Tag Archives: Finnegans Hell

ALBUM REVIEW: KRAKIN’ KELLYS- ‘Burn Your Flag’ (2020)

My favourite Celtic-Punk band in the whole wide world are back with their second album and needless to say it’s another belter to beat up the floor to.

The last couple of years have been out of this world for Belgian band Krakin’ Kellys. Only formed in 2017 they have far and away been the Celtic-Punk critics and fans favourite band. Announcing their arrival on the scene with debut album Promised Land and a series of fantastic videos I even used the phrase I hate the most “this is a must have album!” to end the review! It’s fair to say it bowled me over and at the end of 2018 the album romped home as Best Debut Album of the year and 4th best overall. They cemented their popularity further by winning the London Celtic Punks Readers Pick of the year polling and incredible 32.38% out of 522 votes. Since then they have consolidated their popularity and last year saw them release of the Irish Tribute EP. Six classic Irish folk music tunes beefed up with heavy punk-rock riffs. The songs were an inspired choice with, bar ‘The Irish Rover (!), them avoiding the world of ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and ‘Black Velvet Band’. David’s vocals standing out loud and proud and gruff and smoky against a backdrop of pure Irish Folk-Punk. I ended that review with a very telling quote about them “they show a love and respect for source material that you would not expect for a band from the heavier side of Celtic-Punk” and this is one of the reasons they have gone down so well.

Their third release is Burn Your Flags and came out on this years ill fated St. Patrick’s Day (every single year I am still reviewing Paddy’s Day releases well into May!!!) and like everyone else their album promotional tour fell at the corona virus hurdle. So much thought and planning and thought had gone into making this years even more spectacular than usual only for the day to fall apart as cancellations began in the run up to the 17th eventually taking pretty each everything worldwide. Just to make matters worse the sun was cracking the pavement here in south-west London! Trapped in the house with only Guinness Original and pizza and crisps the day was made better by a handful of things. Among them the stella live stream performances from New Yorkers 1916 and, of course, the Dropkick Murphys and the chance to play Burn Your Flag every opportunity I could. So without any live gigs to promote it the album has had a rather subdued release which we hope to rectify now if only in a very small way.

Krakin’ Kellys from left to the right : Olivier Drèze (Drum) * Stephan Mossiat (Bass) * Pierre-Yves Berhin (Accordion) * David Leroy (Lead Vocals) * Matthieu Hendrick (Guitar) * Rémi Decker (Bagpipes & Whistles )

Burn Your Flag offers nothing new in the Krakin’ Kellys arsenal that is true. Twelve original songs all written by the band that continue in pretty much exactly the same vein as their previous two releases have. Now their is nothing wrong with that at all. After all when you got a winning formula you don’t suddenly start chopping and changing especially when it starts working for you and a winning formula is what Krakin’ Kellys have. They got the formula but have they got the tunes and once again the answer is a resounding YES! The album kicks off with the sound of bagpipes onFreedom And Whiskey’ and Krakin’ Kellys have not only one of the best pipers in Celtic-Punk with Rémi but also one of the best accordion players too in Pierre-Yves who also does the fabulous artwork for the Kellys releases under his ‘business’ name Hamo. Guitarist Matthieu is responsible for much of the leg work in promoting the band and their fantastic videos (more on them in a bit) and also helped record and master the album with Nicola Lomartire. The song drifts along at a fair old pace and is very Celtic but it is only when David’s vocals start that the song become proper Krakin’ Kellys fair. His raspy vocals sit nicely on top of chugging guitars and Punk drums and bass. It’s the sort of song you could play someone and they wouldn’t necessarily get the Celtic aspect of the song. A great fist in the air chorus and as catchy as anything I’ve heard this year it already says to me that Finnegans Hell will have competition for the Best Album Of 2020. I can see I’m going to over-use the word ‘catchy’ doing this review so from now on just assume each song is ca**hy. ‘Bigger Plan’ keeps the energy level to max and tin-whistle adds to the Celtic feel to it alongside, even for them, heavy guitar. The style of Punk I feel they are closest too would be that of bands like Leatherface who could play at 100 mph and still be totally melodic and accessible. Like Leatherface they also possess a wonderful sense of humour like o‘Not A Mermaid’. Another reason for their immediate success in the scene was their brilliant videos (as directed by Matthieu) and they nail again in the video for ‘Today’s The Day’. Seemingly filmed at the last available chance before ‘virus lockdown’ its shows the band members playing their bits at home surrounded by their families. Truly wonderful piece of work and a nice insight into their lives.

