We finally wave goodbye to 2022 with the announcement of who you the beloved readers of this site have chosen as the best of ’22.
2018 – KRAKIN’ KELLYS 169 votes (524 total)
2019 – MICKEY RICKSHAW 94 Votes (476 total)
2020 – THE GO-SET 281 votes (1105 total)
2021 – FEROCIOUS DOG 430 votes (1576 total)
The response to this year’s poll has been incredible. Almost every year the poll has run, the number of votes has increased dramatically. This time, by nearly 200 votes to 1,726. From the very start this year it was a two horse race between England’s own Ferocious Dog and Sweden’s Finnegan’s Hell with both way ahead of newcomers to the Celtic-Punk scene Reina Roja from Madrid. For the first time ever the artist with the winning number of votes hasn’t been an album but still an excellent show from Finnegan’s Hell. A mention here for Yorkshire banjo Punks Shanghai Treason too finishing in sixth place. There were over 600 votes in the ‘other’ section which I had to count individually and then go back and double check as some results were very close. Over here we believe in getting things right when people vote (!) so that’s why it’s taken a couple of days to tally up the final scores but here at last they finally are. Congratulations to everyone and cheers and beers to all who voted!
We have had such a diverse group of artists to win this award and this years winners Finnegan’s Hell are no different. We could see the writing on the wall with all the people from Sweden voting. Not that their fan base is reserved to their home country. They’re pretty popular in Hackney too! Reina Roja have done exceedingly well for a new band to these pages, coming in second place. In the Murphys Vs Mollys competition it was Flogging Molly who won easily winning over their Boston rivals in both the official London Celtic Punks Best Of 2022 awards and the 2022 Readers Choice.
1. FINNEGAN’S HELL – One Finger Salute
2. REINA ROJA – Hooligan Folk
3. FLOGGING MOLLY – Anthem
Usually it stands to reason that most votes will go to the ones that were actually listed on the poll but this year Ferocious Dog stormed away with the title with 455 votes. A record for our Readers Poll which they already held from last year! Only two other EP’s gathered any significant votes with loads more getting only single figures.
1. FEROCIOUS DOG – Too Late
2. BRICK TOP BLAGGERS – Obey The Tyrant
3. THE DEAD IRISH – Four Corners Of Hell
Thanks dear readers for taking part in the poll and congratulations to Finnegan’s Hell and Ferocious Dog. The further away we move from the covid lock downs the more it seems like some dystopian nightmare. Those days could have destroyed the Celtic-Punk scene, but on the evidence of last year’s releases the scene has bounced back and is as strong as ever. Our dream is that 2023 will bring these bands the recognition and success they richly deserve. Thanks to you for supporting London Celtic Punks and we ended ’22 with our highest yearly readership of all time, so expect good things from us too! Why not consider subscribing and never miss a post (the box is on the left when viewed on your lap top) or send us your email through the Contact Us page.
It’s that time of year again for the London Celtic Punks annual Best Of list. Has it really been a year since The Peelers waltzed (or should that be jigged) off with album of the year? It’s been possibly the best year for Celtic-Punk since we started doing this site and this was easily the closest it has ever been in that time. Pretty much all the big hitters, with one or two one notable exception (The Tossers where were you!), released records and on top of that a bunch of debut albums that were top class too.
so without further ado…
CLICK ON THE GREEN LINK TO BE FORWARDED TO REVIEW
2022’s #1 was the amazing new album from THE MAHONES. That they are as prolific as they are and yet can still put out quality like this 30 + years on is incredible. Well done Finny & co. FLOGGING MOLLY won the battle of the big Celtic-Punk 2 with the DROPKICKS and were also the best gig of the year for me personally (August in Dublin with Ferocious Dog). THE LUCKY TROLLS followed on from their Best EP award from 2019 with the highest place for any ‘outsider’ this year while Scandinavian stalwarts SIR REG gave us possibly their best album yet. REINA ROJA from Spain were another highly placed new band and their were several others among the Top 30. Their were also a handful of albums that didn’t qualify for the chart but were worth noting including a couple of greatest hits albums THE REAL McKENZIES – Float Me Boat and UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS – The Story So Far that were both superb introductions to the bands, the second volume of the Black 47 covers compilation AFTER HOURS VOL. 2 and finally the HEADSTICKS 10th anniversary album of the best songs of their career to date re-recorded.
