One off collaboration between indie-pop pioneers Primal Scream and 80’s legends Dexys in solidarity with striking rail workers.
After a plea from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Twitter account to Dexys Midnight Runners frontman Kevin Rowland an amazing collaboration was born between indie-pop pioneers Primal Scream and 80’s legends Dexys to create a fundraiser for the RMT with an original song called Enough is Enough! The song was inspired by both the RMT and the nascent Enough Is Enough campaign. As such, all proceeds go to the RMT dispute fund and huge thanks and eternal gratitude go to both bands, in particular Kevin Rowland and Bobby Gillespie and also to former the Jesus and Mary Chain bassist Douglas Hart for producing a wonderful video.
Video by Douglas Hart and edited by Gully with special thanks to Ed Hall.
It’s all a big con to keep us confused
The bottom line is we’re all being used
While we fight each other, we’re going nowhere
We need to take on the fuckers who show us no care.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, himself a second generation Irish Londoner, a child of Armagh and Cork parents, who makes a guest appearance on the track said.
“As we go into further strike action this Saturday this sort of solidarity, which these talented musicians gave completely free of charge, is an indication of the huge support we are getting from across the country. All the money from this single will go directly to our dispute fund which we are using as part of our battle for justice in the workplace. It’s time for the government to stop interfering and let us negotiate a settlement with the employers.”
You can buy the download for Enough Is Enough via the Bandcamp link below.
2022 is nearly over and hasn’t it gone quickly blah, blah, blah. But it has hasn’t it? November already and almost time to raise a beer to the freedom fighter Guy Fawkes. The only person to enter parliament with good intentions!
A brand new Odds’n’Sods round-up of all this months Celtic-Punk entertainment from the scene’s bands big and small, established or just starting out.
Irish sensation (that’s the only word possible!) THE MARY WALLOPERS released their debut album a couple of days ago. The self titled album is eleven songs and forty minutes and is a collection of both unusual and rare and a some pretty well worn covers but brought to life in the unique Wallopers way. Looking forward to them visiting London in December as they head off on a major tour of the UK and Ireland.
We often repeat the mantra that Celtic-Punk man cannot live by Dropkick Murphys alone but we are as guilty as anyone with being obsessed with them! With their new album out a month now here’s the guys with a short eleven minute set recorded live at The Boch Center Wang Theatre by the The Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame.
During the recording Ken mentions the new video they filmed of ‘The Last One’ that features Evan Felker of TURNPIKE TROUBADOURS who will be supporting the Murphys in Boston on March 16.
In case you missed them we recently had the pleasure of interviewing a couple of Dropkick Murphys with ex-member Marc Orrell and drummer Matt Kelly gracing these pages.
We featured MADIGAN’S WAKE and their debut single last month and here is their follow up a song written after the night terrors and they can be added to the list of great Aussie Celtic-Punk bands in my head! Available on Spotify or to pre-order.
Ukrainian band O’HAMSTERS have a 13-track album out soon and available for download as a pre-order from Bandcamp for $7. A band we have followed for a few years always great music and we look forward to more. All money raised from this album pre-order will go to HMV.UA– the team of volunteers headed by our friend Alex Sedov helping the army of Ukraine.
Another band we have been huge fans of over the years is ZUNAME Punk-Rock with bagpipes from Moscow. They just released a new album as well called Vertigo. Their fifth album and is on all streaming platforms https://band.link/vertigo. Recording of Vertigo began four years ago and events since then no one could have ever foreseen so they decided to stop postponing the release again and again and hope it will give folk the strength to get through these hard times and the best way for the band to support you.
The Black Tartan Clan were onew of the best and most popular Celtic-Punk bands in Europe with their McKenzies-ish bagpipe heavy Scots Celtic Rock’n’Roll so we were all saddened to hear they were non more but they re-surfaced and began life again as THE BLACK TARTANS and have been recording and playing live. They have a new song called ‘F’Corona’.
Even as this is ready to publish I’m still adding to it and THE MULLINS from the South of France have a new album, Gold In Our Hands, that I am writing the review to at the moment. It’s a cracking 40+ minutes of uptempo Celtic Punk’n’Roll I can’t wait to share with you. In the meantime here’s the latest single from the album.
This is an incredible live performance from French Celtic-Punk band CelKILT recorded live at this years Hellfest Open Air Festival in Clisson, France. Fifty glorious minutes!!
