Category Archives: England

EP REVIEW: PENNILESS TENANTS – ‘Lockdown Session’ (2020)

Traditional Irish scally Punk!

Penniless Tenants are a five-piece from Liverpool, playing traditional and Irish Folk music and probably the best Irish Music in Liverpool. No Folking About.

The Irish community in England is supposedly shrinking I hear but only just a couple of weeks after we reviewed the debut release of Luton Irish band Missing The Ferry we have the pleasure of doing the same for another new band to us Penniless Tenants. The band hail from another hotbed of Irishness in Liverpool. Their is plenty written on the history of the Irish in Liverpool and unsurprisingly immigration from Ireland to Liverpool has been ongoing since the year dot and the city could possibly even lay claim to being the most Irish city in England.

With no shortage of Irish bars in the city a band playing Irish music would be pretty damn busy except for this poxy clampdown but Penniless Tenants have responded perfectly with a EP of five self written songs (with a few varied influences!) unsurprisingly titled Lockdown Sessions. They did actually already release a few songs over on Soundcloud way back in 2013 called the Penniless Tenant Sessions of a few covers of Irish Folk standards made famous by The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Christy Moore and The Dubliners among others. Their they keep it respectful and played the songs close to their origins so nice to her them let loose a bit on the recent release. Like all the best bands they are too proud to play anywhere and they have from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral to the Baltic Market and St George’s Hall to the corner of Pilgrim Street!

Lockdown Sessions begins with ‘The Hare And The Fainleog’ and a slow fiddle led mournful Irish tune which soon becomes a bit of a foot stamper and in Benjamin Hughes they certainly have a highly talented fiddler player. Superbly played leading us into ‘Green And Red Paper Planes’ which, while keeping in line with the Irish theme of the EP, expands beyond the opening few lines taken from another well known second-generation Irish band and takes us on a surprising, though bloomin’ brilliant, direction taking in modern Pop with a song that I must have heard a 100 times but I’ve no idea who sings it. It’ll probably come to me 10 minutes after this review is published. These Bhoys got a knack for an unusual cover in a way that reminds me of their London counterparts The Bible Code Sundays. ‘Jiggin’ Up To Boston’ is another fiddle led trad Irish tune until the half way point and BANG in comes the banjo and mandolin and we get the full Dropkicks style Folk version. This is followed by the Eric Bogle penned ‘My Youngest Son Came Home Today’. Eric is perhaps most famous for writing the well known anti-war ballads ‘The Green Fields Of France’ and ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ two absolutely stunning songs covered by The Pogues and the Dropkicks, among others, in their time. Here the theme is visited again except in a more modern setting in a tale of a young man killed during the war in the north of Ireland.

“My youngest son came home today
His friends marched with him all the way
The pipe and drum beat out the time
While in his box of polished pine
Like dead meat on a butcher’s tray
My youngest son came home today
And this time he’s home to stay”

Penniless Tenants play it slow and respectful and Tom Halligans voice portrays exactly the right amount of emotion this great song needs. The EP comes to an end with the Country/ Bluegrass influenced ‘Trouble In Yer Mind’. Fast and furious Banjo plucking and fiddling and more foot stampin’ to see the EP out the door.

Penniless Tenants: Benjamin Boo – Fiddle * Billy Skank – Laud and Vocals * Dr Rosa – Flute and Whistle * Jay G – Tenor Banjo * JDillon – Bass * Paulie O’Riley O’Hanrahan – Banjolele * Tom Jones (not that one) – Bodhran * REGFX – art *  (actual lineup may vary)

Lockdown Sessions was released on November 10th and was recorded live at the Liverpool Irish Centre (suitably social distanced of course!) a and mastered by Jeff Jepson. It’s available on Bandcamp and can be got as a ‘Name Your Price’ download meaning you can pay anything from a fiver to the cost of a couple of cans to sod all if you would like but with the way things are it would be nice to throw a few coppers their way. The music here is totally acoustic but just going from what I heard here I reckon they can tear it up when required too so lets not forget The Pogues were once called “the loudest acoustic band on the planet”. They have a new EP, A Penniless Christmas, out very soon in time for Christmas and they promise “festival mashups and winter warmers”.

(Stream or download Lockdown Sessions on the Bandcamp player below)

Download Lockdown Sessions  FromTheBand

Contact Penniless Tenants  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

FREE DOWNLOAD OF JOE STRUMMER’S LAST CONCERT

Viva Joe Strummer!

A *Free Download* of the last ever concert performed by Joe Strummer before his sad death on this day in 2002.

I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard of Joe Strummer’s untimely death. It was Sunday 22nd December 2002 and myself and a mate had spent the whole night listening to Punk records and boozing and carousing at the home of a close friend. In the morning when we were saying goodbye at the door I thought I heard the radio say that Joe Strummer had died. “Bloody hell” (I exclaimed or something stronger) “I think the radio just said Joe Strummer had died”. We all instantly dismissed it as not possible and probably a result of my delirium tremens and all went on our separate ways. It was later that day recovering from an insane hangover the news was confirmed when I saw the news.

Joe died at home in Broomfield, Somerset suddenly due to an undiagnosed congenital heart defect, He had collapsed after returning from walking his dog and he could not be revived. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and a stepdaughter. Now almost twenty years after his death it’s fair to say his legacy still lives on through his music and the Joe Strummer Foundation charitable trust which continues to do good works in his name.

https://joestrummerfoundation.org

Joe’s last concert was performed at Liverpool University on November 22, 2002 just a month before he sadly passed away. The set was recorded and is of a very high standard and is available for you to download today on the 18th anniversary of that gig. Joe chose a cross selection of songs from his extensive career in the twenty song set but with the majority from his days in The Clash and his more recent project Joe Strummer And The Mescaleros, whose final album, Streetcore, was released posthumously the following year.

Joe once said

“When you meet people who say you had an effect on their life, you realise it was all worth it. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the music. Remember, The Future Is Unwritten”.

(You can stream the whole set lasting just over ninety minutes over on You Tube)

To download click on either of the following links

LINK ONE   LINK TWO

NEW SINGLE FROM LUTON IRISH BAND MISSING THE FERRY

The sound of a second generation…

Four second-generation Irish lads, three brothers and their best friend from school write songs about identity and belonging.
With influences as diverse as Brendan Shine, The Pogues and The Stone Roses their mission is to get people dancing and thinking.
Anyone who has ever missed, or nearly missed, the Dublin-bound ferry from Holyhead will get the name.
Don’t be Missing The Ferry yourselves!
 

Released November 13, 2020
Music and Lyrics by Paul Anderson.
Produced by Chris Anderson and Luise London

A barely heard phrase spluttered over the noise of a dimly lit Hackney Irish bar. A snatched image of an old fella nursing a pint and a chaser in a backstreet, Luton boozer. Just a couple of influences that lead to the creation of this tune.
Remembering a generation fast dying out along with their stories of love, loss, heroism and the mundane.
Our small tribute also this November to the bravery, senseless loss and sacrifice induced by war.
“God bless you and keep you.”
An old man leaves the pub his final farewell, coughing into the cold night air his breath still visible for a few moments before disappearing into the darkness.

(stream God Bless You And Keep You  on the Bandcamp player below)

Download God Bless You And Keep You  FromTheBand

Contact Missing The Ferry  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Instagram

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART THREE

Welcome to the final installment of Let The Music Keep Your Spirits high. Over the last three Sundays Andy Nolan of the most popular and influential Irish band in England over the last 20 years – the Bible Code Sundays – has shared with us the history and meaning behind some of his songs. A fascinating trip through the Irish diaspora in England, Ireland and the USA and their historical figures. So here is Part Three (links to the previous two are at the bottom) so get yourself a cup of tea (or maybe something stronger) and sit back and enjoy.

GHOSTS OF OUR PAST

I wrote this about growing up in Hammersmith, West London during the 1970s and 80s. Most of the pubs around Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherds Bush were Irish back then – ‘The Hop Poles And Swan’.
“You’re not wanted here, stopped by the law, comin out of the station, just like before”.
My dad used to get stopped by the police all the time going to & from work simply because he was Irish. ‘What’s in the bag Paddy?’ they’d bark, referring to his work bag holding his sandwiches & tea. The truth was they were looking for guns and explosives or to fit someone up. But for the grace of God go I – look what happened to the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven. My dad and his mates sometimes worked seven days a week on the buildings back then and were in the pub every night sinking back 15 pints. They’d still be up for work in the morning of course and they worked their fingers to the bone rebuilding this country. The ‘riverside strolls’ refers to our walks by The Thames and Hammersmith Bridge when we were kids and all the down and out winos (who were mostly Irish or Scottish) we’d meet along the way –
“the broken old men, battered and down, down by the riverside falling around”.

NOW WE’RE PRINCES

I wrote this as the soundtrack for my crime drama feature film project Clan London, which unfortunately didn’t receive the industry funding it required to go into production. Looking back, it wasn’t the right time for that movie to be made for several reasons which I won’t go into now. Rest assured and God willing it will be made one day with a fantastic cast and crew on board! The money we did raise through crowdfunding was used instead to make my two short films Tax City (Steve Collins, Jon Campling, Razor Smith) and Jack Mulligan (Terri Dwyer, Steve Collins, Dean Smith, Ruth Adams). Both films were premiered at BAFTA, Piccadilly to sold out screenings. Jack Mulligan won Best Overall Film at the Ambassador Reel Film Festival in Cork, Ireland and was premiered on the London Live channel in 2019.
We filmed the music video itself with Darren S Cook around Ladbroke Grove, West London where the Clan London storyline is set and also at Under The Bridge, Chelsea and Roughrockers Studio, Uxbridge. The lovely Lorraine O’Reilly sang on this track too which featured on our album New Hazardous Design!

NIGHT CROSSING

Next up – Night Crossing. I wrote this about the Syrian refugee crisis & the photo of the little boy Alan Kurdi RIP washed up dead on the shores of Turkey after his boat capsized while trying to reach Greece with his parents. I wanted to open peoples minds with a song written from the viewpoint of a refugee family embarking on a desperate & perilous journey to Europe. All too often we witness deplorable comments on social media such as ‘good, that’s one less of them coming over here’ when these tragic stories break. Where’s your humanity? Where is your solidarity? Imagine if this was your family living in a war-zone trying to escape being blown to bits on a daily basis, what would you do? Of course, you would do exactly the same thing & try and escape to give them a better life. And who sells the weapons of war to these governments – making profit from innocent people’s heartbreak? Yes, quite probably your own government so think before you judge!
We got the brilliant Brian Kelly in to play banjo & mandolin on this track which featured on our most recent album Walk Like Kings. Enjoy, rethink, reflect X

THE PITTSBURG KID

Well I couldn’t just write one song about an Irish American fighter could I? There’s so many to chose from! Our good friend Gary McDonald was onto me for ages to write a song about his adopted home of Philadelphia. The nearest I could get was Pittsburg (sorry Gary) because of my love for one of its finest sons. My affection for Billy Conn goes back to when I was a kid and the boxing stories my dad RIP used to tell me. He’d always be raving about Conn, Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, Gerry Quarry and Rocky Marciano:

‘My father told me when I was six
Of Billy Conn, the Pittsburg Kid
And as he spoke I wished that I had been there
To the Steel City his parents came
From Ireland’s shores in search of fame
The streets of S’Liberty became their home where –
William David Conn was born,
A tough street fighter, hands of stone
With film star looks and a left that fighters dream of….’
Conn really was a great looking dude and Morrissey even put a photo of him on the front cover of his 1995 single ‘Boxers’. He wasn’t just a pretty face though that’s for sure and in 1939 he met World Light Heavyweight Champion Melio Bettina in New York, outpointing him in 15 rounds and winning the World Light Heavyweight title. Conn defended his title against Bettina and twice against another World Light Heavyweight Champion, Gus Lesnevich. He also beat former World Middleweight Champion Al McCoy and heavyweights Bob Pastor, Lee Savold, Gunnar Barlund and Buddy Knox in non-title bouts during his run as World Light Heavyweight Champion.
But he will forever be remembered for coming so close to beating arguably one of the greatest fighters of all time – Joe Louis. In 1941, Conn gave up his World Light Heavyweight title to challenge the brilliant Louis who was now the World Heavyweight Champion. Conn wanted to be the first World Light Heavyweight Champion in boxing history to win the World Heavyweight Championship and to do so without going up in weight. The fight became part of boxing folklore because Conn held a secure lead on the scorecards going into Round 13 – unlucky for some! According to many experts and fans who watched the fight, Conn was outmaneuvering and outboxing Louis right up until that point. In a move that Conn would regret for the rest of his life, he tried to go for the knockout in Round 13 and instead ended up losing the fight himself by knockout in that very same round. Ten minutes after the fight, Conn told reporters ‘I lost my head and a million bucks.’
‘Of all sad words of tongue & pen
The saddest are ‘what might have been’
One night in ‘41 in New York City
For 13 rounds he outboxed Louis
Blew away The Bomber but his Irish pride for once was his undoing’
Sleep well Billy RIP.

RUNNING FROM OUR SHADOWS

This will be the final Bible Code Sundays track I’ll be posting written by myself with a brief description about the song. I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings on here over the last three Sundays. Thanks for all your very kind words and for taking the time to listen to the songs X
Next up – Running From Our Shadows. I wrote this as a submission for the movie Black Mass which starred Johnny Depp as the notorious, real life Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. Although they really liked the song, in the end the producers decided to go with one specific musical piece throughout the film. It is written from the perspective of a fugitive on the run from the law, his reflections on the life he has chosen, how it brought him to this point and how it has affected the ones he loves:
“I can hear the bells of home
As I whisper down the phone
It’s a Black Mass, baby
It’s that ancient Irish code
I will always be a part
Of your New England heart
So don’t stop lovin now the Feds are on us”
We shot the video for this with Adie Hardy at Panic Studios, Park Royal literally weeks before we lost our dear Carlton RIP. I couldn’t watch it for a very long time. It was hard to go back to that day when we were all together and having the craic as usual. Little did we know what the following few weeks and months would bring. We deliberately went for a dark, moody shoot to tie in with the film’s subject matter but it took on a whole new meaning when we lost Carlton. It’s like watching a moment in time now where darkness would soon descend on us all. Very surreal.
Once again we asked the brilliant Lorraine O’Reilly to sing on this track. Her beautiful vocals on here sound angelic. I wanted a female vocalist because the song is about the relationship between a fugitive on the run and the girl he left behind back in South Boston:
“I’m remembering the air
The colour of your hair
Those Old Colony girls
With their tough & friendly stare
The projects where we ran
Our dreams held in our hands
They were right from the heart
Letters written from my…”
We love and miss you always Carlton but we know you’re around us all the time. Until we meet again, save us a seat at the bar buddy.

The Bible Code Sundays have been regulars on the London Irish circuit for over a decade and continue to pack them in across London. You can catch the band or some variation of them on most days of the week somewhere in the capital. The best place to find out their gig dates is on their Facebook page. Their records are still available on Spotify above or Amazon and iTunes or at their gigs. Most recently they starred on the compilation album Quintessential Quarantunes featuring six bands, three from Ireland and three based in London and recorded during the lockdown.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE POGUES – ‘BBC SESSIONS 1984 – 1986 (2020)

The first ‘new’ release from The Pogues for quite a while compiles all their various BBC Sessions between April 1984 and July 1985. This CD/ digital release includes two sessions not included on the recent vinyl version of this album. 

The Pogues – BBC Sessions is the definitive complete collection that The Pogues recorded for the BBC during that era. All the tracks date between 1984 and 1986 and thirteen of the recordings are previously unreleased. That is not to say they are unheard as apart from their initial airing they have long been available on bootleg tapes back in the day and CD’s plus most can be heard on You Tube too. The album is available on CD, digital and streaming platforms and will be released on October 30. If you have already heard of it then that is because a special vinyl only version was released for Record Store Day on Saturday 29th August. That release was limited to 5000 copies and only includes sixteen songs which begs the question why not make it a double album and include all the songs that would be on the CD/ digital release? The vinyl version was available for Record Store Day only but is still readily available around the net but shop around as it varies in price quite considerably.

Record Store Day is an annual event inaugurated in 2008 and held on one Saturday every April and every Black Friday in November to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store. The day brings together fans, artists, and thousands of independent record stores across the world.

This twenty-three track album features a collection of songs from six separate live sessions from BBC radio shows: The John Peel Show (April 1984), The David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show (July 1984), The John Peel Show (December 1984), The Phil Kennedy Show (March 1985), The Janice Long Show (July 1985) and The Janice Long Show (November 1986). The album groups each session together in chronological order from their first session recorded in April, 1984 when they were still called Pogue Mahone.

TRACKS 

Broadcast  April 17th 1984 (as Pogue Mahone) on The John Peel Show
1)      Streams Of Whiskey*
2)      Greenland Whale Fisheries*
3)      Boys From The County Hell*
4)      The Auld Triangle
Broadcast July 9th 1984 on the David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show
5)      Dingle Regatta*
6)      Poor Paddy On The Railway
7)      Boys From The County Hell
8)      Connemara, Let’s Go*

Broadcast December 4th 1984 on the John Peel Show 
9)      Whiskey You’re The Devil*
10)    Navigator*
11)    Sally MacLennane
16)    Danny Boy
Broadcast March 2nd 1985 on The Phil Kennedy Show 
13)    A Pair Of Brown Eyes ***
14)    Muirshin Durkin ***
15)    Sally MacLennane ***

Broadcast July 11th 1985 on the Janice Long Show
16)    Wild Cats Of Kilkenny*
17)    Billy’s Bones
18)    The Old Main Drag
19)    Dirty Old Town*
Broadcast November 5th 1986 on the Janice Long Show
20)    If I Should Fall From Grace With God ***
21)    Lullaby Of London ***
22)    The Rake At The Gates Of Hell ***
23)    Turkish Song Of The Damned ***
     *** Not featured on RSD vinyl release  * Previously unreleased

The collection captures The Pogues sound as heard through their first three albums: 1984’s Red Roses For Me, 1985’s Elvis Costello-produced Rum, Sodomy & The Lash, and 1986’s If I Should Fall From Grace With God along with a handful of single B-sides and novelties like the immortal ‘Danny Boy’. Ten of the album’s twenty-three tracks were previously collected on the career-spanning box set Just Look Them Straight In The Eye and Say…Pogue Mahone!! released in 2008. From the first chords of ‘Streams Of Whiskey’ when they were still going by the Pogue Mahone moniker. They were fresh from a tour supporting The Clash and had recently signed to Stiff Records but the BBC were reluctant to play their debut single due to their name. Being a rough Irish translation of ‘Kiss My Arse’ had the BBC clutching their handbags and so the band reluctantly changed their name to The Pogues. Throughout the controversy John Peel was the only one to use their original name. The album covers The Pogues great range from moving ballads all the way to the raucous punk they were more than capable of and ends with a selection of songs that would appear on If I Should Fall From Grace With God released two years after the session they appear on here.

Buy The Pogues BBC Sessions  AppleMusic  Amazon  iTunes  Spotify

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART TWO

Our short series on the songs of Andy Nolan continues today with another five of Andy’s masterpieces. As a past member of Shane MacGowan And The Popes and Spider Stacy’s Vendettas he has a great musical legacy but it’s as accordion player and songwriter for London Irish musical tour-de-force The Bible Code Sundays that Andy’s songs have defined a generation. The words to these songs are now known and sung by fans across the world and their influence is immeasurable with many bands trying to capture the Bible Codes sound. No band since The Pogues have helped define what it is to be London Irish and it is a common feeling on watching The Bible Code Sundays that these songs speak directly to the heart of the listener and encompass the same feelings and much of the same upbringing and beliefs that we had too! As we said before Andy is also a talented screenwriter, artist, producer and author. He was born in Hammersmith, West London surrounded by immigrants from across the world and, of course, a more than healthy contingent from Ireland but as you can see here from his songs about Irish-America he knows the Irish diaspora very well. Among his many achievements are the short films Tax City, and Jack Mulligan. And if anyone out there has spare few hundreds of thousands he is still raising funds for the feature film Clann London. So without further ado and again with Andy’s kind permission here is Part 2.

McBRATNEY FROM THE KITCHEN

About the notorious Westies gang that operated out of Hell’s Kitchen, NYC from the 1960s through to early 2000. There had always been dangerous Irish gangs on New York’s westside since the 1840s, going right back to the Gangs Of New York era but none were more ruthless than the Westies. A favourite pastime of these volatile Irish American hoods was kidnapping Mafia guys and holding them to ransom until they received payments of roughly $150,000 each time. On most occasions the ransom was paid and the wiseguys were released relatively unharmed. On one occasion however, James McBratney along with Eddie Maloney and John Kilcullen kidnapped Vincent D’Amore a capo in the Gambino crime family and during the commotion on the street someone noted their licence plate & handed it over to the Mafia who by this stage were at their wits end with the wild, uncontrollable Irish mob. On 22 May, 1973 John Gotti along with two henchmen entered Snoopes Bar on Staten Island where, after a furious struggle with the 6 foot 3” 250 pounds McBratney, they finally deposited three bullets into the Irishman’s body at close range killing him instantly. This did not spell the end for The Westies, far from it. A new breed of bloodthirsty Irishers in the form of Mickey Featherstone and Jimmy Coonan soon followed in their predecessors footsteps. Rudolph Giuliani, a federal prosecutor at the time who would later become the mayor of New York announced a devastating RICO indictment against Coonan & the gang for criminal activities going back twenty years. Featherstone testified in open court for four weeks in the trial that began in September 1987 and concluded with major convictions for the gang in 1988. Coonan was sentenced to sixty years in prison on assorted charges while Featherstone remains in the witness protection programme.
I remember Spider Stacy telling me about the time The Pogues played at the NYC launch of TJ English’s famous true crime book ‘The Westies’ and the Westies gang threatened to bomb the event! The movie State Of Grace starring Sean Penn, Ed Harris and Gary Oldman is based on Coonan and Featherstone.

WHITEY

This caused quite a stir when we released it back in 2006 especially in Whitey’s home city of Boston! Some people loved it while others viewed it as a glorification of Bulger who had recently been outed as an FBI informer. Being a rat in the criminal underworld is of course unforgivable. The truth is I wanted the song to be a raucous foot stomper laced in both glorification and hatred, so while Whitey’s meteoric rise through the Boston underworld is revealed, there is also a dark undercurrent of menace in the chorus from his associates who wish to lure him to his death:
“Whitey, Whitey where the hell are you?
There’s a barroom of poitín here waiting for you,
All the boys here in Southie with Tullamore Dew,
For the South Boston chieftain a right loyal crew”
Whitey was at one time second only to Osama Bin Laden on the FBI’s Most Wanted List after he fled Boston and went on the run for 16 years! Karma eventually caught up with Boston’s most infamous gangster when he was finally captured in Santa Monica, CA in 2011 then murdered in his Virginia prison cell in 2018. The movie Black Mass starring Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon and Benedict Cumberbatch is about Whitey and The Winter Hill Gang. Enjoy the song, or don’t fuckin enjoy it, the choice is yours!

MY TOWN

I originally wrote this for a Boston based mob movie called ‘Townies’ which was set in Charlestown MA and I wanted it to sound like The Rolling Stones with an Irish twist. The opening guitar riff is very ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ and we deliberately went for that vibe from the outset. It is written from the perspective of a young street hood working his way up through the ranks of the Irish Mob to become top dog in the city. The path he has chosen is a very dangerous one as he negotiates his way through age old, bitter mob family feuds but his lust for money and power knows no bounds. This kid will take out anyone in his way in order to become the King of Charlestown. ‘The Town’ starring Ben Affleck is also set in Charlestown and had a similar storyline to Townies which unfortunately never went into production

THE BOYS OF QUEENS

A tribute to the FDNY, I wrote this song about an Irish American family steeped in the tradition of the Fire Department of New York – but from the words of one son, a US marine, who finds himself behind enemy lines during the Iraq war. Just before he dies he recalls how he lost his father and brothers in 9/11 and longs to be back with his wife and children in his native Queens. No one has a monopoly on grief, but 9/11 hit New York’s Irish community hard. The Irish were the rock on which the FDNY and NYPD were built during their inception many years ago and sons traditionally followed their fathers and grandfathers into the ranks of the fire department and police – a tradition still prevalent to this day. When everyone else was running out of the Twin Towers, these guys along with their Italian, Puerto Rican and black American brothers were running in.
May they rest in peace.
The song was used in the CBS TV show Unforgettable in 2012.

THE LORDS OF WINTER HILL

The Winter Hill district of Somerville MA has a long, bloody history of deadly Irish gang wars played out primarily between The Winter Hill Gang originally led by Buddy McLean, Howie Winter and Joe McDonald and the Charlestown Mob headed by brothers Bernie and Eddie McLoughlin. The bitter feud began in 1961 and lasted until 1967 resulting in the deaths of more than 60 people. The song also outlines the arrival of the Famine Irish into Boston during the 1840s and the dramatic rise and fall of their descendants including the Kennedys via bootlegging and politics and Whitey Bulger who eventually became leader of The Winter Hill Gang. In typical Boston Irish tradition, Whitey’s brother Billy was a former Democratic politician, lawyer and the President of the Massachusetts Senate for 18 years. The long tradition of war veterans from these working class neighborhoods is celebrated too:
“We gave to you our sons
For the Stars And Stripes they stand
They fought in North Korea and they died in Vietnam
Shot down on the beaches, butchered in the fields
Then carried home to Boston and their homes in Somerville’
The chorus then is an anthem of adoration for the city of Boston from the hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants who were forced to flee Ireland and make it their new home:
‘You opened your arms to me
We’re home from the sea
Boston, we love you still
Now forever the Lords of Winter Hill’
The outro details the age-old blood ties with the old country through Boston politics and gangsterism:
‘The Gustin Gang, the Mullens, The Provo’s and Killeens
Their blood ran down The Mystic and far across the sea,
Celtic cross and tombstones, a monument there still
To Ireland’s sons and daughters and The Lords of Winter Hill’
The reel featured throughout is written by the late, great Tommy McManamon who played with the legendary Shane MacGowan And The Popes. I swear I can hear his banjo on this track, can you hear it too? RIP Tommy.

The Bible Code Sundays have been regulars on the London Irish circuit for over a decade and continue to pack them in across London. You can catch the band or some variation of them on most days of the week somewhere in the capital. The best place to find out their gig dates is on their Facebook page. Their records are still available on Spotify above or Amazon and iTunes or at their gigs. Most recently they starred on the compilation album Quintessential Quarantunes featuring six bands, three from Ireland and three based in London and recorded during the lockdown.

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART ONE

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART ONE

Photo- Paul Gallagher

Andy Nolan is best known on these pages as the accordion player and songwriter for the London Irish musical tour-de-force The Bible Code Sundays and as an ex-member of Shane MacGowan And The Popes and Spider Stacy’s Vendettas but there’s a lot more to him than just being an expert accordionist. Andy is also a talented screenwriter, producer and author. Born in Hammersmith, West London at a time when the Irish influence on London was at its greatest his songs speak not only of home in London and Ireland but stretch across the worldwide Irish diaspora with an special a focus on the United States. Among his many achievements he wrote and produced the short film Tax City, and the London Irish crime drama, Jack Mulligan, which premiered on London Live. Here over the last few weeks on his Facebook page he posted a brief description of a few of the standout songs he has written and the history behind the words. Well we thought it was too good not to share with you lot so with Andy’s kind permission here over the next couple of Sundays is Part 1 with Part 2 to follow next week.

THE SWAMP RATS OF LOUISIANA

A tribute to the 30,000 Irishmen who died in New Orleans digging out the New Basin Canal – a navigational waterway linking Lake Pontchartrain with the Mighty Mississippi. Over a four year period from 1832, thousands of Irishmen jumped into the swamps & dug in a straight line towards the lake. Many of them had been tricked by cotton brokers back in Liverpool that they were being transported to Philadelphia, Boston or New York which by now were already overflowing with poor Irish immigrants. Yellow fever and unforgiving heat ravaged workers in the swamps of Louisiana therefore the loss of black slaves doing such work was judged too expensive. As a result most of the work was carried out by Irish laborers who could easily be replaced at no cost with more and more now arriving by the boatload on a daily basis. Many were buried without a grave marker in the levee and roadway-fill beside the canal itself.

Abject poverty gave birth to New Orleans first criminal gangs such as the Corkonians, the United Irishmen and The Live Oaks. Sheehan, our hero in this song, becomes so demoralised at the hell-hole he now finds himself in that he throws down his work shovel for good and instead rises up through the ranks of the powerful Live Oaks Gang. I strongly recommend the book ‘Paddy Whacked’ by TJ English who covers this period in American history in greater depth!
A big thank you to Stephen Gara for his fantastic uilleann pipe playing on this track!