As funny as it may seem the Best Debut Album award for 2022 was decided way back in January last year when the long awaited self titled debut album from Yorkshire banjo Punks SHANGHAI TREASON arrived in the post. Eleven original songs of high tempo energetic Celtic-Punk with some of the best banjo we heard all year long! On top of that later in the year they released a 3-track EP of songs that didn’t make the album that was also superb! That’s not to say it was a easy choice as by the end of the year REINA ROJA, THE LUCKY TROLLS and ZECKYBOYS all put out albums that challenged the Treason and in any other year could easily have won the award themselves.
A well deserved top two for THE RUMJACKS and their new singer Mikee. The split EP with FLATFOOT 56 in particular was absolutely flawless! Their were fantastic debut releases from THE DEAD IRISH, THE GALLOWGATE MURDERS and THE RAMSTAMPITS out of the Celtic nations of Ireland and Scotland that completely blew us away and were eagerly anticipated. A word here for BOG IRON from California who I found completely by accident and been playing ever since.
In what is usually the hardest category to choose from we actually had a very easy choice this year with the new album from Boston singer-songwriter BRYAN McPHERSON never off our play list all year long. The great news is that Bryan is heading to these shores in the Summer and we are very happy to be helping out. Dundalk’s THE MARY WALLOPERS were busy all year round and ended 2022 with a sell out London show and a debut album in December. The debut album from THE WINTER CODES saw a welcome return to the wider music scene for Barney the original vocalist for Blood Or Whiskey. Some may be surprised to find the first solo album from MARCUS MUMFORD listed but it really was a great album both musically but especially lyrically.
A new section this year and the first winner is THE OUTCAST CREW out of Laois in the Irish midlands. A new single and video directed, filmed and edited by Thomas Moyles that came out at the end of the Summer. Laois is famous for an abbey, some gardens, a castle and a couple of lakes and now a kickarse class Celtic-Celtic-Punk. They won the 2020 Celtic Punk debut album of the year and it’s about time we heard some more guys!
The competition for best Celtic-Punk video of the year was incredible so next year (which will be our 10th anniversary) we will make a bit more effort and maybe even include you in the decision!!
There were several people involved in the collation of these results and so it is that some of those people may not have heard every album listed or released through the year. If you’re album is not listed maybe you didn’t send it us or not all the folks here heard it so couldn’t give a opinion so really don’t feel too put out. We’re not perfect but we do try our best.
This is the ninth year we’ve been doing these Best Of lists. It seems incredible looking back at some of the previous winners and also-ran’s just how many bands are still with us from Year 1. Have a look for yourselves just click on the year below to redirect.
If you like what we do then why not visit our shop where you can buy all manner of Celtic-Punk tatt including t-shirts, badges, stickers, CD’s, fridge magnets, patches, Celtic nations flags and we just got in new for ’22 some bobble hats and polo shirts.
Alongside the Best Of polls we also run a special Readers Choice poll where you get to pick your favourite release of the year. This will be the fifth year it’s been running with Krakin’ Kellys, Mickey Rickshaw, The Go-Set and Ferocious Dog our previously champions! Last year we had well over 1500 votes (the most ever!) so remember the auld Irish adage ‘Vote Early – Vote Often’. There is only room on the form to list the Top Ten albums but there is an option for YOU to write in your favourite release (album or EP) of the year.
Poll will run until midnight on Tuesday 31st January 2023. You can vote twice. If the release you want to vote for is not listed then you can write it in.
Keep up to date with London Celtic Punks web-zine for all the latest news, record reviews, features and plenty more. Find all our social media here
Sweden’s Finnegan’s Hell have created a new branch of Celtic-Punk by adding influences from Hard Rock, Hillbilly Country and Swedish Folk. The band that the press called the kings of The New Wave Of Swedish Celtic Punk focus on melody and singalongs on new album One Finger Salute.
The Finnegan’s return with a new album and just like The Ramones they are not related and also just like The Ramones everything they do is golden! It barely seems like five minutes since their top three album Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class when it is in fact a couple of years. So more than enough time for this prolific bunch to get new album on the decks.
Now well into the second decade the Bhoys from Malmö, Lund and Gothenburg have had plenty of success along the way and one look at some of the live performances on their You Tube channel will tell you how popular they are as well. They even found time to record ‘The Boys In Green Will Conquer‘ for the Ireland team for Euro 2012. This led to them being described in the Irish media as
”They’re hard to describe, but just imagine a blend of Metallica and the Kilfenora céilí Band and you’d be about right.”