Great video from the Horslips influenced THE POXMEN. Formed in the bogs of Donegal thousands of years ago and recently ventured out into the cold modern air, with a bag of songs and a wheelbarrow full of instruments. Fuelled by Poitín, mushrooms and spuds, roaring and shouting and singing and playin, about the horses, the wee folk, the witches, the turf, the thunder and lightnin’, and the silver tractors of ancient times.
Not quite a new video from SWAINN but I only just rediscovered it so here it is again. It is from their awesome Under A Willow Tree album which we did review last year.
Brilliant Argentinian Celtic-Punk band RAISE MY KILT were on the telly last week. It’s all in Spanish of course but there’s a wee interview and the music starts about a minute in. They have 2 (two!) pipers!!!
Kings of Cow-Punk PRONGHORN still out there entertaining the masses in the South-West of England. This is them with an old traditional Ukrainian Folk song just a few days ago as I’m writing this.
THE REAL McKENZIES – Songs Of The Highlands, Songs Of The Sea
THE MAHONES – Jameson Street
MARCUS MUMFORD – (self-titled)
ZUNAME – Vertigo
MAN THE LIFEBOATS – Soul Of Albion
ZECKYBOYS – Dirty Brands (reviewed last week)
THE MULLINS – Gold In Our Hands (review coming!)
THE MARY WALLOPERS – The Mary Wallopers
Remember we can’t review it if we don’t hear it!
We’ve been doing this now for nearly 10 years and in that time we have covered 100’s of bands and musicians but still plenty of bands have passed us by. We can’t see everything after all so this column is to remind us of bands that never made these pages at the time but deserve another mention. These hopefully come with a free download like today so you can help yourself to some free music. DOOZER McDOOZE is a singer songwriter from Essex with a passion to play everywhere and anywhere! This is his debut album from 2014 but look a little closer and all his music is available for ‘name your price’ download from Bandcamp. In a download world of media solitude, Doozer likes to give music back to the people. He has a new single out now ‘Pirate Captain‘ and as usual if you can afford to leave him enough for a Guinness or two as a tip please do so.
The BIBLECODE SUNDAYS are at the Powerhaus in Camden (formerly Dingwalls) on Saturday November 5th. NEW MODEL ARMY play 3 Christmas dates ending at the Roundhouse starting on the 10th. SHEELANAGIG play groove heady traditional folk and have quite the following and play November 18 at their regular haunt in Brixton, the Hootananny. An interesting night in store on Decem,ber 15 with both THE SCRATCH and THE MARY WALLOPERS playing in Camden (mad I know!) so if you’re stuck check out our preview, One Night In Camden, to help you make your mind up which way to jump on the day itself! DROPKICK MURPHYS have announced THE RUMJACKS, PENNYWISE and JESSE AHEARNE as support for their Euro tour starting in Jan. One for the diary now and DAMIEN DEMPSEY is back at the Electric Ballroom in Camden the day after St. Patrick’s day which means he’ll probably be at the St. Patrick’s Parade in the afternoon though that is now shite and I promised myself I would never go again after last years abomination!
If you like what we do then you can support us by checking out our online store. The Harp’n’Bones design is back in all sizes and on black or white shirts. Also we have new polo shirts, in all sizes, and some nifty woolly hats as well as the Green’n’White ‘Skully Cap’ ringer shirts. Click the link below for the full range of all our other tatt. Shirts, badges, stickers, flags, CD’s and fridge magnets all the discerning Celtic-Punk fan could ever need! Help keep Punk Celtic! https://the30492shop.fwscart.com/
It’s been great watching MAN THE LIFEBOATS career and we played ever such a tiny tiny part in it having put them on a couple of times but they truly are a great band. Funny, fast and raucous Folk-Punk with a few Celtic style flourishes. We’d call them Celtic-Punk though I doubt they would themselves still whatever they are their new album is tremendous. 11 songs but check out the first couple of songs here for an idea of the scope of their songs.
London Celtic Punks north-American writer Ray has a new EP out with his band RAVENSWALK out for Halloween. All-Hallows is 5 songs of his typical eclectic taste with spirited versions of Echo And The Bunnymen, The Rocky Horor Picture Show among 2!
RADARNA were founded by Rikard Falk after joining forces with José MiguelMartinez to write their debut album. With all the artists living in different countries live shows are unlikely to happen but they continue to record and just released a 3-track EP of FINNTROLL inspired Folk-Metal.
