Tag Archives: Johnny Cash

ALBUM REVIEW: ‘THE HANGMAN’S BLUES: Prison Songs In Country Music 1956-1972 (2016)

Grim tales of jailbirds, cutthroats, cuckolds, executioners, murderers and escapees.  Prison ballads form part of the historic lifeblood of Country Music and saw a resurgence after the 1960 execution of controversial convict Caryl Chessman. Here are some of the very best, seldom heard since their original release. Running the gamut from smooth balladeers of woe to ramshackle and plaintive backyard rockabilly.

While these days your more likely to find your folk music heroes went to Eton with Prince William or all met at Cambridge/Oxford/insert other posh university it’s not always been so. While it’s always been true that the music of the working classes has always been adopted by the well-heeled and the image of the bearded Green Party, Real Ale drinking, middle class ‘leftie’ singing away with his finger in his ear still rings true around the folk clubs. This also explains their reluctance to accept other genre’s like celtic-punk as part of the folk scene as at it’s heart is a snobbery to keep others out at all costs. Folk music was never a static thing with bands and singers always finding ways to keep the music alive and relevant though always with a healthy respect for the past. That the celtic-punk scene can be said to be partly responsible for the popularity of bands long gone like The Dubliners, Clancy Brothers and The Pogues butters no onions with these people who just want to keep things as they were at all costs. Happy to be big fish in small pools! What the artists on this album would make of four faux-ploughboy, waistcoat wearing members of the aristocracy representing folk music I don’t know (have to admit here I DO actually love Mumford And Sons!) but one thing is for sure they wouldn’t last five minutes in the company of people featured here and long to be be forgotten while these days be writ high.

One things for sure it has always been, and always will be, the poor that go to jail. Whether for a crime they freely admit (or not!) or through bigotry and lack of decent representation the jails of the world are full of the poorest of our society. Folk and country music has never been a stranger to the inside of prison walls right from the very start and this stunning compilation covers just about every country music offshoot musically as well as covering just about every reason why you could end up inside. The album opens strongly with ‘The Wall’, written by Harlan Howard, given a powerful performance here by Freddie Hart. Born to a sharecropper family in Alabama Hart left school at 12 but still managed to become one of country music’s biggest stars of the 70’s. I love the sound of the harmonica and there’s plenty of it’s woeful sound to be found here to keep me happy.

“The years gone by since he made his try
But I can still recall how hard he tried and the way he died
But he never made that, wall he never made that wall”

All the tracks were recorded between 1956 and 1972 and although I have heard several prison -themed album’s in the past I seriously cannot remember one that came anywhere remotely close to the quality found here. I could wax lyrical about every artist but this review would then run for pages and pages. Suffice to say that all the artists here know what it means to be hungry and many indeed did cross swords with authorities and some others saw the other side of a prison gate. Tennessee born, early rockabilly star Jaycee Hill’s  fantastic ‘Crash-Out’, is typical of many here with the acceptance and regret of a life of crime. Most of the artists here are American but one of the album highlights is the London born Marty Robbins with his intense performance of ‘The Chair’. Inspired by the controversial execution of Caryl Chessman in 1960.

Chessman was an unsavoury character that much is true and something he was intelligent enough to recognise within himself but he was convicted and charged on a law that was later repealed though not retroactively meaning his death sentence still stood. He became the poster child for the anti-capital punishment cause and the most recognizable face on death row. In May 1960 Chessman choked to death in San Quentin Prison’s gas chamber while the phone outside rang, just too late, with his stay of execution. His story is also dealt with in songs on this album by Country Johnny Mathis, one of the album highlights with its sheer, haunting poetry, Ronnie Hawkins and Jimmy Minor. The full story of Caryl Chessman is also told in a fine performance from Hoyle Miller notable for the last line of his song

“you see I too Hoyle Miller was once too on death row”

Dirt farmer’s son Porter Wagoner gives us a compelling version of the Hank Williams penned ‘(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle’. Known for his flashy suits and for giving Dolly Parton her big break Wagoner never forgot his working class roots often touring in rural areas where many would not perform and was also famous for his friendly relationship with his fans mingly before, during and after gigs with them. The jauntyness of ‘I Always Did Like Leavenworth’ belies the subject George Kent is singing of. Eddie Noack was a honky tonk singer influenced by Hank Williams and his superb version of ‘Invisible Stripes’ tells of the stigma that jail carries throughout  the rest of your days. Named from the stripes of the uniform prisoners were made to wear. A subject also visited here by Howard Crockett who turned to singing after a shoulder injury ended a promising baseball career. He performs a excellent cover of the famous Johnny Cash penned song ‘I Got Stripes’. Artist jailbirds like Johnny Cash, David Allen Coe and Merle Haggard are notable by their absence but the music that inspired them more than makes up for it. There are simply too many great songs and artists here to give justice to and the album comes to an end with ‘A Prisoner’s Dream’ by Charles Lee Guy III. When he was 16 he was convicted of manslaughter and sent to jail. During his imprisonment he learnt to play guitar and started writing songs. He sent a tape to Capitol Records who were sufficiently impressed to bring their studio equipment to Vacaville Prison in December 1962 to record him. Charles’ album, The Prisoner’s Dream, was well-received and in October, 1963 Time Magazine reviewed the album:

“Charles Lee Guy III has been an inmate of California State Prison since he was 16. The songs he has learned to sing there all reflect his sorry circumstance – and among them is the latest composition of a prison chum, country music’s Spade Cooley [himself a wife killer]. Guy’s woeful voice and guitar accompaniment fit the spirit of his music, and in this remarkable album he has the power of a young white Leadbelly.”

One of the songs on that album was titled ‘Wishin’ She Was Here (Instead of Me)’ thought to refer to his mother who many thought had committed the murder that Charles had been found guilty of. A moving, emotional and chilling way for this album to close.