Everything they release gets a thumbs up from the Celtic/Folk-Punk media and they are fairly unique in the scene as they tend to receive plenty attention from the wider music press and, again, always very positive.
The album begins with ‘What Have You Got In The End?’ a short sharp burst of fiery tin whistle led proper Celtic-Punk in a tribute to all workshy Celtic-Punk rockers everywhere who question the benefits of working hard. The excellent video was produced and directed by Michael Ek, like all the videos featured here, who dug deep into the Swedish National Archives to find suitable images of Swedish life to illustrate the message behind the song. As with everything Finnegan’s Hell put their name to their attention to detail is incredible. ‘One Finger Salute’ was the first single to come out from the album and again accompanied by a fantastic video, the song with it’s infectious chorus is sure to evoke a sea of audience middle fingers when played live. The third song to be released prior to official release date was ‘Mickey Finn’ and by now we getting the taste of what this album is all about. Fast, furious bursts of energetic Punk-Rock but played through a filter of traditional Irish Folk music. Now a ‘Mickey Finn’ is a alcoholic drink laced with drugs given to someone without their knowledge. Named for a late 19th-century Chicago-Irish bartender and pickpocket who was notorious for drugging people’s drinks. Many of us, not me mind (!), have blamed their obnoxious drunken behaviour on being “slipped a Mickey”!
Only ten songs on the album is a wee bit of a gripe but Finnegan’s Hell are very careful to make sure only quality makes it on board so maybe that’s why. Next up is ‘Read My Lips’ and from here on these songs are all new to me and their fans. If I thought the previous songs were pacey then I wasn’t prepared for this which comes out like a Motorhead where Lemmy was influenced by the Dubliners rather than Nazi Germany! I’ve often said that to be a top draw Celtic-Punk band one of the things you have to master is the ballad and Finnegan’s have always turned out a great one. Here it is ‘Godforsaken Town’ with the lyrics setting the scene brilliantly of a town dying on it’d feet as people flee for better opportunities. Reverend Mick never sounds better on this album while the music is sparse giving Mick’s vocals all the more emphasis. Tin whistle leads us into ‘Run Boy Run’ and we’re back on more familiar territory with a tale of a life gone bad leading into ‘Comin’ After You’ and the excellent banjo and accordion in a dark fist in the air singalong. Less serious matters see us out starting with ‘I’ll Make It Up To You’ a trad Irish romp and the darker ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ which between them tell the breakdown of a marriage albeit with plenty of humour. The curtain comes down on One Finger Salute with ‘Oh Death’ and a Nick Cave / Tom Waits / Celtic-Goth number that sees them go out in style.
Finnegan’s Hell from left: Ace Finnegan – Drums * Pabs Finnegan – Lead Vocals / Guitar * Cozy Finnegan – Percussion / Backing Vocals * Mick Finnegan – Banjo / Tin Whistle / Vocals * San Finnegan – Bass / Backing Vocals * Old Roxy – Accordian * Photo by Lars Brundin *
Back in Sweden, Finnegan’s Hell are lazily labelled ‘The Swedish Pogues’ by a music press that only thinks of The Pogues when it comes to Celtic and Irish music. It’s always going to be something that Celtic-Punk bands will have to put up with (I even saw the Dropkick Murphys compared to The Pogues once!) but at least they share the same kind of infectious melody and straightforward lyrics even though Finnegan’s Hell have cranked up the volume and the tempo. They may not be about re-inventing the wheel but what they are about is taking Celtic-Punk and wringing every single bit of fun out of it and they achieve that mightily on One Finger Salute. Tip of the hat to you Bhoys.
Swedish Celtic-Punk Rockers Finnegan’s Hell are back with another taster from their upcoming new album. If it’s half as good as the songs they’ve already released it’s a winner!!
