Out of ‘Steel City’ Pittsburgh its our auld mates the Bastard Bearded Irishmen and they bring some Christmas cheer with their new Yuletide album.
The Bastard Bearded Irishmen first came to our attention way way back in the early days of the site with the release of 2014’s Rise Of The Bastard. One bright day a package appeared all the way from Pennsylvania’s second largest city of Pittsburgh. Famous for its largely working class communities of Irish, German and Eastern Europeans the city was built upon steel making and has been a home for Europeans fleeing injustice and poverty since the 1800’s. The Irish still number 16% of the cities population and the Saint Patrick’s Day parade is second only to New York in the whole of the USA so it was no surprise that Bastard Bearded Irishmen (from now on to be referred to as the Irishmen or this review will be all bastards and that doesn’t seem very Christmassy!) had the Irish-American ‘thing’ absolutely nailed. A good time band much in demand at festivals they began as a temporary thing but soon realised demand outstripped supply in the local Irish pub scene and so fourteen years later the guys are still at it and loving every second.
It’s been four years since we got to hear last album Drinking To The Dead but as is common with the rest of the Celtic-Punk / Rock scene the pandemic saw a couple of years of enforced quiet but the Irishmen were busting to get back on the circuit and the last few months have seen them returning to many of their old haunts much to the joy of their many fans.
The last few years have seen Christmas move clear of anytime else in the Celtic-Punk calendar, after a certain day in March that is! Last year we had to make a special feature of all the singles released and even then we still missed a bunch of them. While other genres might be too cool to celebrate Christmas we love a bit of cheese and its any excuse to get the sherry and the mistletoe out. The Irishmen’s new album titled rather subtlety as A Very Bastard Christmas came out just after Thanksgiving Day and they’ve spent every available minute plugging it since.
The album opens with a track written by the band one of a handful here. in fact they are evenly-ish split between classics and originals which is always a good start for a reviewer. ‘Must Be Santa’ comes with a suitably adult video featuring all of the obscenities you would expect from a Bastard Santa and a few more! Fast paced and catchy with the lyrics nice and easy to follow and hear its the Irishmen winning combination of Irish, Country and Punk / Rock straight out the traps. ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ is another original and they slow it down and keep the cursing down to a minimum making this one for the Nans. ‘Christmas In Killarney’ is one of the most famous specifically Irish-American songs written in 1950 by the songwriting team of John Redmond, James Cavanaugh and Frank Weldon and given a good thrashing here.
Next up is the Christmas Carol / nursery rhyme ‘I Saw Three Ships’ celebrating the return of ships sailing back home from long voyages on Christmas Day followed by a hilarious version of ‘Santa Baby’ where the ghost of Eartha Kitt lives on in the Irishmen. Now it’s time for the ultimate Christmas song, ‘Fairytale Of New York’, and one unfairly targeted by Christmas killjoys for censorship so sad to hear the Irishmen fall victim to it as well and change the lyrics which admittedly they have done a lot of to the covers on this album. It’s played pretty much the standard Pogues way and then we hop across the Irish sea next for a Punk-Rock ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
The albums last song is a bunch of edited together ‘Extended Outtakes’ of drunken ramblings titled ‘Hangin’ Out’ tacked on as a bonus track. Had a right laugh at this and fits in nicely at the end of the album. Only eight songs on the album and it flies past at 22 minutes making it a quick way to celebrate Christmas. It’s just longer than my train journey home for work!
Buy A Very Bastard Christmas FromTheBand – CD
Contact Bastard Bearded Irishmen WebSite Facebook Twitter YouTube
(Check out the Irishmen’s excellent set on the main stage on both days of 2022’s Niagara Celtic Festival. This is Saturday night’s performance which featured less rain, brighter lights, and a crowd more willing to hang out until the bitter end where the amps failed and the show carried on without them.)