Most of the songs here hover around three and a half minutes. Standard in Punk really. Their are no ‘epics’ just speedy Punk Rock with a tonne of Celtic/ Gaelic melodies. On ‘Just Remember’ they also throw a touch of ‘Gallic’ flair too while ‘Payback’ actually at times comes close to trad Irish. ‘The Champ Is Here’ seems like straight forward Punk but those Folk instruments come in and take the song in another direction. These songs are written with the Celtic side very much in mind and though they could probably get away with being just another decent Punk band it is with the addition of those Celtic instruments that they stand out from the crowd. The title song, ‘Burn Your Flag’, is of course one of the highlights and half way through gives Pierre-Yves the opportunity to play a Punk-Rock accordion solo.  ‘Crazy Dancer’, ‘Golden Youth’, ‘No Regrets’ and ‘Cletus The Great’ all follow the same standard. Catchy (their I have said it!) as hell, super energetic Celtic-Punk that manages to keep the songs completely different enough in style so that nothing here sounds the same so the running length of the album never starts to grate on you.

We are nearing the end and ‘We Are The Freaks’ was the albums first single and another outstanding video too. I implore you to take the time out to watch their videos. Their is so much going on that the music only adds to their appeal. The albums ‘curtain closer’ is ‘Scars’ and a positive message played in a fast punk song with a singalong chorus and pint in the air close. There’s a great version of it here on RTBF a French language web-site so foo,ow the link and check that out.

So if you are stuck at home, like you should be, then if you are anything like me it is music that is keeping you sane. It’s no wonder Krakin’ Kellys are considered one of the best bands in Celtic-Punk and it is at times like this we need to support the people who bring us such enjoyment so please consider buying the album and give these guys. This is music to dance your ass off to and though it may be a while before we get the chance to do so together move the chairs back and let yourself go after all we still have beer!!!

(you can stream Burn Your Flag below on the Bandcamp player before you buy it!)

Buy Burn Your Flag  FromTheBand

Contact Krakin’ Kellys WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Twitter

ALBUM REVIEW: FINNEGAN’S HELL- ‘Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class’ (2020)

The new album from Sweden’s Finnegan’s Hell takes Ramones flavoured Celtic drinking songs and chucks them in the mixer with Hillbilly Country, Folk-Rock, metal, Swedish Folk and even Reggae for an intoxicating brew for St. Patrick’s week!

I first became aware of Finnegan’s Hell when I was exposed to the video for their excellent version of The Dubliners ‘The Molly Maguires‘. Dressed in pit gear and with sooty faces the boys ran threw 2:24 minutes of hyper energetic Celtic-Punk that has long sailed past 1,000,000 views. The boys nailed the song and it has become one of a handful songs that constantly pops up across the media whenever Celtic-Punk is mentioned. Formed in 2010 from members from the Swedish towns of Malmö, Lund and Gothenburg the Bhoys prepared for their debut release by getting in as many gigs as possible. The self titled EP features their YOU Tube hit as well as two traditional Irish Folk standards and a couple of self-penned songs which certainly put Finnegan’s Hell on the European Celtic-Punk map. The following year they recorded ‘The Boys In Green Will Conquer‘ for a competition on Irish TV to find a suitable anthem for the Ireland team for Euro 2012. This led to them being described brilliantly as

”They’re hard to describe, but just imagine a blend of Metallica and the Kilfenora céilí Band and you’d be about right.”

in the Irish media. The following year they again achieved a internet sensation when they released ‘Drunken Christmas’. Voted #1 ‘Christmas song of the year’ by Swedish music magazine Gaffa the video has passed 300,000 views and led to them signing for Heptown Records. Next up was their debut album and Drunk, Sick And Blue was released to great fanfare. Well received across the Celtic/Folk-Punk media as one of the best Celtic punk releases of the year its ten tracks flew past at only twenty-three minutes. The albums songs were a mix of self-penned, trad Folk covers and some re-recorded tracks including the definitive version of ‘The Molly Maguires’.

Live the band continued to gig relentlessly across Europe and was awarded with being voted “best foreign band” at the huge Woodstock Festival in Poland in 2015. They have played Ireland several times and even visited London back in 2017 unbeknown to us. The next big event in the recording history of Finnegan’s Hell wasn’t to be till four years later in 2018 with the release of their follow up album Life and Death. This time the album contained all self penned tracks based around the theme of life and death. A roller coaster ride from the cradle to the grave and those four years playing the songs live before recording showed a band that had perfected their sound. Since then they have signed for Wild Kingdom Records and this week sees the release of Finnegan’s Hell’s third album the wonderfully titled Work Is The Curse Of The Curse Of The Drinking Class.

Finnegan’s Hell left to right: Reverend Mick Finnegan * Pabs Finnegan * Old Roxy * Ace Finnegan * Cozy Finnegan * San Finnegan *

It is the album’s title song that kicks the album off and ‘Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class’, modestly sub-titled “probably the best drinking anthem in the world”, is a short, fast and downright furious Celtic-Punk belter. Their sound is dominated by the banjo and accordion, a sound that has influenced bands across Europe from England’s Mick O’Toole to the Dutch band Drunken Dolly. It was the unfortunate Irish dramatist and novelist Oscar Wilde,  who famously said “work is the curse of the drinking class” and here Finnegan’s Hell expand on his theory.

