A free collection of over twenty Irish rebel songs from some of the Celtic-Punk scenes best bands. Ancient, modern and contemporary. The tradition goes on.
Just in time for the beginning of the most important month in Celtic culture we’re delighted to bring you this new compilation. Twenty-one bands from across the world celebrating Irish resistance to foreign rule. Featuring modern day classics as well as songs that stretch right back in time to the days when to have been caught reciting them by the authorities would have led to execution or banishment. An important part of Irish culture these songs labelled ‘Rebel Songs’ are first and foremost Folk Songs. These songs travelled not only from one end of the country to the other but the four corners of the earth would resound to them. Some of the songs here were written by Priests and school teachers but most were written by people who were classed by the British as illiterate peasants and carried by labourers and the poor working class, moving from district to district and country to country looking for work and respite from oppression. Tailors, shoemakers, dockers, miners… songs written by ordinary people for ordinary people and there lies the secret of their popularity and why they were sung whenever and where ever Irish people met. Know full well though that these songs are not aimed at anyone personally. The older songs tell of wrongs done and battles fought many many years ago and are of important historical significance. Others are more contemporary and these songs too carry on the traditions of rebel songs and will do as long as injustice continues. Immerse yourself in these songs and enjoy them and even the most English among you will, once they know the facts, and the words, join in with a hearty “Up The Rebels!”.
The Gentlemen 🇺🇸 – Come Out Ye Black And Tans
Templars Of Doom 🇺🇸 – H-Block Escape
The Gobshites 🇺🇸 – Give Ireland Back To The Irish
In For A Penny 🇺🇸 – Easter Mourn
The Tan And Sober Gentlemen 🇺🇸 – Follow Me Up To Carlow
Black Irish Texas 🇺🇸 – Join The British Army
Tullamore 🇮🇹 – Mairéad Farrell
Sons Of O’Flaherty 🇫🇷 – The Fields Of Athenry
The Dead B-Specials 🏴 – Take It Down From The Mast
Auld Corn Brigade 🇩🇪 – Broad Black Brimmer
Hudson Falcons 🇺🇸 – 6 + 26 =1
The Lucky Pistols 🇺🇸 – God Save Ireland
The Larkin Brigade 🇺🇸 – Sean South From Garryowen
The Fisticuffs 🇺🇸 – Young Ned Of The Hill
O’Hamsters 🇺🇦 – Erin Ga Bragh
Kilmaine Saints 🇺🇸 – Go On Home British Soldiers
Jasper Coal 🇺🇸 – The Merry Ploughboy
Drunken Fighters 🇪🇸 – The Big Fella
The Bleeding Irish 🇺🇸 – The Uprising
St. Bushmill’s Choir 🇺🇸 – The Foggy Dew
Larkin 🇺🇸 – On The One Road
Each track contains lyrics, the history of the song and band information and album links.
The album is available as a ‘name your price’ download which means you are welcome to download the compilation for free. In fact we would love you too but if you insist on leaving a donation then there is an option for that too but please within reason! We would be far more happier if you chose to share the link and let others know of it. An absolutely massive thanks to all the bands featured. Thanks you for your permission to use the songs. Each and every one of you we owe a debt of enormous gratitude for doing your bit to keep these songs and traditions alive. If you would like to be featured on a follow up volume then drop us a line.
“The Irish people will only be free, when they own everything from the plough to the stars.”