All the tracks here were first issued on long forgotten 45’s often on obscure, tiny or private-press labels. All are incredibly rare and many are reissued here for the first time since release and are remastered from the original master tapes giving the album a sound that is as clear as crystal. Their are twenty-eight tracks here and just under eighty minutes of music. Pretty much all of the songs come in around the two minute mark and the pacing on the album is also well thought out. Available on vinyl and CD the amount of care put into this album is to be applauded including the incredibly handsome twenty page, full colour booklet that comes with informative liner notes by Alvin Lucia and rare photos and label shots. This amazing package has been put together by Bear Family Records who also gave us Hillbillies In Hell- Country Music’s Tormented Testament, another timeless compilation telling of Satan, drugs, murder, suicide, demonic visions, infanticide and redemption. Their were plenty of prison songs before the era (1956-1972) chosen here on The Hangman’s Blues but these songs begin from the early days of rock’n’roll and though most are straight up country songs all have a dark edge to them, of course, and some have that raw rock’n’roll sound that many of you will love I am sure.

Declarations of innocence, profound diatribes on capital punishment and mournful odes to the Last Mile. The Hangman’s Blues will chill, thrill and bedevil the dreams of all who hear it. Feel the penal pain. Like the album liner notes say…we are all prisoners in one way or another.

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CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: JOHNNY CASH- ‘The Christmas Spirit’ (1963)

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Songwriter. Six-string strummer. Storyteller. Country boy. Rock star. Folk hero. Preacher. Poet. Drug addict. Rebel. Saint AND sinner. Victim. Survivor. Home wrecker. Husband. Father. Son. and more…

Though he would go on to later make umpteen Christmas themed albums this was Johnny Cash’s first attempt and by far his greatest. Released in 1963 The Christmas Spirit features twelve songs of which many were penned either by the great man himself or his family and a handful of Johnny’s unparalleled Christmas standards such as ‘The Little Drummer Boy’, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Blue Christmas’.

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The Christmas Spirit was released on 1st November 1963 on Columbia Records and had a re-release in the the early 1990’s where the production was re-mastered. Now my Mammy use to own a whole load of Johnny Cash album’s and among them were several Christmas records that could, I’m afraid, be described as Cash-in’s (groan…). This record though has an authentic feel to it. Like Johnny was singing with all his heart and soul on this one, coming as it did not long into the start of his recording career.

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The Christmas Spirit has twelve songs and comes in at just under forty minutes. It has three songs composed solely by Johnny and one co-written with his father-in-law Ezra ‘Eck’ Carter. It also features two songs written by Johnny’s wife and long time collaborator June Carter. As for the songs it’s all about the wonderful and warm voice of Johnny Cash. ‘Christmas As I Knew It’ is an biographical song about Johnny’s childhood Christmasses in Dyess, Arkansas that was written by June and Jan Howard. Johnny speaks from the heart about his working class background and his family and their Christmas traditions.

The LP features Johnny’s amazing version of ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’ plus ‘Here Was a Man’ and ‘Christmas As I Knew It’, plus more like ‘Blue Christmas’, at the time made famous by Johnny’s old label mate Elvis Presley, and a warm reading of ‘Silent Night’, making The Christmas Spirit a groundbreaking effort for this sorely missed legend. Johnny sings lead vocals on all the songs with backing from various Carter family members and the feel of the album is one of absolute calm. It may not be very fashionable for some Johnny Cash-come latelys to admit that religion was one of the driving forces in one way or another throughout Johnny’s career but it certainly was.

The Christmas Spirit by Johnny Cash

“On Christmas Eve I dreamed I traveled all around the earth
And in my dream I saw and heard the ways the different people hail the king
Whose star shone in the east and what a dream it was
In London Town I walked around Piccadilly Circus

A mass of people movin’ here and there I wandered where
On every face at every place was hurry up I’m late
But a kind old man at a chestnut stand said merry Christmas mate
And I felt the Christmas spirit

In a little town nestled down in Bavaria Germany
I walked along to see what the feeling there would be
And here again was the busy din the rushin’ the yellin’
But some kind boy said Frohliche Weihnachten
Not understanding the words but gettin’ the buyin’ and sellin’
I felt the Christmas spirit

In Bethlehem I heard a hymn some distant choir sang
And with other tourists I walked along to a church as its bells rang
Then I heard someone tell someone there’s where Christ was born
I wonder if he looked like our baby looked on that first morn

And then I really felt the Christmas spirit
From a businessman in the Holy Land as a sidewalk souvenir shop
I bought a little Bible since I’d hardly stopped
And it was in Paris France somehow by chance that I took the Bible out

And as I flipped the pages I saw these words and I knew what it was all about
For I read fear not for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy
Which shall be to all people
For unto you he was born this day in the City of David a Saviour
Which is Christ the Lord

Then I took the little Holy Book held it close and tight
I closed my eyes and visualized the glory of that night
So suddenly it came to me for when I awoke on Christmas Day
I felt the Christmas spirit down deep inside to stay

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Johnny and June

From the very beginning of his career Johnny Cash recorded gospel songs and if Johnny Cash sang it then you knew Johnny Cash believed in it with all his conviction. His rugged voice, growling, sometimes simply speaking of killers and Jesus in the same breath. He himself had at heart this combination of light and darkness. He was a devout Christian who read his bible daily even in the middle of the deep and dark drug addiction he suffered from. There’s not a single bad song here. Johnny’s voice saves it from any excessive garishness or sentimentality making it a must have for any Cash fans or anyone looking for some Christmas music that ranks up their with ‘Fairytale Of New York’. Johnny Cash was both saint and sinner personified and at what better time to remember him than now at Christmas..