Accomplished multi-instrumentalist DAMIEN O’NEILL of legendary bands The Undertones and That Petrol Emotion has a solo project and has just released his third album, a collection of largely instrumental tracks, mixed by veteran producer Paul Tipler. The title ‘an crann’ is Irish for ‘The Tree’, a symbol of growth and inspiration.
I don’t know much about TIM LOUD except some people whose musical taste I respect are huge fans of his. He describes his new release as “These are some tunes I wrote for what was going to be an album but now it won’t be”. It’s available as a ‘name your price’ download via Bandcamp.
The re-released and re-mixed second album from DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS (now just to be called DEXY’S) Too-Rye-Aye from 1982 is out now on vinyl, CD, download and a beautiful 3 disc box set packed with extras. I have compared it to the original and yes it is much improved. It’s down with the treble and strip back the echo and give Kevin Rowland’s vocals room to breathe. As my mate said “it’s like they have taken off the polish and added wood stain”.
Finnish Celtic flavoured Punk band THE LORETTA PROBLEM have a new single Green ‘n Gray out in a couple of weeks. Expect a feature here of this fantastic innovative band.
Facebook is rubbish and I can’t wait to see it fold. It has a stranglehold on all forms of expression that is not good and it’s no surprise to see people leaving in droves. Don’t despair though if you are one of them as you can keep up with London Celtic Punks posts via group on the phone app Telegram. Similar to What’s App but completely free from outside interference. Join us on Telegram, don’t miss a single post and even receive the odd exclusive and special offer! https://t.me/londoncelticpunks/
Well we have been blown away by the response to the new London Celtic Punk badge. Not surprising really as they are so bloomin’ gorgeous. Just about the nicest bit of merchandise in Celtic-Punk if you ask me! Comes with butterfly clip and made in Ireland (Guaranteed Irish!) It’s available for just £5 – UK and £7 – EU post-paid and we’ll throw in a few stickers and a button badge too. For further overseas contact us and we’ll work it out. Send to Paypal (friends & family) to email@example.com
Even though we hate it Facebook does supply the (very) occasional ray of sunshine so a shout out to some good friends of ours over on Facebook. The Dropkick Murphys- Fan Page and the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fansare two of the best music forums on FB let alone Celtic-Punk. Ran By Fans For Fans just like you and me. Like and join in the fun!
Finally a message to bands. Its Christmas soon (yes I know!) and if you are planning on doing a Christmas release then be sure to get the details to us by the beginning of December. Last year we could hardly keep up so give us a chance folks!
A reminder too that we need your news so anything you would like to share with the rest of the Celtic-Punk scene send it onto us.
If you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Bands, promoters, record labels, venues send in any news to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Contact Us page.
We want to move away from just being ‘ReviewReviewReviewReview’ so we have started this monthly feature that comes out on the last day of each month. All news items that we otherwise miss will get a mention but I need YOU to be the eyes and ears if it’s going to work so send over to us any band news, record releases, videos, tours (not individual gigs though yet sadly), live streams, crowd funders etc., to us at email@example.com or through the Contact Us page and it will go in here!
Sad news for us as we have had to cancel the BENJAMING’S CLAN tour. As you can imagine being in a band is a very precarious business at the moment and risking the expense of coming over when the gigs may be cancelled at short notice is just not a option. The band though are going to do a special LCP exclusive Live Stream instead on Saturday 24th October. Keep a eye out for more details!!!
Coming to London (and the rest of the UK soon) the OLD TIME SAILORS is a musical show taking the audience back in time to the 19th century. Every audience member receives the Sunday Sailor, a newspaper shaped program including the lyrics to all our songs in order to sing along and become a Sailor for one epic night! The crew is composed of 17 musicians playing fully unplugged to ensure the most authentic experience. A 3 hour show featuring over 30 songs and tunes where the audience will sing and dance surrounded by drunken sailors. Everything takes place within a magnificent stage set, designed to give the audience the sensation of being inside a 19th century vessel. FacebookYouTube
Boston Paddies THE GOBSHITES are back! Bloody love this crowd and they got a new video out from their upcoming album St. Patrick’s Favorite Band. A cover of ‘Come On Eileen’ merged with the song that ‘inspired’ Kevin Rowland to write it- ‘What Does Anybody Ever Think About’ by The Blue Ox Babes.