One of the best things about doing this here blog-zine is the end of year ‘Best Of’s’. This is our chance to reward, for what it’s worth, and recommend those releases that tickled our collective fancies over the last twelve months. Where as in 2013 the Best Of’s were dominated by local bands and releases and in 2014 it was international bands that stole the show this years is more of a mix of the two. No shocks at the top I’m afraid. It was always going to be a slug out between the big hitters of celtic-punk with The Rumjacks just shading it from the The Mahones by the slightest of margins. One of the team commented that the only difference was that ‘The Hunger And The Fight Part 1’ was slightly better than Part 2. In third place came 1916 out of New York who only just sneaked in with the December release of ‘Last Call For Heroes’. The album came out so late we didn’t even get a chance to mention it let alone review it nevertheless it blew us all away with their brilliant combination of rockabilly and celtic-punk. Another one to file in the ‘shamrockabilly’ category. Overall no major surprises and all four admins lists pretty much tallied up with each other but it’s especially great to see some non-English speaking bands in there as well as some bands that were new to us in the last twelve months. I was particularly happy to see Skontra and The Cundeez make the grade representing celtic-punk as played in the celtic nations. As ever we have reviewed some, though not all of these albums, so click (here) after the title and you will be re-directed to our review. If your album is not here do not be downhearted. These twenty album’s are the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year in what was an outstanding year for celtic-punk. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
Now onto the EP’s. These are classed as shorter usually four to six songs long and around anything right up to 15-20 minutes long. No shock here at number one as a unanimous vote saw this years new band of the year Mick O’Toole walk away with the title. They have been a solid fixture during the year building up quite a reputation and following. At number two it’s long been a well known secret that Indonesia is a hotbed of celtic-punk and Dirty Glass are one of the best bands in their flourishing scene and ‘Drunken Summer Nights’ ran O’Toole very close while another English band came in third. Matilda’s Scoundrels really hit the heights in 2015 and just like Mick O’Toole bigger and better things await them in 2016. The rest of the list is made up from bands from across the globe with Slovenia, South Africa, Hungary, Catalonia, Russia, Holland, France and Yorkshire all making the list.
As the blog is for (mostly) celtic punk so it is that we only review stuff that isn’t celtic punk if we really really (really!!) like it. All these rocked our boat and we loved each of them all to bits. If you like celtic-punk then you should not be afraid to give traditional folk a listen. Most of it is more punk than punk these days you know. It’s a direct link to the music that inspired celtic punk music and their are some amazing bands and performers out there. Hard to decide which order they should go in especially as O’Hanlons Horsebox could have just as easily won this years Best Celtic Punk Album as well! This is how the Top Ten ended up.
1. O’HANLONS HORSEBOX- ‘Songs And Stories From The Border’ (here)
8. JOHNNY CAMPBELL- ‘Hook, Line And Sinker’ (here)
9. FFR CELTIC FIESTA- ‘Fresh Blood’
10. THE PROCLAIMERS- ‘Let’s Hear It For The Dogs’ (here)
11. SKWARDYA- ‘Domhwelyans/ Revolution’
TOP CELTIC PUNK WEB-SITE
Again Waldo over at Celtic Folk Punk And More walks away with this award. There is simply no better site on the internet. Everything you would possibly need to know is here with a HUGE range of bands covered and there is no doubt in my mind that the site you are reading here now would not exist without the inspiration of Celtic Folk Punk And More. Sadly Waldo published a post on January 3rd titled ‘New Year, New Life’ (here) announcing the suspension of the site for a while. We wish Waldo well and look forward to his, and his fantastic web site’s, return.
* The lists were compiled from the scraps of crumpled paper, and one beermat, handed to me by the other three admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page and tallied up over several pints of beer in a seedy working man’s Irish boozer in north London.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- 2015
all the major players in celtic-punk do Best Of lists so click below to check out what they thought
the raw and uninhibited aggression of folk-punk with the authentic yet explosive renditions of traditional Celtic tunes
Well here we are with our first album review of 2015 and luckily for me its one of my all-time celtic-punk favourites Jasper Coal. They may not be a name known to too many of you but by Jiminy they ought to be. Highly innovative and super original they encapsulate everything that is good within the scene. They have total respect for the origins and the roots of the music they play and boy do they play it extremely well!
(from left to right) Kevin Nicholson – fiddle, vox Ian Hoppe – guitar, vox Miguel Martinez – drums Jeremy Burns – bass, tenor banjo, bouzouki, vox Matthew Parrish – lead vox, whistle Ryan Morrison – bagpipes, whistle, vox
Formed on St Patricks Day in 2004 Jasper Coal performing sea shanties and Irish drinking songs around their hometown they now celebrate their eleventh year with the release of ‘Just The One…’ their fourth album release and yet again they’ve plundered folk and traditional music’s back catalogue and come up with an album of covers that simply bristles with energy, passion and emotion.