“My old man said to me When I was a little boy,
Son, work is over-rated in work there’s little joy
Then he’d pour himself a whiskey and he’d light his favorite cigar
We’d always hear him singin’ as he headed down the bar”

Over 100 years later people still find themselves in situations where their work is interfering with their alcohol consumption!

Alongside the release of Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class is the release of a special Finnegan’s Hell beer (a Porter of course!) in co-operation with a local brewery. The next song up was the first single from the album ‘Six Feet Under’ released in February.

“My throat is dry like the desert sand
My thirst is growing beyond my command
I know that I’m dying, my time’s running out
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me just one more stout”

Another drinking song and ye better get use to them as this album is for the dedicated drinker. No lightweights here. The fastest song on the album just over two minutes long and even though you might want Finnegan’s Hell to take it easy they flatly refuse to.

The video was directed by Swedish filmmaker Michael Ek, who got his inspiration from Jim Jarmusch’s zombie film The Dead Don’t Die. They take a rather odd turn next with their Shane MacGowan tribute ‘Whiskey, Rum, Gin And Wine’. Absolutely bloomin’ hilarious and catchy too. Kind of 60’s-ish but with Metal influences too it’s a great song and shows that you can veer from the Celtic-Punk path if you got the tunes and these Bhoys certainly have the tunes. Their may be no Gaelic blood running through Finnegan’s Hell’s veins but you wouldn’t know it with ‘The Promised Land’. Tin-Whistle starts proceedings and accordion drops in before the gang turn up. The most Irish of the album’s tracks and the story of an immigrant leaving home for a better life. Like the Celts the Swedes know all about the sadness of emigration. In the early 19th and 20th centuries the USA was a magnet for the rural poor all across Europe with about 1.3 million Swedes leaving for the USA and a better life. In 1890 the U.S. census reported a Swedish population of almost 1,000,000. All the songs as you would expect for a Celtic-Punk lean heavily on their Celtic instruments and a healthy dose of humour and ‘Friends And Foes’ is a great example of this. Slower than usual but no less heavy and it’s what passes for the quieter moments here where Finnegan’s Hell Metal influences come to play. ‘King Of The Bar’ is standard Celtic-Punk with tin-whistle leading and a breakneck speed while ‘The Last Dance’ has an Eastern European feel to it and while this is usually provided by fiddle and accordion here it is the banjo that does the job. A testament to their excellent banjo plucker Mick. On ‘Tokyo Town’ they slow it down again and Pabs vocals here are great. Half shouting half crooning. We heading towards the end and ‘Parasite’ tells of a relationship that comes to an end. When Finnegan’s Hell formed in 2010, the band made a vow to only sing about three things: life, death and alcohol and so they have strictly stuck to that pledge. So it is that they end with ‘When I’m Dead’. This is what passes for a Finnegan’s Hell ballad but no surprise at all it’s not yer typical one. Hard and heavy and all the subtleness of a clout round the ear though the change of tempo is great and really rounds the album off well.

Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class does not ‘invent the wheel’ that is true. What it is though is a fun filled half an hour of quality Celtic-Punk that is for getting pissed to and having a laugh and their ain’t enough bands around like that trust me. Music like this is best experienced with others but here the transfer to record is done astoundingly well. The production is perfect and with so many instruments competing that is some achievement.

Buy Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class  (CD/Vinyl)- From The Band  Download- Here

Contact Finnegan’s Hell  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

RAISE YOUR PINTS! THE IRISH FOLK AND CELTIC-PUNK WEEKENDER

As we have said before no country this side of the ‘pond’ has taken Celtic-Punk to it’s bosom like Germany has. The thriving Celtic-Punk community there continues to just get bigger and bigger and they now have the music festival they deserve with the inaugural Raise Your Pints Fest in March. Three days of Celtic-Punk and Trad Irish Folk bringing a wee bit of Ireland to the German capital. So if you are looking for somewhere special to go to celebrate St. Pat then read on! 

As the amount of dedicated Celtic-Punk sites on the Web has shrunk the explosion of Celtic-Punk radio and podcasts has been phenomenal! At the forefront of that explosion has been MacSlon’s Irish Pub Radio. Started back in 2009 the idea behind the project was to present fans with ‘a beautiful bouquet of colorful melodies’, somewhere they would be able to discover one or two previously unknown bands. For beginners in the Celtic-Folk-Punk scene it is always a great place to start where the giants of the constantly growing scene rub shoulders with those lesser known bands or ones just starting out.

They have also become popular for their sampler compilation CD’s. Producing the first edition in 2016 and following every year with one that exceeds the previous in quality. They are now taking pre-orders for Volume Five that will hit the streets on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th in case you didn’t know!) and we’ve seen the line up for it and it’s easily the best one yet!