SEE YOU AT THE CROSSROADS

I wrote this song about my dear pal Noel Stephen Smith after reading his autobiography ‘A Few Kind Words And A Loaded Gun’ for the very first time many years ago. The title of the song was inspired by the opening pages where Noel dedicates the book to his son Joseph Stephen Smith RIP – ‘See you at the crossroads, kid’. Noel ‘Razor’ Smith was part of the notorious Laughing Bank Robbers gang from South London racking up 58 criminal convictions and spending the greater portion of his adult life behind bars. The dangerous outfit committed over 200 bank robberies but while serving a life sentence in prison Noel decided to turn his back on the life of crime teaching himself to read and write, gaining an Honours Diploma from the London School of Journalism and an A-level in law. Since then, Noel has been awarded a number of Koestler awards for his writing and has contributed articles to the Independent, the Guardian, Punch, the Big Issue, the New Statesman and the New Law Journal.
The melody instrumental throughout the song is taken from ‘My Lagan Love’ – an old traditional Irish song and I wanted the finished version to have that ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ vibe by The Cult – full of swagger and attitude!
“Racing through London in the pouring rain
I feel the rush go through my brain
Finger on the trigger, mask in my hand
Nothing can touch us, Butch & Sundance”
Noel has been a great friend & inspiration to me down through the years. We cast him in two of my short films Tax City & Jack Mulligan & he is now my literary agent for my own forthcoming true crime book Green Bloods. Keep marching on comrade & thank you for everything! Love ya mate!

THEY BUILT PARADISE

Our love for Celtic FC  is something we’re very proud of & the reason why I wrote this song. Formed in the east end of Glasgow in 1887 by poor Irish immigrants escaping genocide and famine back in Ireland, Celtic FC became a beacon of hope for those starving and penniless who made the short but urgent crossing over to Scotland. Andrew Kerins, also known as Brother Walfrid, was a Marist Brother from Ballymote, County Sligo who witnessed at first hand the plight of his own people in a very hostile and anti-Irish city of Glasgow. All soup kitchens in the city at the time were established by the Church of Scotland and in order to receive a meal there, the newly arrived, hungry Irish Catholics were ordered to denounce their own faith and convert to Protestantism before receiving it. Brother Walfrid, along with a group of fellow Irishmen including John McLaughlin, John Glass, John O’Hara and Willie Maley (and with the help of Hibernian FC who had already similarly been established in Edinburgh by Irish immigrants) immediately stepped in and formed a charitable football club in St. Mary’s Church in the Calton to stop this cruel exploitation of Irish refugees –
“A football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and the unemployed”
The rest as they say is history!
We’ve been very fortunate and honoured to have been invited to play on the sacred pitch at Celtic Park on several occasions, including some unforgettable Champions League nights when we beat Barcelona 2-1 & also outside the Nou Camp itself! For me personally, supporting Celtic has taught me some invaluable lessons in life in regards to treating others with respect & offering both solidarity & charitable support to those who are still fighting their own injustices today – unity is strength

THE KIDS FROM THE CITY OF NOWHERE

Some of the stories here aren’t for the faint hearted, but they’re all true! I wrote this as a tribute to our London Irish community. For so long we were overlooked and dismissed like we didn’t exist but the truth was we were London’s oldest and biggest immigrant community who contributed so much in terms of rebuilding the UK’s decimated infrastructure after WW2. Musically too – John Lydon, Boy George, Kate Bush and Shane MacGowan are all born or raised in London of Irish parents, to name but a few. Chas Smash’s nutty dancing in Madness was heavily influenced by his own parents who were Irish dancing champions. I remember Chas and his ol fella used to come into our gigs in the Good Mixer in Camden Town many moons ago and they’d both be suppin Guinness and Irish dancing at the bar while we played. I reference the late, great Patsy Farrell too who was a singer in the James Connolly Folk Group. He was from Longford, as were my parents and Gavin Hayes dad Shay sang in the same group. They used to play all around Hammersmith (where I was born) when we were kids and on one occasion in The Salutation pub someone took exception to Patsy belting out the rebel songs and lobbed a penny at him. Patsy dived straight down off the stage on top of the culprit and made very short work of him – ‘down jumps Farrell on top of Thatcher’s man.’ The reference to the ‘high rise on the streets of Acton’ is when a group of my dads mates masked up and armed with hurley sticks dished out some sweet revenge on some bullies that were treating their wives and children like shit. They started on the bottom floor of the high rise flats and worked their way to the top until every culprit had been taken care of. Their families were never bothered again!
I remember us rehearsing this song for the first time in the back hall of the Adam And Eve pub in Hayes (thanks Anlon O’Brien). It wasn’t clicking and I was trying to explain to our dearly departed Carlton the drum feel I wanted but it wasn’t quite right. I jumped in my car, raced home and grabbed the B-side single of ‘Round Are Way’ by Oasis and drove back to the pub. I stuck it on the CD player & Carlton understood and got the rhythm straight away! Round Are Way is a big influence on this song. We even got Tony Rico Richardson and the brass boys in to record on the album version!

THE CINDERELLA MAN

I wrote this as a tribute to the incredible story of James J Braddock who defied all the odds to become Heavyweight Champion of the World back in 1935. The man he beat, Max Baer and nicknamed ‘The Killer’, had already killed Frankie Campbell in the ring while the mauling he dished out to Ernie Schaaf would contribute to his death five months later. Braddock was born in the Irish slum of Hells Kitchen, NYC until his family moved to Bergen, New Jersey. He came from a long line of fiercely tough Irish American boxers who at one stage ruled supreme in the early days of the noble art – John L Sullivan, Gene Tunney, Billy Conn, ‘Philadelphia’ Jack O’Brien, ‘Gentleman’ Jim Corbett, Tommy Loughran, ‘Terrible’ Terry McGovern and Jack Dempsey to name but a few. Forever the people’s champion but a huge underdog nonetheless, Braddock spectacularly beat Baer in a bruising 15 round battle to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He held onto the crown until he was beaten by a young Joe Louis in 1937.
The Hollywood movie The Cinderella Man (featured in the video above) starring Russell Crowe is based on Braddock’s life story. Russell famously tweeted this video (made by Padraig Clarke, a fan of our band) to his 3 million fans on Twitter which brought our band to a whole new audience! He would later sing on our most recent album Walk Like Kings! Thank you Mr Crowe!
The Bible Code Sundays have been regulars on the London Irish circuit for over a decade and continue to pack them in across London. You can catch the band or some variation of them on most days of the week somewhere in the capital. The best place to find out their gig dates is on their Facebook page. Their records are still available on Spotify above or Amazon and iTunes or at their gigs. Most recently they starred on the compilation album Quintessential Quarantunes featuring six bands, three from Ireland and three based in London and recorded during the lockdown.

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART TWO (soon!)

POGUE LAUREATE: POGUETRY – THE LYRICS OF SHANE MacGOWAN 

It’s thirty-eight years to the day that The Pogues, then known as Pogue Mahone first trod the boards at their debut gig at The Pindar of Wakefield in Kings Cross, London. 

At their height, The Pogues were as vivid an embodiment of the Irish of London as you’re ever likely to see. Their songs bled London and bled Irish — they sang of drunken winter weekenders in Camden and summer days in the old country on the banks of the Shannon with the smell of freshly-cut hay in the air.

By Oliver Farry

The band, of course, had their famously raucous side. By 1983, when they were formed, other ex-punks had cleaned up their act and their music and embarked on musical careers but Shane MacGowan and Co weren’t finished the business of the late 70’s and continued to get up the noses of most, including the BBC on countless occasions, such as when the band’s Alex Cox-produced video for ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’ was banned from the airwaves for its insolent depiction of Margaret Thatcher. In 1988, the Beeb banned ‘Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six’ for daring to argue that the sextet of the title were framed by British justice. If getting up the nose of the British establishment wasn’t so difficult, there were more natural allies put out by them back home, such as Noel Hill, the squeezebox player with Planxty — one of the group’s idols — who told them to their face during a stormy RTÉ radio forum that they were an “abortion of Irish music.” Even in the band’s afterlife they have been a discomfiting presence. ‘Fairytale Of New York’, probably the earthiest song ever to become a Christmas standard was belatedly censored by the Beeb for using the word “faggot”. A slavish sop to political correctness that ignored both narrative dialogue and the fact that the Pogues, with a gay guitarist and sympathetic ballads about abused rent boys, had been taking a stand against homophobia long before the mainstream media got the memo.

There was a time however when a certain esteemed British institution did court The Pogues and their dentally-challenged front man. In September 1989 Faber & Faber published a large format edition of Shane MacGowan’s lyrics under the title Poguetry (the band had already used this pun for their 1986 EP Poguetry In Motion). It was essentially a handsome but low-end coffee-table book; MacGowan’s lyrics were accompanied by surreal sketches by illustrator John Hewitt and photographs by The Face and NME alumnus Steve Pyke, both of whom joined the band in the studio and on tour throughout 1988. At the time it was a puzzling publication, especially as MacGowan’s lyrics, excellent as they often were, looked a little flat on the page. The sketches and photographs add context and texture but MacGowan’s oeuvre, by that time, was relatively slim, being drawn from The Pogues’ first four albums and assorted b-sides (and even those were not all his work, with other members contributing lyrics, not to mention many traditional songs). You got the sense that Faber, that soberest of British publishing houses – home to Pound, Eliot, Larkin, Heaney and Beckett – was viewing Shane as a future Bob Dylan. If they were, they can hardly be blamed for it, as MacGowan was surely the closest thing to Dylan Ireland has ever produced, with a lyrical versatility and strength of personality approaching that of the Bard of Duluth.

The book is a curiosity, with Pyke and Hewitt ably capturing the essence of The Pogues, a band that straddled tradition and iconoclasm, sartorial decorum and drunken disorder, gregarious sociability and taciturn sensitivity. It also marks the moment where the group turned to the US, of which ‘Fairytale Of New York’ was also a product. The band soon realised there was a huge diaspora (and non-diaspora) following Stateside to play to and nowadays, with appearances on countless soundtracks, including, most famously The Wire, The Pogues are arguably more synonymous with Irish America than the London Irish. Unfortunately there was not to be much more of it. The Pogues and Shane would be together for only one more album, 1990’s Hell’s Ditch. Shane’s drinking, already the stuff of contemporary lore, was making him increasingly unreliable and at times incapable of performing. The end came in September 1991 during a tour of Japan when the rest of the band sacked him. Neither party ever performed as well again (though it can be argued the quality of The Pogues’ own music had begun to fall off after the peak of 1988’s If I Should Fall from Grace with God). The Pogues, now fronted by long-time number two Spider Stacy, released two anemically directionless albums in the 1990’s but continued to successfully tour in the States.

You can hardly blame them for not giving up their livelihood but Waiting for Herb and Pogue Mahone are like the albums The Spencer Davis Group recorded after Stevie Winwood’s departure, missing all the spark of an emblematic lead singer. MacGowan hardly fared any better, spending most of the last two decades as a celebrity drinker, with a couple of albums here and there with his new group The Popes. There were glimpses of the old Shane (and the odd coup, such as getting Johnny Depp to play guitar when The Popes performed ‘That Woman’s Got Me Drinking’ on Top of the Pops) but much of The Popes’ output seemed like an afterthought, similar to the post-cocaine-hell K-Tel moments of ageing rockers.

Poguetry – The Lyrics of Shane MacGowan has been long out of print and copies now fetch a small fortune on Amazon. Hewitt and Pyke have both had successful careers themselves – particularly Pyke, who is now a successor in portraiture to Richard Avedon at The New Yorker. He later collaborated with the Irish-American writer Timothy O’Grady on the brilliantly Sebaldian I Could Read the Sky, which, like The Pogues’ early work was an elegiac account of 20th-century Irish emigration to England. He also contributed to this beautiful visual tour of Poguetry, which allows those not fortunate enough to own the book to have a look at the unique collaboration between three artists who are each wonderful in their own way.

A visual tour of Poguetry, published in 1988 that combines the lyrics of Shane MacGowan, illustrations by John Hewitt and photographs by Steve Pyke. Foreward read by Steve Pyke.

Oliver Farry was born in Sligo in 1975 and has been chasing the vulgar and sublime in equal measure ever since. These days he’s a journalist in Paris where he writes the news for France 24.

Some Pogues-related links:

In The Wake Of The Medusa   Paddy Rolling Stone  The Parting Glass   Pogues Facebook Page

NEW SINGLE FROM GLENN HODGE BANNED ‘As It Is’

Glenn Hodge Banned is an alternative, contemporary folk singer. An independent artist who has been bastardising nice music for some time now!

London based Kent born singer-songwriter Glenn Hodge has been recording music since 2014 but got his big break by penning the lively festive Folk song ‘Santa’s Coming Round’ for the homeless charity The Big Issue Foundation in 2015. The song featured London based Big Issue vendors and their 4-legged companions and is available as a free download.

He has been compared to Billy Bragg by many but those that do must mean the Billy Bragg before he moved to a massive Dorset farmhouse and started telling us to vote Lib-Dem. Glenn lives on a narrowboat in London moving from place to place like an old-fashioned travelling bard, drawing upon London’s many characters for inspiration. His songs draw upon everyday life topics bringing a degree of candour and often humour. He still works closely with The Big Issue Foundation, raising money through his music for those who desperately need it. With seven singles and one EP behind him he has released the outstanding ‘As It Is’ the first song from his upcoming album Behind Closed Doors due to be released later this year.

There was a fella on the news today, who suffered some abuse
For a mind with an obtuse that comes with privilege
In a look as old as money never hungered for a day
But would showcase a disdain for those were born to it
*
But we are the undisputed engine the ones that have to give
Working on the frontline and nursing your kids
And we are building the houses you live in
We work
*
Chorus
All over Scotland
Have you met the fierce Irish nation
As it is all throughout England
What you want is a Welshman beside you
*
They’re looking ragged in the alleys
In the streets they’re all done in
Put their money on the man who took it home with him
Should we push away our neighbours? Well let’s put it to a vote
On a whim and in the hope that a new age begin
*
But we’re the anger in the voices of the many over years
Destined to be choice-less invested in fear
And we’re calling to everyone listen
And we’re calling to everyone listen
We live
*
Chorus
*
It’s the same the whole world over with an ounce of life to live
Bet your life you’ll give it up and take it all they will
Maybe no amount of protest could change the way it is
But it is the way it is at least it is for now
We’re taking this future if you give in
Get calling to everyone listen
We’re building the houses you live in
Get calling to everyone listen
We are
*
Chorus X 2
*
Download As It Is  iTunes  Amazon

Glenn Hodge Banned  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  Bandcamp  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE JAMESTOWN BROTHERS- ‘Rebels, Rogues and Regrets’ (2020)

Debut album full of Celtic tinged anthemic songs from Somerset based band The Jamestown Brothers. Soul stirring, foot stomping originals drawn from the well of Country, Blues and Celtic Folk.

Don’t know what they put in the water (or the cider!) down there in the South-East of England but when it comes to bands with a Celtic influence the counties of Devon, Dorset and Somerset can’t get enough. Bands like Black Water County, Mad Dog McCrea and Sinful Maggie have all reached headliner status across England playing a variation of Celtic-Rock/ Punk that is particularly popular down where the cider flows freely. The reasons for this I cannot really put my finger on. The Irish in England are numerous but outside urban areas they may still be found but they never settled in the countryside in any sort of numbers so I think we can discount Irish heritage so maybe its just the unabashed reckless abandon and fun of Celtic music that does it for them. After all in Folk music everywhere is sort of connected and these are also the areas where old English customs are not just maintained but flourishing too. Might not be connected but they also have had a reputation for many years of being a bit lawless with smuggling and the like years ago and even in the present day where unjust or unpopular laws are not fought and campaigned against just totally ignored!

So this is the part of England that the 9 (yes nine) piece band The Jamestown Brothers hail from, in particular Somerset. The area is these days best known for farming and agriculture, tourism and the manufacture (and drinking) of cider with several of the best known producers originating from here. The locals though much prefer ‘scrumpy’ a type of rough cider made from non-premium apples and significantly stronger in alcohol content. They were formed by lead singer and main songwriter Colin Batchelor in 2017 but it took them almost two years for their first release the EP Singing For Our Supper to come out. This EP gained them a large local following and saw them appearing on the plentiful local festival circuit of which their are many in the area the band come from, including the world famous Glastonbury festival.

The Jamestown Brothers from left to right: Simon Reilly – Bass * Del Walker – Drums * John Trimble – Fiddle/ Mandolin * Ian Burton – Guitar/ Vocals * Colin Batchelor – Guitar/ Vocals * Phil Price – Keyboards * Sharon Eastwood – Recorder/ Vocals * Andy Williams – Trumpet/ Flugelhorn * Charlie Fisher – Trombone *

Rebels, Rogues And Regrets is the bands debut album and was released just a couple of days ago and kicks up a right (un)royal storm from the first notes of the recorder till the last. ‘Cut ‘Em Down’ is a great start telling the stories of local rebellion as well as of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester on 16th August 1819. Cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000 demanding parliamentary representation causing 18 deaths and severe injuries to 100’s. Though acoustic you just know these guys could go louder than most Punk band’s. Catchy and tunesome and great vocals from Colin on the whole it reminds me of the folkier side of The Men They Couldn’t Hang.

“cut ’em down, the rebels are arising we’ll have no talk of reform or liberty

 cut ’em down, the cavalry came riding into the crowd of peace and harmony”

‘Rebel Rousing Few’ follows and TMTCH comparison continues with a song that starts as a ballad before becoming a jaunty Country influenced number based again on the local history of rebellion and transportation to Australia of men and woman from this beautiful part of England. Fiddle and recorder are the main stand out instruments but that’s not a disservice to the other seven members as the sound is deep and multi-varied and the production is immaculate.

Two songs in and they finally get around to a drinking song and ‘If You Can’t Have A Drink’ opens with brass and a humorous take on heaven hoping their favourite bar is open up there. Mind you with the death of so many boozers in the last few years I’m hoping Luke Nolan’s up there pulling pints in a heavenly Acton Arms. Piano gives the song a olde timey music hall feel with great lyrics set to give the stoniest face a smile. ‘Salvation Alley’ has a darker edge to it then previous songs with trombone giving it a sinister feel. ‘Please Let Me Go’ straddles the fence nicely between Folk and Country and sees Colin accompanied by Sharon on backing vocals. ‘Whitley Girl’ sees The Jamestown Brothers take on a love song to the local girls of South Somerset and the joys of alcohol.

(just released the promo video for the album featuring excerpts from each song)

‘Bring Your Moma Down’ has a Kinks thing going on and is a nice change of pace too with the brass instruments playing their part here. We steering up towards port now and another change of pace with the beautiful and personal ‘The One’. The curtain comes down on Rebels, Rogues And Regrets with ‘Long Walk Home’ with another jaunty Celtic number that sees them go out with a fight. Hard to pick a favourite but I’d say this or the equally as good ‘Salvation Alley’.

The album came out just a couple of days ago on the 31st August 2020 and will definitely gather them some new fans and plenty of attention. In fact with 2020 officially cancelled they have already been booked to play festival’s in Godney, Watchet, Exmouth, Wimborne, Sheppy, alongside Seth Lakeman, and a Saturday night headline slot at Home Farm where their reputation for high-energy live performances, equally at home in the pub or the festival stage, will steal the show from a lot more well known bands. So plenty of chances to catch them play, especially if you’re a fan of camping like me. Guitars, drums, mandolin, fiddle we are use to here but recorder, piano and a brass section we are not and it comes together brilliantly.  Throw in what the band actually has to say and their willingness to tell the stories of the past to us today and we have a band that is hopefully bound for bigger things. Definitely worth checking out especially if you like your acoustic music to dance to as well as ever-so-fecking-loud!

Buy Rebels, Rogues And Regrets  CD- FromTheBand  Download- Apple  Spotify

Contact The Jamestown Brothers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: TIM HOLEHOUSE- ‘Come’ (2019)

Come is the eleventh studio album from nomadic troubadour Tim Holehouse and sees him drift away from his normal mutant delta blues to more Folk territory than on any of his previous records.
Recorded with a full band including lush strings and vocal harmonies this may not be typical London Celtic Punks fare but all the better for it!

Back in May we were set to put on a double header gig starring London Celtic Punk regular TC Costello and a friend of his by the name of Tim Holehouse. Well it barely needs repeating what happened to the gig (rest assured though the date has only been postponed not cancelled!) but it fell to the great gig massacre of 2020. Pompey born Tim is not a artist I was familiar with before this and when I looked him up and saw he was in album release double figures I felt shivers go down my back. Now the last thing you want to be doing as a music reviewer is have the eleventh album release of an artist land on your doorstep. That’s just his studio albums as well he has a host of live and split recordings under his belt as well. It’s fifteen years since Tim began on the path that would change his life. Fifteen years on the road touring pretty much every country in Europe, Iceland, Japan, Australia, USA and Canada playing anywhere between 250-300 gigs a year continuing to seek new adventures and build upon the hard work he’s already put in.

On the very first listen it struck me that it reminded me of someone but I couldn’t for the life of me think who. It was probably on the 20th listen seconds after I had shared that dilemma with TC Costello that I remembered who. Everlast. Yes he of Gaelic Hip-Hop legends House Of Pain. You may scoff but I’m sure anyone familiar with his solo work, especially the Countryfied ‘Whitey Ford’ material will get it straight away. How it is a man from the South coast of England can nail that American drawl is another thing but then if your thing is ‘mutant delta blues’ then it’s really not that difficult! As I said I’m not familiar with his previous work bar an afternoon spent whiling away watching his You Tube channel so Come is a new start for me. The album may be a nominally solo effort but here he is backed by a full band including a string trio and pedal steel guitar at Silent City Studio by Robert Hobson. Hobson is perhaps better known for producing hard rock albums, including those of A Forest Of Stars of which two members appear on this record.

Written over five years it has been a real labour of love to get this album as perfect as possible and patience has paid off. After several listens I am forced to place Tim somewhere between the aforementioned Everlast, Bonnie Prince Billy (who the song Prince of the Palace is a tribute to) and off-kilter bands like Low or the sadly missed Noah And The Whale.  Come begins with ‘Numbers Game’ the American drawl taking us on the first of nine journeys. Gentle acoustic guitar and double bass gives way to a cello and Tim steps it up while still narrating his story to us. This may not be our usual fare but we are lovers of catchy music and this is as good as any I heard this year. I always compare it to how my Grandad gave it away he loved something musical. His foot would be tapping away or is standing he’d gently tap the side of his leg with his hand. This is that kind of music I think. It’s music to really listen too and take in. Maybe with headphones so you won’t miss the swirling melodies and numerous instruments going on.

‘Next up is ‘Averio’ and again its a cacophony (big word!) of instruments slotted together perfectly. Tim has only three rules 1) I will not appear in my own music videos! 2) I will not have my name or face on a shirt! 3) I will not sell my soul! so don’t expect to see him featured in any of the vids I have posted here from You Tube.

‘The albums two shortest songs follow ‘One Day’ and ‘Sleep’ both hovering around two minutes and consist mainly of heartfelt thoughts on life. ‘Prince Of The Palace’ as I already said is about the legendary Bonnie Prince Charlie. My mate Simon got me into him a few years ago but as he’s about the most prolific recording artist I have ever known I decided there and then that I couldn’t afford to be too much of a fan! Labelled a ‘Appalachian post-punk solipsist’ whatever that is I recommend his music to anyone likes who what they hear here and someone who performs

“a fragile sort-of warble frittering around haunted melodies in the American folk or country tradition”.

To be honest I thought he had died but no he’s still knocking them out and is well past his 30th album! Tim’s song is a glowing tribute and I can well imagine the Bonnie Prince giving it a go. ’24 Hours’ is my favourite song of the album with Tim’s drawl and the full band coming in given a bit of bite by drums. The story unfolds and the music changes direction several times but always in fitting with the original tune as it progresses through what seems a lot longer is only just over three minutes.

‘(I’m Not) Icarus’ rolls in next and continues with the lush melodies and singer/songwriter story telling style. The story of Icarus comes from Greek mythology who attempted to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax but flew too close to the sun causing his wings to melt and him to crash into the sea. Icarus’ story has come to symbolise recklessness and the defiance of limitations. Another fabulous song among many.

(solo version of ‘ (I’m Not) Icarus’ recorded as part of Adventskalender Session 2019)

Steering up towards the end with two standout tracks the rocky ‘Placid Lake’ and ‘London’, Come’s longest song, where Tim takes us through the dirt and grime and anonymous streets where you can hide away. A grand song to see us out and the end of an album I can honestly say I never imagined I would get quite so into.

The album is out on Aahh!!! Real Records based in Cambridge a fiercely independent label proud to not specialise in any particularly style of music, but in good people with good ethics. Come comes in a gatefold CD and a rather beautiful special limited edition orange sunrise vinyl with alternate artwork. Tim plays his own music with his own lyrics and thoughts and is like the best music inspired by all good music. Punk, Hardcore, Blues, Jazz, Country, Metal and even electronic music it’s all the mix somewhere. 

“I’m not very keen to be boxed in as a song writer of a certain style. Each album has a different take on myself and the music is very much written from the heart about subjects I either am interested in or personal experiences.”

Good music is good music right? A rather excellent album that will be on my playlist for a long time after this review has passed into the ether and an artist I look forward to seeing a lot more of too. I’ll end this review with Tim’s catchphrase borrowed from one of his favourite films, Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure…

“Be excellent to each other!” 

(You can listen to Come on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Come  Download  CD/Vinyl

Contact Tim Holehouse  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp

Discography  Where? (2019) * Kill (2017) * Hail (2017) * Past (2016) * Just (2016) * Odd/Even (2016) * Down (2014) * Bar (2014) * Antidote (2014) * Fighter (2013) * Grit (2011) * From The Dawn Chorus (2007) * Found Dead On The Shoreline (2005)

Tim will performing live over on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page on Thursday 20th August from 8pm for a hour of Mutant music for people who are excellent to everybody! Expect anything from Hardcore-Punk to Jazz to Trip-Hop anything can happen. He hasn’t told us what he has planned!!

Facebook Event- https://www.facebook.com/events/3121307697990090/

THE TOP TEN ANTI WAR SONGS

There hasn’t been a day since the invention of the phonograph record when the world has not been at war someplace.

We are told that the world stands on the edge of a precipice, and there is very little we can do so instead of a fallout shelter I’ve built a list of the ten best anti-war songs ever.

By

Starting at number ten we have….

10. ‘The Ballad Of Penny Evans’ – Steve Goodman

The best ‘one guy with a guitar’ performer who ever lived, Goodman’s music was primarily in the ‘good times and more beer’ zone peppered with moments of genuine pathos but rarely political. On a 1973 album on the Buddha label he included a powerful acappella treatment of a song sung by a 21 year-old woman whose husband has been killed in Vietnam and whose rage against the government who sent him there can barely be contained:

“And now every month I get a check from an Army bureaucrat / And it’s every month I tear it up and I mail the damn thing back / Do you think that makes it all right, do you think I’d fall for that?”

In his clear voice, loud with anger, it’s an amazing performance.

9. ‘Jimmy Newman’ – Tom Paxton

Paxton’s ‘Talking Vietnam Pot Luck Blues’ about a young soldier’s discovery that everyone on both sides is smoking dynamite dope is almost as funny as this song about a hospitalized soldier’s slow realization that his friend has died during the night before they are scheduled to be shipped back home is emotionally devastating.

“Get up damn it Jimmy! They’re loading us next, and you’ve only to open your eyes.”

8. ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ – Eric Bogle

An Irish songwriter’s story about a soldier returning home from the battle of Gallipoli in 1915. The song is in the voice of a soldier whose legs have been blown off

“I never knew there were worse things than dying”

who watches as all the people who’ve come to greet the returning soldiers turn away in silence as the injured are brought off the boat. There are a million or more ways to ruin this kind of song and Bogle avoids every one. The song’s been done by many people including The Pogues but this version is beautiful and heartbreaking.

7. ‘Machine Gun’ – Jimi Hendrix

All the elements of a great screenplay are here. New York City, New Year’s Eve, hours from the end of the 1960’s, The Fillmore East and the greatest electric rock guitarist in history is a black man, a former US Army paratrooper. Pressured by a growing black militancy, he’s fired his white British backing band and has formed his ‘Band Of Gypsys’ with Billy Cox (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums). He knows he has to address Vietnam somehow, and in the twelve minutes and thirty-nine seconds of ‘Machine Gun’ Jimi says as much about the war as John Coltrane said about God in ‘A Love Supreme’. Here’s the audio footage from that New Years Eve Fillmore show.

6. ‘Universal Soldier’ – Buffy Saint-Marie

This is the anti-war song that speaks an awful truth that we would really prefer to ignore: while we can point fingers at the presidents and generals all we want, it is the individual soldiers who feed the war machine. The fact that these are our sons and brothers and sisters and daughters (and fathers and mothers) makes it a horrible and ugly truth (and, who knows, maybe some truths are best turned away from) but the Lysistrata solution offered here is a hard one to ignore.

5. ‘Between The Wars’ – Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg was to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980’s what Phil Ochs was to Richard Nixon in the 1960’s. Far from his most vitriolic political song, ‘Between The Wars’ examines the British working-class experience with verses like

“I kept the faith and I kept voting / Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand / For theirs is a land with a wall around it / And mine is a faith in my fellow man / Mine is the green field and the factory floor / Theirs are the skies all dark with bombers / And mine is the peace we knew / Between the wars.”

4. ‘I Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die’ – Country Joe And The Fish

The archetypal 1967-San Francisco-LSD-hippie-band led by a psychedelicized and politicized US army vet, ‘Country Joe’ McDonald. I remember in 1968 or 1969 sitting behind a row of guys in Navy uniforms either on their way to or back from Viet Nam at a Country Joe And The Fish show in Philadelphia as they played this song

“Be the first one on your block to have his boy come home in a box.”

Watching them cheer every line was around the time I began to suspect that the world was, well… complicated. Bring back the draft and we’d have this again in twenty minutes, half hour tops.