Based in Birmingham the capital of the state of Alabama in the southern United States, the band’s name was inspired by stories of those Irish immigrants who worked in and around the coal mines in central Alabama in the mining town of Jasper. The discovery of coal along Alabama’s rivers can be traced back to 1815 and has gone on to influence Alabama and its development right up to the present day. Worked like dogs in terrible conditions and then thrown aside when the job or the miners body is done seems to be the lot of the miner internationally. Wherever a coal mine can be found then exploitation and desperation can be found soon after. Out of this working class life then came Jasper Coal a group of lads of Irish and Scottish desent and a willingness to take our forefathers music and give it a modern yet traditional twist and stamp it with a massive Jasper Coal brand!
Their debut album ‘Immigrant Child’ came out in 2008 followed in 2010 by ‘1000 Feet Closer To Hell’ which hit the dizzy heights of number 13 in the London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Celtic Punk Albums Of All Time (here). An absolute belter of an album which began my love affair with this great band. The album featured their first original song named after the album and describing the miners life brilliantly as well as a fantastic cover of the The Pogues rowdy drinking song ‘The Boys From The County Hell’. Third album ‘Drowning The Shamrock’ came out in 2012 and even though with each album release their acclaim has risen they still deserve to be heard much more high and wide.
This album kicks off with ‘Tell Me Ma’ and even though its been covered by all and sundry JC still manage to give it a kick up the arse. Starting with a simply fantastic pipe intro the first thing to say about this album is that all the way through Ryan’s piping is majestic and is easily as good as anything you’ll ever hear on a celtic-punk album. Matt is the only original member left from Jasper Coals original incantation as The Immigrants and his distinctive vocal style and voice add bucketloads to the music. There’s many a electric band that wish they could kick up a storm like these fella’s I’m sure. ‘Paddy 15’ is an update of ‘Poor Paddy’ the Dubliners/Pogues classic. Again the band nail it with this story of a immigrant Irishmans life breaking his back digging the rail in his new home. ‘The Glass Of Beer Set’ is a traditional song with bagpipes leading the way and excuse me while I gush over the piping again here but it is immaculate. A fantastic song sure to get even the mardiest of people tapping their toes and slapping their sides. ‘My Son John’ is an Irish trad song set during the Peninsular War of the early nineteenth century. Based upon ‘Mrs McGrath’ the song tells the sad story of a Irish woman whose son enters the British Army and returns seven years later having lost his legs to a cannonball while fighting against Napoleon. A sad fate that befell far too many Irish over the years. Jasper Coal have never shied away from doing what may be considered ‘controversial’ songs over here but are probably standards over there in the States. ‘Snipers Promise’ is a modern Irish rebel song and is played very simply with acoustic guitar and Matt’s voice singing delicately the story of an IRA sniper who longs for the day when he can retire and lay down his gun.
“Oh mama, oh mama comfort me
For I know these awful things have got to be
But when the war for freedom has been won
I promise you I’ll put away my gun”
What many don’t realise is those men who fought were not professional soldiers they were ordinary people who rose to face the challenge of defending their communites and their country. A lovely song with a chorus that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. They crank it up to eleven next with what many consider to be Flogging Molly’s best ever song ‘Devils Dance Floor’ and they deliver a version the Molly’s would be proud of. JC have never been solely about Ireland and have often done Scots songs and ‘Bennachie’ is one of the album’s stand out tracks. Bennachie is a range of hills in Aberdeenshire.
“Gin I were whaur the gaudie rins
The gaudie rins, the gaudie rins
Gin I were whaur the gaudie rins
At the back o’ Bennachie”
Some believe that the peak had religious meaning and this theory is supported by the large number of standing stones in the area. The significance is believed to be connected to the profile of the hill, which is shaped like a female breast, which is reflected in the name ‘Mither Tap’ (Mother Top) or ‘Bennachie’ (Beinn na Ciche: ‘hill of the breast’). Extremely catchy with fiddle and pipes and drums and guitar combining perfectly. They follow this with honorary Celt Steve Earle’s fantastic ‘Copperhead Road’. If you’re looking for story telling song writing then check out Steve’s back catalogue. This great song tells the story of a moonshiner who joins the Army
“They draft the white trash first round here anyway”
and ends up fighting in Vietnam and brings his experience home and instead of moonshine grows marijuana on his farm in Tennessee.