You can already pre-order the sampler in our online shop: www.macslons-shop.com

So with that all under their belts as well as a burgeoning Merchandise distribution service selling official merch for the likes of The Cloves And The Tobacco, Mickey Rickshaw, 6’10, The Rumjacks and many many more, some only exclusive to MacSlons. They also have a wide range of official MacSlons merch for you to spend your hard earned on too. The full catalogue is on the site and worth a look but make sure you pay your rent first! Now the next step is to take a bunch of the bands found on Raise Your Pints Volume Five and turn it into a music festival.

The festival will happen on St. Patrick’s weekend from Friday 13th through to Sunday 15th March and features an extensive line up of bands each day with artists coming from as far afield as Serbia, Ireland and Scandinavia as well as a superb line up of home grown German artists too. The festival takes place just outside Berlin so is easily accessible from anywhere in Europe and even further afield. The venue is E-Werk Zossen (in English the Zossen Power Station!) situated at Am Nottehafen 4, 15806 Zossen, Germany and the nearest airport is Berlin-Tegel. Zossen is in a beautiful region of Germany just south of Berlin and their is plenty of accommodation available in the town. When looking be sure to look for ‘Zossen’. For example the Weißer Swan hotel is only a very short walk from the venue and still has rooms left (here).

Their is a Facebook event where extra information is available here.

Friday 13th March 2020

KILKENNY BASTARDS

(www.facebook.com/KilkennyBastards)

PADDYS PUNK

(www.facebook.com/Paddyspunk)

THE PORTERS

(www.facebook.com/ThePortersfolkpunk)

FINNEGANS HELL

(www.facebook.com/finneganshell)

JAMES GALLAGHER

(www.facebook.com/TheAtlanticPirates)

Saturday 14th, March 2020

COBBLESTONES

(www.facebook.com/cobblestonesfolk)

MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS

(www.facebook.com/MuirsheenDurkinAndFriends)

IRISH STEW OF SINDIDUN

(www.facebook.com/irishstewofsindidun)

SIR REG

(www.facebook.com/sirregband)

GARY O’CONNOR AND FRIENDS

(www.facebook.com/Gary-O-Connor-MUSIC-403134693099052)

For the final day of the festival what you will need in you is a good hearty Irish breakfast to line the stomach (simply book when you arrive at the fest) as the idea is to bring down the curtain with a proper auld fashioned knees up with a closing trad Irish music session made up of the musicians playing on Saturday. Having seen the likes of Sir Reg play a trad set before I can tell you are in for a real treat. A great way to end things on a high and a brilliant way to connect fans and musicians. Often seen in Irish pubs musicians sit down and make music together with the audience also invited to participate.

#OneBigCelticPunkFamily

There will be many interesting things happening at the festival with plenty of surprises expected! Their will be also be a tattooists on site from Black Pearl Island studios (www.facebook.com/BlackPearlIslandDelitzsch) with all proceeds going to local charities.

Tickets are available by clicking on the following link:

MacSlons Raise Your Pints Festival Tickets 2020

Tickets for the festival are superb value at under 40 Euros and also included will be a free copy of the new Raise Your Pints CD. You can also get a deal including a special limited edition festival t-shirt.

MacSlons Irish Pub Radio  WebSite  Shop  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter

RadioStream

GET IN THE FESTIVE SPIRIT WITH THIS CHRISTMAS CELTIC PUNK TOP-TWENTY!

It’s the first of December so let your pint glass be half full for a change and get into the festive spirit with what started as a Top Ten but but soon became the London Celtic Punk’s Top Twenty of the best kick-arse Christmas celtic-punk tunes ever written and absolutely no surprises at #1.

20. THE PRIESTS FEATURING SHANE MacGOWAN-  ‘Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth’

Yeah you read that right. It may not quite reach the heights of Bing’n’Bowie but feck it nothing this man does is anything short of brilliant!

19. THE RUFFIANS- ‘Christmas In Killarney’

The Ruffians cover the holiday classic ‘Christmas In Killarney’ on their 2005 Christmas EP Together at Christmas.

18. REILLY- ‘Paddy’s Christmas’

Milwaukee Celtic punk band Reilly’s version of Snoopy’s Christmas, now called ‘Paddy’s Christmas’ on their 2008 album Kick Ass Celtic Christmas.

17. THE GOBSHITES- ‘Christmas Eve In The Boozer’

Boston Celtic punk band The Gobshites’ cover of the Yobs’ Christmas Eve in the Boozer. On The Gobshites’ album When the Shite Hits the Fan.

16. IRISH ROVER – ‘Christmas Time In Hells’

Performed entirely by  Rover MacChroi and one for the miserablists out there. This guys glass is definitely half empty!

15. DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘AK47 [All I Want For Christmas Is An]’

Proof the Murphs can do no wrong…

14. THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Auld Lang Syne’

Now not strictly a Christmas song but I’ve met Scots who actually enjoy Hogmaney (New Years Eve) more than Christmas!