3. ‘Masters Of War’ – Bob Dylan

The studio version from 1963 is brilliant, but the live-in-Italy version on 1984’s ‘Real Live’ with former Rolling Stones’ guitarist, Mick Taylor, on a distorted, almost heavy metal, lead guitar is 1,000 times angrier than Johnny Rotten ever was or will be. There’s a talk that the critic Griel Marcus gave to the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley called ‘Stories Of A Bad Song’ that is really worth reading.

“Come you masters of war, you that build the big guns / You that build the death planes / You that build the big bombs / Not even Jesus would forgive what you do / I hope that you die”

2. ‘What’s Going On?’ – Marvin Gaye

“Father, father, father we don’t need to escalate / You see, war is not the answer / For only love can conquer hate”

wasn’t the kind of rhyme one expected to hear in 1971 from a million-selling soul artist who had earned the title ‘Prince Of Motown’. The title track from an album that his label flatly refused to release at first, calling it commercial suicide, became the crown jewel in what Smokey Robinson still calls ‘the greatest album of all time’. This version is all the evidence of his incredible power over audiences anyone should require.

1. ‘I Ain’t Marching Anymore’ – Phil Ochs

In 1976 Phil Ochs, the best ‘Protest Folk’ songwriter of his (or maybe any) generation, hung himself at his sister’s home. The victim of the sort of clinical depression we now have the drugs to treat and feelings of despair in the aftermath of Watergate, the rise of disco and the failure of the 1960’s to live up to its grand promises of social change (let’s face it, if the 60’s had succeeded Nixon would have died in prison and Kissenger would have gone on trial). Put simply, any top-whatever-list of anti-war songs that doesn’t start with Phil isn’t worth the ether it’s printed on. The solo acoustic version on the 1965 album of the same name remains the finest two minute and thirty-two second lesson in the history of international conflict ever recorded on to a roll of magnetic tape.

To be honest, “best of” lists are almost always a bit of a sham and Bob Marley, Elvis Costello, The Clash, R.E.M., Edwin Starr, The Dead Kennedys, Sun Ra, Fred Small, Richie Havens, Neil Young and, OK, even the Sex Pistols are all absent here. But these ten songs collectively represent a diverse body of response to our shared history and any one you may not be familiar with is deserving of your time and attention.

First published on These Things Too. Thanks to Stan.

ALBUM REVIEW- QUINTESSENTIAL QUARANTUNES (2020)

Six bands, three from Ireland and three London based. No longer able to play their trade due to government lockdowns either side of the Irish Sea have been virtually brought together by one man – Phil Parsons and one pub – Frostys Bar, Kenton to create a lockdown album like no other. With a mixture of Celtic Rock, Traditional Irish Folk and Rebel music, this is your must buy album of 2020.

Released just last week Quintessential Quarantunes is a compilation album of six bands. Three from London and three from across Ireland. There’s twelve songs in total with two each carefully chosen by the bands themselves. The music is mainly of the Irish folk ballad kind. Think along the lines of The Wolfe Tones. All the bands here are gigging musicians meaning its the sole income for many of them so for a tenner you can support Irish music at home and abroad for less than a pound a song.

THE BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS

With over twenty years worth of experience The BibleCode Sundays have performed live on many TV shows and played extensively throughout Europe and the USA. They have played on the pitches of Celtic Park on Champions League night, Twickenham Stadium for Heineken Cup Finals and for many years at London Irish Rugby Club. They have performed at Glastonbury music festival and supported Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon and his band Public Image Ltd on several occasions as well as The Cranberries, Thin Lizzy, The Sawdoctors and Christy Moore. They have also supported American punk band The Dropkick Murphys in both the US and the UK and recorded with Russell Crowe, Elvis Costello and Shane MacGowan to name but a few.

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BLACKSTAIRS REBEL

Formed in 1997 after a sing song on a bus home from a Wexford hurling match. PJ, Kevin and Ollie, later joined by Miss Carol Cooney on accordion. They soon built a reputation for the sessions they put on and were helped along with support slots for The Wolfe Tones, Dublin City Ramblers and Brendan Grace. The band write an occasional song but their real passion is playing live and for the past 23 years they have made many new friends along the way. A highlight of 2019 was playing Crawley Irish Festival. Meeting people, making new friends, having a few beers, eating kebabs, getting on ferries and planes, cars breaking down and belting out Irish folk, ballad, trad and rebel tunes where ever we go, for that’s what we love, that’s what we do and thats what we will continue to do for as long as people are still enjoying it.

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THE REELS

The Reels came together in late 2006. We all met through various music lessons growing up as kids or at sessions in many an Irish pub! With Gavin on vocals and guitar, Leanne on vocals and mandolin, Antonia on the fiddle, Mikey on the bass and Mad Kieran on the drums. Mixing traditional Irish music into more modern songs and taking the old Irish classics and making them more appealable to the younger second generation Irish in London. Already in popular demand to play the London circuit we will continue to belt out the music for as long as you’ll listen to us.

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CATALPA

Catalpa are a 3 piece band who are the resident band for The Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs and play before every home game in The Lansdowne Rugby Club. They traveled to France in 2016 for the Euros to play for the fans in La Rochelle. toured the USA, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Spain playing their brand of Irish ballads. Catalpa have played in The Aviva Stadium the famous Barrowlands in Glasgow and have supported The Wolfe Tones, The Dublin City Ramblers and Hermitage Green at various gigs and festivals. Catalpa have released three CDs to date and one CD in particular being a Charity CD for the John Giles Foundation.

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CELTIC STORM

Celtic Storm is a solo performer who hails from Co. Carlow. With over two decades of musical experience having performed in the USA, Europe and extensively throughout Ireland he is a highly sought after entertainer. He has played the famous Barrowlands on numerous occasions, most recent been the memorable night with his good friends Catalpa. Celtic Storm has one album to date and the ‘ballad bug’ is still as strong as ever.

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THE PEPPERED ACES

The Peppered Aces are a three piece Irish folk/rock band from London. Founded in 2015, the band have featured in festivals, international sporting events and have appeared on national radio. An annual event for the band sees them travel to NYC to perform at the St. Patrick’s festival. They are a developing band and have just commenced recording a selection of covers which prominently feature in the live set. Looking forward, The Peppered Aces plan on exploring their own original content and applying their unique sound and experience gained from playing together over the years.

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(Download or stream Quintessential Quarantunes from the Bandcamp link below)

Download Quintessential Quarantunes  From Bandcamp

EP REVIEW: SHANGHAI TREASON- ‘It’s Treason’ (2020)

The debut EP from highly rated South Yorkshire based Celtic-Punk band Shanghai Treason has hit the airways! 

Shanghai Treason are a band we have been championing ever since they first popped up on the Celtic-Punk scene last year (and not just because they’re from South Yorkshire!) with the release of their debut single ‘Devils Basement’ in November. A song that captured the Dropkick’s at their prime with the passion and speed of Punk. It even made the LCP Top Ten Of 2019 the only time a single song has ever made the Best Of lists in seven years.

Here on It’s Treason they bring together their three singles released over the last six months with three new tracks kicking off with that debut song and over 40,000 views across social media certainly saw them arrive in style. ‘Devil’s Basement’ is a song that the Dropkick Murphys would kill to write and saw the band picking up fans across the world. Fast and furious a fierce firecracker of a debut! Shanghai Treason are at heart a Punk band but with banjo (and occasional accordion) supplied by Hardy whose a bit of a mutli instrumentalist who can also play mandolin, accordion, bouzouki…even bagpipes which gives the band plenty of options for the future. It’s not just tacked onto a random Punk song though with their songs built around the sound of the banjo. Their sound lies somewhere between early Murphs and South-Western band Mick O’Toole (who make a appearance in the video if you look closely!). ‘Rats Get Fat’ is the first new one and they’ve lost none of their bite with a song about home giving Huddersfield a name check and Sams vocals coming over particularly good with a ‘operatic’ Punk style that fit perfectly.

‘Can’t Even Hang A Man Right’ carries on with the anthemic Celtic-Punk. Loud and raucous and with us finally on the verge of leaving the EU at last a rallying cry against political dirty tricks at Westminster with the great chorus “You can’t trust the rats by the river”. This is an EP for anyone into LOUD music but if you’re a fan of the banjo then this is definitely for you and again on ‘Drowning Heart’ the mix is done perfectly and the balance between the banjo and everything else is great.

‘The North Will Rise Again’ is dedicated to the music venues of the North of England and hopefully they’ll be some left to watch Shanghai Treason in at the end of all this! A video was released on Facebook in support of the Music Venue Trust’s campaign to #SaveOurVenues featuring some of the bands favourite boozers. Foot stamper ‘Green Cove’ brings down the curtain on It’s Treason and we are treated to Hardy and his accordion and the song has a bit more of a Celtic air to it, no doubt due to the accordion, but it still powers along.

Shanghai Treason left to right: Joel Hughes – Bass * Tom Hardy – You name it. Just about anything he can get his hands on * Sam Christie – Vocals * Tom Jackson – Guitar * Alex Fell – Pots and Pans *

The band were riding the crest of the wave when the clampdown came along and I can’t think of a single band whose momentum has been damaged more. Having shot onto the scene and in six months risen to where they are it’s a real shame. Still plans are already afoot to get back on the road as soon as they are able with a intensive UK tour on the table and some supports to bands I must not mention. Shanghai Treason may inhabit the darker, heavier side of Celtic-Punk but for anyone that misses Mike McColgan era Dropkick Murphys than mourn no more and get treasonous!

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ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Comedies And Tragedies’ (2020)

Since their arrival on the Celtic-Punk scene back in 2013 Black Water County have become one of its shining lights swiftly going from support slots to headline act right across the country. Marv runs the rule over their second album which shows them maturing into an act that is preparing for BIG things.

Back in September 2019 I was lucky enough to spend a day in the studio with Black Water as they were putting the finishing touches to their new album Comedies and Tragedies at The Ranch Production House in Hampshire. It was a lot of fun to spend time with the band and get the skinny on the new album. It was clear from the run-throughs that they were gestating a banging new set of tracks and it was a real pleasure to see it unfold.

As anyone familiar with their evolution will know, Black Water County has gone from strength to strength in the past couple of years. After a couple of EPs, their debut album Taking chances met with almost universal acclaim a couple of year ago. Their brand of fast and uproarious Guinness-and-Cider-soaked mayhem has proven impossible to resist in the grass roots folkpunk live scene. Particularly in the west country but also further afield and their gigs are usually loud, sweaty parties of booze-driven joy. I was at the front for their Bimble Inn debut at Beautiful Days Festival in 2018. Their follow-up Beautiful Days set in 2019 was a glorious party, packed to the 2000-capacity gunnels for a triumphant set of classic BWC before an adoring crowd, all intent on singing and dancing their arses off.

With the new album they have come of age. It’s the same Black Water County we know and love, the same level of hard-working folkpunks songs seemingly designed with the specific intention of putting a grin on your face and movement in your body. However they have upped their game. It’s smoother and yet simultaneously coarser. More complex whilst at the same time retaining their raw and rowdy energy. Vocal duties continue to be shared between Shannon and Tim with lashings of gorgeous harmonies from the rest of the band. Gone are some of the more comedic vocals and themes (brilliant and humorous though they were), to be replaced with more songs of wistful loss, conflicted angst and other contemplative themes, but all pounded together skillfully with blistering drums and musicianship. I even noticed some solo bass runs in there and some screaming electric guitar amongst the manic fiddle, banjo and lord knows what else; it’s all in there! A beautiful cacophony of distilled folkpunk bliss!

The songs are all new of course, yet instantly familiar. If you love Black Water County you will adore this album. There is no let up in the fellowship of the craic (the title of one of their early EPs) a perfect description of their unwritten manifesto. If you want a taster to see if it’s up your alley, find the track Darkest Days, it is both quintessential Black Water County and the perfect showcase of their new raw sound. How the hell did they manage to do that in a single song? It beats me, but I’m too busy wallowing in the glory to question it further.
The Rise and continued Rise of Black Water County; long may it continue.

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Photos courtesy of Marvellous Gig Photography camera for hire!

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS EXCLUSIVE VIDEO FROM CHINA! GRASS MUD HORSE NEW SINGLE.

Holed up in their apartments in northern China Grass Mud Horse have been keeping pretty damn busy under quarantine and here is their second release, the pirate themed ‘No Prey No Pay’ and an exclusive first viewing of the video too.

Celtic-Punk based in Qinhuangdao, northern China! Singing about living in one of the strangest, most amazing and, at the moment, most dangerous places on Earth. Singing in both English and Chinese, their music is tongue in cheek and in the spirit of the best Celtic-Punk will make you smile! Grass Mud Horse are a punk band based in Northern China fronted by Chris Barry, who also writes all the songs. Originally from Liverpool he now lives in China and was also a member of the Canadian Rock band The Strange. The music is an eclectic mix of various punk styles, including Skate, hardcore, Ska, Celtic and features a diverse array of musical instruments (most also performed by Chris Barry). This is their second release after ‘Christmas Time In China’ and their next release will be a acoustic EP while the lads work on their debut album, Beijing Bikini, which has been delayed because of something I am sure you must have seen on the news!

We’re setting sail once more to raid
The Spanish Kings own gold
We’ll hunt his scurvy rotten ships
And plunder all they hold
We’re setting course with no remorse
We’re as rotten as we’re damned
We’ll spill their guts just cos we must
It’s to fortune or be hanged
*
 No prey no pay
Our code our way
No prey no pay
We fight we slay
No prey no pay
And to the Devil we say
The order of the day
No prey no pay
*
 Prepare to come about
A shot across the bow
The chance to end this now
Strike your colours be a coward
If you stand your ground
You’ll be shark bate when you drown
*
 Throw the boarding hooks
 Draw your cutlass swig a dram
 Prepare to board her men
 Smell their fear drink it in
Lads we’ll soon be rich
while this lot will soon be dead
 We’re setting sail once more to raid
The Spanish Kings own gold
We’ll hunt his scurvy rotten ships
And plunder all they hold
We’re setting course with no remorse
We’re as rotten as we’re damned
We’ll spill their guts just cos we must
It’s to fortune or be hanged
*
No prey no pay
 No prey no pay
Our code our way
No prey no pay
We fight we slay
No prey no pay
And to the Devil we say
The order of the day
 Crack of muskets dying screams
Clash of steel striking bone
 The sweetest sound I know
Blood streams into the sea
Another Battles won and the day is ours again
*

Now the reason for the bands name Grass Mud Horse is that it is the literal English translation of the Chinese term for the animal known as a llama or an Alpaca. In Chinese the llama is named 草泥马 (pronounced Cao Ni Ma.) As Chris says

“Now the reason we chose this for our name, is because if you say “Cao Ni Ma” with the wrong tones…you don’t say Alpaca at all, in fact you tell somebody to go fornicate with their mother.  In addition to this being quite funny, China is of course a land of extreme censorship and to avoid getting in trouble for swearing, young Chinese angrily exclaim “Llama!”, when in fact they mean something else entirely.”

So more proof if it was needed of the global reach of Celtic-Punk, even if Chris is a scouser! It’s hard enough for new bands to make a mark on the scene but when you are living and working in China it’s near impossible so do the guys a favour and download the song and leave them a ‘like’ on Facebook.

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ANTO MORRA’S NEW ALBUM IN HIS OWN WORDS

Songwriter, performer and multi media artist that believes ‘Life is for laughing and fighting injustice’. Traditional folk songs and punk rock of his formative London years, along with his Irish roots and Norfolk home are the inspiration behind his work.

by ANTO MORRA

Twenty is a compilation of 20 songs taken from 7 CD releases. Late last year I had the idea to put this together to replace the 6 full albums that were available for download and streaming. The reason being that the way music is digitally consumed today is rarely in album form and more often in odd tracks on shuffle. I felt this was making my output very incoherent and so I chose a selection of songs and got them re-mastered to work together as an album and also as individual tracks.

1. NEVER HAD TO SHOUT

The title track of my debut album. Very much in the story telling folk tradition but with 1977 punk sensibilities. Inspired by my love of British and Irish Gangster films, West London and the Clash. The main character is called Jimmy. I used this name because I had an Uncle Jimmy that lived around the Ladbrooke Grove area and had a market stall on Golbourne Road. On one occasion I performed the song at Cecil Sharp House (home of the English folk song and dance society in London) after Thomas McCarthy (an amazing singer of Irish Traditional songs passed on to him by his Irish Traveller family) approached me and questioned me (in a really strong Irish brogue) about who Jimmy was, as he had grown up around the Grove. I explained that I’d used my uncle’s name and even though my Uncle had been dead about 20 years, it soon became very apparent that Thomas had known him. You could have knocked me down with a feather. I don’t use the term ‘amazing singer’ lightly judge for yourself.

2. LONDON IRISH

It’s quite hard to imagine when I wrote this declaration of my nationality, I’d heard of neither the London Celtic Punks or The Biblecode Sundays. Unlike my elder sisters and many of my peers that moved from Catholic primary school onto Catholic secondary (High) School, my Irish identity never really developed. As many of my best school friends were English protestant, Jewish or Black, and one of my best out of school friends was a Turkish Muslim, so I always just felt like everyone was from somewhere else. Dyslexia was not really a recognised condition back then and although I wasn’t a severe case, I was always bottom of the class, angry and disruptive. Inside I thought I’d inherited my stupidity from my Irish parents, who were anything but stupid! The relentless stream of jokes about the ‘Thick Mick’ and my father fitting the stereotype of hard drinking builder, I was always emotionally conflicted about my nationality. It took a long time to confront it but I’m sure a diagnosis of dyslexia in the mid 90’s was a great help!

3. TALE OF THE SLIGO WIDOW

I spent an awful lot of wasted years drinking heavily and smoking cannabis on a daily basis, which made me adore folklore and those acoustic hippy kings like Marc Bolan, Donovan and Syd Barrett , but detest that over produced whispy Irish celtic mystic sound of people like Clannad and Enya. Although by the time I wrote this I thought I was done with writing that sort of weird hippy shit, like the cannabis it hadn’t entirely left my system! I’d like to site two songs that were the inspiration for this the first is Marc Bolan’s ‘One Inch Rock’ and the second is the Donovan’s ‘Widow with a Shawl’ .

4. TIME

I’ve always struggled with anti-social media, I’ve got accounts with the most well known platforms but never got my head around any other than Facebook. I’m still not sure how to fully utilise that to my advantage but sometimes I enjoy just screaming into that void! Some years ago there was a question posed by a FB user asking ‘If you could give your 10 year old self one piece of advice what would it be?’ Of course being dyslexic I never read the part that said ‘one piece’ and so I managed to get a full four verses out of it.

5. WRONG PATH

Like the four previous songs this is from my 2013 debut album and is in the storytelling tradition. Originally titled ‘Sealing fate’ when I started writing it in about 1990 and a song that remained really quite shite for at least 20 years, but following the 2011 London riots it finally became the song I was trying to write. I like to think of it as a re working of ‘In the Ghetto’ by Elvis but with a modern London twist. When recording it I had sung it unintentionally in a mid-Atlantic accent which sounded fine until Percy Paradise put down his slide guitar making my vocals sound hideously American. Rerecording my vocals was easy enough until it came to the chorus where The Woodland Creatures had followed the original ‘Path’ vocal line forcing me to use the American, Irish or Northern pronunciation rather than the London/southern pronunciation ‘Paath’.

6. POETS DAY

Is a working song for a lazy bastard! When I started work on building sites in the early 1980’s, Friday was known as Poets day an acronym for ‘Piss Of Early Tomorrow’s Saturday!’ This is still remembered by people of a certain age and I’m sure applied a lot more occupations than just in the building trade. Workers were paid weekly in cash back then and often on a Friday. Once you had your money in your pocket work was over and the weekend had begun and it was straight into the pub for a few pints and a game of pool or darts. Happy days!

7. WHERE’S DADDY GONE?

Written not long after my father died so consequently my mother hated it, as the Daddy in the song was nothing like my father who never hit any of us or chased other women once married, though he did occasionally stay out drinking. The inspiration for this comes from my love of those Kitchen Sink dramas of the 1960’s combined with all the rhythm and pace of a Leonard Cohen song. It does resonate close to the bone with some people, a friend of mine was quite taken aback by it and how it reflected his home life as a child.

8. CHARLEVILLE (RICKY’S SONG)

This recording is taken from a 2013 compilation cd featuring performers based in East Anglia. Some years ago while tidying stuff at my Mum & Dads house in London, I came across a piece of paper with a poem called Charleville scrawled in biro on it. Charleville is a town on the Cork, Limerick border in the Republic Of Ireland where my mother’s family are from. I asked her about it and she nonchalantly replied ‘Oh Ricky (her brother) wrote that.’ I was astounded not by the poem by just by the fact that one of my Irish relatives had been brave enough to attempt some creative writing. That sort of thing wasn’t for the likes of them! They were as Patrick Kavanagh would say ‘fog dwellers’ – rural types without need for self expression or showing off. I took the poem chopped some out, added an Irish cliché or two, pinch a traditional tune from somewhere and my work was done. There is a different version of the song on my album 16, but I chose this one because I love the understated banjo of Pete Alison and mandolin of Terry Saunders.

9. BLOOD ON THE SHAMROCK AND THE ROSE

This is the song that changed everything for me! I wrote this in the mid 00’s and by the reactions I got performing it in folk clubs, I knew I had to start taking my song writing more seriously and do some proper recordings of my songs. Growing up in London when it wasn’t great being Irish and narrowly escaping two IRA bombings- first in Selfridges 1974 and then the Wimpy Bar in 1981. I lived a mile from Marble Arch and so Oxford Street was where my mate Sean and I would go to play out on a Saturday. On both of the above occasions, we had got home to see the devastation on the News! Not only had we walked passed the Wimpy Bar on that day, but we had actually been inside Selfridges, just before we got the bus home. I could never relate the lovely kind Irish people that I had met and was related too, with the kind of people that could commit these acts of cruel violence. As I got older I started to understand it a little better and was finally able to articulate how I felt about it in a song. I have to credit my Sister Anne for verse three. When she was visiting a friend in Ulster at the height of the Troubles, she was advised if anyone asked her religion she was just to reply ‘I’m not one of them’ in order to stay safe and neutral.

10. GREEN, WHITE AND GOLD

On holiday in Ireland as a child I remember my dad pointing to a flag and saying ‘That is the Irish flag- it’s green, white and gold.’ To which I replied ‘That’s orange Dad.’ ‘No it’s gold, son!’ This contradiction went on for quite sometime until I think I just gave up. Years later I was reliably informed, that despite it representing the protestant William of Orange and his influence on the population of Ireland, Orange is not an Heraldic Colour and so my Dad was right! I wrote this not long after he died, so sadly he never got to hear it.

11. EDITH LOUISA CAVELL

Written and released as an EP in time for the centenary of her execution in October 1915. I was chosen by Norwich Cathedral Chaplin to be included in the Cathedral memorial service, where I performed it live, and the service was broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 to about 1.5 million listeners. A scary but enjoyable experience!

12. BALLAD OF EDITH CAVELL

In early 2014 I started to work with a very over educated man called Gareth Calway. A novelist, poet, playwright and historian who was staging a medieval morality play that he wanted me to be part of. When I had a very informal reading for a part, he told me of another project he was working on which was a book of ballads all based on people and places in the East of England. He was looking for musicians that could take his words and make them songs. I wasn’t keen at first as I hate reading and some of these ballads were really high brow wordy stuff but once I started it became like a runaway train and before I knew it we had an album to record.

13. PATRIOTISM IS NOT ENOUGH

The title track of The Edith Cavell Story EP released for the centenary commemoration. The EP was written on the advice of my good friend and London Irish artist Brian Whelan, who had been commissioned by Norwich Cathedral to do a number of paintings depicting her life and so suggested I write something for the planned events. The songs on the EP are all unaccompanied and linked with concertina and harmonica tunes played by my friend Percy Paradise. The reason for this was not only to respect the folk tradition of unaccompanied singing but also for a feel authenticity as there weren’t many guitars about during the First World War. I have sequenced the three Edith Songs this way because this is how I perform them live.

14. HALF GOD HALF NELSON

I always thought that I was not able to sing harmonies as when I have tried at Folk Clubs it has never been a good experience for anyone, but when recording this the harmonies came quite naturally to me. I’m not sure where I stole the shanty melody but I think it works perfectly when telling Gareth Calway’s tale of Norfolk’s Lord Admiral Nelson.

15. BALLAD OF ANN BOLEYN AND THE BURGLAR

Another from the pen of Gareth Calway. Blickling Hall in Norfolk was once the home of Ann Boleyn and it has been reported that she still haunts the place. In this song her ghost mistakes a burglar for her true love Thomas Wyatt, yet again I’m not sure where I pinched this very traditional sounding melody. My wife Julie’s harmony really pulls this together and it’s one I really love to sing when we are at folk clubs together.

16. ENGLAND

Some years ago I was booked to play in a local Norfolk bar on St. Patrick’s Day and St. Georges Day. As you can imagine St Pat’s was a walk in the park while St. Georges was a struggle, as there are hardly any English songs about how great the country is that aren’t slagging off some other country or praising the Monarchy. I stuck to things like The Jam, The Clash, The Kinks with a few great English Folk songs and got through the evening quite well I’d thought until someone came up after and said he still thought I’d been doing Irish stuff all night, but that’s pub gigs for ya! Shortly after I wrote this song to express what I love about the place. When performing it live I often explain before that it’s about place and you don’t even have to like the English to sing along with it.

17. YOU’RE NOT HERE

Originally called ‘Sadder Than Asda’ was written in the mid 90’s when I was on a painting and drawing course to get an extra £10 benefit on my giro. To get out of the studio on the outskirts of Norwich and get a bit of lunch, we’d visit a huge Asda superstore opposite. I had also started working on music with a band and we were considering names for the band. While chatting with my fellow Art students and shopping in Asda, one of my friends suggested that I should call the band Fountain Head after the cheap fizzy water sold in Asda. I put it to the band and they loved it, so that’s what we were called for our 2 year existance. When I wanted an interesting title for a song I’d written and I played the tearjerker to them some one suggested ‘Sadder Than Asda’, and like the band name, it stuck until I recorded and renamed it ‘You’re Not Here’ in 2017. Originally, recorded on a 12 string acoustic guitar that was removed completely when Kerry Selwin sprinkled her magic on the ivories. I spent a bit of time making this little video for it which is filmed in Balham, South West London where my parents rented a flat and lived for 20 years until my dad died. The shots of me watching TV and sitting by the window were done just before the TV and furniture were sold and the flat was handed back to the landlord.

18. DRAGON

When I first settled in Norwich I ran a record stall in St Benedict Street indoor market, it was a great little place which is sadly no longer there, next to my stall was a tiny hippy kiosk that sold a few ‘spiritual’ things and did tarot card readings. The owner of this kiosk was a bit of a weasley little shit but harmless enough, when he had days off there was another chap that did tarot reading who was a lovely fella that played a mean guitar and had great taste in music. One day when it was quiet one of the stall holders had brought her little boy in and he was chatting to the nice tarot reader who was trying to explain to this 5 year old what Dragons were. It proved to be fascinating listening, together with my love of T-Rex (Futuristic Dragon) and the fact that I was born in the Chinese year of the Dragon all came together in this song.

19. WRECKED ON LOVE

Another song written in the early 90’s and originally performed with Fountain Head. At this point in my life I’d been through several doomed relationships and was searching for some stability, but seemed destined to flit from bedsit to squat to family sofa. Far too many drugs and/or booze was being consumed and much too much early Marc Bolan and hippy shit was being listened too, but it was all worthwhile when a song like this came out of it. It was the first song I ever wrote that had a very folk feel to it. I particularly love the intro my talented friends did on this with flute, harp, cello and fiddle.

20. THE CONSCIENTIOUS ODD DRINKER

The closing song of my debut album was inspired by British soldier Joe Guyton, who refused to fight in the Gulf War, when it had been declared illegal. Also a story my father told me about his time in the Korean War, when one of his regiment in the royal artillery got blown up when a gun jammed. This got me thinking about PTSD and how many returning soldiers can’t deal with civilian life after the horrors they have witnessed. It’s a very sad song but in the Irish tradition of sounding good fun & having a knees up.

Buy Twenty  Vinyl/CD’sFromAnto

Contact Anto Morra Web-Site  Blog  Facebook  Reverbnation  Twitter  YouTube  Bandcamp

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2019!

Well here we go again. It only seems like five minutes since I was compiling all the votes into last years Best Of that saw The Rumjacks romping home with Album Of The Year. This year has been a bit quieter on the Celtic-Punk front but as last year was so busy that is perhaps not surprising. That’s not to say their weren’t some fantastic releases as their were plenty and it was still really difficult to come up with the various lists below. Not so many big bands this year so it was left to the lesser known bands to shine but remember this is only our opinion and these releases are only the tip of the iceberg of what came out last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we are adding the Readers Poll again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2019 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.