Next is the classic Irish rebel song (Come Out You) ‘Black And Tans’. A rousing, fist in the air song that has inspired many over the years and is absolutely perfect for punking right up. The Black And Tans (so called due to the colour of their uniforms) were mercenarys brought over to terrorise the Irish back in 1919. With the nation rising and the empire on the verge of defeat the British governement decided to import the Tans and give them free reign to terrorise, murder and brutalise the population in an attempt to cowe them into submission. They never succeeded and despite the many atrocities that they were responsible for they were roundly defeated. The song was written by Dominic Behan, brother of Brendan, and is dedicated to his father. Its sure to get yer blood pumping…Irish or not!
“Oh, come out you black and tans,
Come out and fight me like a man
Show your wives how you won medals down in Flanders
Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away,
From the green and lovely lanes in Killashandra”
The bhoys give it a modern twist with the addition of an extra verse (which I am 100% sure Dominic would applaud) that further nails Jasper Coals views to the mast and good on them for having the balls to do so.
“Oh, come out ye English Huns; Come out and fight without yer guns;
Show yer wife how you won medals up in Derry
Ye murdered free young men,
And you’ll do the same again,
So get out and take yer bloody army with ye”
One of the many outstanding things about Jasper Coal is the bands playing of Irish gaelic songs. Matt sings ‘Óró Sé’ the albums final track with gusto and reminds me of The Wolfe Tones in a haunting version what with the military style drumming and drone of the pipes. Known under a few different names the title basically means ‘Welcome Home’ and has undergone several re-writes incuding one by the great Irish patriot Padraic Pearse. A fantastic way to bring a fantastic album to a close.
Jasper Coal are one of those rare breed of celtic-punk bands that with the same set of songs would appeal to both fans of punk and trad music. If this album had come out last year it would surely have won the London Celtic Punks Trad Album Of The Year award as well I’m sure as featuring high in the chart for the Celtic Punk Album Of The Year too. Taking the influences of the modern celtic-punk bands and seamlessly blending them with those traditions of those that came before us. A superb band with superb musicians and the first album of the year is already a contender for Album Of The Year!
Today we celebrate the blog’s first anniversary so, in a case of obvious self-indulgence, we thought we’d share with you our TOP TWENTY CELTIC-PUNK ALBUM’s OF ALL TIME. The last year has flown by and, even better, feedback for the site seems to have been universally good. As long we’re appreciated it’s all well worth doing. The celtic-punk scene has gone from strength to strength over the last twelve months and hopefully we’ve helped toward that in a small way. Big thanx to all who sent in stuff for review and also to our wee gang of reviewers and contributors.
Now before we get going thought I’d chuck in a couple of things. We’ve only chosen one album per band as let’s face it otherwise it would be dominated by 3, maybe 4, bands at best. There’s no time limit on it although it does tend to be the older rather than the newer albums chosen and their picked not just on music on the albums themselves but sometimes on the circumstances around hearing them for the first time, which I’m sure your all dying to hear!
SAINT BUSHMILLS CHOIR- ‘S/T’ (2004)
Attending the Anarchist Bookfair back in 2004 an old mate Booksie sez get yourself to the Active stall and get this album. So off I trot and I find it and its got a lovely celtic design on the front and a even lovelier Irish tricolour on the back. Not the sort of thing you’d expect to find at a Anarchist event! The song titles were all known to me and mostly Dubliners songs. Problem is its the last one so I have to buy it and lump it around for the rest of the day, and night!, trying not to lose it/break it/cover it in Skol Super. Any road I gets it home and play it and its f’king brilliant. Extremely well played Irish folk punk with great left politics and the only Anarchist celtic-punk song I’ve ever heard. I find out later that Saint Bushmills Choir are a kind of punk-crusty supergroup and that’s why the label Profane Existence released it. I did wonder why as everything I’d ever heard from the label before was an unlistenable racket! And it’s on very nice green vinyl!