THE CLOVERHEARTS are from Italy though their singer Sam is an Aussie and they’ve been releasing some really solid Celtic-Punk for the last couple of years…
and here’s another one!
We only just reviewed Atlanta’s THE MUCKERS latest album (its a corker!!)Irish Goodbye a few weeks ago and here’s an interview with Jeff from the band with Ronan ex-lead singer of the London based Bible Code Sundays for a chat all about his band, the Celtic-Punk scene (surprised we never got a mention though) and their shared experiences in the Irish music family.
It’s fantastic to see life beginning to get back to normal. Lets keep our fingers crossed it continues. A new video hit You Tube last week from the brilliantTHE TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN with a song from their forthcoming second album.
German Celtic-Punkers TIR NAN OG have a new album Sing, Ye Bastards! due out any day so they have put out a crowd-funder on Start Next.
“We don’t want the CDs to rot away in some dark, forgotten corner of our rehearsal room, nor do we want our beautiful new songs to remain unsung. We want to bring them to you – live and loud. So we are going on tour and for that we need your support! Join us Let’s celebrate the music and make sure no-one has to live without our new album!”
The ever prolific PADDY FINNEGAN’S GREEN MACHINE have put out the Little Red EP for Labor Day 2020. A 3-track digital release as a ‘name your price’ download. Basically the new solo project for Raymond from Buffalo’s The Fighting 69th.
From Philadelphia in Pennsylvania Misanthropic bare-knuckle country punk, no chaser SIDE POCKET LOUIE. AS Bryan McPherson says “Gritty Working-Class Street-Folk-Punk-Americana and the such!”
Irish Psychobilly legend Philip ‘Doyley’ Doyle guitarist has not stood still for ten seconds during the ‘clampdown’ and continues to put out some superb music on Diablo Records. His new album of Psycho-Surf-Punk, the aptly named Influenza Hysteria, came out last week.
One of the best Celtic-Punk bands around and one of my personal favourites 1916 from New York City have a new song outcoming from their forthcoming new album Revolutions.
High-Energy Celtic Folk Band based out of Northern Colorado THE STUBBY SHILLELAGHS have a new album pout at the end of October and have a new song/ video.
Dutch Celtic-Rockers MAGGIE’S FLOCK were featured on Dutch TV show Podium Kabam performing a great song ‘Maggie Of The Moor’.
Got sent this in and at first didn’t know what to make of it but have a look at ‘Rappers React To DROPKICK MURPHYS I’m Shipping Up To Boston’ and I’m sure it will tickle you too. Approach with a sense of humour and top marks for rubbishing the bullshit ideology of ‘cultural appropriation’.
Remember if you want your release featured then we have to have heard it first!
THE POGUES – BBC Sessions 84-85 (Vinyl only!)
SIDE POCKET LOUIE – Dirty Hands, Dirty Money
ShamROCKS- FCP Live! (review next week!!)
FINNTROLL – Vredesvävd
THE CUNDEEZ – Teckle And Hide
How did we miss this!!!! Melting Punk is a 20 (twenty!) band Folk-Punk / Acoustic-Punk compilation from Quebec, not in Canada. Yes 20 bands and not only that but its available as a ‘Name Your Price’ download that was released back in October, 2018. Loads of bands new to me and the Web-Zine so definitely worth the couple of minutes it takes to download.
Crusty Folk-Rockers the NEW MODEL ARMY are one of the hardest working and touring bands around so having had all their plans quashed they are doing a special Live Stream over on their Facebook page. The concert will be a high-quality, pay-to-view, two-hour (plus) event filmed with multi-cameras, graphics and artwork – with the band playing a wide range of material spanning the 40 years. We will be selling tickets at £10 for which you will be sent an exclusive code to access the broadcast in the hours before the show. Details here. Tickets here.
Germany based MacSLONS SHOP do the merchandise for a whole range of Celtic-Punk bands and they always have a interesting range of sale items including t-shirts and CD’s and much much more!
Swedish Celtic/Folk/Irish punk rock band PUNK MAHONE are planning a Live Stream on October 31st. Check their Facebook page for more details.
Based in Copenhagen, but originally from England, Ireland, Scotland and the northern-most tip of Denmark,BROPHY’S LAW toured the UK a couple of years back with Sir Reg and have released the excellent ‘Record Collector’ for International Record Store Day.