13. THE MAHONES- ‘Angels Without Wings/Merry Christmas Baby’

From The Mahones 2012 album Angels & Devils here is their awesome Christmas song featuring Felicity Hamer.

12. SHANE MacGOWAN- ‘Christmas Lullaby’

Gotta love this tune. Irish blues with a punk rock edge. McGowan nails it again.

11. STIFF LITTLE FINGERS- ‘White Christmas’

Belfast punk rock legends, and still going from strength to strength, cause Bing to rotate in his grave with this which appeared on the B-side of ‘The Edge’ 7″ in 1979.

10. SHILELAGH LAW- ‘Christmas In New York’

Christmas is many things to many people. I will always remember that a good mate Steve died on Christmas Eve and so it’s also a good time to think of those who have passed and raise a glass to them. Here’s a tribute to the victims of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, by NY’ers Shilelagh Law.

9. MALASAÑERS- ‘Xmas Tree’

Rousing celtic-punk from Spain and available to download for free at: malasaners.bandcamp.com. Watch out for their new album due any day soon.

8. FINNEGAN’S HELL- ‘Drunken Christmas’

Sweden’s Finnegan’s Hell deliver an unorthodox Christmas anthem and yeah, yeah, yeah some Irish stereotyping sure but get over yourselves. What is it you think The Dubliners sang about? My house at Christmas was more like this than what you see on the BBC I can tell you. Anyway judge for yourself!

7. CelKILT- ‘Santa Santa!’

CeltKilt from France even released a full album of Christmas themed songs Kiltmas Songs! in 2015 and as they say themselves, and it sounds better in French I think, “festive celtic rock celtique festif”.

6. THE WAGES OF SIN- ‘Merry Christmas From The Wages’

Enjoy the festive sights, sounds, and smells of the season with Wages Of Sin and their first, and possibly last, holiday single!

5. DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE- ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’

Possibly a bit much for this Catholic Bhoy to bare so if you of a delicate disposition skip to #6. It is hilarious though from this Oregon band from their 2007 album Christmas Songs for Drunken Atheists.

4. KRAKIN’ KELLYS- ‘Christmas In Kelly Green’

This space was previously occupied by West Virginian Celtic-Punk legends The Gentlemen but the You Tube account closed and the video has been lost in the ether so after a bit of thought to find a replacement I settled upon Krakin’ Kellys 2018 Christmas themed track ‘Christmas In Kelly Green’. The hottest new band in Celtic-Punk its hard to imagine these Belgian rockers only formed in 2017!

3. THE NARROWBACKS- Prodigal Son (I’ll Be Home For Christmas)

Part filmed at Paddy Reilly’s in New York this song actually brought a tear to my eye when I first heard it. After a couple of years of not speaking to my Mammy after a stupid argument we had only just made up. Kids look after your family. Keep them close and love them lots.

2. THE DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘The Seasons Upon Us’ (2016)

Unfortunate to go up against The Pogues this is The Murphys superb Christmas epic. Hilarious video of Irish-American life. Sure to lift the spirits.

1. THE POGUES FEATURING KIRSTY MacCOLL- The Fairytale Of New York

When you see other Christmas best of list’s they always put ‘Arguably the greatest Christmas song of all time’ well we’ve no time for that bollocks. It is without a doubt THE greatest Christmas song of all time so there! R.I.P Kirsty

so there’s our Top Twenty. If you think we missed any post in the comments as is usually the way with these things we couldn’t stop there so bubbling under here’s one to play loud and proud!

…and so we end with some great words “let’s not fight tonight”. Just listen to The Ramones instead.

ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK ANEMONE- ‘In It For Life’ (2017)

Irish folk punk band from Sweden bringing chaos and mischief to the world!

Black Anemone hail from very close to the river Lagan… no not that one but the one just by Jönköping in southern Sweden! Now the Swede’s have quite the liking for celtic-punk music and Sweden has supplied the scene with some fantastic bands like Sir Reg and Finnegan’s Hell for just two and one of the latest are this bunch of young, edgy, sharply dressed folk-punk folk with their excellent brand of straight up, in your face singalong mixture of Irish folk and rock’n’roll and punk attitude.