THE GENTLEMEN- ‘Stick To Your Guns’ (2009)
First time I came across these was a video on YouTube of them at a West Virginia American Football game racing around with a Irish flag to ‘Country Roads’ so when their album popped up on the now defunct Paddy Punx web-site i downloaded it immediately. For such a young band they really were very very good but nothing has been heard from them in a long time and there’s not much to be found on them on the internet either. Aggressive celtic-punk but plenty of emphasis on traditional instruments too. ‘War Time In North London’ and ‘Under The Rowan Tree’ show their style at either end of the celtic-punk spectrum.
CHARM CITY SAINTS- ‘Hooligans And Saints’ (2009)
Emerging from the seedy punk rock clubs of Baltimore the Charm City Saints were one of a bunch of American celtic-punk bands inspired by the Dropkick Murphys. The LP begins with ‘Egans Polka’ which wouldn’t be out of place on one of your nanna’s records before blasting into the blistering ‘Night Paddy Murphy Died’. Catchy hooks and fist in the air choruses ensure the LP whizzes past as fast as anything. Blue-collar working class Irish American pride aplenty! Chuck in a couple of rebel songs and more trad punked up to 11 and you got yerself a classic of American celtic-punk. Far from the polish of the Murphys and the Mollys and all the better for it.
KEVIN FLYNN AND THE AVONDALE RAMBLERS- Live At the Double Door 09-15-09
Till they released ‘Broken Pavements Of Avondale’ last year all anyone had of these was a couple of EP’s and this fantastic live album, which consists only of the songs on the EP’s. Once again I came across it on the Paddy Punx blog and despite the name sounding like a old fogies band i thought i’d take a chance, and boy was i was not disappointed. I’m not normally a fan of live recordings but this is one of those rare occasions where the sound and music is immaculate. The bands mix of celtic-Irish-Americana and Chicago folklore plus solid working class roots and politics really hit the spot with me. Great sense of humour, as evident on crowd favourite ‘You Don’t Want Me’.
We reviewed their new album earlier this year here.
BETWEEN THE WARS- ‘Carried Away’ (2010)
Melbourne based celtic-folk-punk band who have now sadly broken up. They’ve left us a discography of great records of which this, for me, is the pick of the crop. Great story-telling from lead singer Jay with dark and light themes battling it out with understated humour! A few trad songs ‘Ride On’ and ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ are in turn beautiful and uplifting but its when Between the Wars play their own songs they come into their own. ‘Ciaran’ about the love of a father for his son and the son for his father is heart achingly good while ‘Superherosong’ and ‘You Were The One’ raise the roof with that distinct Aussie celtic-punk sound but with a tinge of country.
Plenty more on the blog including a review of their last LP here and a interview with Jay, the lead singer, here.
CRAIC HAUS- ‘Whose Yer Paddy Now?’ (2009)
Now this was a first for me and for anyone else whose ever come across Craic Haus too I bet. What you get is a album of ‘shamrockabilly’ that’s right 12 songs of celtic-rock’n’roll. They ought to be Imelda May’s backing band truth be told. Mostly self-penned titles like ‘Bottom Of A Guinness’ and ‘Shilleagh Bop’ show the bands great sense of humour plus theirs two incredible covers of The Wild Rover and Danny Boy with the original words but to the tune of something equally as famous. Hard to explain. Great production too and quite incredible work considering that their only a trio!