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THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ‘STEPPING STONES’ CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW SERIES

This album was brought to you as part of our regular series where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re maybe use to. Lost and hidden and sometimes forgotten gems from the legends that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern celtic-punk music. Usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘People Take Warning! Murder Ballads And Disaster Songs 1913-1938’ (2007)  here

EWAN MacCOLL -‘Bad Lads And Hard Cases: British Ballads Of Crime And Criminals’ (1959) here

EWAN MacCOLL AND PEGGY SEEGER – ‘The Jacobite Rebellions’ (1962)  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Don’t Mourn. Organize!- Songs Of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill’ (1990)  here

LEADBELLY- ‘Easy Rider’ (1999)  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘The Little Red Box Of Protest Songs’ (2000)  here

GIL SCOTT-HERON- ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ (1974)  here

EWAN MacCOLL- ‘Scots Drinking Songs’ (1956)  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Protest! American Protest Songs 1928-1953’  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Women Folk- Iconic Women Of American Folk’  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘The Greatest Songs Of Woody Guthrie’ (1972)  here

THE DUBLINERS- ‘A Best Of The Dubliners’  here

ALBUM REVIEW: CLEAR THE BATTLE FIELD- ‘Set Me Free’ (2016)

Armagh born multi instrumentalist Dominic Cromie and crew with a modern take on traditional Irish music that has something for bloody everyone!

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When talking about celtic-punk people sometimes think of a narrow genre situated somewhere between the two most famous bands to come out of it, The Pogues and The Dropkick Murphys, but when you also throw in Flogging Molly you begin to have a genre that stretches from traditional Irish folk all the way to hardcore punk. I also tend to think of other such diverse artists as Johnny Cash, Tom Waits and even Social Distortion as being an large influence on what we call celtic-punk today in 2016. Clear The Battlefield are no different. Taking Irish and celtic music and mixing it with all sorts of traditions, some old and some modern, all the while putting their own spin on it.

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Clear The Battlefield’s main instrumentalist, vocalist and lyricist is Dominic Cromie. Born in county Armagh in the north of Ireland he first began playing guitar at the age of ten and by eleven had written his first song. He played his first gig at fourteen with his sister Aine who was by then becoming a well know singer on the Irish show band scene. After touring Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Holland, Dominic left Ireland for the United States in 1991 to pursue his dream as a singer songwriter. Dominic formed Raglan Road, a Celtic rock band and has toured throughout the States performing with many of the nations best Irish-American bands. After these he formed Clear The Battlefield in 2008 and has been gigging solidly since leading up to this their debut album, Set Me Free.

dominic2The album begins, significantly perhaps, with the only cover on the album,’I Roved Out’. A old traditional folk song covered by all the great and the good in Irish musical history. Confusingly there are two versions of ‘I Roved Out’ but this is the one as popularised by Christy Moore telling the rather common tale of a young woman who is seduced by a soldier, only to find that he has abandoned her the next morning. The album kicks off with a sort of dancey backbeat and my first worry is that it is going to be like those awful techno rebel song medleys that get released every now and then and are used to whip up the drunks in nightclubs across the Irish diaspora. I need not have worried though as its not intrusive and (can I hear myself actually saying this) sounds pretty good.

Anyway pretty soon in the Irish instruments take over and expertly played tin whistle comes in and later the glorious sound of uileann pipes.

“With me too-ry-ay Fol-de-diddle-day
Di-rah fol-de-diddle, dai-rie oh”

Next up is ‘The Valley’ and a slow song but with Dominic’s voice bursting with emotion. He is blessed with a voice that sounds like those old crackly records our Grandparents owned but with the modern touches it easily straddles both worlds of old and new. ‘You’ follows and is a nice love song done as alternative sounding country while ‘Mary’ is back to more folkier territory. We are back next with ‘Set Me Free’. The instrument count rises as Dominic and crew rattle through a somewhat tribal tune. At any second we expect it to fly into complete trad but its just reined back enough. Accompanied by a great video that leaves us in no doubt where Dominic’s heart and passion lies.

The album’s longest track is the instrumental ‘The Rights Of Man’ at over six minutes and begins with an instrument we do not hear enough of in celtic punk those uileann pipes. With Black 47 no more and a long long time since Stephen Gara packed his bags for NYC and left London Irish rockers Neck only Italian band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are giving us what we want. More pipes! The following songs follow a similar path in that they start off as just guitar and voice before flying off into something else. ‘Get Up’ benefits from a Irish ending while ‘Go’ returns the album to the unconventional country sound we heard earlier.

We even dip into ‘C86’ sounding indie with ‘Even After The Drugs’ that takes in bands like The La’s or Teenage Fanclub. Finally Set Me Free comes to an end with ‘Days Days Days’ a short blast of upbeat jazzyness that is a way cool way to bring the curtain down.

The ten songs clock in at just under forty minutes and if I had a slight, and I mean slight, criticism with Set Me Free it would be that their is perhaps some unnecessary flourishes that don’t really add much to the music. It’s not your typical celtic-punk and sometimes it feels like the most un-celtic-punk celtic-punk album we have ever reviewed here. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it. The playing here is truly to be marvelled at and regardless of whether it is punk or not will strike a chord with anyone with a love of traditionally played Irish music.

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ALBUM REVIEW: DEXYS- ‘Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul’ (2016)

Let the record show that Dexys do Irish and country soul… and do it well too!

Dexys

For those of you not in the know Dexys is the name now used by the band once known as Dexys Midnight Runners who during the 1980’s were quite possibly one of the most popular English pop bands going, having a string of worldwide number one hits, most famously ‘Come On Eileen’ and ‘Geno’. Formed around the West Midlands of England they were together for the years 1978–1986 before reforming in 2003 and shortening their name to Dexys. Their first incarnation produced three classic albums- Searching for the Young Soul Rebels in 1980, Too-Rye-Ay in 1982 and Don’t Stand Me Down in 1985, while their last album as Dexys was called One Day I’m Going to Soar and was released in 2012 and despite the massive 27 year “break” was hailed by fans and critics alike as an outright classic. Two of the things the band became famous for was the never ending line up changes and also musical direction. Formed by Kevin Rowland he has been the only constant throughout the years and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he is the main visionary and driving force behind the band.

