this that she was arrested and accused of treason. Edith was found guilty and sentenced to death and despite international calls for mercy, she was executed by firing squad with her execution receiving worldwide condemnation. She is well known for her statement that “patriotism is not enough” and it was her strong Anglican beliefs that compelled her to help all those who needed it. She was quoted as saying, “I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved”. Edith, who was 49 at the time of her execution, was already notable as a pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium and this EP tells of her glorious life. Five tracks of Anto recorded in a church in Norfolk last Summer including ‘Edith Louise Cavell’ which was performed and broadcast live at the Edith Cavell’s centenary memorial service on BBC Radio 4. So a lot different to what Anto has previously done and I doubt we’ll get to hear any of these songs at a London Celtic Punks gig but full marks for producing this beautiful tribute to Edith and I do hope you will give it a chance.

Contact Anto Morra

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So ends Part 2 and again we’re sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full-on London Celtic Punks treatment but it was just not possible with work and family commitments. Soooo only one more part to come and in Part 3 we will checking out some cracking releases from across the other side of the world. Yes from Japan, China and Australia. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

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