We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…

(click on the green link to go where you will find more information on the release)

1. THE WALKER ROADERS – Self Titled

2. MICKEY RICKSHAW – Home In Song

3. FEROCIOUS DOG – Fake News And Propaganda

4. GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS – Based On A True Story

5. BARLEYJUICE – The Old Speakeasy

6. THE NARROWBACKS – By Hook Or By Crook

7. McDERMOTTS TWO HOURS – Besieged

8. PIPES AND PINTS – The Second Chapter

9. THE RUMJACKS – Live In Athens

10. SELFISH MURPHY – After Crying

11. TORTILLA FLAT – Live At The Old Capitol

12. FIDDLERS GREEN – Heyday

13. THE RUMJACKS – Live In London Acoustic Sessions

14. THE WHIPJACKS – This Wicked World

15. 13 KRAUSS – Redención

16. ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – Craic Agus Ceol

17. AIRES BASTARDOS – Self Titled

18. THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM – Hovels Of The Holy

19. THE FIGHTING JAMESONS – A Moment In California

20. ANGRY McFINN AND THE OLD YANK – Songs of Whiskey, Women & War

21. THE SHILLELAGHS – Ripples In The Rye

22. HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS – Pub Crawl

23. BODH’AKTAN – De Temps Et De Vents

24. HEATHEN APOSTLES – Dust To Dust

25. SONS OF CLOGGER – Return To The Stones’

26. THE CHERRY COKE$ – Old Fox

27. THE FILTHY SPECTACULA – The Howl Of The Underclasses

28. THE POTATO PIRATES – Hymns For The Wayward

29. TC COSTELLO– Horizon Songs

30. THE TENBAGS – ‘Bags o’ Craic’

How to compete with last year? Every single top band in the genre released an album so things were always going to be a bit quieter for 2019. Top spot this year unsurprisingly goes to The Walker Roaders Celtic-Punk super group! With Pogues, Mollys and Dropkicks making up the team how could they possibly go wrong! Everyone’s ‘next big thing’ Mickey Rickshaw came in a well deserved second and Ferocious Dog took third after releasing their best album, for me, since From Without. Greenland Whalefishers celebrated 25 years on the road with their best album for quite a while and what Best Of would be right without some bloody brilliant Irish-American bands challenging at the top too. Pipes And Pints new album with a new singer received acclaim from across the Punk media and The Rumjacks couldn’t follow up last years unanimous victory despite having two album releases (both sort of live) in the top thirteen. Fiddlers Green continue to make consistently great albums and go into 2020 celebrating thirty years together! Good to see homegrown bands The Whipjacks, The Tenbags, The Filthy Spectacula and Sons Of Clogger making it too. The top thirty was made up of thirteen countries from USA, England, Norway, Czech Republic, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Quebec, Hungary, Spain and Japan.

1. THE LUCKY TROLLS – Self Titled

2. DRUNKEN DOLLY – The Party

3. LORETTA PROBLEM – The Waltz Of My Drunken Dream

4. THE CLOVERHEARTS – Sick

5. KRAKIN’ KELLYS – Irish Tribute

6. THE PLACKS – Rebellious Sons

7. GYPSY VANNER – Five Distilled Celtic Punks

8. THE RUMPLED – Grace O’ Malley

9. FOX’N’FIRKIN – Hey Ho! We’re Fox n Firkin

10. SHANGHAI TREASON – Devil’s Basement

The Lucky Trolls took #1 spot with their brilliant self-titled EP following on from fellow countrymen the Krakin’ Kellys multi award winning 2018. Trust me it would have taken an exceptionally good release to keep The Party by Drunken Dolly off the top spot but that is what happened. Dolly’s excursions over to these shores this year j=has seen them grown in stature and you can’t go to a Ferocious Dog gig without spotting at least a dozen of their shirts. Loretta Problem wowed us with their single ‘Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ which took us right back back to The Pogues glory days and what about that accompanying video too!! If we had a award for best video then that would have walked it. The Kellys had a quiet year with comparison to ’18 but still managed a respectable #5 and great debut releases from The Placks our sole representative from a Celtic nation (big things are going to happen to this band in 2020 mark my words), Italian/Aussies The Cloverhearts and, from just down the road from my Mammy, Shanghai Treason from Sheffield who only put out one song… but what a song! Eight countries represented from Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Argentina, Australia and Yorkshire!

AIRES BASTARDOS– ‘Self-Titled’

Argentina is becoming a bit of a hot-spot for Celtic-Punk with not only some well established bands but also some new ones starting up too and with this release Aires Bastardos announced their arrival on the international scene too. Not afraid to dive straight into a folk number after a Cock Sparrer cover they veer from standard Celtic-Punk to Folk and back to fast as hell Punk but in that really accessible way that only Celtic-Punk (and maybe Ska-Punk) bands can do.

1. THE DREADNOUGHTS – Into The North

2. CROCK OF BONES – Celtic Crossbones

3. 6’10 – Where We Are

4. BRYAN McPHERSON – Kings Corner

5. CALLUM HOUSTON – Gravities

6. PYROLYSIS – Daylight Is Fading

7. SEAMUS EGAN – Early Bright

8. LE VENT DU NORD – Territoires

9. DONNY ZUZULA – Chemicals

10. DERVISH – Great Irish Songbook

The Dreadnoughts don’t really think of themselves as Celtic-Punk so I reckon they’d be happier to win this than Celtic-Punk Album Of The Year. A superb collection of sea shanties that is a pleasure to listen to that was always going to be #1. Crock Of Bones representing the London Irish in 2nd with an album of trad folk with punk rock attitude and it’s especially good to hear some originals done in the style of the ‘auld ways’. 6’10 challenged for the top spot as they always do with everything they release and Bryan MacPherson and Callum Houston both produced great releases of singer-songwriter acoustic folk with Irish roots.

Sadly the Celtic-Punk world has shrunk a little regarding Web-Sites. Winners of the last two years the Mersey Celt Punks have been slacking (sort it out lads!) and enjoying their gigs too much to tell us while Shite’n’Onions have been too busy transferring everything onto a different platform and preparing for a bit of a re-launch I expect. Sadly celtic-rock.de have shut up shop after twelve years so it just makes it all the more clear how much we all miss Waldo and his fantastic Celtic-Folk-Punk And More site. As regular as clockwork and all the news that was ever fit (or not!) to print. Closing down the site in its 10th year in March must have been a tough decision to make and so this year we award best Website to Waldo and let it be known that no Celtic-Punk site will ever come close to replacing you. We would certainly not exist without his kind help and inspiration. All the best comrade enjoy your retirement! One welcome addition is Michu and his Celtic-Punk Encyclopedia site from Poland. Worth checking out especially if you are in a band.

We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2019 lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST

FOLK’N’ROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other Celtic-Punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.

This is our 8th year of making these Best Of lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous ones then just click on the link below the relevant year.

Last year we introduced a new feature THE READERS PICK. We had no idea if it would work or not but it was a raging success so we going to do it all again this year. With well over 500 votes cast you lot chose the debut album from the Krakin’ Kellys as a worthy winner. Only the Top Ten albums are listed but there is an option to write in your favourite release or just to send us love… or abuse!

You are allowed to vote twice but not for the same artist.

The Poll will close at midnight on Friday 31st January with the result announced soon after.

remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020

FOUR NEW CHRISTMASSY CELTIC-PUNK SONGS FROM SCOTLAND, ENGLAND, SAN DIEGO AND CHINA!

Well Christmas is over and I hope you all had a festively good time. If you are still in need of some good cheer though then wait no more as we have four brand new stonking 2019 Christmas-ish Celtic-Punk songs for you to delight over.

Craic open the Jamesons!

PEAT & DIESEL- ‘Fairytale Of Stornaway’

The story began when three Stornoway Cove’s (Innes, Uilly and Boydie) met up in the house to have the craic on a Saturday nights playing music with just the dog and cat watching. After a few tunes getting thrown across the room Boydie stated muttering a few sentences. As he is a man of few words not attention was really given to him until he shouted ‘Quick, line me out!’ Not a second to spare a set of old broken headphones were cable tied to a guitar amp and out came a few cobwebs followed shortly after with a sound nobody had ever heard before. What came next was five gallons of lyrics, verse after verse, song after song – PEAT & DIESEL WAS BORN! The songs won’t make much sense to the average person, but the person behind the lyrics isn’t your average man so if you have a listen and you can relate to it you are a special breed! Peat & Diesel take you on a journey to the heart of the Western Isles, where #peatlemania was born. You might have time for a brandy in the ‘Airidh’ but don’t miss your ride in Calum Dan’s Transit Van, we ain’t stopping till we lose the water!

Contact Peat & Diesel  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

CALICO STREET RIOTS- ‘Going Home’

In the summer of 2008 Calico Street Riots were born. Having formed immediately after the summer, Calico Street Riots wrote and recorded an EP, and were gigging by the end of the same year. After numerous gigs and plenty of praise in the folk-punk community, a second EP, From The City to the Shores surfaced in 2011. This EP showcased the band’s eclectic tastes coming together, flawlessly forming their own unique sound. The band would continue to play sporadic gigs and festivals throughout this time. Now, after an eight year hiatus from recording, Calico Street Riots have bounced back with some of their most unforgettable material to date. Most frequently compared musically to Flogging Molly meets The Dreadnoughts via The Pogues, Calico Street Riots draw their influences from a multitude of sources, fusing them into a satisfying blend of beer-fuelled, riotous and lively, folk-punk.

This track has been with Calico for a very long time, and we finally got round to recording it properly. They were fortunate to win studio time as part of a charity fundraiser in aid of Dementia UK so it felt like the right thing to do to help raise some more funds with this track. The single will be absolutely free, however we’d really appreciate it if you can spare anything at all, and make a donation to the charity via the link below. Dementia is a horrible illness, one which some of us are currently experiencing first hand, and hope to help the charity by raising funds into further research and prevention.  www.justgiving.com/fundraising/calicostreetriots

Calico Street Riots  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

LEXINGTON FIELD- ‘Christmas At The Pub’

Formed back in 2009 in San Diego, southern California the band have previously released five albums, Old Dirt Road, Poor Troubled Life, No Man’s War, Greenwood and Dreamers as well as a bunch of quality EP’s as well. All have came garnered the same critical praise from both the celtic-punk and wider punk/rock music media. They have played and toured solidly and to call what they do unique is no way giving them enough credit! Lexington Field play a mixture of music blending genres from country and Americana as well as punk rock and not to be forgetting a massive dose of traditional Irish music with a expert fiddle player right slap bang in the middle. The band call what they do ‘fiddle rock’ and is as good a description as you could give them two words.

Contact Lexington Field  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp

GRASS MUD HORSE- ‘Christmas Time In China’

Lao Wai punk rock based in Qinhuangdao China. Singing about our lives in one of the strangest, most amazing and sometimes horrible places on Earth. We sing in both English and Chinese, all our music is tongue in cheek and we hope it makes you smile! Grass Mud Horse are a punk band based in Northern China fronted by Chris Barry, who also writes all the songs. Originally from Liverpool he now lives in China and was also a member of the Canadian Rock band The Strange. The music is an eclectic mix of various punk styles, including Skate, hardcore, Ska, Celtic and features a diverse array of musical instruments (most also performed by Chris Barry). The lads are currently working on their debut album, Beijing Bikini.

Inspired by ugly Christmas jumpers (featuring llamas on them) the idea for a Christmas single formed. Now the reason for the bands name Grass Mud Horse is that it is the literal English translation of the Chinese term for the animal known as a llama or an Alpaca. In Chinese the llama is named 草泥马 (pronounced Cao Ni Ma.) As Chris says

“Now the reason we chose this for our name, is because if you say “Cao Ni Ma” with the wrong tones…you don’t say Alpaca at all, in fact you tell somebody to go fornicate with their mother.  In addition to this being quite funny, China is of course a land of extreme censorship and to avoid getting in trouble for swearing, young Chinese angrily exclaim “Llama!”, when in fact they mean something else entirely.”

And that is why some ugly Christmas jumpers with lamas on them inspired a Christmas single which could in turn act as a really nice lead-up to the bands debut album due soon. You can buy the single here.

Grass Mud Horse  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

2019 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S PART TWO: EUROPE- BROPHY’S LAW, DIE DÖDELSÄCKE, HELLRAISERS’N’BEERDRINKERS, PYROLYSIS, SCHËPPE SIWEN

We continue in our vain attempt to catch up with the Celtic-Punk and related releases we missed throughout the year! Each year the number of releases we receive here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS continues to amaze us. Now this is great news but it does mean that we cannot keep up with everything we receive. We simply don’t have time to give a review to everything so each December we have a week to catch up with any we missed first time round. We like to write detailed reviews so apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in this way. Each and every band featured here are worthy of your time so please be sure to check them out. Today in Part Two we have five releases from Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and a sort of Euro collaboration between Scandinavia and the British Isles! To check out Part One which featured North America then visit here. Our final part will be in a few days when we round up the rest of the world! So please be sure to check back soon.

BROPHY’S LAW- ‘True Stories’ (Buy)

The perfect place for Brophy’s Law seeing as despite being based in Copenhagen they actually contain members from Cornwall, England, Scotland and Denmark. They came to prominence last year as they embarked on a UK wide tour with Swedish Celtic-Punk heavyweights Sir Reg as The Neil Brophy Band. A year later and a new name to reflect the full band sound and a new album of thirteen self penned songs spanning the Folk-Punk genre. The album touches on themes as diverse as world travel, revelry, small-town England, record collecting, refugees, propaganda, vikings, lucky people, fishing and homecoming. Their single from the album, Nice To Know, released on Record Store Day received plenty of favourable press and airplay most notably from Steve Lamacq on the UK’s favourite alternative music station BBC6. The song reflects on Neil’s return to his home town of Northampton after a few years away. Life in the city may seem to change fast to us but the reality is at local community level some things never change. As Neil sings: “my country, my heritage will remain!”

Other album highlights are the acerbic politically charged ‘Fear Of Fear’ with it’s raw, brash Celtic soul sound and poetical social commentary, the fun filled C’n’W tinged ‘Bears Go Fishing’ and the lovely ballad ‘Far Away’. Prominent use of the harmonica and banjo always wins bonus points with me! As we have said the music throughout spans several genres of folk including Country, Celtic, and Americana. They are tailor made for the new generation of music festivals aimed at a slightly older sort of festival goer. Where people look after the bogs and the music finishes at midnight! The band go by the motto of ‘Whatever Happens-Happens Whatever’ and in these uncertain times that’s a good way to think.

Brophy’s Law- Facebook  WebSite  YouTube

DIE DÖDELSÄCKE- Letzte Fahrt (Buy)

Die Dödelsäcke are a German band from Mülheim and are not a band I have been previously aware of. This is a shame as this EP of seven songs is their swansong and the band officially split up in September after playing a gig in Oberhausen. Not only that but they have chosen to split up on what would have been their 30th anniversary together making them one of the oldest Punk bands in Germany. Even stranger is that they have a massive discography going right back to 2002’s Durst 609 and a reputation as being ‘The Kings Of German Bagpipe Punk’. An affinity with Scotland is evident on this album despite all the songs being sung in German. The band has eight members combining your traditional punk rock instruments alongside bagpipes, mandolin, banjo, flute and tin whistle. Vocalist Andel McGoy has the perfect voice for Celtic-Punk being just the right side of hoarse! The first single from the EP was ‘Letzte Fahrt’ which wraps up proceedings on the EP and is a great example of the German style of Celtic-Punk.

Heavy on the mandolin and also the vocals its a great romp and catchy as hell while still being as Punk As Feck! The rest of the EP is just as good with notable tracks being the excellent bagpipe heavy ‘Far Far Away’ with its chugging guitar, gang vocals and rather slow build up as well as ‘Küss Mich Mit Whisky’, probably the most ‘Celtic’ song here. Fast and furious the song would stand on its own as a Punk song. ‘Jokers Billardzimmer’ begins slowly with the dirge of the bagpipes before kicking off and picking up the pace. I’ve not a clue what they are singing about here but you do hear the word ‘Whiskey’ dotted throughout the EP so that should give you a clue. Like a Celtic version of Peter And The Test Tube Babies this is a brilliant release and I’m only sad that I discovered them too late. 

Die Dödelsäcke-  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

HELLRAISERS’N’BEERDRINKERS- ‘Pub Crawl’

Taking their name from a 1980 release by rockers Motorhead Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers are a band that also hail from Germany and the small town of Schwäbisch Gemünd. This is their second album after 2016’s Folk’s Gaudi. They play a style of Celtic-Punk that is more Folk related but with a Punk Rock attitude. Most of the songs are sung in English bar a couple in their native German but with a name like Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers you can kinda guess that this band is in it for the kicks and throughout it’s dance able Irish influenced folk music but with loads of other influences thrown into the mix like the excellent reggae and metal enthused ‘Gaudium Fürs Folk’. They lay claim to be the original purveyors of ‘Gaudi Folk’. Now I’m not sure what this is and whether it relates to the geezer who designed all the wacky buildings in Barcelona is anyone’s guess. With  mandolin, banjo and accordion as well as double bass the boys have quite an original sound with the songs ranging throughout the Folk-Punk genre starting with another album high point the opening track ‘Honkytonk’ which brings in elements of Country and Americana. ‘1000’ is another great track with the words sung in immaculate English and its positive message dedicated to rebels everywhere. Slow starting but building up throughout.

The albums ends with three outstanding songs that are all completely different and showcase the range of Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers. The first of the trio is a story of being trapped in a pub. The pub in question is also the title of the song and the bands local. ‘Piston’s Pub’ is accordion led and proper catchy tune that is followed by ‘Abserviert’ a slow waltzy type number sung in German and shows that despite their name they know their way round a good tune. The album ends with their ode to that most Celtic-Punk of subjects- ‘Beer’!!! A fast and furious accordion led tune with a distinct ‘pirate’ style. Ten self-penned songs that clock in at a very healthy thirty-five minutes that manages to cover so much ground but still keep its feet firmly in Celtic/Folk-Punk.

Hellraisers’N’Beerdrinkers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Soundcloud

PYROLYSIS- ‘Daylight Is Fading’ (Buy)

The fourth release from Pyrolysis (all are available on Bandcamp) and happy to say they are still pumping out fast-paced and energetic acoustic folk alongside the odd dark and intense ballad and all the time still not wearing any shoes! Completely acoustic (well except for the bass!) and with a bodhrán (Irish hand held instrument) instead of drums they manage to kick up quite a din and the music would definitely be classed as Celtic-Punk if there was an electric guitar in there. Their music ranges across the Folk genre with Punk, Gypsy and even Pirate music getting a nod but it’s their energy that gives them that Celtic-Punk feel. Founded in 2010 in the small Dutch town of Zaltbommel Celtic-Folkies Pyrolysis have been a regular fixture in their home countries festival scene over the years but have also made it over to these shores too. Daylight Is Fading is twelve songs, mostly originals but with a few traditional Folk covers, that comes in just shy of fifty minutes. The opening track is a short instrumental setting the scene for the storming ”The Pace’ which may sound like an electric guitar but you are wrong. The song is as Punk as you can get without electric and the Celtic tinged number rattles along at a grand old pace while main songwriter and lead vocalist Tim has that rather typical Dutch accent where he sounds completely English! In common with a lot of Folk (and Celtic-Punk too) his voice is just another instrument here and used to great effect. They can also turn their hand to a mean traditional song like the instrumental ‘Cooley’s Reel’ or a real foot stomper like the auld Scots classic ‘Donald McGillavry’ as well which leads nicely up to ‘Never Fade’ an album highlight and we are fortunate that they have just released a pretty damn good video to accompany it.

This is one band I would have really loved to have done a detailed review of as they are such an interesting band. They may look a bit ‘hippie-ish’ and that may be so but their music reminds me in style, not content, of those 70’s Irish Folk bands like The Bothy Band, Planxty or 1691 whose innovation lay the groundwork for much of what came afterwards on the island. It can definitely be traced to what we now call Celtic-Punk. I said before in a review of their second album ‘‘On Mountains I Stand‘ that the band I am most reminded of here was The Whisky Priests who flamed very brightly cross Europe in the 90’s with their unique brand of Geordie (Newcastle) English folk-punk music and you can still hear that a lot in what Pyrolysis do especially as the accordion is at the forefront of so much. ‘This is How’ begins as a sorrowful song about a sailor with amazing fiddle work in an Eastern European style. ‘Captain Cray’ has an somewhat English feel to it apart from the Celtic fiddle and the album is coming to an end and you can always tell a good band when they play a really long song that holds your interest. Here it’s ‘Rainy Road’ at seven minutes that closes the album and it’s a real masterpiece with fiddler Rikke taking over the vocals and her beautiful voice matching well the beautiful music. The slowest song here but the most dramatic and my absolute favourite. A great album. One the best I have heard this year so highly recommended.

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SCHËPPE SIWEN- ‘Wat Bleift’ (Buy/Buy)

Here’s a first for London Celtic Punks. We thought we had covered just about every country in Europe and then this little beauty arrived on our doorstep all the way from the wee country of Luxembourg. Famous in my youth for always finishing bottom of their European Championship group I knew very little more about them. Joined these days by even smaller countries they have at least risen to second bottom these days! With a population of just over 600,000 with only just over half the population being Luxembourgers with the other 44.5% made up of mainly Portuguese, French and Germans. So it’s a small country but perfectly placed between Belgium, Germany and France. Perfect indeed for a Folk-Punk band looking for gigs! Schëppe Siwen were founded in December 2009 and released their debut self titled album three years later and the follow up Sprëtztour in 2016. These passed us by but not this years Wat Bleift. Mixing Folk, Rock, Pop, Reggae, Punk and Ska and proudly eschewing the opportunity to sing in either French or German they proudly sing in their native Luxembourgish. Of course these means two things. 1) that we really admire them and 2) that we haven’t a clue what the songs are about! Still anything that involves a trumpet is bound not to be too downbeat. Here we have ten songs that clock in at 33 minutes and all original material. Like Pyrolysis I would have really liked to get my teeth into this review as their is so much going on in here but alas I just have to do my best. The album starts with bar talk followed by accordion and then trumpet. The olde world of Folk comes crashing together with more modern sounds and before long the song is hurtling through your ears. With eight members and an astonishing three trumpet players alongside the aforementioned accordion as well as fiddle with yer more traditional rock instruments keeping it all ticking along. An instrumental that leaves you not quite knowing what you have just listened to but in a good way. The influences are all here and play alongside each other nicely creating a danceable happy sound. ‘Looss Alles Zreck!’ sees the album turn almost full on punk but they reign it in and while Jojo’s gruff vocals may sound punkish to us here the style is more common in Europe and they give the music a bit of bite. With a more conventional singer the temptation would have been to go a bit lightweight but I’m glad they keep well away from that. Their are several outstanding tracks here and while none could be described as Celtic it sits snugly within the Folk-Punk genre or maybe a new genre Folk-Ska.

The title track gives it some old school ska (video above) while ‘Heif Deng Fauscht’ sees the album pause for its first breath with a slower track while ‘D’Auer Leeft’ is another instrumental that again takes all the influences imaginable blending them together. The bands earlier heavier days have been replaced with a love of ska but ‘De Klenge Männchen’ sees a return to form and opening with some classic Rock guitar they sound almost Californian for a minute. Jojo’s voice comes into it’s own here and the band deliver one hell of a tune. Catchy as hell and a real foot stomper. They quickly dust of the Folk instruments for ‘Fett Ewech’ while the album closes with two songs, ‘De Leschten Danz’ and ‘Starenhimmel’, that show the breadth of what the band can offer. From almost Tex-Mex-Ska-Folk-Punk to a heartfelt ballad accompanied by a children’s school choir. An album I thoroughly enjoyed and while I’m not sure of where Schëppe Siwen have come from musically I can safely say that on Wat Bleift they have delivered an album of pure originality where the traditional meets contemporary but still seems perfectly in time with both. There’s an excellent interview with the band about the album and the recording process in Tough Magazine just remember to run it through Google translate.

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So ends the second part of our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have probably still missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally 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.

IRISH SOUL STEW- THE POGUES

One man’s thoughts on what the Pogues  Shane MacGowan were and are.

The original Celtic-Punk band, formally known as Pogue Mahone (from the Irish Gaelic ‘póg mo thóin’ meaning ‘kiss my arse’) who later became known as The Pogues. Formed in 1982 their inspired use of traditional Irish instruments and poetic, often politically tinged lyrics led them to reach a cult status where even now they are revered and loved as much as they ever were.

by Alan K. Crandall

IRISH SOUL STEW

A few years back there was a fairly popular movie around called The Commitments, about a bunch of Irish kids who form a band playing ’60’s soul music. It wasn’t a bad movie, actually — it painted a pleasant picture of small-town Irish life, and a pretty accurate picture of in a struggling band (blown gigs, equipment failures, getting ripped off by promoters, inane personal conflicts). What I didn’t like was the soundtrack — classic soul covers performed by contemporary studio goons. Not that it was all that bad; I suppose the performances were about as good as those you might get from a good cover band at any local bar, but nothing worth a moment of your time when the far superior originals are available. Unfortunately, the soundtrack went on to become a substantial hit (even generating a follow-up), which grated on me then and still does — I hate the image of all those Gen X’ers and yuppies shelling out for an album of watered-down soul covers when they wouldn’t be caught dead buying Otis Redding. Sigh. The music critic for the local newspaper agreed, and suggested in his review of the Commitments album, that if people really wanted to hear Irish soul music, they should pick up the latest album by The Pogues.

GOLDEN HITS OF THE 80’s

They say nostalgia runs in ten-to-twenty year patterns- that is, what was popular in one era will always enjoy a revival ten-to-twenty years later. Some truth there; the seventies were swamped in ’50’s nostalgia (‘Happy Days’, ‘Grease’), the late eighties brought in a wave of 60’s flashbacks (‘Big Chill’, ‘The Wonder Years’), and the 90’s have treated the ’70’s as the decade to look back on. That can only mean that a yearning for the Reagan era isn’t far behind (shudder!). It’s starting already- ‘Golden Hits Of The 80’s’ collections turning up on late-night TV. God help us.

I think I’ll make my own ‘Golden Hits Of The 80’s’ album. The stuff I was listening to. The last vestiges of 70’s punk, the first glimmerings and full flowerings of the American indie scene: The Gun Club, Green On Red, Black Flag, Husker Du, The Replacements, The Pontiac Brothers(!), Social Distortion.   Aah, those were the days. It won’t have a lot of British rock from that era, though. The 80’s were the end of the UK as far as Rock’n’Roll went, as far as I’m concerned. None of this is meant as any kind of chest-thumping ‘America-first’-ness… I just hated all that mopey Smiths/ Echo And The Bunnymen/ U2/ The Cure stuff; all burbling synths and treated guitars and strained attempts at soulfulness, all fashion and stance and not a shred of real feeling. But there was ONE band to come out of the UK in the 80’s who did understand what rock’n’roll music was supposed to be, what real ‘soulfulness’ sounded like. And that was The Pogues.

IRISH SOUL STEW (PART TWO)

The Pogues as Irish soul music. I like that. It sounds right. It fits, in the same way that Gram Parsons’ description of country as ‘white soul music’ fits. The Pogues music could be called soul; not in sound, but in feel, in sensibility, in emotional commitment. Or you could call it Rock’n’Roll music, or rock music. None of these would necessarily be inaccurate (or necessarily accurate either, if you want to split hairs). Of course, at the time, people often referred to them as ‘folk music’.

Superficially, I guess they were. Their music basically a sped-up, amplified and attituted-up take on Irish folk music of the Clancy Brothers/ Dubliners sort. Superficialities only go so far. They were never really a folk band in the purest sense. There was always too much Bo Diddley in their backbeat, too much Clash in their attack. Neither were they simply a parody of Irish music, a high-speed punk rock joke band with accordions. They used Irish music as a well to draw from, much as The Stones used Chicago blues; they took its form, its depth of feeling, its melodicism, its romance and longing and every other quality you want to hang on it, and wed it to their own roots in punk and high-powered pub rock, and came up with something uniquely their own. John Lennon once referred to the blues as ‘a chair’, in respect to its relationship to rock’n’roll music. Irish music was The Pogues’ chair.

Of course, the first ones to deny them a seat in the Folk Club would be the members themselves. Folkies reviled them. Folkies revile anyone who doesn’t play by their rules. It’s the most insular, tradition-bound faction of popular music, on both sides of the pond, as near as I can tell. There’s still grizzled old veterans’ wandering around Greenwich Village, anxious to tell anyone who’ll listen what a no-talent-asshole Bob Dylan was/is. Dylan was reviled for mimicking Woody Guthrie, then for not mimicking Woody Guthrie; for playing protest songs; for turning away from protest songs; for playing the electric guitar- for not playing by the damn rules! Of course, it’s the ones who break the rules who achieve greatness, and there’s no greater crime or surer ticket to condemnation by your peers than being the most talented and ambitious one around. Anyway, Dylan was never really a folkie anymore than The Pogues were.

So the folkies reviled them. Somewhere in the archives there’s a radio broadcast wherein a heated altercation between Noel Hill of the venerable folk band Planxty and several Pogues ensues. It apparently began with Hill’s assertion that The Pogues were “a terrible abortion of Irish music” and quickly slid downhill:

Noel Hill, however, laboured his case and it was at this stage that Andrew went for an unexpected Grundy, and said: “I think it just comes down to sex. I mean, are you a better fucker than me!” The session continued in similar style for another half-hour, and eventually ended with the contemptuous Cait being branded “a pig”. She replied with five seconds of suitable snorts.

Man, I wish I could get my hands on a tape of that! Meanwhile, others condemned them as being a kind of racist joke, perpetuating the stereotypical image of the Drunken Irishman. And Richard Thompson, ever the contrarian, dismissed them for being too reverent in their take on traditional music! None of this seems to have phased The Pogues any; in the UK, they became stars.

ZEN AND THE ART OF ROCK’n’ROLL FANDOM

The Pogues as Irish soul band. How do you justify that one? Maybe this way:

They regenerated into an all-time stupor at Hull Tiffany’s, on March 25, after being subject to the unlimited generosity of Nick Stewart – a Glaswegian whom they had first encountered at Manchester Hacienda just three weeks before. Being a terminal fan of John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, The Velvet Underground and Tom Waits, Nick felt an immediate affinity for The Pogues.

