The debut release of pure, unadulterated Irish folk music from Norway’s Paddy’s Underground Party People.
To most people on the ‘outside’ it would probably sound a bit strange to have a Irish/Celtic folk band in Norway but to those of us who follow the Celtic-Punk scene it’s no surprise at all as Norway is already home to one of the best, one of the most popular and one of the longest running Celtic-Punk bands in existence with The Greenland Whalefishers. The Whalefishers may have formed ten years after the Pogues, in 1994, but with their style of Celtic traditional music combined with British punk they are considered to be one of the founders of the modern day Celtic-Punk scene. So with that in mind it’s no coincidence that Paddy’s Underground Party People tip their hat in the Whalefishers direction with this their debut release. Formed in 2011, and with the current band members together since 2015, they hail from the southeastern city of Hamar. An interesting connection to England is that the diocese of Hamar was founded in 1152 by Nicholas Breakspear, who later went on to become Adrian IV the first only English Pope but that’s where any connection to England ends, for this band play good time old fashioned Irish music!
The EP begins with ‘The Ballad Of Susan Grey’ and from the off its acoustic guitar and flute give it an Irish air while the song has a Irish air too. Many olden Irish songs often had dark subject matter but the jolly music meant the lyrics were over looked. The song tells of Susan Grey a serial killer of her many husbands who meets a grisly end. It follows in that Irish tradition with a jaunty tune and singalong chorus and while Gaute does have a strong Norwegian accent its sung perfectly well in English and he even manages a bit of an Irish twang.
The first of the EP’s two covers is ‘Star Of The County Down’. Recorded many’s a time from within the scene and in the larger folk scene it’s a well known song and dates back to the end of the 17th century. Written by Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927) the song is set in the Irish town of Banbridge in County Down, and tells of a young man infatuated with a beautiful young cailín (Irish for girl) and who is determined to marry her.
“From Bantry Bay up to Derry’s Quay,
From Galway to Dublin Town,
No maid I’ve seen like the fair cailín
That I met in the County Down.”
Paddy’s Underground Party People play it as a straight Irish folk cover and it’s a well decent stab at it. To be honest you can’t go wrong with this song and I’m sure it fills the dance floors of Hamar and beyond. Gaute is joined on vocals by Bård and his five year stint studying in Glasgow stands him in good stead as I originally thought it was a Scottish singer! The other cover follows and is ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’, another Irish pub standard known throughout the world these days. It’s another old song with no exact date of origin. Also known as ‘The Belle of Belfast City’ the song is believed to have originated as a children’s skipping song, or street song.
“I’ll tell me ma when I get home,
the boys won’t leave the girls alone;
They pulled me hair and they stole me comb,
but that’s all right till I go home.”
Again the Bhoys give it a hearty rendition though the music is a bit subdued in the mix it’s still ticks all the boxes and with that chorus leave all who hear it shouting and singing along with Bård expertly played flute. The final track of the EP is the excellent folky ‘Trekkspellterroristen’ and I had to check with the band what this meant as the song is sung in Norwegian. Thanks to Gaute for explaining that the word trekkspell is Norwegian for accordion and that the song is about when fighting breaks out at parties in rural parts of Norway it is broken up by ‘the accordion terrorist’ who gets people to forget the fighting and start singing and dancing. The Irish is toned down here but still comes through and I was right to sense it’s not a particularly serious song going by the tune!!
So a very nice start to the band’s career. It’s not unusual at all for a Celtic-Punk band to have a few covers on their debut release and as I’ve said before there’a very good reason why new bands outside of the Celtic diaspora tend to record from the same group of songs and that is because they are so God damn popular! I’ve been to enough nights in Irish pubs to know that it’s only when the band gets out the Dubliners songbook that the party really gets going! It’s four songs and twelve minutes of Irish folk as filtered through the folk traditions of Finland and further proof if it was ever needed that people around the world know a good tune when they hear it and I hope we hear much more from Paddy’s Underground Party People in the near future.
Buy Tell Your Ma’
Contact Paddy’s Underground Party People