Black Anemone from right to left: Mattias Sandberg- lead vocals (and various instruments) * Axel Martinsson- fiddle * Andreas Svensson (sitting down)- acoustic guitar, electric guitar * Rickard Olsson- Bass * Tilda Spross- tin whistle, second lead vocals * Adam Bernström- drums * Nermin Festa (sitting down)- electric guitar * Martin Hjärtkvist- banjo, mandolin * Fredrik Nilsson- accordion

Black Anemone formed in 2010 when front man Mattias fell in love at school with old time Irish music and after recruiting his longtime friend Andy on guitar they began to lay the foundations for the band. As Mattias says

”I wanted to mix the sound traditional folk music, mostly Irish trad and fusion it with rock and punk. Having strong roots in the rock and punk genre”

Within a few months and with the addition of several more school friends Black Anemone was formed. Solid rehearsing and some low key gigs saw the release of their first Demo, Let The Freak Show Begin, in 2011. That Demo definitely takes the raucousness of Flogging Molly but takes it to another level with fast Irish folk and Scandinavian raspy but still tuneful vocals. Its been made available by the band as a free download if you like (here). They soon after began work writing songs for their debut album and with a growing reputation as a live act and bolstered by several local music awards this album would be eagerly anticipated not just by their fans at home but also throughout the celtic-punk worldTitled King Of Kings it hit the streets in early 2013 and was eleven tracks of mostly acoustic but upbeat fast played Irish folk that shifts and changes and along the way sounded like most of celtic-punk’s major league players, as well a few that would deserve to be, and added to all that further folk influences sneaking in from all across Europe.

Their new album In It For Life begins with an absolute stormer of a song, ‘Freedom And For All’ with Mattias vocals perched somewhere between Shane McGowan and Joe Strummer it’s a banjo led number that has the feel good factor turned up to eleven and four years on from King Of Kings they haven’t lost any of their bite whatsoever.

‘Amber’s Point’ follows and is more a trad Irish number with a very distinctive Irish intro. Very catchy with a country feel at times and great vocals and lyrics and a banjo/accordion combination to die for! We stay in trad territory next for ‘Every Dog Has It’s Day’ an original song (not a cover of you know who!) and its what passes for the album’s epic slow number except it’s not really that slow but is indeed very epic. It’s the album’s longest track and for me it doesn’t get any better here than this. The accordion drives it along while the band accompany Mattias with the odd yell of ‘Hey!’ and with mandolin giving it that incredible Irish celtic-punk sound we all love so much. The album is only eight tracks and fairly brief at twenty-six minutes long but the Bhoys and Ghirl (an incredible nine members- that’s nearly a football team!) certainly know they way round a tune and the first cover, of two, is up next and yeah, yeah, yeah I know everyone seems to have covered ‘Drunken Sailor’ but there’s an obvious reason to why it’s covered so much and that’s because when its done well it’s quite simply one of the best tunes ever written and here I can be happy to report that Black Anemone turn in as good a version as you will ever likely hear. They keep it short and fast and proper-celticpunk! We are at the halfway point through the LP and next up is the title tune ‘In It For Life’. Again Mattias explains

“In It For Life is our tribute to the love of playing music. The love of playing live, Writing music, traveling and the constant grinding that is the music business today! we are are and will forever be in it for life”

The prominent banjo and alternatively fast punk/ska’ish sound reminds me a lot of our very own English celt-rockers Mick O’Toole. Gang vocals and a brilliant tune that leads us into ‘It’s A Short Life (But A Merry One)’ and they may have turned the punk down a fraction and maybe it’s possibly the odd one out on the album but its still an absolute belter that shifts towards being accordion driven halfway through before joined by fiddle. ‘Hellhounds On My Back’ is next up and funny enough Hellhounds is what fans of English celtic-punk band Ferocious Dog call themselves and the fiddle here gives the song an air of them as well before we get to the last track, and the second of the album’s covers of traditional folk songs. ‘Banks Of The Roses’ was originally made famous by The Dubliners and has been recorded by many Irish and Scottish artists since. The song is given a pretty standard celtic-punk showing and by pretty standard I mean, of course, utterly brilliant!

“On the Banks of the Roses me love and I sat down
And I took out me fiddle for to play me love a tune”

Sounding quite like The Rumjacks when they get hold of an old trad song Black Anemone give it plenty of oomft and the album ends on very much a high note.


In It For Life came out last June and as you can imagine for a nine piece band the sound is incredible so hats off to Alexander Gabara for his amazing work in capturing the band so perfectly. The band have got it exactly spot-on here with both their sound and the combination of folk and punk and folkpunk all underpinned with the trad sounds of Ireland. A superb album and well deserving of your ear time so don’t delay and follow the links below to hear Black Anemone today! 

(listen free to In It For Life before you buy by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy In It For Life

FromTheBand  iTunes

Contact Black Anemone

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Soundcloud   Bandcamp  ReverbNation

(full live concert recorded at Tre Trappor in Sweden last February)

FILM REVIEW: THE MOLLY MAGUIRES (1970)

“maybe its my Christian heart but I never could stand the sight of a man carrying a cross”