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Rowland began his musical career in the short lived but popular (to me anyroad) punk rock band The Killjoys who were one of the first original punk bands around the Midlands but in 1978 he wrote a soul song called ‘Tell Me When My Light Turns Green’, which went on to become the first Dexy’s song. They got the band name from the nickname of Dexedrine which was popular as a recreational drug among Northern Soul fans at the time which gave you the ability to dance all night hence the midnight runners! Image has always been important to Rowland and he decreed the band buck the trend for the sharp suits that were popular in the ska scene at the time and band dressed in donkey jackets and wooly hats. A look described as

“straight out of De Niro’s Mean Streets”

The music was impeccable and played to absolute perfection and their debut album catapulted them into stardom. The album cover featured a photograph of a young northern Irish Catholic boy carrying his belongings after having had his home attacked during anti-Catholic riots in Belfast. When talking about the photo Kevin said

“I wanted a feeling of unrest. The photo could of been from anywhere but I was secretly glad it was Ireland”
The lad on the cover was working at the Royal Mail, Belfast, at the time of the album release. Kevin Rowland himself though born in Wolverhampton has always been extremely proud of his Irish roots. His parents came from Crossmolina in Co. Mayo and landed in post war England at a time when work was non-existent in Ireland and hundreds of Irish were leaving home. The cities of England became huge ghettos for the Irish and their children and with the war waging in the north of Ireland and occasionally spilling onto English streets Irish people enforced a code of silence. No outright show of support for the republican movement was shown while at home, in the pubs and churches and anywhere Irish people gathered they shared the songs and stories of home. For many of those second generation born here they couldn’t wait to get away from the Irishness of their parents but for some it was embraced and held dear and Kevin Rowland was one of the latter.

Dexys 3With Searching for the Young Soul Rebels soaring high in the charts suddenly, angered over continual personality problems with Rowland, five of the band members then quit leading to the second incarnation of Dexys Midnight Runners. With just Kevin and the Scots descended ‘Big’ Jim Paterson left they nicknamed themselves the ‘Celtic soul rebels’ and they set about recruiting a bunch of fiddle players that he called the ‘Emerald Express’. Out went the donkey jackets and a new look was adopted that included hooded tops, boxing boots, and long hair but just as quickly a new image was seized upon and leather waistcoats and dungarees were the order of the day. It was described as

“a raggle-taggle mixture of gypsy, rural Irish and Steinbeck Okie”

The first single of the second album was the title song ‘The Celtic Soul Brothers’ and the whole album was a mix of soul and celtic folk that again captured the public’s imagination and provided the band with their biggest hit ‘Come On Eileen’. Again though band politics were at play and again band members were to leave citing Kevin as the reason. On the release of  Don’t Stand Me Down in 1985 only Kevin remained of that first line up and this time wearing ties and pin-striped suits the album though popular with fans did not please their record company and eventually in 1987 with the band down to just three members, Kevin Rowland, Helen O’Hara and Kevin ‘Billy’ Adams, and with Rowland and O’Hara’s relationship ended and drug issues appearing the band finally disbanded in 1987.

Dexys4Kevin Rowland left the band and despite issues with depression as well as well publicised financial problems( including a spell on the dole) and drug addiction he released several solo albums though none were particularly well received he stayed well within the media glare remaining a well known public figure, though mainly for his perceived eccentricities like appearing on the cover of his solo album ‘My Beauty’ in women’s underwear! Reforming the band in 2003 Dexys Midnight Runners began to play and tour occasionally but it wasn’t till 2011 and with the band’s name now shortened to Dexys that they began to record new material leading to the release of their fourth and equally brilliant One Day I’m Going to Soar album.

Thus leading us on to here and on St Patrick’s Day this year Dexys announced they were to release an album of Irish songs. It’s an album which Kevin had always wanted to make saying

“We had the idea to do this album in 1984 or 1985. It was to be called Irish and was to feature songs like ‘Carrickfergus’, ‘Curragh of Kildare’ and ‘Women Of Ireland. Dexys broke up not too long afterwards, so it didn’t happen”

Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul features twelve songs and while only half are in fact Irish songs several more evoke ‘Irishness’ in some way and all showcase Kevin’s amazing voice which here is as strong as it has been in decades. This fine album begins with ‘Women Of Ireland’ and slow beautiful fiddle leads onto harmonica and the unmistakable Dexys sound shines through. The song originally titled ‘Mná na h-Éireann’ was written by Irish folk legend Seán Ó Riada (1931–1971) and though performed as a instrumental here does in fact have words. A truly beautiful version that is a great way to start proceedings. And as you will see from the video once again they have gone through a image change and one thing you can’t accuse them off is being sartorially challenged!!

Next up, and to add the country soul of the album title, is The Bee Gees ‘To Love Somebody’. Now for those of you not familiar with The Bee Gees body of work I can guarantee you actually know a lot more than you think. Dexys version begins with some sweeping strings before Kevin’s voice comes out loud and proud and I have to say surprisingly strong and powerful. Not straying far from the tune of the original it is the voice that carries it and carries it well. Another famous song follows in ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’. Written in 1933 by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach it has been covered numerous times but again here Dexys give it their treatment. The sweeping strings are back and a wonderful way to record this wonderful song. It builds up but never loses that swirling sound and again Kevin carries the song through and by now we getting an idea of how the album works. We are back in Ireland next for ‘The Curragh Of Kildare’ which starts with a wee spoken poem before Kevin’s soulful voice is joined by female vocals and the two of them work fantastically off each other.