In case you missed it Irish-American Celtic-Punkers THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM played a storming hour-long full-band Labor Day Live Stream set for the London Celtic Punks direct from their home in Ulster County, New York State.
All we need to do now is for you to help fill this page with news and remember if you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Also if anyone is interested in helping out on the reviews front then let us know via the Contact Us page.
Let the record show that Dexys do Irish and country soul… and do it well too!
For those of you not in the know Dexys is the name now used by the band once known as Dexys Midnight Runners who during the 1980’s were quite possibly one of the most popular English pop bands going, having a string of worldwide number one hits, most famously ‘Come On Eileen’ and ‘Geno’. Formed around the West Midlands of England they were together for the years 1978–1986 before reforming in 2003 and shortening their name to Dexys. Their first incarnation produced three classic albums- Searching for the Young Soul Rebels in 1980, Too-Rye-Ay in 1982 and Don’t Stand Me Down in 1985, while their last album as Dexys was called One Day I’m Going to Soar and was released in 2012 and despite the massive 27 year “break” was hailed by fans and critics alike as an outright classic. Two of the things the band became famous for was the never ending line up changes and also musical direction. Formed by Kevin Rowland he has been the only constant throughout the years and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he is the main visionary and driving force behind the band.
Rowland began his musical career in the short lived but popular (to me anyroad) punk rock band The Killjoys who were one of the first original punk bands around the Midlands but in 1978 he wrote a soul song called ‘Tell Me When My Light Turns Green’, which went on to become the first Dexy’s song. They got the band name from the nickname of Dexedrine which was popular as a recreational drug among Northern Soul fans at the time which gave you the ability to dance all night hence the midnight runners! Image has always been important to Rowland and he decreed the band buck the trend for the sharp suits that were popular in the ska scene at the time and band dressed in donkey jackets and wooly hats. A look described as
“straight out of De Niro’s Mean Streets”
The music was impeccable and played to absolute perfection and their debut album catapulted them into stardom. The album cover featured a photograph of a young northern Irish Catholic boy carrying his belongings after having had his home attacked during anti-Catholic riots in Belfast. When talking about the photo Kevin said
“I wanted a feeling of unrest. The photo could of been from anywhere but I was secretly glad it was Ireland”
The lad on the cover was working at the Royal Mail, Belfast, at the time of the album release. Kevin Rowland himself though born in Wolverhampton has always been extremely proud of his Irish roots. His parents came from Crossmolina in Co. Mayo and landed in post war England at a time when work was non-existent in Ireland and hundreds of Irish were leaving home. The cities of England became huge ghettos for the Irish and their children and with the war waging in the north of Ireland and occasionally spilling onto English streets Irish people enforced a code of silence. No outright show of support for the republican movement was shown while at home, in the pubs and churches and anywhere Irish people gathered they shared the songs and stories of home. For many of those second generation born here they couldn’t wait to get away from the Irishness of their parents but for some it was embraced and held dear and Kevin Rowland was one of the latter.
With Searching for the Young Soul Rebels soaring high in the charts suddenly, angered over continual personality problems with Rowland, five of the band members then quit leading to the second incarnation of Dexys Midnight Runners. With just Kevin and the Scots descended ‘Big’ Jim Paterson left they nicknamed themselves the ‘Celtic soul rebels’ and they set about recruiting a bunch of fiddle players that he called the ‘Emerald Express’. Out went the donkey jackets and a new look was adopted that included hooded tops, boxing boots, and long hair but just as quickly a new image was seized upon and leather waistcoats and dungarees were the order of the day. It was described as
“a raggle-taggle mixture of gypsy, rural Irish and Steinbeck Okie”
The first single of the second album was the title song ‘The Celtic Soul Brothers’ and the whole album was a mix of soul and celtic folk that again captured the public’s imagination and provided the band with their biggest hit ‘Come On Eileen’. Again though band politics were at play and again band members were to leave citing Kevin as the reason. On the release of Don’t Stand Me Down in 1985 only Kevin remained of that first line up and this time wearing ties and pin-striped suits the album though popular with fans did not please their record company and eventually in 1987 with the band down to just three members, Kevin Rowland, Helen O’Hara and Kevin ‘Billy’ Adams, and with Rowland and O’Hara’s relationship ended and drug issues appearing the band finally disbanded in 1987.