The Molly Maguires

Growing up in England the opportunities to express pride in your Irish roots were very few and far between. The rare moments would come along, we had St Patrick’s Day, Celtic, our pubs and clubs and church and lets face it very little else. On the TV we were a figure of ridicule and nightly we were informed that the people sat right next to us in our living rooms were thick and stupid and steeped in superstition or dangerous and drunkards or trying to bring down the rule of law and that ordinary folk should inform the authorities of anything suspicious among the Irish community. Innocent people were sent to jail with little more evidence of guilt than their accents or their family backgrounds. With that going on in the background we learnt our history at home and among our family, friends and neighbours but one of the defining moments of my childhood was watching The Molly Maguires as a kid. It ticked all the necessary boxes for a young 2nd gen Irish lad with a identity crisis. Not only did it portray the Irish outside of Ireland and showed how badly they were treated and exploited but, and most importantly of all, how rather than except their fate and roll over they resisted that oppression and fought back, even though eventually it end in tragedy. The Molly Maguires were a secret society of militant Irish Catholic coal miners who resisted violence from the mine owners with violence themselves. The film is based on real events and the gripping story is a sympathetic and accurate depiction of the struggle for justice of the Irish-American miners.

CREW

Cinematography- James Wong Howe * Director- Martin Ritt * Music- Henry Mancini * Producer- Paramount Pictures

CAST

Sean Connery as “Black Jack” Kehoe * Richard Harris as Detective James McParlan/McKenna * Samantha Eggar as Miss Mary Raines * Frank Finlay as Police Captain Davies * Anthony Zerbe as Tom Dougherty * Bethel Leslie as Mrs. Kehoe * Art Lund as Frazier * Philip Bourneuf as Father O’Connor * Anthony Costello as Frank McAndrew * Brendan Dillon as Dan Raines, Mary’s Father * Frances Heflin as Mrs. Frazier * Malachy McCourt as The Bartender

Running time 123 minutes

“You either end up on the gallows or coughing your lungs out, what’s the difference?”

With the Great Hunger still vivid in the minds of the newly arrived Irish immigrants to America as they spread across the country, many of them washed up in Pennsylvania coal country where they became miners. The mine workers were treated abysmally and most died young of diseases picked up in the mines or in the ghetto’s that surrounded them. The years between ‘Black 47’ and the depression of 1920-21 saw great turmoil in industrial America. Violent confrontation between workforces and bosses over poor working conditions and even poorer wages, as well as the threat of workers uniting in trade unions, were common in the cities and the coal fields that fuelled them. The promise of work for the unskilled and a better life drew large numbers of Irish people to north-eastern Pennsylvania. The choice for the poorest of the Irish poor was the coal mine. They came mostly from west Ulster and north Connacht. The Irish didn’t confine themselves to coal but to get the black gold to New York and Philadelphia they also dug canals as well as building embankments, tunnelling and laying track. But more than anything, the Irish dug coal. A Mayo-man looking round a coalfield is quoted at the time as saying

“Do you mean to tell me that this is America?”

In 1880, the ‘foreign-born’ accounted for 23% of the region’s population and Ireland was the birthplace of 41% of those, the figure underestimates the Irish as many would have been born in America, England and Scotland. It is thought well over 30% of the regional population would have been Irish. These were dark times of persecution for Irish Catholics and they were not to get better by crossing the Atlantic. These were the men and women who built America. A people who had escaped poverty and death only to find a world where they were still enslaved the only difference being the company had replaced the empire.The Molly Maguires

We have no idea exactly when The Molly Maguires came into existence but they gained prominence in the mine fields in the years around 1860. They were a militant secret cell within the open catholic organisation the Ancient Order of Hibernians. With no organised labour movement to speak of it became the Mollys who were the only protection those miners had. Protection was needed from anti-Catholic and anti-Irish discrimination, more than any other race they were used as scapegoats on whatever stage their enemies deemed fit. Irish working men started organising together while the, predominantly protestant, mine owners organised a paramilitary force to take them on. Violently breaking strikes and trade unions. Strikers and activists were sacked and evicted, their jobs and houses given to scabs, and ‘troublemakers’ often attacked and killed. In return the miners engaged in sabotage. Mines were flooded, breakers burned, stores dynamited and trains derailed. Mine bosses, superintendents and foremen, generally of English, Welsh or German extraction, were intimidated and killed and blacklegs and informers in the Irish community were ruthlessly punished. The rebellion came to an end with the execution of twenty people rounded up as Molly Maguires. They bravely went to the scaffold without betraying themselves or their comrades. The majority of the twenty had links to the same part of Ireland in west Donegal. At the time and right up until modern times (possibly around the time this film was made) the twenty men hanged as Molly Maguires in north eastern Pennsylvania were either valiant defenders of labour or

“the most noted band of cut-throats of modern times”

That controversy has ended and its clear now to all that the hanged men were innocent victims of a terrible miscarriage of justice.