“The winter it has passed
And the summer’s come at last
The small birds are singing in the trees
And their little hearts are glad
Ah, but mine is very sad
Since my true love is far away from me”

The original was written by Scotland’s poet laureate Robbie Burns.It tells the story of a young Scottish woman whose lover is away soldiering for the Queen in the Curragh of Kildare.

We stay in Ireland next with the Nanna’s favourite ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen’. While I would have preferred some more less known covers their is no denying that Dexys have certainly stamped their brand onto these songs and it must be said this is a song I heard as a very young child so brings back some very happy memories for me and I suppose many of us. Though one of the most popular traditional Irish music ballads it was in fact written by an American of German descent, Thomas Paine Westendorf,  for his wife. Rod Stewart’s ‘You Wear It Well’ is next up for the Dexys treatment and although it didn’t ring any bells I soon realised I know it well (it pops up in the movie version of Porridge!). The only song here I feel that doesn’t stand up to the original but in saying that it still works it’s just that Celtic supporter Rod’s version is the best possible by a country mile. Find it on YouTube here and marvel at the Bhoys amazing voice. Word is it that Johnny Cash on wanting to write a song about his Irish roots stuck a pin in a map of Ireland and filled in the gaps around it. ’40 Shades Of Green’ was the result and provided Johnny with one of his biggest hits. Here Dexys play it straight and only the introduction of a trumpet in parts shows the Dexys influence. In all the review’s I have seen of this album so far it is ‘How Do I Live’ they has stood out for most reviewers and though not my favourite is a great version of Lee Ann Rimes country rock ballad from 1998. The only song here I did not know before so maybe that explains my indifference to it while the rest of the album fills me with warm memories and feelings of family and home this, while a strong version, leaves me a bit cold. ‘Grazing In The Grass’ was an instrumental composed by Philemon Hou and first released as a single in 1968 and the following year with words by The Friends of Distinction. By far the most upbeat track here it sticks closely to the soulful original. We are back with Kevin’s roots again with the important Irish ballad ‘The Town I Loved So Well’. Harp accompanies piano and Kevin’s wondrous voice on this personal lament about the war in the north of Ireland, specifically in Derry city, a republican stronghold. Written by Phil Coulter about his childhood in Derry the song begins by telling of the simple life he grew up with till he emigrated and then returned finding how his hometown had become a major British army outpost and become plagued with violence.

“Now the music’s gone but they carry on
For their spirit’s been bruised, never broken
They will not forget but their hearts are set
On tomorrow and peace once again
For what’s done is done and what’s won is won
And what’s lost is lost and gone forever
I can only pray for a bright brand-new day
In the town I loved so well”

Recorded by many Irish music legends Kevin Rowland can now be added to the list and Phil Coulter while being one of the most important singer-songwriters in Irish history had this to say about The Town I Loved So Well’,

“Derry has a great tradition of music and a very proud history being one of the oldest cities in the country. In recent years it’s suffered more than its fair share of pain and heartache, but there’s something special about the place and the people that has helped them overcome the worst of times. Of all the songs I’ve written, this is the one I’d like to be remembered for. It’s my story but it’s also the story of Derry, the town I loved so well”

Another upbeat classic follows with a brilliant take on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’. Kevin’s voice is again let off the leash and allowed to flourish and the result is again fantastic.

Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish And Country Soul ends with ‘Carrickfergus’, another classic Irish folk song. Long one of Kevin’s favourite songs and he’s been performing it for years but finally gets it down on record here for the first time. Named after the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim in the north of Ireland Kevin’s version lasts near six and a half minutes and epic seems hardly the word to describe it. While the origins of the song are unclear  it has been traced to an Irish language song, ‘Do bhí bean uasal’ which is attributed to the poet Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna, who died in 1745. Recorded by acts as diverse as The Dubliners, Bryan Ferry and Van Morrison this is as good as it gets. Aye your right, quite possibly the best version I have ever heard. A song I have heard a thousand times but never really listened to. Kevin imparts a passion, sadness and sorrow like no other into this version. The feeling of remorse, the lost years is tangible, you can really sympathise with the narrator for the loss of his love (Ireland, as opposed to a partner?).

The first thought that pops into your head when hearing that a band you love have recorded a covers album is one of disappointment. Disappointment that they may have run out of ideas. Well that may or may not be true (I sense not) and here the choice of songs may not be as wild and as full of abandon as you’d expect them to be you can feel Kevin Rowland’s commitment to the songs in every breath he takes. He injects every track with his trademark intensity and what it may lack in originality, is more than made up for by his passionate and heartfelt voice. Growing up this side of the Irish sea we didn’t have many idols to admire. Many ‘famous’ people came from the same backgrounds as us but felt it better for their careers to gloss over it and don’t make a scene. Well Kevin has never stopped making a scene and here he, and Dexys, are right back on track.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and the passion for his ancestral homeland is infectious. A truly amazing album and not just for Dexys fans either.

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ALBUM REVIEW: TOM O’REILLY AND THE SWAGGERS- ‘One Fine Day’ (2016)

SWAGGER, SWAMP AND SLIDE!

“Celebration of people and their homelands, loves desired and lost. West country original country folk songs with soul, conjuring images of landscapes, oceans and the haunts of both the living and dead. Guaranteed to take the listener on a magical journey”

Tom O'Reilly & The Swaggers

Just as I was planning on reviewing this great album from Tom O’Reilly And The Swaggers the news came in from Facebookland that the band had won the ‘Kan Rag Kernow/Song for Cornwall’ competition held in Redruth and will now go on to represent Kernow in the Pan Celtic Song Competition to be held in Ceatharlach, Co. Carlow, Eire/Ireland at the end of March. They won by performing the tin miners song ‘Lugh Glow’ in Cornish. The song appears on One Fine Day but is sang in English as ‘Black Lung’ and is accompanied by eleven more original folk songs tinged with country and celtic music.