Today, Friday, October 28th, sees the release of the new Finnegan’s Hell single ‘What Have You Got In The End’ along with a accompanying music video. The song is a tribute to the workshy Celtic-Punk rockers Finnegan’s Hell who question the benefits of working hard. Fans of the band’s critically acclaimed album ‘Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class’ (#3 Celtic-Punk album of 2020) will not be disappointed. ‘What Have You Got In The End?’ is the opening track of the long-awaited new album ‘One Finger Salute’, which is released November 25th. Its title track appeared as a single a few weeks ago and received rave reviews all over Europe as well as in the US and Canada. Back home in Sweden, Finnegan’s Hell are often labelled ‘The Swedish Pogues’ by the press even though Finnegan’s Hell have cranked up the volume and the tempo. Sadly it is something that will always happen to Celtic-Punk bands to be compared to The Pogues but at least Finnegan’s Hell share the same kind of infectious melody and straightforward lyrics that was the trademark of Mr. MacGowan and his men.
Finnegan’s Hell left to right: Reverend Mick Finnegan * Pabs Finnegan * Old Roxy * Ace Finnegan * Cozy Finnegan * San Finnegan *
The video for ‘What Have You Got In The End?’ was directed by Michael Ek, who dug deep into the Swedish National Archives to find suitable images of Swedish life to illustrate the message behind the song. As per usual with Finnegan’s Hell the level of care and attention to detail is incredible. Yeah they got the gimmicks but they also have the great songs to go with them.
(Video produced and directed by Michael Ek)
My father worked until he died
A struggle all the way
He would never catch his breath
Until his dying day
My mother tried to raise us
Doing odd jobs on the side
They treated her like dirt In the end she lost her pride
You scrape to get by
And you will till you die
But what have you got in the end?
Yeah, you scrape to get by
And you will till you die
Tell me what have you got in the end?
Can’t take nothin’ with you, my friend
My brother’s working overtime
To pay all his bills
His house, car, tuition fees,
His wife’s prescription pills
According to statistics
He’s happier than most I saw him just the other day
Swedish Celtic-Punks Finnegan’s Hell are back again with a new single, the title track from their upcoming (November 25th) new album and we’re happy to report they have all the same swagger, intensity and attitude as before.
Finnegan’s Hell used the shutdown during the pandemic to write a whole new set of big new songs. The best of these bunch will see the light of day on One Finger Salute and first up is the title track along with accompanying music video. ‘One Finger Salute’ is a magnificent marker – a musical middle finger with an infectious chorus sure to evoke a sea of audience middle fingers! Finnegan’s Hell are not about inventing the wheel but what they are about is taking Celtic-Punk and wringing every single bit of fun out of it. They continue on from last album Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class (#3 Celtic-Punk album of 2020) in top form sounding somewhere between The Pogues and fellow Scandinavians Greenland Whalefishers and it is catchy beyond words and infectiously so too. Anyone who has ever lived with a monster will recognise the theme of the song and on this evidence someone will have to set a new place at the Celtic-Punk top table!
Finnegan’s Hell left to right: Reverend Mick Finnegan * Pabs Finnegan * Old Roxy * Ace Finnegan * Cozy Finnegan * San Finnegan *
The idea behind the video for the single is to contrast Metallica’s valium-scented ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and shows a band on speed in the studio. It also provides a unique insight into how Finnegan’s Hell interacts with their producer. The images are taken from an upcoming documentary about the band.
Christmas Day is almost upon us and a recent development in the Celtic-Punk world has been bands doing Christmas songs. Every year we see more and some from quite unusual sources. Of course it being Celtic-Punk most have more in common with the darker side and ‘Fairytale Of New York’ than with ‘Rocking Around The Christmas Tree’. No harm in that after all we should all spare a thought for others at this time of year and go out of our way to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Enjoy this varied collection of Christmas songs and see you at a gig sometime soon!
FINNEGAN’S HELL – ‘Christmas Day’
the season’s upon us as Scandinavian big-hitters Finnegan’s Hell were first out the traps to celebrate a Celtic-Punk Christmas. Their new song ‘Happy Christmas’ shines a light on the dark side of Christmas and is aimed at broadening the general perception of the holiday, which, to some people, is nothing but a nightmare. Not us though, we love it… but some people.
YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS – Carol Of Bellows
Another bunch of Scandinavians go mad this year and Ye Banished Privateers have released a whole album of if not exactly Christmas fun then at least Christmas songs. This song is the lead single from A Pirate Stole Our Christmas and is a take on the traditional ‘Carol Of The Bells’. A mix of choral’s, bawdy Swedish trad folk tunes and a Ukrainian nursery rhyme, they tell of Bellows triumphant return from the grave. Theatrical Pirate-Folk-Punk and second to none at the genre!