Kevin Rowland left the band and despite issues with depression as well as well publicised financial problems( including a spell on the dole) and drug addiction he released several solo albums though none were particularly well received he stayed well within the media glare remaining a well known public figure, though mainly for his perceived eccentricities like appearing on the cover of his solo album ‘My Beauty’ in women’s underwear! Reforming the band in 2003 Dexys Midnight Runners began to play and tour occasionally but it wasn’t till 2011 and with the band’s name now shortened to Dexys that they began to record new material leading to the release of their fourth and equally brilliant One Day I’m Going to Soar album.
Thus leading us on to here and on St Patrick’s Day this year Dexys announced they were to release an album of Irish songs. It’s an album which Kevin had always wanted to make saying
“We had the idea to do this album in 1984 or 1985. It was to be called Irish and was to feature songs like ‘Carrickfergus’, ‘Curragh of Kildare’ and ‘Women Of Ireland. Dexys broke up not too long afterwards, so it didn’t happen”
Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul features twelve songs and while only half are in fact Irish songs several more evoke ‘Irishness’ in some way and all showcase Kevin’s amazing voice which here is as strong as it has been in decades. This fine album begins with ‘Women Of Ireland’ and slow beautiful fiddle leads onto harmonica and the unmistakable Dexys sound shines through. The song originally titled ‘Mná na h-Éireann’ was written by Irish folk legend Seán Ó Riada (1931–1971) and though performed as a instrumental here does in fact have words. A truly beautiful version that is a great way to start proceedings. And as you will see from the video once again they have gone through a image change and one thing you can’t accuse them off is being sartorially challenged!!
Next up, and to add the country soul of the album title, is The Bee Gees ‘To Love Somebody’. Now for those of you not familiar with The Bee Gees body of work I can guarantee you actually know a lot more than you think. Dexys version begins with some sweeping strings before Kevin’s voice comes out loud and proud and I have to say surprisingly strong and powerful. Not straying far from the tune of the original it is the voice that carries it and carries it well. Another famous song follows in ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’. Written in 1933 by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach it has been covered numerous times but again here Dexys give it their treatment. The sweeping strings are back and a wonderful way to record this wonderful song. It builds up but never loses that swirling sound and again Kevin carries the song through and by now we getting an idea of how the album works. We are back in Ireland next for ‘The Curragh Of Kildare’ which starts with a wee spoken poem before Kevin’s soulful voice is joined by female vocals and the two of them work fantastically off each other.
“The winter it has passed
And the summer’s come at last
The small birds are singing in the trees
And their little hearts are glad
Ah, but mine is very sad
Since my true love is far away from me”
The original was written by Scotland’s poet laureate Robbie Burns.It tells the story of a young Scottish woman whose lover is away soldiering for the Queen in the Curragh of Kildare.
We stay in Ireland next with the Nanna’s favourite ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen’. While I would have preferred some more less known covers their is no denying that Dexys have certainly stamped their brand onto these songs and it must be said this is a song I heard as a very young child so brings back some very happy memories for me and I suppose many of us. Though one of the most popular traditional Irish music ballads it was in fact written by an American of German descent, Thomas Paine Westendorf, for his wife. Rod Stewart’s ‘You Wear It Well’ is next up for the Dexys treatment and although it didn’t ring any bells I soon realised I know it well (it pops up in the movie version of Porridge!). The only song here I feel that doesn’t stand up to the original but in saying that it still works it’s just that Celtic supporter Rod’s version is the best possible by a country mile. Find it on YouTube here and marvel at the Bhoys amazing voice. Word is it that Johnny Cash on wanting to write a song about his Irish roots stuck a pin in a map of Ireland and filled in the gaps around it. ’40 Shades Of Green’ was the result and provided Johnny with one of his biggest hits. Here Dexys play it straight and only the introduction of a trumpet in parts shows the Dexys influence. In all the review’s I have seen of this album so far it is ‘How Do I Live’ they has stood out for most reviewers and though not my favourite is a great version of Lee Ann Rimes country rock ballad from 1998. The only song here I did not know before so maybe that explains my indifference to it while the rest of the album fills me with warm memories and feelings of family and home this, while a strong version, leaves me a bit cold. ‘Grazing In The Grass’ was an instrumental composed by Philemon Hou and first released as a single in 1968 and the following year with words by The Friends of Distinction. By far the most upbeat track here it sticks closely to the soulful original. We are back with Kevin’s roots again with the important Irish ballad ‘The Town I Loved So Well’. Harp accompanies piano and Kevin’s wondrous voice on this personal lament about the war in the north of Ireland, specifically in Derry city, a republican stronghold. Written by Phil Coulter about his childhood in Derry the song begins by telling of the simple life he grew up with till he emigrated and then returned finding how his hometown had become a major British army outpost and become plagued with violence.