Tom O'Reilly And The Swaggers

Tom O’Reilly And The Swaggers (from l to r) Tomo – Vocals and Acoustic Guitar, Sam – Fiddle, Helen – Double Bass and Bass Guitar, Dr Bod – Acoustic Guitar and Kick Drum

Tom O’Reilly And The Swaggers as you may have guessed hail from Kernow/Cornwall and feature four members of the notorious fellow Cornish celtic punk band Black Friday. Don’t worry though this is only a side project for the quartet and Black Friday continue to go from strength to strength both at home in Cornwall, and in England.

One Fine Day’s first of its dozen tracks is the short ‘Intro- On My Way Home’ before morphing into ‘Final Resting Place’ and you can hear Black Friday but it’s Black Friday playing their alternative country sound. A brooding song and like a lot of the songs here the subject matter is dark but it’s presented to us in a joyous way. Next up is title song ‘One Fine Day’ and great fiddling again and Tom’s vocals dominate and its more of that alto-country sound. Aye its country but not quite as you’d know it!

‘Black Lung’ is up next and if you’ve ever wondered why their doesn’t seem to be any happy miners songs then reflect on the tough, hard life of the miner both in the job and after he retires. My own father worked as a coal miner and didn’t see past 57. Like a lot of the people he worked with down the mine he never got to enjoy retirement as his lungs were fucked up by breathing in shit for year on end. Mining is just a distant memory in Cornwall now and sadly, recently, is in Yorkshire too. It’s a beautifully played song dripping with emotion and is followed by a spot of Cornish republicanism with ‘The King In The Crown’. A story of escaping your home to sail the sea.

“The king in the crown in London town you’re not the king of me”

Fiddle begins ‘Standing There’ and dominates ‘Good To Be Free’ as well. The album is tripping along really nicely. Real foot-tapping music and to be placed on the celtic folk side of things. Its mostly country influenced i would say but coloured by Black Friday and their music.

‘Watch Me Fall’ adds in a bit of calypso before ‘Scream Softly’ comes in and reminds me a lot of an old band I really loved called The 1926 Committee from South London (anyone know where they are now?) with acoustic guitar and Tom’s great distinctive vocals giving the song that bit of extra depth. ‘Sea Bound Sailors’ is as slow as it gets on One Fine Day and is also the closest they sail to celtic music. A real lovely song before they return to a more up tempo sound with ‘Country Boy Blues’. Now this will get your toes-a-tapping believe me!

One Fine Day ends with the short ‘Outro- Farewell And Adieu’ continuing on from that opening track. This is a fantastic album that like I said is more to the folkier side of celtic-punk and you’d recognise more of bands like The Levellers in it than The Pogues but they have taken something of The Pogues anarchic side to do what they have done. Think of of Cash and Strummer rather than the usual Shane and Strummer. Tom O’Reilly’s vocals suit the music 100% and his first class song-writing delivers with charisma and depth. What you get is refreshingly authentic music with raw folk energy, the attitude of punk and the rebel yells of country music. Yee Har!

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(here’s a snippet of their other band Black Friday)

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*you can catch Black Friday playing live in London on Thursday 12th March at the St. Moritz club in Soho. Go to our ‘What’s On’ page here for all the details of that and a whole host of other happening’s in London town!

 

ALBUM REVIEW: THE LANGER’S BALL- ‘Whiskey Outlaws’ (2016)

Irish punk rock from the frozen Mid-West.

The Langer's Ball-Whiskey Outlaws (2016)

Whiskey Outlaws is the new album from American celtic-punks The Langer’s Ball and their first full-length studio album in 4 years. The band began playing as a Irish folk music duo in Saint Paul in Minnesota back in 2007 and released a couple of albums before taking the next big step and expanding from a duo into a full on band. After those two early albums back in 2007 and 2008 The Langer’s Ball went on to release ‘Drunk, Sick, Tired’, a live St Patrick’s day recording, in 2011 and ‘The Devil, Or The Barrel’ in 2012. We reviewed ‘7 Year Itch’ their last release from a couple of years ago here which was a eight track EP which the band have made available for free download so follow the link for your freeby!

The Langer's Ball

The first of Whiskey Outlaws twelve tracks is appropriately the title track ‘Whiskey Outlaws’ and is the first of five original songs penned by the band. From the very beginning you can hear a big dose of other influences alongside the Irish punk that they are famous for. Country, rockabilly, psychobilly are all in the mix alongside the celtic-punk and I tells you it certainly adds up to something very interesting.

“Give a sign of your contrition, step lightly on the ground
Lock up your sons and daughters, you dare not make a sound
Dim the lights and draw the drapes like no one is around
It’s far too late for an escape, the Whiskey Outlaws are in town”

Following is a superb version of the classic protest song ‘World Turned Upside Down’. Written by the legendary English folk artist Leon Rosselson in 1974 and made famous a decade later by Billy Bragg. As Leon said himself in a interview

“It’s the story of the Digger Commune of 1649 and their vision of the earth as ‘a common treasury’. It’s become a kind of anthem for various radical groups. The title is taken from a book about the English revolution”

As good a version as your ever likely to hear. Starting off with acoustic guitar and bursting with energy all over the place. ‘Jug Of This’ is a brilliant catchy as hell version of a very very old English folk song. From the early 18th century it’s perfect celtic-punk territory with it’s tale of a young man drinking turning to an old man drinking. Another beer themed but this time self penned number is ‘Drinking For Two’ and they don’t slow it down for a second with this song of a broken hearted drinker.