THE MEN THEY COULDNT HANG- ‘How Green Is The Valley’ (1986)
The day this came out I legged it back with the LP under me arm to me Nanna’s house in town. She had an old record player encased in a big massive cabinet about 5 foot long. The sound that came out was crystal clear but it was only ever use to playing country’n’western so how was it gonna handle ‘The Men’? Putting it on and the first song ‘Gold Strike’ came out and the guitar and mandolin giving it the impression of a folky LP she relaxed and then nearly fainted as it kicked into ‘Gold Rush’ a punky folky celt rocker. Things got worse for her as anti-fascist anthem ‘Ghosts Of Cable Street’ advocated hitting fascists and then miners strike song ‘Shirt Of Blue’ advocated attacking the police…she also found some of the language appalling!! Looking back it was nowhere near as punk as I thought it was at the time but The Men are still rocking out and recently celebrated their 30th anniversary with a grand sell-out big London gig. Definitely one of the early pioneers of the celtic-punk scene.
JASPER COAL- ‘Thousand Feet Closer To Hell’ (2010)
My dad was a coal-miner and so was his dad and his granddad too so coal-mining is in my blood you could say. Another album I came across via the Paddy Punx blog and it had a massive impact on me. Coming from the coalfields of Alabama these Irish-American lads sing a variety of mostly old standards and a few of their own songs. With very strong vocals and a banjo leading the way its a incredibly ‘full’ LP despite being acoustic and having no drums just the bodhran keeping the beat. Its also notable for having a song, O Caide Sin, in gaelic too.
FLATFOOT 56- ‘Jungle Of The Mid West Sea’ (2007)
Saw these the night after the only time I ever saw Blood Or Whiskey. Can’t remember how I came across it as the London celtic-punk scene was non-existent back then, but I did, and it was a weekend that went onto change my life forever! At the BorW gig I made a great friend without whom I doubt the whole London Celtic Punks thing would even exist and the following day at Flatfoot 56 i had my first date with the lady that was to become my future wife! The gig itself was outstanding. Fuck all people in a tiny wee cellar venue but great sound and those that were there were a enthusiastic lot. First on and all over before 9pm, we legged it when they finished playing and the rest is history. A short while after I got the album off another pal with ‘Knuckles Up’ on the same CD. I played it so damn much i cannot bear to put it on anymore but if it comes up on my I-Pod shuffle then i’m instantly reminded of why i love it!
There’s a review of the album of the Flatfoot 56 off-shoot 6’10 here.
BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS- ‘Boots Or No Boots’ (2010)
The Bible Code’s are to London what The Tossers are to Chicago or The Murphy’s are to Boston. Probably more celtic-rock than punk they gig relentlessly across London and have a massive and loyal fan base. Reading about them in The Irish Post every week I first saw them play at one of their fortnightly resident shows in London’s west end. Starting off with their own stuff and then returning after a break to play ‘Irish-ed’ up pop hits they certainly had the crowd in the palm of their hands. I got the album that night and bugger me but on listening to it it seemed like it was auto-biographical!! The perfect album for the second- generation Irishman. ‘Maybe Its Because I’m A Irish Londoner’ is by far the fans stand out track but i prefer ‘Paddy Devil’ telling the story of the evil influence that makes us go on the lash instead of staying in and behaving ourselves…
SHANE MacGOWAN AND THE POPES- ‘Crock Of Gold’ (1997)
With Shane kicked out of The Pogues and supposedly spiraling off into oblivion he shocked us all by teaming up with County Holloway celtic-rockers The Popes. Their first album together was ‘The Snake’ and was only so-so i thought but this album was something else. Freed from the confines of The Pogues Shane could let his pen do the talking. He calls it the Pogues fifth album. He doesn’t count anything The Pogues did after ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’. While hinting at nationalism with The Pogues for years this LP is defiantly pro-republican with stories of “burning London to the ground” and shooting coppers and soldiers. Received with glee by his fans and horror by the middle-class press both here and in Ireland. Dominated by jigs and reels The Popes prove themselves able to fill The Pogues shoes and even fit in a reggae song reminiscent of The Clash.
“The years they go by quickly/ I know I can’t remain here/ Where each day brings me closer/ To that final misery/ My kids will never scrape shit ’round here/ And I won’t die crying in a pint of beer/ I’m going back to Ireland/ And me Mother Mo Chroi.”
More on Shane from the blog here and The Popes here.