“Now the music’s gone but they carry on
For their spirit’s been bruised, never broken
They will not forget but their hearts are set
On tomorrow and peace once again
For what’s done is done and what’s won is won
And what’s lost is lost and gone forever
I can only pray for a bright brand-new day
In the town I loved so well”
Recorded by many Irish music legends Kevin Rowland can now be added to the list and Phil Coulter while being one of the most important singer-songwriters in Irish history had this to say about ‘The Town I Loved So Well’,
“Derry has a great tradition of music and a very proud history being one of the oldest cities in the country. In recent years it’s suffered more than its fair share of pain and heartache, but there’s something special about the place and the people that has helped them overcome the worst of times. Of all the songs I’ve written, this is the one I’d like to be remembered for. It’s my story but it’s also the story of Derry, the town I loved so well”
Another upbeat classic follows with a brilliant take on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’. Kevin’s voice is again let off the leash and allowed to flourish and the result is again fantastic.
Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish And Country Soul ends with ‘Carrickfergus’, another classic Irish folk song. Long one of Kevin’s favourite songs and he’s been performing it for years but finally gets it down on record here for the first time. Named after the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim in the north of Ireland Kevin’s version lasts near six and a half minutes and epic seems hardly the word to describe it. While the origins of the song are unclear it has been traced to an Irish language song, ‘Do bhí bean uasal’ which is attributed to the poet Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna, who died in 1745. Recorded by acts as diverse as The Dubliners, Bryan Ferry and Van Morrison this is as good as it gets. Aye your right, quite possibly the best version I have ever heard. A song I have heard a thousand times but never really listened to. Kevin imparts a passion, sadness and sorrow like no other into this version. The feeling of remorse, the lost years is tangible, you can really sympathise with the narrator for the loss of his love (Ireland, as opposed to a partner?).
The first thought that pops into your head when hearing that a band you love have recorded a covers album is one of disappointment. Disappointment that they may have run out of ideas. Well that may or may not be true (I sense not) and here the choice of songs may not be as wild and as full of abandon as you’d expect them to be you can feel Kevin Rowland’s commitment to the songs in every breath he takes. He injects every track with his trademark intensity and what it may lack in originality, is more than made up for by his passionate and heartfelt voice. Growing up this side of the Irish sea we didn’t have many idols to admire. Many ‘famous’ people came from the same backgrounds as us but felt it better for their careers to gloss over it and don’t make a scene. Well Kevin has never stopped making a scene and here he, and Dexys, are right back on track. He wears his heart on his sleeve and the passion for his ancestral homeland is infectious. A truly amazing album and not just for Dexys fans either.
Irish blood, English heart: second generation Irish musicians in EnglandSeán Campbell(Cork University Press, €39)ISBN 9781859184615
By Donal Fallon
In the recent excellent ‘Why Pamper Life’s Complexities? Essays on the Smiths’, co-edited by Seán Campbell and sociologist Colin Coulter, a recurring theme was the Irish heritage at the heart of the upbringing of members of the band. Those familiar with the politics and ideology of the band’s much-worshipped front man, Morrissey, were undoubtedly not surprised by a letter from the singer which appeared in Hot Press magazine just prior to the recent royal visit to Ireland. ‘The queen also has the power to give back the six counties to the Irish people, allowing Ireland to be a nation once again’, he wrote, in a letter that lambasted the institution of monarchy. He is one of many English-born musicians of Irish lineage to do so. Who could forget the reaction to Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s respective singles on ‘the Irish question’? It is fitting that Seán Campbell’s most recent work, Irish blood, English heart, should take its title from a song of Morrissey’s. When he opened that song with the words ‘Irish blood, English heart, this I’m made of’, he perfectly captured the dual identity of many in Britain. As Campbell notes in his prologue to the work, the book’s title serves to
‘invoke the dilemma faced by second-generation Irish people, many of whom locate themselves as ‘half-and-half’.”