MISSING THE FERRY – Home For Christmas
Luton 2nd generation Irish band have had a busy year with several new releases hopefully building up to a full length album. It’s a bitter sweet song, hoping that the lost and displaced, the grieving, the addicted, the sick in mind or body will again see home this Christmas….if only in their dreams and imagination. The track is free on Bandcamp but the Bhoys ask that you make a donation to a mental health charity.
SONS OF CLOGGER – In Time For Christmas
After 10 years and nearly 400 gigs English Folk-Rockers Sons Of Clogger have finally got round to doing a Christmas single. With new members all bedded in it’s probably the most ‘traditional’ song here and wouldn’t be out of place on any Christmas compilation.
The Brits like to think that the German race have no sense of humour but German band Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers certainly look like they are having a great time filming the video for their seasonal track. Named after a song by Motorhead they call what they play ‘Gaudi Folk’, Celtic-Punk that is more Folk related but with serious Punk Rock attitude.
MICK THE BUSKER – Fairytale Of New York
Mick McLoughlin (aka ‘Mick The Busker’) has been a familiar face busking on Henry Street now for over a decade. He’s been through the hard times ant the other side and while every year their are umpteen recordings of FONY we loved Mick’s version. Many take the cowards way out and unnecessarily censor the song but not here.
Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall? It’s the time that every Santa has a ball Does he ride a red nosed reindeer? Does he turn up on his sleigh Do the fairies keep him sober for a day?
It’s Christmas… nearly. I’m not one of them zealots who has the tree up in November but have to say it’s my favourite time of year and second only to St. Patrick’s Day for the flurry of activity in the Celtic-Punk scene. Kicking off Christmas 2021 are the fantastic Finnegan’s Hell who are no strangers to the auld Christmas song genre with a new song and video for ‘Christmas Day’.
(Official Finnegan’s Hell music video directed by Michael Ek)
Well, it’s Christmas again and I’m cold to the bone
It seems Santa ain’t coming this year
Such a shame I have seen this before
It’s become a tradition Christmas alone
It’s just me and my beer
A choir on TV is singing their hearts out
The children are smiling, there’s joy everywhere
But here in my room there’s just misery and gloom
I wish I was dead drunk, but I really don’t care
Well, it’s Christmas again
Just a year since the last one
It’s a curse, such a bummer one cannot escape
It’s snowing outside and I try to keep warm
But the window is busted and I’m all out of tape
Well, it’s Christmas again and I sure miss my family
My wife took our children and they all ran away
I don’t know why they left they sure ain’t coming back here
I’m alone in this hell How I curse Christmas Day!
A dystopian in your face tale of a dysfunctional Christmas day and not one I would wish on anyone! As far away from the world of sugarplums and tinsel as is possible but then again the most famous and bestest Christmas song in the world is as well! Don’t despair though we’ll be back with something a bit positive any time soon. As a wee bonus a film team got the rare opportunity to follow Finnegan’s Hell during the studio recording their time recording ‘Happy Christmas’. This is the story behind the music.
Well here we go again. It seems an awful long time since we were compiling all the votes into 2019’s Best Of. Last year saw The Walker Roaders triumph but with this year being a lot quieter on the Celtic-Punk front thanks to the lockdowns around the world bands have found themselves unable to tour and promote new releases so have held onto them till things got better. Still that’s not to say it was a complete wash out and as you can see from below their have been some absolute knock-outs during the year.
Remember this is only our opinion so feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. The Readers Poll is back again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2020 yourself. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
(for more information click on the release title in green)
Was very close between the top three this year but Ogras seem to have been not only our favourites but also most of the Celtic-Punk medias too. A lot less albums may have come out during the year but still plenty more that didn’t make the cut. Don’t be down hearted if you are one of them it could just be that one of the judges hadn’t heard that album. Again if we don’t hear your album we can’t review it so the massive majority here are ones that were sent in to us. We only need a download link (NO Spotify!) and we’re happy. Out of the 30 albums 18 countries were represented including 2 from the Celtic nations Scotland #4 and Brittany #13 and our first from Hawaii!