BLOOD OR WHISKEY- ‘Cashed Out On Culture’ (2005)
Straddling the celtic-punk fence nicely between the Molly’s folk and the Murphy’s punk is Ireland’s Blood Or Whiskey. This is their third album and they’re best one yet. Fourteen tracks of pure Irish folk ska punk. This was the first recording’s with new singer Dugs taking over from Barney and guest vocals from Cait O’Riordan of The Pogues add that special touch. Blood Or Whiskey have a instantly recognizable sound but don’t be thinking they’re stuck in a rut as they stand out in the celtic punk scene as a constantly evolving band. They are also the only band actually from a celtic nation on our list. ‘They Say No’ ends the album and is the standout track with all the BorW elements coming together perfectly!
This years new album from Blood Or Whiskey was reviewed on the blog earlier in the year, read it here.
THE MAHONES- ‘Irish Punk Collection’ (2007)
Catchy and upbeat this is the must have album of Irish-Canadian band The Mahones. They’ve been around for twenty years and are one of the innovators and movers and shakers of the celtic-punk world. Their is plenty here for all fans of celtic or punk music and the songs flow seamlessly from raucous punk to reflective ballad with ease. Dublin born singer Finny leads The Mahones and they are easily the hardest working band in the scene. ‘Queen And Tequila’ and ‘Drunken Lazy Bastard’ are still solid staples of the bands live set. Fourteen tracks and well over a hour long and not a single bad track. Scruffy from the Dropkicks pops up to show exactly how widely regarded The Mahones are.
DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘Do Or Die’ (1998)
Seems like an age ago now (and it bloody is too) that a old skinhead mate from Belfast put me onto these and I got to see them on their first London gig before I’d actually heard anything by them. To say they blew me away is a understatement and my love affair with them only got worse on hearing this album. Yeah the Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang were there first but the Dropkicks were a proper punk band. Our families all liked what passed for celtic-punk before this lot but the Dropkick Murphys? NO FACKING WAY! My mams heard them and thinks there awful racket! I use to call this album ‘celtic-Oi!’ and if you’re a recent convert to the DKM’s there’s not a lot of what passes for the band now. For a start Mike McColgan, from the Street Dogs, was the bands original singer and there’s very little celtic tunes and no instruments but plenty of references in the lyrics for those of us looking for them. By the time Finnegans Wake came on that was it for me!
FLOGGING MOLLY- ‘Drunken Lullabies’ (2002)
Their second album and easily their best yet. After ‘Swagger’ the band realised they didn’t need a new approach. Slow songs, fast songs and combinations of both was good enough to last them right up until their last album ‘Speed Of Darkness’ when they changed it around a bit. Formed in a LA pub by Dublin native Dave King their sound is as authentic as it comes. Full on Irish folk played with the spirit of punk that captured the imagination of untold numbers of punk rock kids across the globe. Despite their success it’s as a live band Flogging Molly are at their best and they’ve released a handful of excellent live releases. The title track and the heart aching ‘The Sun Never Shines (On Closed Doors)’ show them at their fast and slow best. Listen side by side with the Murphy’s and you’ll see these are the celtic side of celtic-punk while the Murphy’s are more punk but both compliment each other enormously.
THE TOSSERS- ‘The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death’ (2005)
A mate worked in Reckless Records in the West End and one day down the pub he announced to me “you like all that Irish folk shit, here have these” and presented me with a 1960’s LP of rebel songs, a Wolfe Tones CD and this by The Tossers. Maybe not their best album (I actually prefer ‘Emerald City’) but this has The Tossers greatest song ‘Good Mornin Da’ and a host of other Chicago South Side Irish folk-punk classics. Older than the Murphy’s and the Molly’s they well deserve their place at the top table of celtic-punk. More like the Pogues than the before mentioned bands they have The Pogues knack of playing lengthy songs that don’t bore the arse off you or go off into decadent meandering and keep your interest till the end! Saw them play once in London and they were every bit as good as i thought they would be.
You can find a review of the excellent new album from The Tossers, ‘Emerald City, here.
