a Glasgow based folk’n’roll bunch of hooligans and outlaws. They might all be Jock Tamson’s bairns but their Mammy is Roisin Dubh!
by Rory Dubhdara, Radio Rebel Gael
I know that not every band can survive through its third release, sometimes its just like sequels to movies that you once liked. You wish that they had just released the debut and then called it quits. But with The Wakes, you realize that you have discovered a band that only gets better with each release, and this ‘The Red and The Green’ is proof positive that The Wakes are here to stay, to keep you dancing, boxing, drinking, thinking and demanding more of their unique Glaswegian euphony. So I felt obligated to share my strong feelings about this CD and review which is a stupendous third release by The Wakes, with an awesome cover that gives tribute to revolutionary Scot and Clydesider, John Maclean, a man whom would feel at home with these Rebel rockers, known as The Wakes.
There are musicians whose sounds are bound to cause a riot, and if not a riot, than at least a good fight, the spirit of their music so moving that you are ready to wage war. Dropkick Murphys or The Battering Ram, led by legendary crooner and balladeer, Declan Hunt, qualify in that regard, while other bands might make you sentimental, thinking back to those ‘glory days’ of yore. Other musicians write songs that make you want to cry, their ballads so heart-breaking that you can literally feel the pain of the man or woman that the musician is singing about. Johnny Cash or Christy Moore come to mind. And there are not too many bands that can combine that fighting spirit with that distinctively Irish, poignant feeling, like these Rebel Glaswegians, known as The Wakes.
‘Colours’ , the first tune on this shining example of Glasgow-Irish Rock n’ Reel that is ‘The Red and The Green’, is a moving tune about hate and the walls that are built up by the State and society, to divide us all. Here , The Wakes, call to battle is a call to tear down those walls, and let peace and the brotherhood of man, prevail, even if momentarily. And even though I have never been a believer in utopian ideas like ‘World Peace’ or the idea that Big Business is building jobs for you and me (dream on suckers, they are outsourcing your job to China, as we speak), I like the sentiments, because all The Wakes are really saying is to not judge a book by its cover, don’t judge someone simply because they are different, don’t assume that all Protestants are Loyalists, or that all muslims are in Al Qaeda, or that all supporters of West Ham United are wankers. Ha Ha. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Paul, can really croon and reminds his fellow Glaswegians
“This is our city and these are our colours…”
Afterwards, Eamonnn’s thunderous drumming and Chris Crooky’s flute finesse take us to the goldfields of 1849, where its ‘To Hell or California’ because we aren’t going to live forever, and we might as well risk it all for the chance of a lifetime to rise from our grim poverty by striking it rich. A mighty and upbeat tune that will make you want to dance a merry jig on the skull of Maggie Thatcher. And you can just blame The Wakes, because ladies and gents, they have that kind of infectious rhythm that drive a man to dance, rather than drink.
Next, ‘Men To Be Feared’ reminds us of a rougher day in Irish-American history where law held less sway than the law of the gun, and where men, lived by the creed
“You live by the sword and you’ll die by the sword”
A song that is probably my favourite on this kick ass album, another historical fighters anthem that brings to mind the gangs of the 5 Points, circa 1857, and the legendary battle between the Bowery Boys and the Dead Rabbits on Mulberry Street on July 4th, 1857, in New York’s , Lower East Side. As the song goes
“Baptized in blood….We live to fight another day !”
Probably the best sluggers sing-song since Dropkick Murphys ‘The Warriors Code’. Brilliant fighters melody by Glasgow’s finest, The Wakes.
There are so many magnificent melodies and Fenian harmonies on this amazing CD that its difficult to pick favourites, but after ‘Men To Be Feared’, which rates as my #1 brawlers tune, their stellar version of ‘Peat Bog Soldiers’ must be noted as one of the finest versions I’ve heard yet, and I would be remiss not to give accolades to Christopher James, whose harmonica really made this tune so damn beautiful to your ears. Not to mention the powerful chorus sung throughout this marvellous battle hymn.
But, ‘John Macleans March’ really must be remembered with special recognition, possibly being a tie with ‘Men To Be Feared’ as the top tune of 2013, and 2014. it’s the kind of tune that brings the Rebel Spirit of the Red Clydeside to your living room with surround sound and marching feet, chanting slogans of protest and solidarity, as you feel like you are marching against recruitment for the British Army with John Maclean himself, and I know that this tune would make him proud, if he was still with us, as it’s a jubilant reminder that the fighting Celtic spirit of Glasgow is still alive and kicking !
(listen to ‘The Red And The Green’ by clicking the play button below on the Bandcamp player)
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