Does that last sentence make sense to you? It does to me. In fact, it makes so much sense to me that I was actually thrilled when I came across it. It articulates the inarticulate-able. What do The Pogues have in common with two of the most primitive, toughest of blues legends, the most celebrated avant-garde/ Rock`n’Roll band ever, and the poet-laureate of down-and-out street lunatics (okay, the Waits connection’s a bit easier to see)? For that matter, what do Hooker and Wolf have in common with The Velvets? Or The Velvets with Waits? Nothing and everything, I guess. It’s just that someone who likes Hooker and Wolf AND The Velvets probably like Waits and The Pogues, too.

I could, I suppose, sit up all night (and probably many other nights, too) trying to put my finger on what it is that links these things. Hell, I might even pull it off. Robert Pirsig asked what ‘quality’ was while teaching college English in Montana in the 60’s. He managed to pin it down to something that people recognized when they encountered it (his students almost unanimously concurred on when ranking papers in terms of which ones were “better”) but could not define. Well, Pirsig’s search for a definition of ‘quality’ led to mental breakdown, electroshock therapy, cross-country motorcycle trips and eventually the book Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. Pirsig is a lot more educated than myself, and much more equipped for dealing with such questions, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t try to equal his achievement. But I will take a little stab at making sense of a statement like the quote above.

There is something I hear in traditional or tradition-rooted music; that is, specifically, blues, a lot of jazz, folk music (of any nationality but especially American or British, which I happen to be far, far more familiar with than that of any other cultures), country, gospel, reggae, rockabilly, ’60’s soul music, roots-rock or what the charts now refer to as ‘Americana’, traditional Mexican or Tex-Mex border music (which I’ve recently gotten heavily into) and other things. To be honest, I don’t know if it’s something that’s actually there or just something I put there in my mind, a validation because the music is (or is based on music that is) old and celebrated and “legendary” (and I’ve been accused of exactly that kind of psychological projection, especially for my penchant for preferring Lightnin’ Hopkins to hip-hop music), but I hear it all the same. Something like a deep well of feeling and emotional commitment (’emotional commitment’, now there’s some pretentious critic-speak if I ever heard it) that an artist can dip into and draw from. And when I hear it, especially in the context of something that I deem as ‘good’, it turns my head and makes me listen.

It’s a quality I don’t hear in a lot of avant-garde or ‘punk’ or what I think of as ‘white pop’ music (which in my mind would be things like NRBQ or The Hoodoo Gurus, just to name two), but the lack of it does not necessarily diminish those kinds of music (hey, I’m a big fan of NRBQ, and The Hoodoo Gurus, and lots of ‘punk’ and avant-garde-type music as well), but it’s a good quality to have. For me, it’s a kind of anchor to the music; it gives it staying power. For me, it means that while I am always up for hearing Richard Thompson, Howlin’ Wolf, Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, The Stones, Otis Redding, Tom Waits, Southern Culture on The Skids or John Coltrane (all of whom have this something) I have to be in the right mood to want to listen to The Sex Pistols (who were great, but lack this aforementioned something).

In any case, if this something, this quality exists (and since I perceive it I guess it does- and others perceive it too, I think), it is something that can be found in Hooker and Wolf and The Velvets and Waits, and in The Pogues, too. And that makes sense out of the quote. At least, as much sense as I’m able to articulate about it.

MORE GOLDEN HITS OF THE 80’s

The Pogues were definitely a part of the 80’s for me. Even if the 80’s were a terrible decade for Top 40 music, underground music was a rich, fertile haul back then, and for me, The Pogues were superstars. The first I ever heard of them was a review of the Pair Of Brown Eyes single in Spin. Actually, it wasn’t the review that got my attention, but the photo of Shane MacGowan, dressed in Napoleonic pirate gear and showing off his infamous ghastly grin (later immortalized by Mojo Nixon in “Shane’s Dentist.”). The caption read

“Shane MacGowan comes from an ugly place, has an ugly face, and has recorded a great single with The Pogues,”

which makes it the finest piece of writing I ever encountered in the mostly execrable Spin.

Back then, the general line on The Pogues was that they played punked-up, sped-up versions of Irish traditional music. Actually, on their first album (Red Roses For Me), I suppose that’s not too inaccurate. I never got especially hot and bothered about Red Roses, which was hard to find and I never heard until its 1988 re-release. Despite their boundless energy and good humor (especially Down In The Ground Where The Dead Men Go, which worked excellently for clearing out parties), it now sounds like demos for what would come later. By Rum, Sodomy And The Lash and the Poguetry In Motion EP, they’d found their true voice. The band had gelled into an endlessly inventive ensemble that could find each songs unique qualities and then make the most of them. MacGowan had turned into a brilliant, plainspoken songwriter and possibly even more brilliant singer, using his ragged voice and slurred phrasing as an instrument to express himself, much as any great blues or, yes, soul singer would. By If I Should Fall From Grace With God, they were even better; MacGowan’s writing became almost mythic, the band’s delivery almost cinematic in its sweep, building each number into a work of great drama and power; the sort of rare album without a single forgettable track.

But then things began to slip. I anxiously awaited the release of Peace And Love the following year, but when it arrived, I was disappointed. Something was missing. Part of it was that the other Pogues were contributing more in the way of material. Yet the songs by Terry Woods and Phil Chevron were largely consistent with MacGowan’s both lyrically and musically, and Woods’ Streets Of Sorrow and Chevron’s Thousands Are Sailing had been highlights of Grace. Meanwhile, MacGowan was still at full strength, delivering several fine songs, especially the overpowering USA. But somehow, the album failed to hang together… as good as most of it was, it never really added up to the sum of its parts.

Things went from bad to worse, as MacGowan simply went AWOL from the band’s US tour with Bob Dylan that fall. A Rolling Stone piece described MacGowan as a down-and-out drunk whose legendary habits had caught up with him. The Pogues seemed to fade from the scene.

Hell’s Ditch finally appeared the following year, with little fanfare (at least in the States). Conventional wisdom has it that Hell’s Ditch is a failure, but I myself thought of it as a fine return to form. Understated compared to their peak period of 1985-1988, but MacGowan seemed back on top again, contributing some of his best songs yet, from the grand drama of Lorca’s Novena to the (here we go again) ‘Irish soul’ of Ghost Of A Smile. Me, I was looking forward to more great music from The Pogues.

It didn’t happen. When The Pogues finally toured the States, close to a year after HD’s release, MacGowan was again not with them (“Shane MacGowan will not appear” read the newspaper ad for the show). Joe Strummer ostensibly stood in for the absent Shane, though in fact the entire band took turns at the mike. Strummer is one of my old heroes, but he couldn’t quite fill MacGowan’s shoes (amusingly enough, Strummer had also appeared with them at their SF debut in 1987, filling in for an injured Phil Chevron. Of the three times I saw The Pogues headline, only once did they have the full band). This time, Shane was gone for good. The Pogues soldiered on for a few more years, releasing two well-intentioned but less-than-classic albums. MacGowan duetted with Nick Cave on a hilarious version of Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World and plotted a solo career.

Finally, 1995 brought The Snake, MacGowan’s first solo album with his new band, the vengefully named Popes. While there was much to like about The Snake, it lacked the greatness of his old band. The Popes could imitate The Pogues, but not duplicate them. Great bands depend on gestalt. The Popes simply lacked the kind of imagination and ambition to turn simple songs into full-blown epics (and The Pogues needed MacGowan’s inspiration to produce great work). Also the switching from straight rock rocked-up Pogues imitations was jarring and gave the album an inconsistent feel. Still, MacGowan remained a popular figure in the UK. As the Pogues quietly folded, he released Crock Of Gold in 1998.

ROCK’n’ROLL PADDY

I attended the Guinness Fleadh Festival; a full day of music, almost all of it excellent, chock full of artists I liked. The evening ended (for me, anyway) with a performance by Shane MacGowan and the Popes. It had been ten years since I’d seen MacGowan, and I was excited but trepidatious. I’d been less than enthralled by his solo work and, by all accounts, his legendary abuses hadn’t abated (like their forbears, The Popes have taken to playing sans MacGowan when necessary).

MacGowan came on close to an hour late (Typical. It was close to 90 minutes the first time The Pogues played SF). He was led on by a roadie or assistant who stayed by his side throughout the show, passing him lit cigarettes. He clung to the mike stand just to stay vertical. He garbled out his songs and made his usual unintelligible introductions (which sound something like “thizzongscauldwarrgleemaffftaweebagrrf”). When he mysteriously vanished in mid-set, many of us wondered if he’d keeled over (he returned after a brief Popes instrumental, fresh drink in hand). The Popes, true to my expectations, played with enthusiasm but suffered from not being The Pogues (not an unfair criticism, I don’ think, when they’re clearly intended to stand in for the originals). Given how good The Pogues had been even when bad, it added up to a disappointment. MacGowan’s voice was ragged (even by MacGowan standards). None of this phased the mostly Irish (and mostly loaded) crowd, who tipped over a bleacher in honor of their hero.

Then, shortly after returning with his fresh drink and struggling through Lost Highway (not the Hank Williams song), MacGowan and the Popes jumped into a Pogues set with If I Should Fall From Grace With God, and as Shane slurred and snarled his way through the lyric, you could hear just a little bit of the old magic there, a hint of redemption, a sign of what drew you to him in the first place.

If I sound overly critical, it’s because I think MacGowan is a rare talent, a brilliant songwriter and outstanding singer, and it saddens me to see him lionized for his sad personal state. And he is. Drop by the Pogues Usenet group and make some comment about his unfortunate physical state and see how fast the flames fly. There appears to be a not inconsiderable faction of fans for whom MacGowan’s long out-of-control alcoholism is some kind of badge of honor, an inherent part of his ‘cool’. Just a few nights ago, I was killing time in a used bookstore. The young Deadhead-type behind the counter was blasting The Pogues. I heard him say to his girlfriend:

“It’s so cool to know this guy was really shitfaced drunk when he recorded this. Listen! You can totally hear him slurring his words!”

I used to think so too, I guess. I didn’t think it was ‘cool’, but I did think it was funny. Part of the pleasure of seeing The Pogues perform was watching MacGowan stumble around and slur his words. Just like I used to find Roky Erickson’s mental instability funny (when introducing a friend to his music, I always had to mention that Roky was ‘really insane’ and not just pulling an Alice Cooper act), and Johnny Thunders’ junkie-cool “I don’t give a fuck attitude.” Actually, I don’t think that kind of attitude is unusual for a guy in his 20’s, especially one who enjoyed his indulging in his own vices whenever possible.

So maybe it’s just a maturity thing. No, I didn’t become a teetotaler or enter a 12-step program; just settled down. At 33, getting loaded now seems like an inconvenience rather than anything to be happy or amused about. And Roky’s just a sad ghost of a man. And Thunders is dead. And MacGowan’s descent doesn’t strike me funny at all. Maybe someday we’ll be seeing his obituary. Or maybe not; he’s stuck around this long (well, Thunders lasted a lot longer than most of us expected, too). Or maybe he’ll pull himself out of it. All I know is, he’s a great talent and the price of living up to his shambling image has been a ton of brilliant music that he could have been making, and me, I think that’s too high a price to pay. Way too high.

Some Pogues-related links:

In The Wake Of The Medusa   Paddy Rolling Stone  The Parting Glass   Pogues Facebook Page

ALBUM REVIEW: CROCK OF BONES- ‘Celtic Crossbones’ (2019)

Alt Folk, Irish, Trad, Celtic.

Celtic Crossbones the debut album release from Crock Of Bones the hottest new band on the London Irish Folk and Trad circuit. 

Hot on the heels of their debut EP, Nasty, Brutal And Short, comes the debut album release from Crock Of Bones. Formed this year out of various members of other groups most notably LOCKS, Red Eye, Lost Revellers and rockabilly outfit The Obscuritones. So quite a diverse bunch of musicians but with links back to Celtic-Punk through the brothers Bryne and their band Pitfull Of Ugly who played energetic punked up versions of Irish folk songs through Hackney and North London in the early 90’s. Here they ply a much more traditional route though but with the same punk rock attitude they have always have. The five songs from Nasty, Brutal And Short are included on Celtic Crossbones alongside five new tracks of radical interpretations of Irish folk.

Crock Of Bones- (back) Mike Byrne, Marian McClenaghan, Jim Wharf (front) Hugh Byrne and Caitlin Roberts

Celtic Crossbones kicks off with the self penned number ‘Just One Of Them Things’ a slow swirling number with fiddle and accordion leading the way while Hugh sings of lost love. A great voice but his Dublin accent now has a wee bit of a Cockney twang about it! Next is one of the best songs ever written about the Irish on this side of the Irish sea, ‘Hot Asphalt’. Ewan MacColl (no stranger at all to these pages!) was famous for chronicling the life of the working classes and who better than the Irish road building gangs of the 50’s and 60’s. The camaraderie of these gangs of Irish workers is reflected in the comical goings on of a gang of poor Paddies digging up the road.  Somewhere along the way a policeman falls in a pot of boiling asphalt and the gang cover up his death!

“I’m thinking, says O’Reilly, that he’s lookin’ like old Nick
And burn me if I am not inclined to claim him with me pick
Now, says I, it would be easier to boil him till he melts
And to stir him nice and easy in the hot asphalt”

Played in the same style as the Dubliners famous version it’s the best version I have heard in a good while. ‘The Magnificent Eight’ is another self penned number Hugh wrote about one of his old bands Ella And The Blisters, a rootsy tootsy band of misfits that split up in 2016. The song is dedicated to all the jolly fine former members, Gabby, Sam, Luigi, Wayne, Caitlin, Richard, Sarah, Brian, Tom and Nathaniel and ‘The Magnificent Eight’ is a fine tribute to them. Banjo heavy and the tale of a band that almost nearly crossed the path into bigger times. ‘Ferry’ is a sad mournful song with great lyrics about a long distance relationship about a couple saying goodbye at the ferry terminal that comes to an end with the great line “waiting for a voice on a landline telephone”, long before the invention of mobile phones. Bands like Crock Of Bones don’t have to do much if they don’t want to. There is a huge market in London for Irish and traditional music but Crock Of Bones don’t want to be one of them bands that just churn out the covers and it’s the many self-penned numbers on Celtic Crossbones that interest me the most. Modern subjects wrapped up in auld music like on ‘Nothin Worse’ the best song on the album here. Great lyrics and accompaniment from the rest of the band. Neither fast nor slow but one of them foot tappers/thigh slappers that trad Irish folk is famous for. Grand stuff altogether! The instrumental ‘Swallowtail Jig’ is next and while there’s not an awful lot of choice on the Crock Of Bones You Tube channel (it’s the only video!!) pop along and have a look yourselves!

‘TASTHTGP’ is next up and TASTHTGP is a short way of saying ‘Talk about shit things happening to good people’ and a decent sense of humour is needed for anyone in a band. It’s a slight song but well intentioned. Next up is the song that alongside ‘Hot Asphalt’ chronicles best the life of a working class Irishman in Britain in the 50’s and 60’s, ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’. Of course not all dug the roads but many many did including my own Grandfather before he settled in on the railways with a shovel in his hand for 40 odd years. Most came from the countryside of Ireland to cross the Irish sea to work long and hard hours in tough jobs and their only respite came from a few beers after work. Written by Dominic Behan the title refers to the construction company of Sir Robert McAlpine who exploited employed mainly Irish workers.

“They sweated blood and they washed down mud
With pints and quarts of beer
And now we’re on the road again
With McAlpine’s fusiliers”

The song ends withe the refrain “And if you value your life, well, don’t join, by Christ with McAlpine’s Fusiliers” and judging by the broken bodies and bent backs of many of the ones who who use to while away the hours in the Irish pubs of my home town it was good advice. We are nearing the end and time for a real Irish legend of a song, ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’. We even wrote a recent article specifically about this and its origins and many covers. A very old song recounting the Battle of Glenmalure in 1580 where us Irish had a rare victory over the English invaders! Its a great rabble-rouser of a song and has a couple of lines that contain some of the most vitriolic of any rebel song. Crock Of Bones give it plenty of oompf and it’s a joy to belt out the words at the top of your lungs! The album comes to an end with the traditional instrumental songs ‘Cooleys Reel/ Mountain Road’. Cobbled together nicely and owing a lot to The Dubliners as catchy a tune as has ever been written and just the ticket if you’re looking to give the floor a good beating!

(You can stream Celtic Crossbones on the Bandcamp player below before you invest your hard earned in this great wee release)

You can catch Crock Of Bones playing very soon live for London Celtic Punks on Friday 22nd November with local lads The Disinclined at The Oak in Kingston-Upon-Thames. as usual our man GREENFORD BHOY will be spinning the discs and getting the mood in order playing all yer favourite Irish-Celtic-Folk-Punk-Rock’n’Rebel in between the bands and till the landlord kicks us out! The venue is only twenty minutes on the train out of London and just five minutes from Kingston station. The gig is **FREE** so expect a Friday night of hot Irish jigs, reels, foot stompers and lyrical folk. Not an opportunity to miss I tells you! 

Buy Celtic Crossbones  FromTheBand

Contact Crock Of Bones  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: SONS OF CLOGGER- ‘Return To The Stones’ (2019)

West Midlands based Sons Of Clogger are an alternative four piece band with a huge sound fusing Punk, Indie, Rock, Metal and Folk. Their full blooded invigorating music has been captivating crowds and listeners in many countries and as our man in the States T.C. Costello finds with the release of Return To The Stones their second full length album they are set to continue doing so…

About a year ago, I found myself at the Ragged Bear Festival in Warwickshire. This two-stage festival seemed tailor-made for anyone who’s ever been to a London Celtic Punks show, tailor made to anyone who loves a sea chantey as much as a moshpit, and indeed tailor made me. The Whipjacks’ played of some the speediest Celtic-Punk I’ve ever heard downstairs, and Greenman Rising, who organized the festival, brought their hardcore folk tradition to modern audiences on both stages.

Another highlight of the festival was Sons of Clogger. This Staffordshire foursome’s sweaty basement show felt like a folk session from long ago but unstuck in time, with traditional melodies and story teller lyrics over an rhythm section straight out of the ‘80s punk scene in London. Adding mandola, low-D tin whistle and a 12-string acoustic guitar created a sound evocative of pre-Christian Britain, a bit of ‘80s Camden Town, and an Irish Session.

Needless to say, it came as a massive surprise to me that the band’s first full-length album starts with a distorted guitar riff. And this album, indeed, is full of surprises – so much so that this review may warrant a spoiler alert. With ‘Return To The Stones’, the band continues to blur the lines between the ancient and modern, the Folk and the Punk, and even more genres.

After the unexpected electric guitar on the opening title track, the full band comes in with 4/4 rock groove a bit reminiscent of The Clash. I was wondering where the folk aspect of the band had gone. But as soon as DaveO’s vocals kicked in, I had my answer.

“We’re heading for the Northern Lights

From town to town with you right by my side

Oh Yeah, Bring me that girl today”

He croons with the command of a storyteller and the fury of punk, narrating a tale of the Callanish Stone Circle in the Outer Hebrides during Pagan times. The Narrator is a mother who had visited the stones 10 years previous to ask for a daughter. She is travelling to the stone circle again to thank the stones, this time with her daughter, now of course ten-years-old.

More definitive folk elements sneak into this song, too, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

The second song of the Album, ‘London Town’, also takes you back in history, though not nearly as far, and tells of decadent underground cults amongst the gentry in London. The band writes, “Over the last 300 years, underground gentry have worshipped various cults: Some celebrating homosexuality, some devil worship, and some even to this day celebrating the death of King Charles I!”

“Subterranean location

Was shattered and prosaic

It earned its reputation

Was full of old posh rakes

With lavish cars and fat cigars

Certain gentry found

I’ll meet you at the serenade

Down in London Town.”

Once again, this song is driven by electric guitar and the Band’s tight rhythm section, but adds folky vocals and even a bit of mandolin over the main guitar riff.

Next comes ‘Harrignton And Boots’, a punky number a bit reminiscent of The Cockney Rejects, and tells of punks who have gone to serve in the military.

“My Brothers they said to me,

What happens if we die?

Better think about the last words that we’ll say.”

And the last words are the chorus:

“Bury me with me Harrington and Boots.” It’s “The Harrington Jacket and Doc Marten Boots worn by punks past and present,” The band writes, “It’s a soldier’s last wish to be buried in his true identity, not as a soldier, but the true honor of a lifelong punk.”

With the fourth Track ‘Ragged Bear’, the band’s folkiness is unambiguous. Starting with a vocals-and-mandola intro, the full band doesn’t come in until a minute in, and when it does, there’s a big, tin whistle lead with the bands ‘80s punk rhythm section still going strong.

The karmic tale starts with an abused bear, left in a horrible state, only to be healed by the devil, who sent the bear to take revenge on the humans who mistreated him so, and I challenge any listener not to shout “The Bear! The Bear!” along with the chorus. The Into of ‘Running Out The Guns’, blurs the line of ancient and modern a bit more, with an intro powered by a heavily echoed guitar and tin whistle, which gives into a big, tin whistle breakdown a bit reminiscent of Flogging Molly. The hard rocking, seafaring tune covers the tradition of the plight of sailors’ lives:

“We’ll bring ye Hell on the seas’ great swell

We are the devil’s sons.

While ye lye and the breast of thy own sweet maid

We’ll be running out the guns.”

Next comes a trio of love songs. ‘On The Road’ is a guitar effects-heaving ode to long-distance love with a big chorus, and ‘Traveling Fair’ has a haunting, droney arrangement and tells of a collier’s son running away to be with a green-eyed Romani Gypsy girl, which ends with an jig that’s somehow reminiscent of The Clash.

Finishing the trio is ‘Punk Rock Girlfriend’, a hard rocking number that makes me think “hey, i know her!” every time I hear it.

She’ll shave her hair, give you the stare

She’s hanging with the punks

When you see here dancing, she’s dancing near the front

Piercings of silver rings and green and purple hair

She’s my punk rock girlfriend!”

Having met her at a couple festivals, these lyrics as far as I can tell are 100% accurate.

Closing out the album are ‘Beautiful Dream’ and ‘Goodbye’.

‘Beautiful Dream’ is an anti-war song with a nice jangly electric guitar-and-mandola wall of sound. The lyrics seems hopeful but also self-consciously naive with the chorus,

“No more war, Just love / Is a beautiful dream”

‘Goodbye’, the album’s closing number starts with a cinematic-sounding intro, powered by floor toms, spacey keyboards and sparse piano work. It builds to a hopeful song about moving on on life:

“I’m holding on, to something that’s killing me

To something that’s thrilling me

I’m changing things, you were my everything

Ain’t nothing can be the same

‘Cause I’m leaving tonight.”

The band writes “It’s a goodbye to a love that’s lost; it’s a goodbye as in lost life; it’s a goodbye as in leaving drug or alcohol addiction.” A fitting hopeful ending to the album.

‘Return To The Stones’, is an unpredictable journey, full of alluring settings, powerful stories and a colourful cast of characters. If you want folk and punk fused in a way that would even surprise the most loyal readers of London Celtic Punks, look no further.

Buy Return to the Stones  CD- FromTheBand  Amazon

Contact Sons Of Clogger  WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube

2019’s Ragged Bear Festival will be held on the 25th and 26th of October at The Crew and Queen’s Hall, conveniently locked in the same building in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

Cheers to our good friend and comrade T.C. Costello for the review and you can keep up with his antics across the globe by checking him out here Facebook  Bandcamp  Twitter  YouTube

NICK BURBRIDGE AND HIS TOP TEN INFLUENTIAL ALBUMS

To say we are overwhelmed to be able to publish this feature on his Top Ten Influential Albums by the the legendary Nick Burbridge is an understatement! Encompassing everything inbetween Folk to Celtic-Punk it’s a glorious ride through some famous and legendary artists and some little known outside the communities they hail from. Second gen Irish singer-songwriter, Nick has been playing Irish-influenced acoustic music since his teens influencing countless others, including in their own words, The Levellers. His band McDermott’s 2 Hours were among the first to ever think of combining punk and Irish folk so he is a trailblazer among the Celtic-Punk scene but also so much more as well. 

No time to waste so put the kettle on, crack open some biscuits and save the next couple of hours…

Andy Irvine & Paul Brady- ‘Self-Titled’ (1976)

When I was asked to name ten indispensable albums on Facebook some time ago, I decided to work from the late sixties to the millennium, and pick out those most influential on my development as a musician and songwriter, and end where I began, as it were. The first album I chose was this one. It’s a classic of its kind, melding yet never losing the distinctive characters of two of the most innovative and enduring musicians working in the Irish traditional idiom. There’s not a song on it I can’t still recall to memory, give or take a verse here or there, and the quality and range of the musicianship and arrangement, while capturing the essence of Planxty, somehow has an irresistible intimacy the full band doesn’t quite match, though they were perhaps the best of their kind.

(As Andy Irvine says this is Mr. Bradys classic. “Oh, me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride As we went a-walking down by the seaside Now, mark what followed and what did betide For it being on Christmas morning…” )

The Copper Family- ‘A Song For Every Season’ (1971)

This box set was, unexpectedly perhaps, essential listening for the punk-folk band I was in, when we lived in the red light district of Mainz one summer in the mid-seventies. We sang a few Copper songs a capella in our set – the Germans loved them. I spent fifteen years growing up in Rottingdean, Sussex, and I guess that’s as authentic a connection as you can get to this unique family who’ve kept alive a whole tradition on their own initiative, and are rightly recognised for it across the world. Their singing is rough, genuine, heartwarming, and eccentrically tuneful. I’m proud we introduced our audiences to their material, among chaotic jigs and reels and rebel songs. Once again, while I often forget what I’m meant to be doing these days, I can still remember almost every line, such was their influence on me.

(The whole Box-Set of four albums on You Tube. ‘Tater Beer Night- Spring’, ‘Black Ram- Summer’, ‘Hollerin’ Pot’- Fall’ and ‘Turn O’ The Year- Winter’. Nearly three hours long!)

The Bothy Band- ‘After Hours’ (1979)

There are so many unforgettable albums by Irish traditional bands who pushed the form in all directions in the 70s, and influenced countless more to follow suit. I guess The Bothy Band stand in the vanguard, and this album with its driving sets of tunes, and exquisitely sung ballads, live yet virtually faultless, is indispensable to anyone trying to understand just why this music is so effortlessly infectious, exhibiting a musical intensity few others come close to, always ready and able to form the soundtrack to a particular phase in someone’s life. It did mine. It has long been an immeasurable influence.

(You Tube seems to have started allowing whole albums on their site these days. While I’m not too sure of the legality lets just sit back and enjoy)

Dick Gaughan- ‘Handful Of Earth’ (1981)

Dick Gaughan made Handful of Earth on the way back from a major nervous breakdown. And there is something not working within ordinary tramlines here. His errant but extraordinary guitar accompaniments weave their way under an utterly compelling voice, as if to make a world turned upside down both inimitable and unforgettable. The choice of songs is faultless. Gaughan, whatever his fate, will always remain a mighty force. Those who do try to imitate him simply don’t have whatever it is that comes from wherever it does…

(Dick’s folk masterpiece album in full, unabridged on You Tube)

The Pogues- ‘Rum Sodomy & The Lash’ (1985)

By the mid-80s folk and punk had well and truly fused. Much as I think ‘Iron Masters’ by The Men They Couldn’t Hang May may well be my favourite track from the era, I don’t think any such album surpassed this one. Too much academic writing has attached itself to the formidable Shane MacGowan opus, and The Pogues’ irregular but compulsive sense of Irish identity. All I want to say is that I hope their influence on my work hasn’t been too obvious – I’ve tried to pay them the greatest compliment by sowing their seeds as deep as I could in wherever my songs take root, in the hope that what hybrid growth occurred would be as substantial and organic as possible, and not some hasty GM copy of their timeless and outstanding work.

(Which one to choose? How about ‘Sally MacLennane’ from British TV in 1986)

The Waterboys- ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ (1988)

This would probably appear on the all time list of anyone involved in folk-rock music. They call some albums seminal – Fishermen’s Blues epitomises what it means. Like Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks it simply has an originality, authority and impact reserved for those who find themselves, by design or accident, at the cutting edge, and who have the courage to take the task on without flinching. From the monumental to the simply made, tracks etch themselves into the memory. I keep them there, and bring them out from time to time. I always will.

(Absolutely cracking live version of the album’s title track)

Wolfestone- ‘Unleashed’ (1989)

I was travelling to play at Reading Festival when someone put this album on in the van and immediately I realised this band were truly fellow-travellers – and there was much to learn from their blending of traditional music with good original songwriting, where sensitive guitar playing had a central part. They weren’t The Waterboys, but they had the same sense of attack, and an obvious love of what they were doing. Perhaps the least known of the albums chosen, this should need no introduction – it is, in its own way, a classic.

(Nick is right. A band I hadn’t come across before but as this whole feature is about introducing us all to good music I’m glad I found it here. The opening track of ‘Unleashed’ from 1992)

Levellers- ‘Levellers’ (1993)

The band didn’t tell me they were putting my song ‘Dirty Davey’ on this album – but they were well aware of my attitude to ‘folk’ music: it’s common property, as far as I’m concerned, whatever the source. And that isn’t why I chose this record over, say, Levelling The Land. It seems to me a broader, more ambitious production, without losing its roots. It was released about the time my young son made a short film for a BBC Children’s television programme, about how much the band meant to him, and had seen him through some rough years. They were, you might say, at their height. Their legendary Glastonbury headline spot was soon to come. They had successfully entered the mainstream without squandering their gifts. And those gifts are abundant here. I should say I’ve always felt privileged that they cite me as a main initial influence. The fact that they’re still working now says it all.