CUTTHROAT SHAMROCK- ‘Dark Luck’ (2011)
Coming from the hills of Tennessee they mix Irish and Scots folk with their native Appalachian music. Dark themes abound on this all the way through and the vocals and music really capture the emotions of the lyrics. Completely acoustic with superb banjo playing to the fore they would in fact go down well absolutely anywhere and with anyone I’d say. ‘Rich Insteada Pretty’ is a brief interlude of humour before ‘Dark Hallow’ takes us back to some more misery. A superb album with all the best bits of celtic-punk but with enough of Cutthroat Shamrock’s own definitive stamp to single them out as real innovators of the scene. ‘Fly Away’ would easily make my Top Ten Songs of all time.
THE POGUES- ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’ (1988)
You simply cannot underestimate the influence The Pogues had on this nation when they came racing out of the blocks in the mid-80’s. To put it simply the amount of Irish born people in Britain was massive but few of their offspring felt in anyway Irish. Hardly surprising when the rest of the nation was stacked up against them and to be Irish meant to be either a bomber or be thick or an alkie or feckless or violent or many other number of racist epitaphs. Who then could find pride in those roots when it was something we ought to be ashamed of? Well The Pogues could. Their first two albums were met with amazement and relief that we could actually be proud of our backgrounds and shout it out as well. By the time of this their third album The Pogues had started to agitate and their song ‘The Birmingham 6’, while only reinforcing what our families had already told us, brought the issue of the many innocent Irish jailed in Britain to a wider audience. That to be in possession of an Irish accent could land you in jail for a very long time. This is the record that saw them move away from being a band only Irish people could like and includes their mega-mega hit ‘Fairytale Of New York’. Though I cant stand ‘Fiesta’ the rest are pure brilliance and Shane’s lyrics are sublime. I especially loved the Tipperary themed ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’. But even despite all of Shane’s brilliance its the late Phil Chevron song ‘Thousands Are Sailing’ that stands out and gets you on every single level. Possibly the best song about Irish emigration of all time…and that’s a pretty congested subject. More from us on The Pogues here.
NECK- ‘Sod `Em & Begorrah!’ (2005)
Neck have been a solid fixture on the London punk scene for donkeys years now and this LP is their masterpiece. All 12 tracks are fully imbibed with the spirit of the two London bands that have inspired them the most- The Pogues and The Clash. I’ve been a major fan of Neck since the very beginning and no matter how often I’ve seen them play they never fail to give it their all and put on a great show. Lead singer and lyricist Leeson is up there with yer Shane’s and yer Christy’s and your Luke’s in the songwriting stakes and portrays perfectly what it feels to be a, so called, ‘plastic paddy’ or as Neck put it, much better, ‘PLASTIC AND PROUD’. The album has two expertly played trad songs and the rest are pure self-penned celtic-punk Neck classics. As impossible as it is to pick out a standout track, ‘Blood On The Streets’ about the racist murders of two young men in Ireland and London deserves a nod. The CD comes with a huge booklet with the lyrics and background story to each song which alone makes this a must have. More from us on Neck here.
THE RUMJACKS- ‘Gangs Of New Holland’ (2010)
Bejaysus I really wish I had heard this when I was a young gun, i would have definitely picked up a mandolin instead of untold tinnies and done something with me life! From start to finish this debut album from Sydney, Australia’s The Rumjacks kicks you squarely in the teeth. Whether its the full on celtic-punk rock of ‘Green Ginger Wine’ or the sadness of, nearly a ballad, ‘Bar The Door Casey’ Frankie McLaughlin’s blue-collar stories of working class immigrant life really hits home. It isn’t without humour mind, check out their enormous (5,500,000 hits and counting!) internet hit ‘An Irish Pub’ which puts the boot firmly into fake plastic Irish pubs. The band is a mix of Scottish immigrants and others from descended from the various celtic nations which gives them a very definite authentic feel. This knocked the flaming socks off me when I first heard it and its still doing it now. Australian celtic-punk bands rule the planet and The Rumjacks rule Australian celtic-punk…that should tell you all you need to know. Plenty more on The Rumjacks hereand the wonderful world of Aussie celtic-punk here.
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