So the stage was set in 1969 with radical politics and a vision of a better life for all not just a distant memory for a film to be based on The Molly Maguires to be made. In 1967 Director Martin Ritt was making ‘Hombre’ in which Scots-Irish actor Sean Connery’s then wife Diane Cilento was cast. Ritt had the idea for The Molly Maguires and asked Connery what he thought. Connery was interested but it took over four years to get the film off the ground. Both director Martin Ritt and screenwriter Walter Bernstein had been blacklisted by major studios in the communist scare of the 1950s.

leader of the Mollys Jack Kehoe

leader of the Mollys
Jack Kehoe

The film is dirty and relentless and coal dust gets everywhere.  It was filmed in the abandoned Pennsylvania coal town of Ecksley, a place where the Mollys were active in their day, that adds credibility and authenticity to the picture. The colliery still stands along with the Emerald House pub, the company store and all the Mollys homes. A frighteningly impressive Sean Connery plays Jack Kehoe, the leader of the Mollys, while Richard Harris plays James McParlan. Kehoe is suspicious of McPharlan when he arrives to work at the mines but over time he begins to trust and allows him to join the Mollys and take part in their activities. Unbeknown to Kehoe, McPharlan is in fact working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency and has been sent to infiltrate and destroy the Mollys. The film is basically a clash between two ways of life. McPharlan who is willing to sell out and betray anyone to rise in class and Kehoe who puts the interests of his community first and is prepared to sacrifice all for the benefit of others. As McPharlan states in the film

“I’m tired of always looking up. I want to look down”

The history of Ireland has unfortunately been plagued with informers. People seduced by wealth or promises of land and power or simply those with no conscious they are rightly despised by all  to but we Irish have a special disdain for them. The story as told in the film sticks closely to the truth of what happened and is as gripping and well made a piece of radical cinema as has ever been made. From the soundtrack to the costumes and location and acting the film is dazzling and is today considered a masterpiece, and deservedly so, which makes it incredible to think it bombed so badly upon release. It put paid for a time the idea that either Connery or Harris would make leading men. In the critics minds the wordless 15 minute prologue as well as the decision to not let Sean Connery speak until 45 minutes into the movie couldn’t have helped.

Maguire1

Connery and Harris

There were no ‘Marquis of Queensbury’ rules in early industrial America. Decent people sometimes did terrible things. They still do. It is the way of the world. The Irish fought oppression first with dynamite and powder and then with political power. Soon the Irish were to rise to all levels of political influence and the old guard were dispensed with. Martin Ritt thought the films financial failure being down to audiences being unable to decide whether Jack Kehoe or Jim McParlan was the hero.

“They should have understood, that Kehoe, who was a murderer, was the hero of the film”

In another interview Ritt acknowledged that life was changing and some of the decent values that America was built on were also changing.

“I wanted to show that the villain in the film was the informer, a man who wormed his way into the graces of his fellow workers and then turned them in. To me that is a villainous act. And in the American tradition, an informer is a villainous person, although those ethics have been somewhat undermined by the hysteria of the communist scare”

In 1970, Middle America couldn’t accept Kehoe as the hero he has now become. As the films ends and with McParlan’s true identity revealed, he visits Kehoe in prison. It is a significant moment between the two of them, ending a relationship based on trust and bringing to the fore the differences between them. The final image that imposes McParlan against the gallows he has helped to build emphasises that we have an awful lot to be grateful for free men that will stand against oppression and fight back. Their is no Hollywood here. What the Mollys gave was their all. Their is no romance just two solid hours of an uncompromising and heartbreaking look into what working people have had to endure. Our job now is to make sure those conditions never return.

(the following clip is the final scene of the movie so don’t watch if you haven’t seen the whole film!)

Molly Maguires SoundtrackThe Molly Maguires Soundtrack

Composed, Arranged and Conducted

by Henry Mancini

For the film, composer Henry Mancini composed one of his finest musical scores, filled with jaunty Irish tunes and roaring dramatic evocative themes. Whether depicting early morning at the mines (the astonishing opening cue) or the resistance activities or the blossoming love affair, Henry Mancini’s score is right up there with his greatest soundtracks including such masterpieces as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, Days of Wine and Roses, Hatari!, Two For The Road and many others. amazingly it doesn’t appear to be available on CD anywhere.

Tracks

(click on the tracks in green to hear them)

Theme from The Molly Maguires (New Day in 1876)
The Mollys Strike
Main Title
Room and Board
Sandwiches and Tea
Work Montage
Pennywhistle Jig
A Hard Day’s Work
On Your Knees
Jamie and Mary
Trip to Town
Strike Two/Strike Three
The Hills of Yesterday
There’s More
The Mollys Strike Again
A Suit for Grandpa
Kehoe Lights Up/The Last Strike
The End

Buy The Film

plenty of places on the web or try Amazon  AllYourMusic as a last resort!

The Soundtrack

is out of print but since this article came out I have been sent a download link for it. Rather than put it here I will include it as a comment as these things have a habit of being taken down. So check the comments and download this rather brilliant album.If it does disappear leave a comment and we’ll try and upload it again.

Molly Maguires statue by Zenos Frudrakis in Molly Maguires Memorial Park, Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, USA

Molly Maguires statue by Zenos Frudrakis in Molly Maguires Memorial Park, Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, USA

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