(Nick Burbridge performing with the Levellers in 2004 live on stage at Buxton Opera House doing his own song!)

Eithne Ní Uallacháin- ‘Bilingua’ (Initial Recording 1999- Posthumous Release 2014)

While she was in the midst of putting down vocals for this album Eithne killed herself. Working with what they had, and eventually fighting through their grief and misgivings, the musicians in her family and others released it fifteen years after her death. It’s an irresistible recording, centred round the most evocative female Irish traditional singer I have ever heard. Whether tackling old Gaelic pieces or fronting tales of her own battles with darkness and her sharp visions of light, it’s impossible to listen to her without being deeply moved – especially if much of her inner torment feels as deeply shared. We should all be indebted to those who loved her at first hand, who have kept her memory alive. It’s not discourteous to say that, through her music, I have found my own love for her. It will not die.

(“But grief can be translated from the light into the darkness; In the belly of the shadow with all its shades digested. Its true colours will unfold.”

(In 1998, Eithne returned to Shaun ‘Mudd’ Wallace’s Homestead studios to record a solo album. Ní Uallacháin’s vocals were completed and much of the music was arranged, but the album was not released. Eithne died in 1999 and her son, Dónal, took residence at Wallace’s studio as an assistant engineer, and during times when the studio was not booked worked with Wallace on the album. Due to contractual issues with the original record label, the album was not released until 2014,15 years after its recording and 14 years after mixing was completed. The album was titled Bilingua and was released with Gael Linn, who released Eithne’s first album, Cosa Gan Bhróga.)

Finbar & Eddie Furey- ‘First And Last’ (1968)

If I’m sometimes cited as an influence on certain others, forced to pick one album that influenced me most, it’s this one. It marks the beginning of a fifty year long journey so far, and whenever I listen to it, even now, I find it impossible to skip through. It represents everything good about Irish music. The instrumental playing is (apart from one or two odd passages) fearless and full of guile; the singing has both a tender and a punkish edge; the arrangements are often ornate and yet always seem gritty and spontaneous; and of course Ted Furey’s sons were born into an authentic travelling family, and it’s immediately audible. I was glad to cross paths with the duo once upon a time in Germany, when side-stage at Ingelheim festival Finbar (rightly, I’m sure) called the band I was in ‘a pile o’ shite’…I took it as a compliment he’d bothered to listen… That a wider family group went on to make a big name covering more commercial, and sometimes questionable material is neither here nor there, in my opinion. Good luck to them. I’ve been fortunate enough to be recognised as a poet, and where songs are concerned, use the idiom of my grandfathers to carry as complex and penetrating a vision as I’ve been able to pursue. But, in contrast to what often seems to masquerade as what it’s not, this is the real thing. The 1968 recording also forms the first half of The Spanish Cloak: The Best of the Fureys (1998) – available on all the usual selling and streaming platforms. On we go…

(Eddie’s first song was written by Scottish TV producer Gordon Smith. The words are set to the traditional Irish air ‘Buchal an Eire’)

Nick continues to produce great music and his last album, under the name of his original band, McDermott’s 2 Hours – ‘Besieged’ was not just featured on these pages but positively drooled over by our man Francis! On the album he is accompanied by members of both The Levellers and the Oysterband and showcases his work as not just a musician but also, in the best Irish tradition, as a poet, playwright and novelist as well. Available as a limited edition two CD set including a Best of compilation, Anticlimactic but you can buy several versions including the download direct from Nick here and also available from all streaming services inc. Spotify, Amazon etc here. You can contact Nick Burbridge over at his WebSite and Facebook. Thanks to Nick for taking his time out to pen this great feature ‘Go raibh maith agat’.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE FILTHY SPECTACULA- ‘The Howl Of The Underclasses’ (2019)

Twisted gypsy punk, revved up pirate shanties, dark folk, ska, punk, dark cabaret, Southern gothic, a bit of steampunk, a bit of darkness, a bit of coarse music hall banter and a lot of drunkenness. The second full-length album from The Filthy Spectacula with thirteen more songs of death, debauchery and drinking that are sure get you dancing.

The story of The Filthy Spectacula begins on a dark and stormy night in late 2014 when a group of vagabonds meet to swap stories, drink absinthe and make music. They were on to something and took to travelling around and making new stories together. Some got left at various ports along the way, but other riff-raff were eagerly waiting in the shadows to join this travelling circus. They released their debut album a couple of years ago Thrup’ny Upright which is available from the band but you can also get a free sampler of the album containing three tracks at the Bandcamp link below.

Details on The Filthy Spectcula are sketchy but having wowed audiences across Britain and played alongside this countries (and Canadas) best Folk-Punk bands as well as having been asked by Ed Milliband to “turn it down please” it seems nothing can slow down this marauding crew of lyrical lunatics. The Howl Of The Underclasses kicks off with the gloriously ramshackle ‘The Dirty Dog’. Fiddle and accordion are shoved up front and Mr E’s vocals lead the way with a eastern flavoured tune that we may call ramshackle but is from it in reality. Tuneful and as catchy as syphilis the album is peppered with references to the sea, death, debauchery and drinking and songs that would get even the stoniest of faces (me) smiling and the leaden of feet (also me!) dancing. Telling of one of London’s dingiest drinking dens.

” We who drown our sorrows in this dirty hole can forget brighter tomorrows”

Next up is my favourite of the album and the Eastern approach has gone for a more traditional folk-punk tune it is UNBELIEVABLY catchy and if catchy is the word that all record reviewers hate the most their really is no alternative . ‘Bedlam Hallelujah’ has such a great but dark ‘ska-ish’ beat it is sure to get you moving. The times that The Filthy Spectacula inhabit are those of Victorian slums and serial killers stalking the London streets and times when everyone drank Gin and did they must to survive. Oh Cynthia’ is a twisted love song and that word from earlier rears its head again. Mr E has a very distinctive vocal style that fits perfectly and the band flit from gypsy to ska to new wave effortlessly. Women And Children First’ is the cry of the shipwreck where men were and are still expected to stay on the sinking ship.

“If it’s you or I I’m going to stay alive”

A very nice accordion solo from The Blacksmith is followed by a fiddle solo from Miss Tea and already a quarter of the way through and every song has been outstanding. What the album lacks for in ‘Celtic-ness’ (this is after all a Celtic music site) does not take away from the album at all and would be up the street of the majority of our readers. ‘Our Dirty Little Secret’ returns to to the East and has a sort of Cossack feel to it and you can imagine men with folded arms bouncing up and down to this song about prostitution and grave robbing. It is thought that roughly 80,000 women were working as prostitutes in London alone during the Victorian era. On ‘Rum’ they pay tribute to the sailors drink of choice. Rum was routinely given to sailors right up to the 1970’s on Royal Navy ships. ‘Casanova With A Social Disease‘ finally sees the band in Celtic-Punk territory and by heavens they rock it. A short, sharp and sweet rocker with a nice bit of black humour

“I’m not loves young dream, I’m not as I seem”

The Hearse Song’ slows it down and that black humour is evident again and with a wee nod to The Pogues too. 

The Filthy Spectaular left to right: Lord Harold- Drums, Red Wine, backing shouting * Miss Tea- Fiddle, herbal teas, backing howling * Mr. E- Lead Vocaliser, Guitar, Absinthe, good looks and talent * Shady H- Bourborn, Bass, backing shouting * The Blacksmith -Accordion, Rum, backing grunting

We are back on the oceans again and Tyrants of the Seven Seas’ is just Mr E and acoustic guitar and tells of the excitement of piracy. For many it was an escape from from the cruel conditions on board merchant and navy ships and a chance to be treated as equals in a time when the working classes were seen as a separate race. One Step Closer’ is a heavier number despite its bouncy ska beat the accordion gives it an appropriate dark feel. She Wants Me (Dead)’ has a Poguesy feel circa Hell’s Ditch with it’s strong accordion lead and dark lyrics. 

Seas of Stupidity’ is another standout and they closing down the album well with the albums rockiest song.. A real foot stomper this one and catchy as hell! So that just leaves Dear Judas’ to bring down the curtain on The Howl Of The Underclasses and at nearly six minutes its the albums epic. A risky strategy seeing as even though the albums songs all hover around four minutes one thing you could say about them is that they are punchy and don’t tend to overstay their welcome. Well the same can be said of ‘Dear Judas’ and they carry on where they left off. On listening it seems much shorter and the punchiness is still evident and ends the album superbly.

The Howl Of The Underclasses is not all what I was expecting and I was very pleasantly surprised and they are now at the top of my list of bands to catch live. Capturing perfectly the filth, smoke and destitution of the city their was no happy ending for many in Victorian London but with a soundtrack of The Filthy Spectacula and an endless supply of Gin and Rum it would ease the pain a wee bit!

Buy The Howl Of The Underclasses CD  Download

Contact The Filthy Spectacula  WebSite  Facebook  Soundcloud  ReverbNation  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE WALKER ROADERS- ‘The Walker Roaders’ (2019)

The origins of Celtic-Punk go back to a handful of bands but without a doubt it was the seminal London-Irish band The Pogues that the whole genre owes most to. Here Graveyard Johnnys Callum Houston runs the rule over the most long awaited album in the scene of recent years. Pogues accordionist James Fearnley teams up with members of the only other two Celtic-Punk bands that have come close to The Pogues in both popularity and influence, Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys, to form The Walker Roaders. The pre-album release campaign was masterful but can the album live up to all the hype…

To anyone who is not aware of The Walker Roaders they are a new super group fronted by James Fearnley (accordionist of The Pogues) with Ted Hutt (founding member of Flogging Molly, producer for Gaslight Anthem, Tiger Army, Bouncing Souls etc etc), Marc Orrell (founding member of Dropkick Murphys) and additional musicians Kieran Mulroney (Low and Sweet Orchestra), Brad Wood (producer of Smashing Pumpkins) and Bryan Head (Dick Dale). It’s going to be hard to talk about The Walker Roaders without mentioning The Pogues.

The Walker Roaders were a street gang when James Fearnley was a kid growing up in Manchester who would slit your thumb with a knife if they came across you and felt like it.

The influence is clearly strong yet it is very much welcomed. It just goes to show how much of a contribution James’ playing had on The Pogues sound The album kicks off with “Lord Randalls Bastard Son”. This track is sure to win anyone over on the first listen. The pace is fast, the melodies strong and the words potent. James’ voice is sturdy, bold and northern as they come. He sings with strength and clarity giving every word importance and making sure not one is to be missed.

In the background I can hear what sounds to be the return of the beer tray, a subtle nod back to the early Pogues years. The second track “Seo Yun” is another fast paced number. The minor melody of the old Irish classic “The Foggy Dew” is tastefully borrowed for the verse but not before it jumps into a resolving singalong major chorus. The underlying Polka beat keeps the track turning and it’s heart pulsing. Following that is the first single from the album “Will You Go Lassie Go”. When I first saw the title I thought instantly it was going to be a cover of the traditional Scottish tune of the same name. It is however an original but has all the ingredients of a timeless ballad in it’s own right. The drums are huge, I can hear them echoing for miles through valleys with only the surging chorus of strumming guitars washing over them. This is a perfect festival song.

Before going any further I just want to state that the lyrical content, musical arrangement and production of this album is of an extremely high quality on each track, considering the members involved I would expect nothing less. “The Story” is a prime example of all those components. The accordion takes prominence and the song flows just as it’s title suggests. At “A Meteor at a Time” we reach the middle of the album and by now we are easing into mid tempo. I feel the momentum gets slightly lost here, although it is yet another great song I imagine it maybe more of a slow burner for some people. On my first few plays of the album “Old Tar Road to Sligo” was my first ear worm. It’s lively introduction and 6/8 swing takes me right back to the “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” glory days. The song structure meanders in some interesting directions but it is never far from returning to it’s source. I have to amid I did do a quick search on the price of Winnebago camper vans. “The Blackbird Only Knows One Song” stays in 6/8 timing which is proving to work very well. Here the vocals and lyrics take the helm held a float on waves of heavily reverbed banjo, accordion, guitar and crashing drums. “Here Comes The Ice” has to be my personal favourite. It bears a strong nostalgic feel with wit that will have you smiling and honesty that could almost bring you to tears. The song is joint together nicely with a repetitive catchy guitar riff.
To finish the album off on form we have “Turned out Nice Again”. Kicking straight in with a powerful melody played by the tightly combined accordion and whistle combination once again echoing back to that classic Pogues sound. Could there possibly be the additional of a special guest musician on this track? As a huge Pogues fan I have seen many similar bands pop up over the years but I have rarely been satisfied, there has always been something lacking. This album offers some kind of closure to that void. I really hope that this is just the beginning for The Walker Roaders, I would love to see the band take to the road. The album has been well worth the wait, the sound is timeless and the lyrics read like a novel. I’m sure lots of people will be looking for a hard copy of the album, I too want to keep this forever.
”Walker Roaders came together totally organically, A bit of fun really. The result of James, Marc and myself getting together to hang out and write songs. Then it became a mission to take Celtic music to another level!”- Ted Hutt on how the Walker Roaders came to be
Buy The Walker Riders  Stream or Download
Contact The Walker Riders  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram
Thanks to Callum Houston for the great review and who better to review a banjo heavy album than someone who knows his way round a banjo! Callum’s fantastic debut EP Gravities was released just last month and was reviewed on these pages here. As part of the wonderful Psycho/ R’n’R Welsh trio the Graveyard Johnnys he has played just about every corner of Europe and now resides in Brittany but will be over visiting in December anday d will be doing a select series of shows including a special London Celtic Punks date that you should definitely keep your ears open for!! December tour dates  Thursday 5th- The Anchor, Wingham * Friday 6th- Frosty’s Bar, Kenton, Harrow * Saturday 7th- Seamus O’Donnell’s Bristol * Sunday 8th The Star – Fishponds. Check Callum out on Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

SINGLE REVIEW: CALICO STREET RIOTS- ‘Through The Storm’ (2019)

After a eight year hiatus Calico Street Riots are properly back and with a vengeance! Two new tracks with more promised on the way. Through The Storm carries on where they left with Celtic-Punk packed with passion and enthusiasm.

Calico Street Riots are a six-piece folk punk band hailing from the wonderfully named (and quite apt!) Gravesend in Kent. Formed in 2008 they shot to fame with the release of their debut EP From The City To The Shores from way back in January, 2011. One song on that EP perfectly captured the imagination of the worldwide Celtic-Punk scene and ‘A Drink And A Fight’ introduced the band to a worldwide audience. That EP is now available a free/pay what you like download and you can stream it on the Bandcamp player below.

Several gigs around town including supports to the Greenland Whalefishers at the, now sadly long gone, Gaff and a headline show at the spiritual home of the London Celtic Punks in Tottenham at Mannions. The band went quiet soon after though reforming every now and then to play locally around Kent and though it may have seemed like they had given up the towel was never quite thrown all the way into the ring. The success of Boomtown festival has also contributed to the rise again of Calico Street Riots with various members of the band heavily involved in the organising and the promotion of the festivals dedicated Irish stage, the Shamrock Bar. Calico Street Riots playing every year at the festival to a new crowd of adoring Celtic-Punk fans.

Calico Street Riots live at this years Boomtown, with guest bodhrán player Gilbert, from left to right: Nick Whiteoak – Bass * Tage Wood – Acoustic Guitar * Laura Felstead – Violin * Dave Irving – Electric guitar & Vocals * Dave Felstead – Drums * Nat South – Accordion *

So it was that this year and again set to storm Boomtown the band booked a handful of gigs as a warm up for the festival and even announced the release of their first new songs in over eight years. Though only two tracks Through The Storm has been worth the long wait and will win them over both new and old fans alike I’m sure. First track ‘A Course For Home’ speaks of a sailor returning home after months away at sea.

“Before I’ve had a chance to breathe I feel the storm surround me
But as the stars burst through the clouds I see the way to go
As each step towards the wheel steadies the ground beneath me
I feel the wind upon my skin ready to take me home”

A not too uncommon theme in Celtic-Punk the song has a certain influence from The Dreadnoughts and singer Dave handles the vocals with ease. Also like The Dreadnoughts they are not afraid to mix up genres and traditions and with some Eastern sounding accordion accompanying a Gaelic fiddle while the rest of the band give it plenty of oompf keeping it fast and furious. They have lost none of their passion for their music I am delighted to hear.

The other song here is ‘Broken Bones’ and this time it’s a much more ‘traditional’ Celtic-Punk track. The major influence here is The Pogues as distilled through Flogging Molly. The song may be about a prisoner or then again maybe not but the lyrics are clever and make your brain work. Another real foot-tapper with again Dave shining on vocals while Laura on fiddle and Nat on accordion also shine on the folky instruments. The whole gang come together to belt out the chorus

“We won’t always have to run
So catch your breath before it’s gone
And when I fix these broken bones
I’ll walk with you to never be alone”

and the song is over in a flash and left me wanting much much more from them. The production is excellent so hats off to the engineer Paul West at Awesome Source Studios for a job very well done. Hopefully Calico Street Riots have learnt their lesson now and won’t be going off again for another eight year break in a hurry! Passionate, intelligent and rowdy as hell Celtic-Punk is sometimes hard to come by down here in the south of England with just The Lagan and Neck thinly spread so to have the Riots return and back at their best to is the most exciting thing to have happened this year and I can’t wait to catch up with them.

(you can hear Through The Storm on the Bandcamp player below)

Download Through The Storm  FromTheBand  iTunes  Amazon  

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EP REVIEW: SINFUL MAGGIE- ‘Good Enough For Rock’n’Roll’ (2019)

Sinful Maggie are back with a new release. A 3-track EP of top quality accordion punk rock’n’roll out of Dorset…yarr!

Sinful Maggie disclaimer: It’s not our fault if you’re too much of a moron to see the irony and humour in this song. It’s not designed to be offensive or derogatory to anyone but the members of the band. That said, feel free to take offence, it’s your right as a human…moron or not.

I thought i better start with that just in case anyone has come to this web site by mistake and gets offended by something in this review. Of course our usual readers are made of much firmer stock and are, I am certain, all blessed with a decent sense of humour. Formed in 2014 Sinful Maggie have, especially within the last eighteen months or so, blazed a path through the English punk scene and for once it is truly deserved. Being based right down in the south-west could easily hamper a band with no ambition but instead they have risen to the challenge and can be found on most weekends rolling up and down the motorways of England to play gigs in every corner of the country.

Sinful Maggie left to right: Charlie Draper– Guitar, Lead Vocals * Briony Ireland– Accordion * Ollie Beaton– Drums * Russ Draper– Bass, Vocals.

One of the things that we must also add at this point is that despite having an accordion player in Briony (who also played in the now defunct Dorset band The Devil’s Rejects who raised the flag for celtic-punk in Dorset) they do not see themselves as a Celtic or Folk-Punk band

“we try and avoid the Celtic punk ‘banner’ if you like. Really we see ourselves more as a punk band that opted for an accordion instead of another guitar. We’re not really influenced by folk or anything like that so we try and avoid it so people aren’t misled”

though that’s not to say we wouldn’t accept them to the Celtic-Punk team!!!

The EP starts with the title song and ‘Good Enough For Rock’n’Roll’ and its full throttle from the start and if you have never heard punk accordion then now is your chance. Charlie’s tuneful though punky vocals keep the music flowing with nods to Rancid and even more ancient ’77 style punk bands.

Now here’s where the disclaimer comes in and I got to admit when I first heard this I couldn’t contain myself and nearly spat me kidneys out laughing! Ask any folky band and they will always tell you that they are labelled ‘Irish’ by people (look at Mumford And Sons for heavens sake!) and and called it in adverts despite being as Irish as Tony Cascarino! ‘We’re Not Fuckin’ Irish’ is the perfect riposte to this and will I hope have you laughing along with them. A great song with some hilarious lyrics and again heads down punk’n’roll that flies past in a fury getting faster and faster. Great stuff. I love this song so much I got the words off them so you can sing along to the video.

I was sitting in a bar
Drinking just after a show
When a guy comes up to me and says
“you kids are far from home
See, I used to live in Dublin
And I’d see bands like yours each night
With tin whistles and accordions
Singing The Rare Auld Times”
Now I sit and listen to him
As polite as I can be
But my anger starts to grow
Somewhat irrationally
My grip grows tighter on my glass
’til I smash it on the floor and scream
We’ re not fuckin’ Irish!
Sling that bastard out the door!

Russ he’s bass player and he’s stubborn as a mule
He’s had many nights out on the town with Guinness as his fuel
I’ve seen him with a broken heart and suffering from shock
When a girl came up after a show and said “I love your Celtic rock”
Briony plays accordion an Irish instrument you’d say
Well actually it’s German from the 19th Century
And yeah she’s got a temper (fuck off)
See? That’s what I mean
So don’t tell her we sound Irish she’ll rip out your fucking spleen

Ollie is our drummer and he’s loves an Irish jig
He wants to wear a scally cap but his heads too fucking big
He loves an Irish whiskey or shamrock in his beer
He was in the British Navy but he swears that he’s not queer
Charlie’s got guitars it’s the talent that he lacks
I can play like Gary Moore if Gary Moore was high on smack
He’s too fat to be Thin Lizzy, too old for teenage kicks
He’s not as bad a Bono but I still think he’s prick

Call us what you want
We’re not fuckin’ Irish
Call us what you will
We’ll tell you what’s true
I ain’t shippin’ up to Boston
Who the hell is Ronnie Drew
We’re still drunken lazy bastards
But we’re English through and through

Now you might think that we’re racist
I assure you that not true
We love those Irish bastards
Honestly we do
They haven’t had it easy
And to their resilience we will toast
But we’re from fuckin’ Bournemouth
That’s in England on the coast

The EP ends with ‘Lazy Is As Lazy Does’ a reggae infused number again with some funny and insightful lyrics and one thing this band is not in need of is a funny bone. A little over halfway through Sinful Maggie decide to kick out the jams as it were and bring the curtain down with what they are best at. Fast 110mph punk rock. Their may only three songs here but at almost fifteen minutes long it shows a band that’s not afraid to stick to two or three minute blazers but experiment with longer songs giving them much more depth both live and on disc.

Released on 2nd august Good Enough For Rock’n’Roll is now available on Amazon, Spotify, i-tunes, Deezer etc pretty much all of them but if anyone would like a physical copy then you should message the band directly through their Facebook page. All the money from the EP is going into a pot to help them record their next album later in the year so lets see some action folks!

Buy Good Enough For Rock’n’Roll  CDFromTheBand  Download- Amazon 

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THE CELTIC PUNKCAST PRESENTS THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

Aw shucks them lovely people over at The Celtic Punkcast have gone and done a special edition of the show featuring ten of our favourite songs handpicked by our resident DJ Greenford Bhoy. All bands that we have grown up and grown with and very close to our hearts. Thanks to them all and here’s to another 10…

Follow the link below for over an hour of the best in Celtic-Punk, Celtic-Rock and Folk-Punk from all over the world.

Stream live or download to listen to later and enjoy!

Hi everyone and welcome to a special bonus episode of the Celtic Punkcast, celebrating ten years of service from the lads over at the London Celtic Punks site! The fine crew from London Celtic Punks have given me a list of songs too play and without further adieu here they are:

THE BIBLECODE SUNDAYS – ‘Disorganised Crime’

THE WAKES – ‘Never Again’

ANTO MORRA – ‘London Irish’

THE LAGAN – ‘A Song For Jim’

BLACK WATER COUNTY – ‘Under Skies Of Black And Blue’

NECK – ‘Everybody’s Welcome To The Hooley!’

THE ROUGHNECK RIOT – ‘Ignorance Is Easy’

MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS – ‘Bottles Of Rum’

THE CRAICHEADS – ‘Greeting From Another Land’

CLAN OF CELTS – ‘Please Don’t Send Me Home’

You can listen to the London Celtic Punks special episode of The Celtic Punkcast at the link below. Simply click for the best Celtic-Punk of the past and the present and remember you can listen to it live or else download to listen at another time.

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST  LCP EDITION HERE

Check out the special London Celtic Punks 10 year anniversary badge and t-shirt (almost sold out!!) available from the club shop at https://the30492shop.fwscart.com/

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

Check out the London Celtic Punk interview with Gareth the ‘Podmaster’ here and find out what possessed him to join the #OneBigCelticPunkFamily. Also worth checking out was the special article written by Gareth for people who haven’t yet experienced the joys of Celtic-Punk so find Bring Your Mates To The Hooley: A Starters Guide To Celtic-Punk here.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE WHIPJACKS- ‘This Wicked World’ (2019)

“We’re The Whipjacks and we’re just having fun”

This Wicked world is the brilliant debut album from a relatively new band to the Celtic-Punk scene. Based in Worcester in the English Midlands and heavily influenced by the major scene greats they are more though than just following others as here they deliver an album of quality high tempo Celtic Folk’n’Punk. 

Pounding drums, driving bass, screeching guitar, melodic mandolin and partial nudity. These are the things that energetic Midlands based five-piece The Whipjacks intend to bring to venues around England and based on their debut album they should be entertaining crowds for quite some time. If they aren’t near you right now, you can be damn sure they are coming… soon!

Their debut release was Scoundrels And Rogues, a 4-track EP, including a radio edit of the title song, which came out in early 2017. Original compositions of high tempo Celtic-Punk with catchy tunes that belies that The Whipjacks are basically a punk band but with a  mandolin player but in the right hands and with the right tunes a folk instrument can transform any band into something much greater. Here Arran’s playing makes that difference.

So just over a year later saw the release of This Wicked World and a catalogue of mishaps here at London Celtic Punks that saw it filed in our spam folder for ages and then lost, along with 100’s of hours of music when my laptop went bonkers. Finally though we are ready to deliver our verdict and I’m guessing that most will have already decided which way I have gone from the over enthusiastic opening paragraph!! Well yes it’s true I absolutely love it and I’m not ashamed to announce it from the rooftops!

Again, as on Scoundrels And Rogues all the tracks here are original compositions. No room for ‘The Wild Rover’ here I am glad to say. The shadow of the ‘Big Bands’ does loom over them somewhat and partly it’s because of their name and similar style to one band in particular but The Whipjacks plough their own furrow and it helps I suppose to be tucked away in a quiet backwater like Worcester to develop their own style and sound. The album opens with ‘Forever Free’ and from the off it grabs you with Tim wielding his guitar in a similar style to how The Skids once did while Dean’s strong vocals are both tuneful and punk rock. It’s a well chosen start to the album with a catchy beat and a song that leads directly into one of the albums highlights with Arran getting his first chance to shine on the mandolin and  ‘Sundown Devil’ has tinges of good auld fashioned country’n’western mixed into proceedings and a great chorus and a nice sense of cheeky humour too.

“She’s a devil when the sun goes down, my friend, I love it when she goes down,

Innocent and sweet when you pass her on the street but a devil when the sun goes down”

‘Push On’ is a short piratey number that still embraces The Whipjacks sound coming across like a punk sea shanty before the album’s title song ‘This Wicked World’ and a real Celtic-Punk epic. Lasting over five minutes the song dives and lifts and swirls throughout and while not quite a ballad it certainly slows the pace nicely. So far it’s been a sort of generic ‘Celtic’ sound The Whipjacks have employed but finally on ‘Hero’ we can nail down a ‘Gaelige’ influence and what a song. Nowhere on This Wicked World does Dean’s voice sound so good as on here and its a mark of the band that my favourite tracks from the album are so diverse but then the Bhoys go for it and finish the song with a real CeltPunk flourish. The next song is the one they chose to release as the album’s single and is without a doubt the #1 song here. I may love a ballad or a trad folk reel or two but give me a foot-stomping fist in the air dance floor filler any day of the week and I’m in heaven. ‘All My Pains (Are Self Inflicted)’ is that song! Catchy as hell and a guaranteed audience favourite I am sure.

With ‘The Ballad Of Jack Cade’ we are set for a bit of a history lesson and I must say how impressed I am with the current trend of bands singing sings like this that don’t just entertain but also tell a tale too. English history is full of such stories and while many of the ‘middle-class left’ would have us self-flagellating ourselves over slavery or some such event from the past they are more than happy to ignore the history of the ordinary people of this island of rebellion and struggle. Jack Cade was the Irish born leader of the 1450 rebellion against King Henry VI. Although put down ruthlessly it led to the War Of The Roses which in turn led to the breakdown of Royal authority. Having been accused of murder and fled to France he returned in 1450 emerging as the leader of a Kentish rebellion. His forces defeated the royal army at Sevenoaks in June and two weeks later he entered London, where he executed the hated Lord Treasurer. Eventually run from the city the government persuaded most of the rebels to disperse by offering them a pardon, but Cade continued his resistance. Wounded and captured near Lewes on July 12, 1450 he died while being transported to London. The song itself is a catchy folk led number that The Levellers would be proud of. One thing the Celtic-Punk scene can’t get enough of is more rap style numbers and on ‘L.S.D’ The Whipjacks deliver. It’s not quite the House Of Pain but again their sense of humour shines through before ‘Song For A Swine’ and a quick barroom ballad played out to the sound of a pub piano with Dean and gang crooning along before the album’s curtain comes down with the energetic  ‘Farewell To The Ladies’ and a song that again raises both a smile and a fist!