“Ever since you said we’re thru / Shattering my whole world view / I don’t know what else I should do / So I drink for me and I drink for you”

The Langer's Ball 3Tin whistle used to great effect and some great bass playing too. Another traditional folk/gospel song follows and ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’ is probably most famous in our circles for being recorded by Johnny Cash in 2003. The Langer’s Ball probably steer closest to this version that is a warning to sinners that no matter how hard they try, they will not avoid God’s judgement. A really outstanding song and one of my favourites from the album. Recorded for the yet to be released Johnny Cash celtic punk tribute being compiled by The Grinning Beggar. ‘Bottoms Up (Hапиваться)’ is again a full on drinking song as if you hadn’t realised and as they say in the song “It’s time to don your party pants”. It would seem that the Irish are losing our rep as the hardest drinking race around as this is the third time recently that I’ve heard songs by celtic-punk bands using an eastern-European tune. The accordion here is a dead giveaway and the shouty chorus of “Hапиваться” is another clue. The band show their knowledge of Irish music next with a superb cover of the Horslips song ‘Sword Of Light’. Accordion led and great backing from the whole band. They do enough to claim this song as their own not always easy when dealing with legends and was originally recorded for the Shite’n’Onions Horslips celtic-punk tribute album. ‘The One’ is followed by ‘Mick McGuire’ and again The Langers Ball take on a classic from Irish music tradition and folk punk it up. Originally recorded by The Clancy Brothers and since by bands as diverse as the Orthodox Celts and The Irish Rovers it tells of of a young man who courts a woman and is initially well received by her mother because he owns a farm. He is given a seat of honour in the house but soon loses favour after their wedding due to his drinking and ends up losing his chair right by the fire! Next up is the first song I’ve ever heard extolling the virtues of ‘Cork Dry Gin’. Only having ever spotting the drink in duty free on the ferry over to Ireland when I was a kid I don’t think I’ve ever seen it outside of then and certainly none of my crowd ever drank the stuff but each to his or own and on hearing this it certainly paints it a pretty picture.

“I’m a hoarder of the porter; I’ll drink ‘em by the score
If you drop me in a lake of it, I’d never go for shore
But sometimes after pints & pints & pints & pints & galore
I wish to Christ & God above that someone would just pour

CORK DRY GIN With some Tonic and a lime
CORK DRY GIN It’s Martini time
I said CORK DRY GIN and I’ll be feelin’ fine
With some CORK DRY GIN”

One of the things I love about The Langer’s Ball is their sense of humour and its evident on every recording I have heard of theirs. ‘I’m Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover/Bye Bye Blackbird’ just about sums them up. A three minute romp that is guaranteed to get you up and jigging about. The album ends with ‘Pigeon At The Gate’ a sort of Irish/Eastern Euro/Punk Rock mashup. Great whistle playing holds the song in celtic punk though and they go out in style with a fantastic band anthem that anyone would be proud of.

“So smash your skulls against the walls / Hordes are clamouring in the halls / Mighty Empires will fall / We play through it all… WE PLAY THROUGH IT ALL!”

So overall another masterpiece from The Langer’s Ball another great band innovative band in  the celtic-punk scene. Not scared to moved away in other styles of music but always keeping one toe in the music of The Emerald Isle. It’s bands like this that keep the scene alive and fresh and bring new ideas to the celtic-punk table. I can only hope that they get the recognition they so richly deserve,

(listen to the whole of Whiskey Outlaws on the Bandcamp player below . When you’ve done click the link below that to own a copy!)

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The Langer's Ball 2

CATCH UP 2014 REVIEWS! BLACK 47, CELKILT, BIG ART PETERS, CRUACHAN, MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE, DUCKING PUNCHES, DEIEDRA, HARD UP, JOHNNY KOWALSKI AND THE SEXY WEIRDOS, LES FOSSOYEURS SEPTIK, NOWHEREBOUND, THE POKES

Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but its been impossible for us to keep up with all the great releases we have come across so here’s a few quick ones just to catch up and get 2014 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out.

Black 47- 'Rise Up' (2014)BLACK 47- ‘Rise Up: Political Songs (2014)

A sad year for New Yorks premier celtic-punk band as they finally called it a day after an amazing 25 years together. Influenced by reggae, hip hop and jazz as well as folk and punk I gotta admit I’m a late convert to Black 47 but better late than never. This is a compilation of the best of their political songs. Irish republicanism looms large with the standout tracks the emotional renditions of ‘James Connolly’, ‘The Patriot Game’ and  ‘Bobby Sands MP’. The real standout though is the fantastic ‘San Patricio Brigade’, with the band accompanied by Eileen Ivers, which tells of the Irish deserters from the US Army who fled racism and mistreatment to join the Mexican Army and formed the St Patrick’s Battalion back in 1846. More on that here.

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CELKILT- ‘On The Table’ (2014)

Imagine a catchy as hell pop punk band with fiddle, whistles and bag pipes and a very real foot in celtic history and you have Celkilt from Lyon in east-central France. Their fourth album came out to quite a fanfare and it really deserved it. Influenced from across the celtic nations Celkilt have taken the scene by storm since they arrived and with a continuously evolving and updating sound they need to be heard far and wide. Songs on this album represent all the celtic nations but is the Breton sounding title track that steals the show for me. The vocals are in crystal clear English and the production is immaculate!

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BIG ART PETERS- ‘Quit Horsing Around’ (2014)BIG ART PETERS- ‘Quit Horsing Around’ (2014)

An album of laid back country classics from Arturo Bassick, the singer and last remaining original member of 1977 punk rock legends The Lurkers backed by members of German psychobilly band Mad Sin. All great fun and will definitly remind you of those records your mammy loved back when you were a kid. Clearly influenced by Johnny Cash I half expected  Arturo to produce a spoof/jokey album but no its serious and shows the upmost respect. I can see yet another door opening for this already busy and very talented geezer.