One finds a generation who felt neither British nor Irish, unsurprising in the political and social context of the period under examination, which is 1980s Britain. Johnny Marr of the Smith is quoted as saying, ‘I feel absolutely nothing when I see the Union Jack, except repulsion . . . and I don’t feel Irish either. I’m Mancunian-Irish.’ The work focuses on three musical acts, analysing three very distinct styles, personas and backgrounds: the Smiths of Manchester; Kevin Rowland’s Dexy’s Midnight Runners from the Midlands; and the infamous London-Irish punks, the Pogues. Other high-profile figures of Irish lineage are mentioned, such as John Lydon of the Sex Pistols, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten. As an examination of British society in the period, the work provides excellent sociological insight into how the children of Irish migrants saw themselves fitting into, or not fitting into, British life. Shane MacGowan of the Pogues was of the belief that the second-generation Irish of late 1970s London had been ‘split down the middle, really heavily’, with one set of youngsters unashamedly Irish in outlook and culture, while others merely wanted to fit in to the native youth culture. Questions are raised around issues of assimilation or lack thereof, and it is clear that an overwhelming sense of ‘in-betweenness’ existed. As Campbell notes, terms and labels like ‘plastic Paddy’ became derisive allusions to the ‘perceived inauthenticity’ of the second-generation Irish. The second generation knew that they were very different from their parents and the native Irish. One of the strong points of Campbell’s work is his multidisciplinary approach and sources, and in a 1987 social geography essay on the Irish in London he finds a quote which perhaps best sums up the mentality of this second generation, alien to both the English and Irish: ‘Of course we know and enjoy Ireland, but London is our home, our city. We can’t recreate a lost Ireland in the middle of 1980s London.’ The book brings political events of the period into context wonderfully, showing the emergence of strong anti-Irish feeling among sections of British society in response to the rise of paramilitary activity in Britain and Northern Ireland. As Philip Chevron of the Pogues would note, ‘the only politics that counted in the London-Irish scene were the politics of being Irish in a place that was innately racist towards the Irish’. Following campaigns from red-top tabloids, and the implementation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the wake of the Birmingham bombing, for a period it appeared that the Irish community as a whole was seen as suspect. As one critic noted of Kevin Rowland’s attempts to ‘reconcile himself with his Irish roots’ on the band’s classic ‘Don’t Stand Me Down’ record, such out-and-out assertions of Irish pride or patriotism were ‘perceived in England as tantamount to wearing a balaclava and carrying a machine gun’.
Campbell has made great use of the archives of many influential music magazines, like Uncut, NME, Hot Press, Q, Melody Maker and other publications to the fore of youth and musical subculture in the UK and Ireland. It is within the pages of a much less mainstream publication, Sinn Féin’s An Phoblacht, that Campbell unearths a gem in the form of that publication’s praise for the Smiths: ‘With names like that who could doubt their antecedents?’ For a band often considered quintessentially British by many musical critics, Johnny Marr’s claim that ‘The IRA wanted to get up and make some speeches before we went on’ during a tour of the North is a surreal insight into how their anti-establishment ethos was viewed by some republicans at home. Migrant experience and feelings of alienation come to the fore in this work, a highly valuable study of the Irish diaspora and the often forgotten ‘second generation’ in England. The book makes a strong and welcome contribution to cultural history and popular musical history, of course, but it triumphs within the field of Irish studies. It is perhaps a quote from Q magazine’s ‘100 Greatest British Albums’ special in 2000 that best captured the unusual nature of the Irish community. Including the Pogues among those featured, Q noted that ‘being white of skin and Western European of culture, Britain’s Irish are the invisible immigrants’. When confronted by Melody Maker in 1985 on his Irish ethnicity, in response to the interviewer’s noting that ‘you were born in England’, Kevin Rowland retorted that ‘just because you were born in a stable doesn’t make you a horse’. Irish blood, English heart is a study of just some of the talented young musicians who emerged out of Britain’s largest migrant community yet lacked a clear sense of identity themselves. This sense of alienation and ‘in-betweenness’ was to prove central to the work, and appeal, of these great musicians.
Donal Fallon is one of the editors of the great blog ‘Come Here To Me’, a blog of Dublin life and culture. Literally tons to read so don’t delay and get your ass over to the site now. I cannot stress that enough, alright… http://comeheretome.com/.