So having made themselves a firm fixture on their local music scene and with a ever growing list of gigs further afield it’s now time for them to come to the attention of the wide Celtic-Punk community. With a scene as partisan as the Celtic-Punk scene it’s hard to get people in this country to look beyond the likes of the Murphys and the Mollys but all the time their are bands like The Whipjacks flying the flag for Celtic infused Folk-Punk with shedloads of both attitude and really good songs. This Wicked World is thirty-five minutes of infectious sea bound anthems. Music to forget your vows and bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart as well as pain to the soles of your feet!

Buy This Wicked World  cdBaby  iTunes

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Join the crew of local favourite Roderick the Rambunctious as he looks back on his wrestling career to date.

EP REVIEW: THE TWO MAN TRAVELLING MEDICINE SHOW- ‘They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs’ (2019)

Back again it’s the band with the longest name in Folk-Punk (and possibly the most members) with another release of original music. Dorset’s finest Folky-Americana-Country-Punk band The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show’s new EP is out now on Musical Bear Records.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show are back again with their brand new EP and four all new tracks recorded entirely in a barn in North Dorset! Now this being the Summer it’s a wonder they have found the time as this is most definitely their time and one look at their list of gigs past and present the last few weeks shows a band that has crisscrossed the South of England playing just about every festival imaginable! Formed in Dorset in 2016 The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show have steadily grown in stature and popularity over the following years due in no small part to their hectic touring(no mean feat for a band that sometimes has up to ten members!) and they have added to their great reputation as a live band with a well received album and several EP’s of their own original compositions. Their debut album, Weeding Out The Wicked, came out in 2017 and has been followed by three quality EP’s in the following couple of years, Float Your Boat, A Snake’s A Snake and Oh Me Oh Mi. Releases that all capture The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show sound perfectly. American bluegrass and Americana butting heads with quaint auld English folk. A quintessential English folk group that could have been born at the heyday of Folk-Rock in the mid-1970’s and takes in influences from those halcyon days before redefining them and bringing them bang up to date.

The first of the EP’s quintet of songs is the title track ‘They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs’ and follows on in what I now think of as the traditional The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show way. A catchy thigh slapping driving beat accompanied by the sounds of more instruments then you could possibly take in all at once though the duelling banjo and fiddle shine through. The vocals from Mark are as usual strong and powerful and the words talk about how love changes us. Theirs a a nice slow break in the middle which gives the song a chance to build up and come back strong and yeah I really love it!!! They follow this swiftly with the glorious ‘Raise My Glass’ and a hoedown country stomper that is guaranteed to get audiences up and doing that famous dance scene from Seven Brides For Several Brothers! A typical drinking anthem that sees the band really go for it and if I have ever had any criticism of The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show it is that they sometimes are too restrained and ought to just to bloody well go for it like on ‘Raise My Glass’. A heartfelt cry from the heart in praise of all that’s good in a difficult world. They move away from their usual Summery/bouncy style with ‘Hanging The Bells’ which has a much tougher bite to it and comparisons to New Model Army leap out at you with the acoustic guitar and fiddle pushed to the fore over a song about getting away from the drudgery of life, or as singer Mark says 

“a song about the impossible, wonderful dream of awakening from the nightmare of history; to a dog’s life away from the grinding forces of politics”.

The EP comes to an delicate end as fiddle player Alison Jay takes over on vocal duties for ‘Teenage Dreams’ for this slow paced number on the danger of surrounding yourselves in nostalgia. The song drifts along beautifully before speeding up ever so slightly towards the end and again the amazing banjo playing and a-plucking shines a light on all the band do.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show left to right: Seb Hartley- Harmonica, Mandolin * Martin Giles- Guitar * Steve Wareham- Slapbox * Alison Jay- Violin * Chris Pearce- Keys (back of photo) * Rob Volves- Bass (back of photo) * Olly Hopper Pay- Guitar, Cello (back of photo) * Mark Lyons- Singer, Guitar * Jamie Lynch- Lyrics * Brad Watt- Banjo *

As already stated this band can sometimes reach up to double figures so getting them down on record so vibrantly is no mean feat I can assure you and here on They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs they have the talent of fellow Dorset musician Charlie Draper to thank. Having already featured here on the London Celtic Punks site as vocalist/guitarist of Sinful Maggie (we will be reviewing their new release in the next week or so) Charlie has done a utterly brilliant job of capturing the energy and passion of the band whilst losing none of their trademark knock out Folk-Punk choruses. Though they don’t make it particularly easy to hear them play outside the South-East it might be worth your while YOU seeking them out!

Buy They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs mark1lyons@icloud.com 

The EP is released on Friday 16th August and sadly there is no pre-order or links but as soon as they become available on release I will add them here.

Contact The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show  Facebook

Musical Bear Records  WebSite  YouTube  Facebook  

ALBUM REVIEW: STEVE IGNORANT’S SLICE OF LIFE- ‘Don’t Turn Away’ (2019)

‘Anarcho punk legend’ Steve Ignorant returns with his new acoustic project Slice of Life follow their 2014 debut ‘Love And A Lamp-Post’ with a new collection of eleven songs titled ‘Don’t Turn Away’. Accompanied by Carol Hodge, Pete Wilson and Pete Rawlinson as the Slice Of Life our man Anto Morra discovers Don’t Turn Away may be mellow, but the emotions and feelings are definitely not…

ABOUT STEVE

Steve Ignorant is a singer/songwriter and artist. He co-founded the anarcho-punk band Crass with Penny Rimbaud in 1977. After Crass stopped performing in 1984, he worked with other groups including Conflict, Schwartzeneggar, Stratford Mercenaries, Current 93, and US punk band Thought Crime, as well as occasional solo performances. Steve is also a wood sculptor and volunteer on the Sea Palling Independent Lifeboat, has written his autobiography –All The Rest Is Propaganda- and has worked as a traditional Punch and Judy performer using the name Professor Ignorant.

In 2007 he performed Crass’s entire Feeding of the 5000 album live at the Shepherds Bush Empire and throughout 2010-2011 presented The Last Supper, touring/celebrating the songs of Crass around the globe, ending with a farewell gig at Shepherds Bush Empire in November 2011. In 2013 Steve and Paranoid Visions decided to record an album. The result ‘When …?’,  a hybrid of styles, all with a nod to early 80s anarcho-punk. They now perform live on special occasions. Steve is now performing with his new band Slice Of Life. A far cry from the aggression of Crass, nevertheless compelling with powerful songs delivered in an acoustic style.

Debut album Love And A Lamp-post was released on Overground records in late 2014, surprising many with its honesty and change of style for Steve. A new bassist followed in early 2015, along with new songs and extensive touring all over the UK, as well as dates in Finland, and festival slots at Rebellion, Wickerman and Something Else A Bit North.

The opening title track tells you exactly where Steve Ignorant is coming from, if you don’t all ready know.  A bloke that just wants to walk his dog Evie in a better and more just world than the one run by the ‘dodgy toupee’ wearing war mongers we have at present.  ‘Your Day Will Come is’ a beautifully aggressive delivery to ‘Bully boys & laddies’ that take joy in acts of sadism that Karma will come for them. Oh, how I hope he’s right!

‘The Right Way’ is a joyful rant from the perspective of the pig-headed male we’ve all met down the pub, and occasionally as we get older, believe we may have become.

(“Anyone that has suffered a loss or has to deal with depression and/or despair YOU are not alone”)

I’ll apologise if I have misinterpreted what is being said in the next song ‘S.A.D.’ but it felt to me like quite a cathartic out pouring of grief with an advisory instruction to get bereavement counselling of any sort if required! Steve’s delivery, the backing and melody on this song brought to mind David Bowie, Lou Reed and even a touch of Leonard Cohen.

‘Slaughterhouse’ is a return to the short sharp shock 100% punk Mr Ignorant is known and loved for.  A message to assert yourself, read between the lines and make sure you believe before you commit. ‘The Story Continues’ is a lyrical punch in the guts. Tragically beautiful, depressingly true and perfectly said. ‘Song For Myself’ is a bleak celebration of getting to an age that you’re expecting the bells to toll for you, but hoping they’ll continue to ring out for you instead so you can enjoy home comforts and having another pint. ‘Diffrability’ a statement of what set him apart from the rest.  I think the one word missing in this song is integrity. ‘Stretford Blue’ is a dig at all those that have become masters of marketing revolution,  those Punk icons that have become the very corporate Hippies they told us not to trust. ‘Good Intentions’ this record just gets better. A melody we’ve heard a million times before but with a lyric so refreshing and courageous.  I can’t think of any other artist that could approach the dangerously sensitive subject of gender politics in a song today and treat it with such balance, gentleness and anger in equal measure. ‘Whistle Down The Wind’  the perfect closing track calling us to arms in order to protect our world, our rights and the values we have to hold on to because ‘This is our world’.

Well that’s the lyrical content dealt with. Musically it can be summed up very briefly as beautifully sparse, classy and clever arrangements with fantastic performances and musicianship by all concerned.

Much the same can be said of the sonic quality.  The production values are also second to none.

I don’t get a lot of time to do reviews these days but when the opportunity came up to review Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life’s new album I couldn’t resist.  As I get older I become less forgiving and many of the singers and bands I really looked up to, have become very stale and turned out to be complete arseholes and continue to scratch a living from nostalgia! So that is what gives Steve Ignorant ‘Diffrability’.    Back when I was a youngster Crass were vital, scary and not remotely commercial or easy to listen to.  I was more in love with the idea of them and the graphics they produced, than the music they made and would be much more likely to put Elvis Costello or Stiff Little Fingers on my turntable.

I think Honey Bane’s ‘A Big Piss Off To The Music Buis’ EP was the only record on the Crass label that got played regularly by my teenage self.  I loved it and am pleased to say I still have my original copy.

Steve Ignorant is still fighting the good fight and, unlike almost all of his contemporaries, has not sold out by continuing to tour or churning out the same stuff he was doing 40 years ago.

My older self loves nothing more than hearing songs about stuff that matters and this ticks all boxes. It’s Sleaford Mods meets Dr John Cooper Clarke, for Southerners and The Streets for people bored of those Hip Hop beats.

When I look at the Music Industry today and those Punk pioneers of radical change, it’s like it never happened! So I’m kind of delighted that Steve Ignorant is still here to prove it did happen. It was important and there was much more too it than loud music, screaming, leaping up and down and gobbing at each other  even if that was what was a lot of fun when we were young.

Buy Don’t Turn Away  CD- FromSteve  CD/LP-OvergroundRecords

Contact Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  Twitter

Don’t Turn Away is released on Overground Records which gives us a nice chance to plug Rock’n’Reel ,run by the indomitable Sean Magee, who occasionally works for Overground. It’s the UK’s best selling eclectic music magazine featuring all manner of Roots, singer-songwriter, Folk, Rock, World and Blues since 1988.  WebSite  Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DISINCLINED- ‘Sing’ (2019)

The debut album from South-West Londoners The Disinclined, ageing purveyors of folky, punky, gypsy tales.

The debut album from The Disinclined comes hot on the heels of their debut single, Sing And Create, which we gave the thumbs up to last December on these pages. Both the tracks from then are re-recorded here and if anything have been improved upon with a much better production. The Disinclined were formed in 2014 after being recruited to do a few covers at a friends’ wedding. Drummer Dave recruited Tim, who could actually write and sing original material, so along with Dave’s lyrics and the occasional riff from Shea and Matt, they started gigging around South-West London especially Kingston. They’ve all been in many diverse sounding bands since the mid/late 80’s with Dave and Tim playing together in This Wind Thing and Vicious Hippy till they went their separate ways in the early 90’s – with neither picking up their instruments again until the Disinclined came calling. Matt replaced Shea on bass when he was sacked from 80’s Kingston punk band NMBD, so he took up guitar, learnt bar chords and ignored bassists until he joined Riot/Clone and Refuse All in the noughties. These days they all play in other bands including Refuse/All, Lost Cherrees and Mooshwa Pooshwa. So with a wealth of experience in both playing and songwriting it was only to be expected that The Disinclined know their way round a good tune or two and here on Sing they have delivered an album that is chock-a-block full of them.

The Disinclined from left to right: Shea- Guitar * Tim – Vocals, Guitar, Melodica, Uke * Dave – Drums * Matt – Bass

The album begins with ‘Death Is Just A Consequence’ and the unusual sound of the melodica starts a mournful dirge that is soon livened up with a ska beat and chugging guitars and a nice fast pace. It’s a wind instrument with a small keyboard on top that when blown into that makes a sound pitched half where between harmonica and clarinet. Next up is ‘We Have To Pretend To Be Zombies’ with a cool 60’s vibe to it and The Disinclined show that lyrically they can write both clever and tongue in cheek.

“Management is the source of our ills / Compulsory fun. And we have to look thrilled / Idiotic and dumb, they’ve forgotten to think / And the theory they have has started to stink / She turned to me and said / “Have you seen ‘Sean of the Dead’? / We have to pretend to be Zombies” \ Zombies….”

Next is one of their signature tunes ‘For The Good Of Us All’ and its at this point that you realise that even though they may flit from genre to genre they somehow manage to still make it sound like The Disinclined. Quite a feat for a band that manages to avoid any sort of pigeonholing.

( an early version of ‘For The Good Of It All’ recorded at The Cricketers, Kingston)

Rocky and punky in parts and a real toe-tapper as the song morphs into ‘Urban Hermit’ and the first appearance of trumpet and fiddle gives the song a real bite. In fact they are looking to introduce a full time fiddle player into their sound so if you’re interested then get in touch with them. The song is played at a slowish pace with touches of Eastern Europe and the sound is layered upon sound making this my favourite track from the album. A real slow burner of a song that builds and builds into something grand before slowing right down again. Next up is a re-recorded version of ‘Create’ from the 7″. This song has appeared in several forms but every time they take it away and fiddle with it it comes back better than before. The ska beat is back but not of the happy, giddy sort that gets on your wick! ‘No Thanks’ has a certain Anarcho-Punk influence and the, as ever, interesting lyrics speak of the selfishness of man I think.

The Anarcho influence appears again on ‘Just Us’ and the song has some outstanding guitar

“Take your chance and count the cost / Roll the dice, your fingers crossed / See who’s won and see who’s lost / Who’s left standing when the music stops / Who’s left standing when the music stops \ Just Us! Just Us! Just Us! Just Us!”

Time now for the other song from the 7″ to get a re-working and ‘Sing’ again adds something so much more to the original version. Beginning with drums and some crunching bass lines from Matt before Tim joins in with the melodica again and one of the catchiest songs here that I was hoping would explode a bit more but just keeps itself in check. ‘Sing’ is pretty damn catchy and Tim’s laid back vocals fit perfectly (they are The Disinclined after all) as the song builds and builds while the lads still manage to sound super laid back about it all. We are coming towards the end and ‘Jack’ is another great song telling of a ‘lothario’ and what happens when the looks and the charm inevitably fade. This brings us onto what could be called their signature tune and as you can imagine from a band that manages to squeeze the line

“we are disinclined to acquiesce to your request

into one of their songs ‘Disinclined To Acquiesce’ is clever and intelligent music and Sing takes in a multitude of influences from far and wide, from punk to gypsy folk and thrash metal to prog rock, moulding them into some very catchy pop music.

Sing was released just a couple of weeks ago and was recorded at Gravity Shack in London with Jess Corcoran as engineer and producer. The vinyl album is a joy to behold and looks absolutely beautiful with some stunning artwork from good friend of the band Keith Slote. It’s a great album that will appeal to people, and not just fans of the band, on many levels. The different styles and influences loaded onto Sing take nothing away from the band who still manage to make everything sound so natural. For those fans of the band they will be extremely pleased that the songs they recognise from live sets are not just replicated but even bettered but I think Sing is well worth taking a punt on for anyone and sit back and enjoy!

(you can stream Sing on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it!)

Buy Sing  FromTheBand

Contact The Disinclined  Facebook  Bandcamp

The official record release gig for Sing is next Thursday at The Fighting Cocks. One of London’s best venues if you have never been before you in for a treat! The Fighting Cocks is at 56 Old London Road, Kingston KT2 6QA. Trains from Waterloo, Clapham and Vauxhall and only a short walk from Kingston station. Admission is a paltry £3 and the evening kicks off at 8pm. Support is from SUCKIN’ DIESEL a new traditional Irish music group headed by Brendan the lead singer from local Celtic-Punk favourites The Lagan. Featuring yer man himself and anyone else he can round up in the meantime. Kicking off the night will be Kingsley Beat. Made in Madchester. Raised in Acton. Generated by Beats. Mad for Melody, Melody Mad. Facebook event here.

ALBUM REVIEW: DANNY DIATRIBE- ‘Tales From The Down And Outs’ (2019)

Irish rap vagabond Danny Diatribe from Derry City releases his outstanding third album just a couple of weeks before his debut London gig celebrating the 10th anniversary of the London Celtic Punks. 

Intelligent conscious shit from a drunken Irish perspective!

In the last couple of years I have seen Boston-Irish rapper Slaine play and also went to the House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ 20th anniversary tour so I’m not exactly a stranger to the rap and Hip-Hop scene but at the same time I am definitely no expert! Saying that though I don’t believe you do need to know the ins and out of a music genre for it to appeal to you. For it to strike a chord and make you feel something for it. I had that feeling when I first heard Danny’s last album Elevation Illustrations. An album packed with catchy rap anthems that included a song that is still among my most played in the last three years since, the absolutely amazing ‘Paddy’s Cure’ with Manchester Irish rapper D’Lyfa Reilly.

Danny was born Danny Lynch in Derry city in the occupied north of Ireland but emigrated to Manchester as a young ‘un a few years back and it is this background that colours Danny’s work. Describing himself as ‘Hip-Hop, James Joyce style’ Tales From The Down And Outs is loosely based on Joyce’s most famous novel Dubliners. Danny may not have been the first celtic-rapper (see our article The Top Seven Celtic Hip-Hop Artists And Bands here) but he is one of only a small handful waving the tricolour here in England! He has spent the intervening years performing among the thriving Manchester music scene being a regular in Hip-Hop circles and has collaborated with some of the biggest and best names in UK and Irish Hip-Hop. Since Elevation Illustrations Danny has kept busy with a constant supply of recordings and videos (made by himself) and the ambitious plan to record this album which has taken a couple of years from beginning to end. 

Tales From The Down And Outs is a concept album detailing the lives of working class characters based in and around the places where he has lived and still lives in Manchester and Derry. All the songs were written and produced by Danny Diatribe and DJ Cutterz, from the Taste The Diff’rence crew, who collaborated with Danny on the album.

Tales From The Down And Outs begins with a short foreboding intro before the title track comes along and ‘Tales From The Down And Outs’ is accompanied by a fantastic video showing Danny moving through life. The tune is slow and unhurried and Danny’s strong accent shines through.

The most standout thing about Danny is the videos that come with the songs. On Elevation Illustrations the whole album was accompanied by professionally shot and produced videos and he’s slowly working his way through this album too. On ‘Jimmy’s Bets’ it tells of the sad tale of a loser who suffers from what my Ma use to call the ‘Irish disease’, gambling.

On ‘Maggie’ Danny tells of the harmless, except to herself, auld crazy women that inhabit the streets where we live and we pass by in the street. Danny adds story to her life giving her a soul.

“Oh Maggie Oh Maggie Oh Maggie Oh maggie, God will never take you and the devil canny stand you, she’ll go to the grave cold bitter and defiant, the flames of hell wont make her bat an eyelid.”

It’s on ‘Maggie’ that you first get a real sense of why people say rappers are the modern day equivalent of the ancient Irish seanchaí (shan-a-key) who held the key to all Irish folklore, myth, and legend. They were the traditional storytellers and the custodians of history for centuries in Ireland.

The album is packed with soundbites from the likes of Monty Python, The Three Stooges, Noam Chomsky and many more I am sure I have missed. On ‘Compliments To The Chef’ and ‘Seven Oaks’ the tone is lighter thanks in part to the soulful tunes but still the dark underbelly of society comes through. On ‘Hangover On Repeat’ Danny revisits a subject close to his, and many immigrant Irish, that of alcohol abuse but told with more than a wee Irish twinkle in the eye.

Coming up towards the end of the album and ‘Miss Robinson’ and ‘Mrs Robinson’ are two tracks with a similar feel, with the film of the same name getting sound checked throughout them. Great soulful tunes combined with his usual gritty lyricism that leads us onto the final track ‘Pressure Creates Diamonds’. The song features the amazingly beautiful voice of fellow Manc rapper El Ay and I would recommend checking out the video as well. In fact get a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits and settle down to check the whole of Danny’s You Tube channel.

There is great news for London folk, and even further afield, and that is that Danny Diatribe is coming down South to perform for the very first time. Obviously it’s the combination of rude locals, expensive pints and sunny weather that has lured him down to London (it sure aint the money that’s for sure!) to play a special show in the east end of London for the London Celtic Punks 10th anniversary. When we set out on this road a decade ago we wanted to have as diverse gigs as possible and this could just about be the most diverse gig we have ever put on as performing alongside Danny will be the northern Celtic-Punk power house band The Silk Road, who are also making their London debut, and an auld mucker of ours Comrade X who will kick things off with a set of Woody Guthrie inspired Oi! tracks. The important date for your diary is Saturday 4th May at The Beehive in Bow. Literally the epi-centre of Cockney London! You can buy tickets in advance here for just a fiver and check the Facebook event here for any fresh news as it comes out.

So what to say about Tales From The Down And Outs? Well first off I doubt it’s going to make me a bigger fan of Hip-Hop than I already am but that’s hardly the point. Some albums just stand out and it’s Danny’s re-telling of stories from his life of a gritty existence on the war torn streets of Derry city to the grim post industrial working class streets of Manchester that make this album really special. Celtic-Punk as a genre is obsessed with working class life and culture and Danny has taken the ideas behind that, the good , the bad and the ugly, and brought them forward to today. Where as the heart of Celtic-Punk is naturally tapped in the past Danny Diatribe is here and now. If you cannot make the gig then buy the album and proudly boast to your friends that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of underground Irish immigrant Hip-Hop!

(listen to Tales From The Down And Outs on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Tales From The Down and Outs FromDannyDiatribe 

Contact Danny Diatribe WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE TENBAGS- ‘Bags o’ Craic’ (2018)

Crusty punk troubadours from the middle of England playing Anarcho-Celtic-Punk ballads and rampaging through folk tradition!

Bags o’ Craic arrived at London Celtic Punk Towers towards the end of 2018 on a scruffy home made CDR with a basic photocopied cover and a couple of stickers that wouldn’t play on any of the CD players in my house or my laptop!! So it was with great relief that the band recently stuck it up on Bandcamp so I could finally get round to hearing it. Having checked them out on Facebook they seemed like they were a band i would be into and after a couple of listens this was confirmed!

The Tenbags a true Brummy mix of backgrounds including – Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Indian, Trinidadian, English, Italian, Roma Gypsy and Punk!! From left to right: Neil Harvey – Washboard and Guitar * Johnny (Kowalski) Noblet – GuitBanj and Voice * Niall Singh – Guitar and Voice and Poems * Benedict Davenport- Mandolin and Tenor Banjo * Sam-uendo – Fiddle.

Bags o’ Craic is twelve songs that fly past in an incredibly quick twenty-four minutes. Songs beloved by the folk snobs purists are stripped right down to basics and played without frills or flourishes which for many of these songs that is exactly how they were meant to be played when first written. The roots of The Tenbags lie in Niall and Ben’s meeting at Birmingham art school back in 2009. A shared interest in folk music thanks to Ben’s Irish background and Niall who had grown up obsessed with Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie and The Pogues before getting into Punk. Coming from a half Scottish/half Indian background he ingested the folk music from his Mam’s record collection and the Pogues from Celtic Supporting, Celtic-Rock loving Uncles!

The album kicks off with ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ a song originally penned by folk legend Leon Rosselson which tells the story of the Diggers (English radicals seen as forerunners of anarchism) rebellion on St. Georges Hill in Surrey in 1649.

“The sin of property we do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell the earth for private gain
By theft and murder they took the land
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command”

It has been recorded by several artists with perhaps Billy Bragg’s 1983 version the most popular. Here it is played fast with sparse backing of acoustic guitar, fiddle and mandolin with Niall’s vocals leading. These days their is such a market for Irish music that the temptation is to perfect and polish everything so that the pub cover gigs keep rolling in. This is a long way from the roots of Celtic-Punk and Shane could never ever have been accused of trying to croon his way through things and it is to Shane’s tradition that Niall continues. This is followed by a cover of ‘The Blackleg Miner/ You Made Your Bed’, a song that has recently been covered by Ferocious Dog and regularly features in their live set. From the mid 19th-century the song is set among the Northumberland pit villages and spits vengeance against strike breakers otherwise known as scabs to the miners and their families. A subject close to Niall’s heart as his family in Scotland were from the mining community, seamlessly flowing into the original track ‘You Made Your Bed. One of the best tracks here is the cover of Tom Paxton’s ‘Johnny Got a Gun’. The heartbreaking tale of a child who is bullied at school so gets the means to defend himself that ends in utter tragedy and contains one of the best lines I’ve ever heard.

“Johnny’s mum and dad still work long hours
And knock on the unit door
They sit with Johnny in the visitor’s room
And his feet don’t reach the floor”

Niall’s voice may not be the polished article but that is far from why The Tenbags are doing this and their is more emotion in this song than many of the albums that have featured on these pages over the years. Do yourself a favour and check out the great Tom Paxton’s version as well here. Next up is a spoken word piece ‘Banned From The Tesco’ where Niall spits out the words at us in just seventy seconds leading into a couple of covers of minor classics starting with the Crass song ‘Securicor’ and followed quickly by The Exploited’s ‘Alternative’ sounding as unlike Crass and The Exploited as you will ever hear. The Tenbags take the songs and breathe a life into them I would never have thought possible. That anarchic punk rock spirit shines through in the spoken word sections. These use to popular in Punk Rock, especially on Oi! compilations, but has all but disappeared these days so the thirty second angry anti-war rant ‘Grandad’ is both a blast to the past in subject matter and its very existence. The covers chosen here sound to me to have been picked very carefully and Bob Dylan’s  ‘When The Ship Comes In’ leads us into another anti-war rant in ‘Warlords’ before the album’s highlight hits the airwaves and in ‘Bella Ciao’ Niall perhaps comes as close here to singing in tune! The Italian anti-fascist anthem dates from the rice fields of the late 19th century but it was revived by the anti- fascist movement active in Italy during the Second World War with it’s lyrics updated. The next song also harks back to Crass in the albums second original track ‘The Man Who Spoke To God’. There follows a couple of minutes of silence which may be a nod to Crass and their problems with the song ‘Reality Asylum’or could be that the final song is meant to be a hidden track! The album comes to an end with the classic Irish traditional lament ‘The Parting Glass’. It was maybe too obvious to cover something that Shane was well known for singing but The Pogues did get round to singing ‘The Parting Glass’ and here The Tenbags keep it simple an play the song as it is meant to be played, slowly.

So an album that you will either be able to get past Niall’s style of vocals or not but as I’ve said we are in a scene where we worship a man who couldn’t sing for toffee so you should never let that put you off. The music is extremely well played and the arrangements sparse with the songs chosen far beyond ‘folks greatest hits’ and with some great and unusual and unexpected punk covers thrown in to. The energy and passion here is evident on every single track and with the band having made the album available for free download you have no excuse not to get a copy. Simply click where it says Buy Digital Album and this will take you to a page where you have the option to name your price where you can simply type in £0.00 and you will receive the link for your freed download.

(listen to Bags o’ Craic for free on the Bandcamp player below)

Download Bags o’ Craic  Name Your Price Download  Contact The Tenbags  Bandcamp  Facebook

SINGLE REVIEW: 5 HILLS OUT- ‘The Snug Sessions’ (2019)

When a new Folk-Punk band pops up somewhere in England we like to think we are on it straight away so we couldn’t wait for the third release from Derbyshire band 5 Hills Out to land on our doorstep! Two tracks of beautiful, infectious, foot-stomping folk-punk.

The Snug Sessions by 5 Hills Out is what use to be called a double A-side back in the day when vinyl truly ruled and it’s two songs will be officially released tomorrow on the 12th April but is available now on pre-release. The Snug Sessions is the bands third release and first on their own record label Culvert Collective Recordings. The single marks a step forward in the bands development after their debut acoustic EP No Way In from 2016 and the follow up Still Outside from Autumn 2017 which saw the band nominated for best folk act 2018 on Radio Wigwam. So they have tasted local success but if a band really wants to proceed they have to try untested waters and now is a good time for bands like 5 Hills Out with some other notable bands taking folk (and Celtic) punk to the masses.

5 Hills Out from left to right: Dave Coxon- Bass * Rebecca Liverman- Saxophone, Accordion *  Ben Liverman- Guitar, Mandola, Vocals * Andy Gurney- Guitar, Mandola, Mandolin * Chris Clay- Drums.

The EP opens with ‘Cogs’ and sometimes you know straight from the off if you like it and within just a few seconds I had that feeling. It has that sort of 80’s Anarcho-Punk feel to it but much much better produced and a BIG sound that encompasses fiddle, mandolin, tin-whistle and saxophone. Its as catchy a tune as i heard in a while and has a nice Irish/Celtic interlude taking it firmly into Celtic-Punk territory and with Ben’s great vocals that are sung with passion and gusto whilst still sounding quite angsty (quite the feat I tell you) but as usual you need the songs to make all this work and ‘Cogs’ is just that. A rollicking belter of a track that as vocalist Ben explains

“aimed at a society that continues to undervalue and underpay its workers”. 