Several bands have taken the chance during the lockdown to release compilations of sorts. While it would be a little unfair to include them in the main ‘Best Of’ section they still deserve a mention. Among these were two 30 year celebrations from two of Celtic-Punks most successful and popular bands in THE MAHONES – This Is All We Got To Show For It and FIDDLER’S GREEN – 3 Cheers For 30 Years. Both fully deserve a round of applause, a raise of the pint and a tip o’ the hat! Band compilations included ANTO MORRA – Twenty, THE DEAD RABBITS – The Dead Rabbits, LEXINGTON FIELD – Here’s To You Ten Years Of Fiddle Rock and LQR – Barrel-Aged. A couple of live albums THE STANFIELDS – Welcome To The Ball and ShamROCKS – FCP Livewere both well received, you may have heard that a little known band THE POGUES put out a new album of previously unreleased materialBBC Sessions 1984-86andQuintessential Quarantuneswas a 6-band compilation released in the Summer featuring the Bible Code Sundays and The Reels. MacSlons Irish Pub Radio also released volume 5 of Raise Your Pints the best Celtic-Punk sampler around of 19 of the Celtic-Punk scenes best bands.
You have to go back to the beginning of January for 1916’s release and though many more would challenge it stayed top of the pile all year long. Some great debut releases here from bands that will I am sure go on to bigger things. This time last year I was crowing about Shanghai Treason and how much I was looking forward to seeing them play… well I still am!
This year’s winner of Best Debut Album comes from a continent where Celtic-Punk appears to be booming! The South American scene has been dominated in the past by bands from Brazil and Argentina (last years winners in this category were Aires Bastardos from Argentina) but with Batallón de San Patricio from Guadalajara in Mexico things are changing with several bands popping up over the last couple of years. The last twelve months have seen Batallón de San Patricio garner favourable reviews from various singles and live streams. Hermanos De Guerra/ Brothers Of War is delivered entirely in Spanish and spans the length of Celtic-Punk from trad Irish up to Celtic-PUNK making it fully deserving of the award.
Always the hardest list to compile as it covers so much ground. Some of these bands play Trad Folk with a Punk Rock heart like Clover’s Revenge while others didn’t quite fit as Celtic-Punk releases but the winners are the Rose family from NY state otherwise known as The Wild Irish Roses. An album that took us by surprise and managed to please everyone.
Now this section is tinged with sadness. There is no question which site has the biggest impact on the Celtic-Punk scene over the last year and while not strictly a web-site the CELTIC PUNK, FOLK AND ROCK FANS group on Facebook fully deserved this years award. Sadness because the group founder Mike Kilroe very sadly passed away at the beginning of the month. Created back in February 2019 it was around the time of last years ill fated St. Patrick’s day and the subsequent Dropkick Murphys live stream show that membership of the group exploded and has now passed over 8000 members. If on Facebook they should be your first port of call, alongside us of course! We had a great interview with the founder of the group Mike back in May that you can find hereand of course our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2020 lists in fact all the major players in Celtic-Punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
So there you go. Remember we have never pretended to be the final word on things in fact have a look at the other Celtic-Punk media’s Best Of’s and I’m sure they are all pretty different. Our Best Of’s, as usual, cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page and then tallied up over a few pints in Mannions in north London. One important thing to note is that not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
Nine years we’ve been doing these lists now. It seems incredible looking back at some of the previous winners and also-rans how so many bands are still with us from Year 1. If you would like to check for yourself then just click on the link below the relevant year.
Alongside the Best Of polls we also run a special Readers Poll where you get to pick your favourite release of the year. This will be The Readers Poll’s third year with Krakin’ Kellys and Mickey Rickshaw previously champions! There is only room to list the Top Ten albums but there is an option to write in your favourite release of 2020. You are allowed to vote for up to two releases but not for the same artist.
The Poll will close at midnight on Sunday 31st January with the result announced soon after.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2021
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 on ‘Freedom 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 on ‘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!)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
It’s 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. LEXINGTON FIELD- ‘Christmas At The Pub’
This spot was originally held by the Spanish/German band Malasaners but their video disappeared overnight during the clampdown so the search was on for a replacement and last years Yuletide tidings from American- Irish fiddle rockers Lexington Field seemed an obvious choice seeing as we have spent most of the year outside pubs looking in!
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 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.
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 world. Titled 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)
“maybe its my Christian heart but I never could stand the sight of a man carrying a cross”
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.
Cinematography- James Wong Howe * Director- Martin Ritt * Music- Henry Mancini * Producer- Paramount Pictures
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.
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
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.
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!)
The 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.
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