On track two ‘The Divide’ the lyrics tell us that we must stick together despite the current political unrest and climate of division. Like many of the bands in the Ce;tic/Folk-Punk scene 5 Hills Out have never shied away from using their music to share their political and social views. In 2018 they took part in a protest march to protect a threatened local music venue and more recently shared and supported a campaign to protect the very same studio where they recorded in the past. ‘The Divide’ is another belter of a song. Faster than ‘Cogs’ but still tuneful and as catchy as feck! The accordion comes out here meaning they have now ticked all the boxes to become firm London Celtic Punks favourites. A great song that despite it’s power still has that folk melody unpinning it as Ben sings about us all coming together.

5 Hills out is quite the family affair, with Ben Liverman on mandola, guitar and vocals, which is complemented by Andy Gurney also on guitar, mandola and vocals. Ben’s wife. Beks contributes contrasting sounds to the band on accordion, saxophone and backing vocals, with Beks’ Dad, Dave Coxon on fretless bass and Chris Clay on drums. Shame there’s only two tracks here but 5 Hills Out are definitely a band to watch out for and one to add to that growing roster of bands that float in Ferocious Dog’s orbit. For fans of bands like The Silk Road, Folk The System, Under A Banner or huge stadium bands like The Levellers or New Model Army these two songs will strike a real chord and these infectious foot stomping folk-punk anthems really make us excited to see 5 Hills Out live in concert and hopefully a album won’t be too far behind either.

Buy The Snug Sessions

FromTheBand

Contact 5 Hills Down

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  Soundcloud

(5 Hills Out, Live at The Hairy Dog, Derby, February 2017)

ALBUM REVIEW: McDERMOTT’S 2 HOURS Vs. LEVELLERS & OYSTERBAND- ‘Besieged’ (2019)

Second generation Irish singer-songwriter, Nick Burbridge, has been playing Irish-influenced acoustic music since his teens influencing countless others, including in their own words, The Levellers. His band McDermott’s 2 Hours were among the first to ever think of combining punk and Irish folk and his new album Besieged sees him accompanied by members of both The Levellers and the Oysterband and showcases his work as not just a musician but also, in the best Irish tradition, as a poet, playwright and novelist as well.


When writers wax lyrical about the rugged Celtic beauty that came to fruition with The Pogues and Shane MacGowan, they often seem to suggest that time has stood still and that Irish music had been sitting,waiting, since the mid-sixties ballad boom of The Dubliners et al for something suddenly to connect the urgency of punk with the heart and soul of traditional music. But out in the rough and ready bars of Hamburg and a hundred other German hostelries a band was carving out and whittling its own take on the beauty of Irish folk music; adding fire, vitality and punk-style energy while handling the travails of fights and frolics, women, dark streets and drink.  The band morphed into McDermott’s 2 Hours in 1986 (named after a wonderfully unexpected happening on pirate radio during the Battle Of The Bogside as recalled in Eamonn McCann’s War And An Irish Town) ‘being Irish and in the wrong place and at the wrong time’ – to paraphrase MacGowan. In the pubs and clubs of Brighton and London they built a reputation for their incendiary live performances that have become legend. Among their wild and youthful admirers were a gaggle of friends who, a few years down the line, influenced by the spirit, fire and camaraderie of Nick Burbridge and McDermott’s 2 Hours, would strap on guitars and call themselves The Levellers. Those in the know realise that Nick Burbridge has been, and continues to be one of the best songwriters in the Anglo-Irish tradition. He fashions songs that, as well as perfectly capturing the gritty underbelly of the Irish experience in 60s/70s mainland UK, beautifully capture the longing for home and reality of the Troubles with all the evocative magnificence of Beckett or Joyce.

But that was then and this is now.

Besieged is not so much a final curtain as a magnificent encore, serving as the last instalment of a magnificent career. Singer, songwriter, poet, playwright and frontman with folk, rock, roots and punk outfit McDermott’s 2 Hours, Nick Burbridge has released his final album with the band. Besieged sees Nick again team up with members of The Levellers (Jeremy Cunningham and Simon Friend), Oysterband (Dil Davies and Al Scott), Ben Paley (son of the late folk music giant Tom Paley), plus Tim Cotterell and friends, for the album’s twelve tracks. Released via The Levellers On the Fiddle Recordings. Given the artists involved in this album it is of no surprise to hear contemporary folk music of the itinerant outsider, travelling through Europe delivering great tunes and hard hitting poetical lyrics that stand out and are clear. All this amongst the traditional melodies expertly delivered . Fans of the artists will be delighted with the blood sweat and tears gone into this production, but this is no compilation of hits gone by,  but something new and fresh, so even if you come to’Besieged’ as an innocent abroad, looking for an anecdote to the monotony of apolitical electronica or a die hard folkster extending their collection, listen up and be inspired.

This album has everything you’d want from a folk album, laments of the itchy footed; murder ballads; the loss of young lives; drinking songs; anti establishment reeling and railing and a call to join the march of protest. Yet while the tunes are heavily rooted in tradition the lyrical content oft recounts tales of modern society, forgotten tales of the tragic loss of young life in contemporary Ireland. This theme is particularly stark in ‘This Child’, ‘Forlorn Hope’ and ‘All That Fall’.

‘This Child’ like so many a folk song laments the loss of young life, gunned down for being in “the wrong place at the wrong time.” But this is not a song of 17th century highway robbery or even a tune of the innocent Irish during the troubles. This is a song of South Manchester’s Moss Side in the 80s. The time is emphasised by electric jarring chords that blend so well with the rest of the strings, that, incidentally, give us a haunting solo in the middle eight, and a good old fashioned punky 4×4 drum beat.  This is a song of a time when the press dubbed the area ‘Gunchester’ a killing field on our doorstep when young Jesse James, the lads rightly don’t dwell on the irony of this young kids name, was shot while innocently riding his bicycle across a piece of wasteland. All this told clearly and melodically with enough rock guitar to bring on  a crescendo end of the echoing tones of feedback. ‘Forlorn Hope’ rocks us to Portadown and asks us to jig to the tale of a town divided by sectarian violence, where a night on the gear  may be followed by a morning of throwing rocks at the Orange drumming bands, where any attempt at peace was thwarted by those whose interest it was to keep communities apart. The female protagonist of the piece seems to survive but could have easily met the fate of Alice McLoughlin, shot in the back of a Portadown police car or poor Catholic Bernadette Martin shot down while sleeping in bed with reformed Protestant Gordon Green. No wonder our song’s heroine here ends up  high in Camden town. All this to growling guitars across the verses with singing violin instrumentals.

It is the first side of the album that is particularly steeped in modern day tales of tragedy and track 6 is no exception. ‘ All That Fall’ is an uplifting ballad told from the perspective of the victims of abuse that have risen to have a life now “looking back in hope, not in anger”. These “daughters of Mayo” stride history and geography and could be many a farm girl or boy abused in a barn with a sack upon their head or even daughter of Mayo, Mary Ann, kidnapped and abused with a pillowcase on her head in Reading 2005. The tune is acoustic and clear like a Christy Moore ballad that leads us to hum along, the chorus strong that anybody shaking the dust from their feet to live again will feel and the female vocals at the end soft on our ears and full of hope.

The opener of side one ‘Firebird’ gets us in a great mood and sets the tone with fiddle and guitar delivering a folk rock and reel of a Phoenix rising from the ashes with a strong vocal and sing along chorus. This is quickly, it seems,  followed by ‘Erin Farewell’ a swaying anthem for the inevitability of the natural roamer leaving behind the toil of the fields of home and the bed of his marriage under the pretence of chasing a better life in the big smoke. It reminds us of many a navvie or brickie’s song whether that come from Ian Campbell, The Fureys or indeed The Pogues. The worker here admits that it is not just the money but  the excitement and camaraderie of like minded men in a strange land he seeks. Like so many of us his yearning ping pongs him from ‘over there’ to the warmth of home, it is a lucky man who has an understanding wife. Side one also includes a rallying call to protest, ‘The Last Mile’  “Lets take it in the old style, that’s your arm through mine” they cry to an Anglo folk rhythm that has uplifting strings and drums that send a tingle right through you.

Side two  content eases us into historical ground. ‘Warrior Monk’ with strong bass, marching guitar riff and somewhat Arabic strings, walks us to the time of Crusades from the fall of Jerusalem in the 12th century to its’ Moorish reinstatement under Saladin. The song has a crusader’s bastard Moor son of the east ending in battle with his other Christian son of the west. A timely reminder of the futility of war when many a brother fights with another, we are, after all, Christian, Jew or Muslim, sons of Abraham! The jarring electric chord at the end reminds us that this is a song of now as well as then. The songwriters knowledge of history and how it weaves its way through our DNA and indeed a curse upon all our houses continues with title track, ‘Besieged’ . A wonderful trip from fortresses of 17th century Rheinfels to monastery walls, Irish tenement houses right up to date through Cornish fisherman’s houses to the so easily kicked over castles in the Sand. A lyrical metaphorical trip through the history of life and love like Bob Dylan gave Al Stewart a large dram and they wrote a song together. ‘Crossed lovers’ brings us into a timeless familiar territory of a familiar lovers quarrel “How can you hear me if you won’t listen” brought to us by two voices in a slow melodical ballad.  This is juxtaposed by  the raucous drinking song of ‘Damned Man Polka’ backed with reels and military marching drums.

This wonderful album’s penultimate song is a kick in the teeth to the abuse that taints the Church with hard hitting ‘All in your Name’ a duel tempo choppy guitar with bouncing verse and drawled accusational chorus before once again calming us down with the final track, ‘ The Ring’. A traditional sound, a beautiful song of love, land and nationhood with string, flute and voice as crisp as snow underfoot reminding us who we are, “here, now and always”.
Every listen of ‘Besieged’ is indeed time well spent.

Buy Besieged 

Limited edition two CD set released 8 February includes the Best of compilation, Anticlimactic but you can buy several versions including the download direct from Nick here

Also available from all streaming services inc. Spotify, Amazon etc  here

Contact Nick Burbridge-  WebSite  Facebook

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2018!

Well it seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in Mannions in north London totting up the votes for the Best Album Of 2017 over a couple of pints and so here we are again. Everyone loves to give out there opinions and we are no different so for what it’s worth, here’s who we think made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over the last year. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. 2017 saw just about every major player in the scene release an album while in 2018 they left it to many of the lesser known bands to dominate! Remember though this is only our opinion and these thirty album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we figured out how to attach a poll at the end so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2018 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.

We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…

1. THE RUMJACKS- Saints Preserve Us  here

2. 1916- Far Beyond The Pale  here

3. CLAN OF CELTS- Beggars, Celts & Madmen  here

4. KRAKIN’ KELLYS- Promised Land  here

5. THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS- Green Blood  here

6. SIR REG- The Underdogs  here

7. TIR NA OG- From The Gallows  here

8. FIRKIN- We Are The Ones  here

9. THE MAHONES- Love + Death + Redemption  here

10. THE MUCKERS- One More Stout  here

11. BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN- Drinkin’ To The Dead  here

12. HOLD FAST- Black Irish Sons  here

13. LEXINGTON FIELD- Dreamers  here

14. THE RUMPLED- Ashes & Wishes  here

15. TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN- Veracity  here

16.THE KILLIGANS- Dance On Your Grave  here

17. ALTERNATIVE ULSTER- Pog Mo Thoin  here

18. PADDY AND THE RATS- Riot City Outlaws  here

19. IRISH MOUTARDE- Perdition  here

20. BASTARDS ON PARADE- Cara a Liberdade  here

21. MR. IRISH BASTARD- The Desire for Revenge  here

22. PIRATE COPY- Swashbuckle & Swagger  here

23. SINFUL MAGGIE- S/T

24. JOLLY JACKERS- Out Of The Blue  here

25. MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS- 11 Pints And 3 Shots  here

26. THE CHERRY COKE$- The Answer

27. THE CLAN- Here To Stay  here

28. KINGS & BOOZERS- Still Got The Booze  here

29. FALPERRYS- Nova Abordagem  here

30. AIRS & GRACES- Voting At The Hall  here

bubbling under: MALASANERS- Footprints  here

So absolutely no surprises here at all. In fact The Rumjacks have pretty much swept the board across the Celtic-Punk scene with what we even thought was their best release since their groundbreaking debut album Gangs Of New Holland. The Bhoys are going from strength to strength and are set to go through the roof in 2019. They remain as humble as ever and downright lovely folk to know which reminds me, congrats from us all here to Frankie and LCP’er Anna on their engagement. Other notables were Sir Reg who even flew over to London to premier their new album The Underdogs before later returning to embark on a successful nationwide tour… while I was on holiday! London-Irish band Clan Of Celts, despite a few teething problems, delivered a fantastic debut album as well as, my personal favourite of the year, Belgium’s Krakin’ Kellys. A dual release of an album and a EP on the same day is a novel approach but it paid dividends for Lexington Field as they were both brilliant. Sinful Maggie have just been getting bigger and bigger all year and we expect this to continue into 2019. Three albums from the Celtic nations with two from Galicia from Falperrys and Bastards On Parade and Cornwall’s Pirate Copy. All together we have bands from twelve countries with Germany with the most placings alongside  Australia, USA, England, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, Italy, Galicia, Cornwall and Japan.

KRAKIN’ KELLYS- Promised Land  here

I was not the only one at London Celtic Punks Towers to be abso-fecking-lutely blown away by the Krakin’ Kellys debut album. Fast and melodic skater style punk rock with bagpipes that will blow the cobwebs away off off anyone! They made quite a wave in the scene thanks to their brilliant videos so go check them out here. This section was the easiest one to award by far!

1. THE LAGAN- Let’s Do It Again

2. MEDUSA’S WAKE- Rascals & Rogues  here

2. HANDSOME YOUNG STRANGERS- The Bleeding Bridge  here

4. THE DANGEROUS FOLK- One  here

5. LEXINGTON FIELD- Modern Times  here

6. SCOTCH- Last In The Bar  here

7. TULLAMORE- Déš An Pr’i Strà, Déš An Int ál Bar  here

8. THE GRINNING BARRETTS- The St. Padraigs  here

9. IN FOR A PENNY- Sometimes Its Better To Not  here

10. THE ROYAL SPUDS- Unforgotten Lore  here

bubbling under…

MOSCHE DI VELLUTO GRIGIO- Of Pain And Glory here and RAISE MY KILT- A New Tartan  here

At one point this was heading towards being an Australian #1, #2 and #3 but at the last minute our local favourites The Lagan released Let’s Do It Again at the end of December and wrestled it away from Medusa’s Wake. Their first studio release in a hell of a long time it came out too late to trouble many of our friends ‘Best Of’ lists but their loss is our gain! Besides them and our Aussie friends the list was made up from bands from the USA, Holland, Italy and Austria which goes to show the international nature of the scene. As an aside you can get the brilliant bagpipe punk debut EP from Scotch for free by following the link to their review. For lovers of the McKenzies you’ll not be disappointed!

1. MARYS LANE- Wild Unknown  here

2. LOUIS RIVE- The Cheap Part Of Town  here

3. THE CRAICHEADS- S/T  here

4. LANKUM-  Between Earth and Sky here

5. MAN THE LIFEBOATS- Man The Lifeboats  here

6. SLIOTAR- Voyage

7. CLOVER’S REVENGE- Gotta Get O’Raggednized  here

8. BLACKBEARDS TEA PARTY- Leviathan  here

9. THE LED FARMERS- Irish Folk Out Straight

10. FINBAR FUREY- Don’t Stop This Now  here

bubbling under: THE BRANDY THIEVES- The Devil’s Wine  here

Always the hardest to do this section as our scope has become fairly wide over the years and gone beyond Celtic-Punk but Irish-American’s Marys Lane managed at once to be a record both me and my Mammy love! Even better the Cleveland based band have made it available to download for free/donation so follow the link above. Scot Louis Rive’s debut album really impressed me and was one of my most played albums of the year and The Craicheads capped a great year with a fantastic single and their lead singer Mick making the papers and the telly for saving a Mum and her babies lives (here). Good on yer Mick. It’s a privilege to know you. More local talent at #4 which ended a year where Man The Lifeboats have gone from first band on to headline shows and a mention for the amazing Finbar Furey who put a most excellent LP at the tender age of only 72.

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

We may be a wee bit biased here but last years winners take it again this year too. 2018 saw them continue to develop the site into an all-round resource for Liverpudlians and further afield. Yeah these guys are always blowing our trumpet we know and we have shared a good few scoops with them, and will again not long after this is published, but we enjoy what they write and it’s all done with an enthusiasm that us auld hacks are constantly jealous of. Plus you are not a major player in the Celtic-Punk scene unless you had your picture took with Elliot! You can also join in their fun and games on their Twitter and Facebook and their Web-Zine. Be sure to subscribe.

So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other celtic-punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.

This is our 6th year of us making these lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous Best Of’s then just click on the link below the relevant year.

We are not alone in doing these Best Of lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST

CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE

FOLK’N’ROCK

PADDYROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

MacSLONS IRISH RADIO

Now here’s a new feature. Pick your own favourite below! The Poll will end on the final day of the month!

remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2019

2018 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S. PART TWO: EUROPE- SIGELPA, EAST TOWN PIRATES, LOCKS, IRISH STEW OF SINDIDUN,

Here is Part 2 of our 2018 Round Up’s where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here are four bands and a whole load of music to take in all at once so make yourself a cuppa and relax. Their is something here that anyone can enjoy I’m not kidding. From Celtic-PUNK to Irish trad and Nick Cave-esque Murder Ballads-ish folk-noir all these releases are highly recommended. We prefer to do more detailed reviews but we just couldn’t keep up with everything so a few slipped the net and ended up here as we didn’t want them to be missed out completely. After doing bands from the Celtic nations last week (here) today we are in Europe. Check up again soon where we will be featuring bands from across the world

SIGELPA- ‘País De Titellaires’ EP (FREE DOWNLOAD)

Sad to say this is the final release from one of the Celtic-Punk scene’s most innovative bands. Formed in Barcelona in 2010 this Catalan band are named after the acronym of the initials of the seven deadly sins in the Catalonian language. Superbia/ Pride, Ira/ Wrath, Gula/ Gluttony, Enveja/ Envy, Luxuria/ Lust, Peresa/ Sloth and Avaricia/ Greed making up the letters in their name. With several great releases behind them (all available for *FREE* from the bands Bandcamp page) Sigelpa have sadly thrown in the towel and bow out with this fabulous three track EP which is also available for *FREE*! In the Sigelpa tradition its over in a flash in only seven minutes. Iits all played at a frantic pace with accordion and fiddle leading the way but the standout thing about Sigelpa has always been the dual female/male vocals used to such great effect on the opening song ‘Oda A l’Odi’ which flashes by in a superb 100 seconds.

Not a bad song here with the single ‘País De Titellaires’ a high point but the final track for me cannot be beaten. Slow(ish) but catchy as feck with great rock guitar and fiddle and those gang vocals working brilliantly together. Sigelpa were always a brilliant band and one of my favourites in the scene. Everything they did had a great deal of thought put into it. With great politics, great musicians, great songs and a great spirit too they will be sorely missed. R.I.P. Sigelpa.

Contact Sigelpa- Soundcloud YouTube Facebook Twitter Bandcamp YouTube

EAST TOWN PIRATES- ‘Ship Of Fools’ (BUY)

A home grown band now hailing from the smugglers dens along the East Suffolk coastline of ye Olde Ipswich Towne they have come. With two critically acclaimed album’s behind them, 2011’s self-titled debut album on their own Rumrunner Records label and the follow up, 2013’s Seven Seas Of Sin they have been labelled quite appropriately as ‘Motorhead meets The Pogues’! A regular feature on the UK’s punk circuit and with regular headline appearances they are rapidly becoming one of this island’s better known punk bands. Similar in style to Pirate Copy from Kernow, who we featured in Part One of our Round-Up’s, in that while they have no Celtic instrumentation they do play in that style that is probably best known as Pirate-Punk that crosses into Celtic-Punk quite easily. So has the five year wait since the release of Seven Seas Of Sin been kind to them? Well you bet you last doubloon it has!!

We have twelve songs here clocking in at thirty six minutes and it is as catchy as hell throughout. It’s most definitely punk ROCK but has that accessible feel to it without compromising on their sound at all. At times it has the bluesy hard rock of AC/DC or The Quireboys and others the simple three chord majesty of vocalist Rikki’s last band Red Flag 77 who played just about every square inch of this fair isle in their time together. It’s not all fast as feck though and, it must be my old age, but I really loved ‘Dead Man’s Cove’ and ‘Betrayal’ which even though are the slowest songs here could hardly be described as ballads!! They even slip in a reggae tinged track ‘I, Hedonist’ which I’m not a big fan of but then I’ve always been in the minority there. Otherwise it’s the fast songs that dominate with the title track, the appropriately titled ‘Fast Track’ and ‘Voodoo Pirate Rock ‘N’ Roll’. The album ends with the standout track a re-working of ‘Prisoner’s Lament’ which appeared originally on Seven Seas Of Sin showcasing Rikki’s great punk rock vocals with just acoustic guitar backing before the song erupts and the rest of the band join in and leave the album on a real high. It’s all great stuff and just recently they have even been venturing to London a bit more so keep you eyes peeled for their next visit dust your waistcoat off, get your ‘Arrrghs’ in gear, shake your booty, and join in the fun with the motliest of motley crews around.

Contact East Town Pirates- WebSite Facebook Soundcloud ReverbNation YouTube

LOCKS- ‘Skeletal Blues’ (BUY)

Now this is not the sort of release that features on these pages much but I’ve loved this record from the moment I first heard it. LOCKS are a four piece band from North London comprising singer-guitarist Locks Geary-Griffin, Andy Marvell on drums, Marian McClenaghan on fiddle and Mike Byrne on double bass. Together the band have dabbled in various musical genres prior to LOCKS including blues, rockabilly, trad Irish, indie, nu-folk and our very own Celtic-Punk as well. So the Celtic connections are high and on this basis they would easily qualify for the Irish football team! Having known Mike for more years than I care to remember since his days in one of the original London Celtic-Punk bands Pitful Of Ugly who later became Skibbereen and his rockabilly band The Obscuritones it’s nice to see him continuing to play in really interesting bands. LOCKS have been described as smoky, cinematic, and ghostly and the band themselves play up the comparisons to Tom Waits and Nick Cave and on hearing their debut album Skeletal Blues it is a comparison well worthy of them.

Locks voice is dominant throughout the album and its perfectly pitched accompanied by the fiddle, double bass and rattling drums which on album opener ‘Bones’ sound just like… well bones. The tone is set on ‘Bones’ with a song about burying dead bodies on the moors and be sure to check out the utterly fantastic video above written, produced and starring Abigail Hardingham. While it is ‘Bones’ that steals the show for me they also come close with ‘The Chase’, ‘Toes’ and ‘Skin’.

Back in 1996 Nice Cave brought out a CD Murder Ballads which comprised of him singing songs (old, new and traditional) of death and violence. It’s to that tradition that LOCKS come from with their tales of dead bodies, strange creatures and dark family secrets and like Murder Ballads is complete with both morbid humor and sobering horror. Dark lyrically the music veers from straight up gently played folk into eastern European at times while even finding time to pay the first couple of bars of The Pink Panther theme tune. Skeletal Blues ends with ‘Laveau’ about the voodoo Queen of New Orleans Marie Laveau. Though she died in 1881 it’s still a title she still holds today with people still visiting her grave to leave tokens in exchange for small requests. The longest song here at well over five minutes it gives LOCKS the chance to shine with Mike’s bass rumbling away fantastically and Marion’s fiddle drifting in and out of Celtic airs.

On first play I had assumed it was all fairly similar fair, due mainly to the hypnotic drumming style and Locks laid back vocals but upon a few more plays it became clear there’s a lot more to the songs than I had given credit. It’s a fascinating album and as I have said before man cannot live on Celtic-Punk alone so stretch your horizons beyond the Dropkick Murphys and be prepared to get into someone new and imaginative.

Contact LOCKS- WebSite Facebook Bandcamp YouTube Soundcloud

IRISH STEW OF SINDIDUN- ‘City Of Grigs’ (BUY)

We end Part Two with easily the most blatant Celtic of our releases today, the fourth album from Irish Stew Of Sindidun. Born in Belgrade, Serbia back in 2003 it’s been six years since their last album, New Tomorrow, was released so it’s been quite a long wait but worth it! On City Of Grigs they have never sounded so Irish! With ten songs and three traditional Irish covers, ‘Paddy’s Lamentation’, ‘Step It Out Mary’ and ‘Down By The Glenside’, that are well chosen and show the bands connection with Irish music goes well beyond that of just a covers band. These songs topics feature the three most important subjects in Irish music, emigration, rebellion and romantic tragedy! It’s indeed a shame we don’t more folk like Sindidun vocalist Bojan Petrovic back at home when he explains

“these songs are not included merely to be album fillers, but because they speak of themes which are still actual. Irish music is much more than quick melodies, dance and fun; through traditional folklore Irish songs we keep remembrance of values of one culture, which are still worthy of reverence.”

City of Grigs is their most ‘trad’ sounding album so far and it really cannot be faulted. Besides the three fantastic covers are the bands original songs which are equally as good and they don’t get any better than the album’s lead single ‘Heavier Than Sin’. Absolutely amazing banjo from Ivan giving it a ‘Wild-Western’ feel but based firmly you know where. Bojan’s vocals are smooth and deep and fit in perfectly with the upbeat Irish music and dark lyrics. The song ends with an Irish reel and shows exactly what Irish Stew Of Sindidun are capable of. How these guys aren’t touring Ireland teaching the Irish to re-connect with their culture I don’t know!

All the songs here are great and as catchy as hell to boot but the standout tracks for me are the uptempo opening song ‘Strangers’, the jolly short’n’sweet ‘Drink And Sing’ and, the closest they get to a ballad here, ‘Holiday’. They even find time to mix in a bit of reggae alongside trad Irish on the superb instrumental ‘The Old City Keeper’ where Nemanja and her utterly amazing fiddle playing shines. Irish Stew Of Sindidun are one hell of a band and are absolutely massive at home in Serbia. That they aren’t as well known outside is criminal. Over half an hour of traditional Irish music with folk and rock not just welded on but added with care and love. It may have been six years since their last album but the band have spent it wisely improving on their sound when I didn’t even think it would be possible!

Contact Irish Stew Of Sindidun- WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

So ends the second part of our 2018 Round-Up’s and apologies again to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. I can guarantee we have probably still missed more fantastic music so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. Get in touch via the Contact Us page to find out how. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. 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.

EP REVIEW: THE TWO MAN TRAVELLING MEDICINE SHOW- ‘A Snakes A Snakes’ (2018)


A Snake’s a Snake is the brand new EP from Dorset’s finest ramshackle Americana-Country-Folk-Punk band The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show released on Musical Bear Records.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show formed in 2016 and have rapidly become firm favourites on the south coast music festival scene in a short time. Described as ‘Heartfelt, Ramshackle Country Punk’ they have built up a good following and are becoming known for their riotous live shows. They released their debut album ‘Weeding Out The Wicked’ last year but as far as I know didn’t really escape their home base. This year they have released two EP’s ‘Float Your Boat’ and, this one, ‘A Snake’s A Snake’ and are aiming to begin 2019 with another. Things are definitly on the move for The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show so be sure to watch out for them next year.

The EP begins with the title track, ‘A Snakes A Snake’, and from the off it bounces along with a catchy air to it. It’s very much a product of the part of England they come from with an abundance of bands playing this kind of folky-catchy-country-punk. They are what I use to call a ‘Festival Band’ back in my youth. Dorset seems to churn out bands like this willy-nilly while the rest of the country barely manages a couple per town! I mean you count the number of bands in London on one hand. The song is pure great stuff. The kind of track that is guaranteed to get you up off your arse and bouncing around a field somewhere near the South-West coast. Influences galore mashed together and with a staggering eight members they sure cook up an interesting sound. Banjos, acoustic guitars, accordion and violin compete nicely for your attention while vocalist Mark explains his views on the deceitful world of the bastard and ethics.

‘Flood’ is up next and if I was to pigeonhole this band then perched somewhere between The Levellers and New Model Army would perhaps be it. Mark’s vocals are perfect and it’s great that he doesn’t ry too hard with them delivered in a completely natural way. The band have a bit more bite in this song and even an electric guitar can be heard though it’s not exactly thrashing! Still another great song that leads us into the gentle ballad ‘Sick And Tired’ where the band take it down a notch while fiddle player Alison Jay takes over on vocals to sing tenderly about the break-down of a relationship. A lovely song that shows the great diversity in this bands sound. Now this where most of the reviews Of A Snakes A Snake end but we were sent one with a bonus track, ‘Putting On A Show’. It’s another gentle rocker with Mark back on vocal duties and again its beautifully understated.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show show perfectly on this EP what they are all about. At times threatening to burst your eardrums in that way only an eight-piece acoustic Folk-Punk band can and at others so gentle and tender you shouldn’t really be listening to the same band but you know you are.

Buy A Snakes A Snakes

Contact the band via mark1lyons@icloud.com  or you can buy their debut album here

Contact The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show  Facebook

Musical Bear Records  WebSite  YouTube  Facebook