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Cruachan- 'Blood For The Blood God' (2014)CRUACHAN- ‘Blood For The Blood God’ (2014)

Formed in Dublin back in 1992 Cruachan are one of the world’s top celtic/folk-metal bands. I must admit to a very limited knowledge of that suprisingly busy and popular scene and anything I know comes from this previous article here on the blog entitled ‘Celtic Metals Top Five Bands’. You would think not for the faint hearted but it is in fact very listenable and the folk influence is massive. This is the second instalment of a planned ‘Blood…’ trilogy and is their seventh album. The songs deal with stories from Irish mythology and chugging riffs compete with traditional Irish jigs to make a gloriously epic album.

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MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE- ‘Columbia’ (2014)

Hailing from Portland, Oregon this is My Life In Black And White’s fourth album and their blend of Social Distortion style punk and folk has got them plenty of notice. Whiskey soaked singalongs and ballads sitting next to a rough punk sound with fast drum beats and distorted guitars where you can still hear the acoustic guitar strumming away in the fantastic mix. The best bands draw inspiration from past wars and cultural struggles and so do My Life In Black And White thus they bring a strong sense of folk tradition to the songs so that even on the punker songs a strong sense of the past shines through.

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DUCKING PUNCHES ‘Dance Before You Sleep’ (2014)

New band to me hailing from Norwich away there on the east coast of England and one of many where the band members are, or use to be, members of more conventional punk rock bands. Really nice folky punk with biting lyrics and a real threat in what they say that belies the ‘nice’ music. Great storytelling songs and catchy as feck music. Highly recommended and I look forward to seeing more of these this year. A brilliant scene developing in Norwich with bands taking in every angle of celtic/folk-punk. Watch out for the East Town Pirates too.

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Deiedra-DEIEDRA- ‘Usteak Ustal’ (2014)

There has always been great links between the celtic nations and the Basque people. Both share histories of oppression and the scars of colonialism. Some even say that the Irish and the Basques are the same linked through their DNA. Deiedra play immaculate Irish folk filtered through Basque ears and sung in their native language. Some of the tunes are familiar but all are stamped with Deiedra’s own style.

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HARD UP ‘Penury’ (2014)

Leftie folk-punk that reminds me of Mischief Brew or The Dead Maggies. From Montreal in Quebec they sing in English and even though it could have benefited from a better production but as ‘Penury’ was recorded in a loft Hard Up can be forgiven. A lovely bit of DIY folk-punk with great storytelling lyrics and banjo playing.

“folk is a music for the people by the people there’s no room for blind faith at all”

Only twenty minutes long but rattles along at a great old speed and keeps up the catchiness all the way through. Available for Pay What You Want so why not take a chance on them. You’ll not regret it.

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JOHNNY KOWALSKI AND THE SEXY WEIRDOS- ‘Kill The Beast’ (2014)

Second album from this Birmingham based band that combines elements of ska, celtic, balkan, punk, rock’n’roll, mariachi, carnival and a whole lot more that I havent yet realised into the tumbler and gives it a good shake before knocking it back. A rollicking good time to be had by these. Nothing too serious just a seriously great time…

“He gathers forth distrusting words
He reach a stream, he can’t cry out
After knowledge always doubt
When over the hill there comes a shout
The distant smoke, the smell of stout”

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LES FOSSOYEURS SEPTIK- ‘La Pelle du désordre’ (2014)

They come from France and even though I don’t speak French Les Fossoyeurs Septik sound very pissed off! All yer classic bits of folk-punk and folk and punk are complimented by some very good reggae touches that don’t sound out of place at all. Another band in Mischief brew territory but with none of the Americana of said band these are French and sound like it. Like I said have got no idea what their singing about except they support the Animal Liberation Front so unfortunatly they got a lot to be pissed off about so. Their are only the occasional celtic moments but don’t let that put you off definitley worth keeping an eye on.

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NOWHEREBOUND- ‘Mockingbirds’ (2014)

Formed in 2010 out of the ashes of local Austin, Texas punk bands Nowherebound’s third album is more punk than previous ones have been but the same touches that impressed me with My Life In Black And White’s album (see above) are also evident in heaps here. The acoustic guitars have been retired but the sound of Nowherebound hasn’t changed. Thank feck! From hard rock in-yer-face to pop punk melodies to raise-your-glass-and-sing-along-anthems Nowherebound hit you in the heart and head.

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THE POKES 'Mayday' (2014)THE POKES ‘Mayday’ (2014)

Last one and its The Pokes from Berlin and on first listen it was legendary North-Eastern England band The Whiskey Priests that it reminded me of. Celtic-punk without being particularly celtic it is nevertheless absolutely superb party music and looking at their videos they are something else live. Their fourth album and much the same great fiddle, banjo and accordion wrapped around clear vocals and often hilarious lyrics. Influences abound with everything from ska to polka sticking their nose in and combining to prove why The Pokes are one of the best and most popular bands in Germany.

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apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved the full LONDON CELTIC PUNKS treatment but time has got the better of me. If anyone out there wants to help out on the reviews front drop us a line. Don’t be shy we are always looking for help.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘People Take Warning! Murder Ballads And Disaster Songs 1913-1938’ (2007)

AND FREE DOWNLOAD

people are always drawn to the scene of an accident and it was no different in the past either…

A simply stunning 3 x CD box set that is now out of print and unavailable unless you’re willing to pay an absolute fortune. It’s the real deal of authentic folk and country from black and white performers from the dawn of the roots of America’s musical traditions. Seventy  beautifully remastered recordings with over half on CD for the first time. So here’s your chance to download it but be quick and if you have any problems leave a comment.

VARIOUS ARTISTS People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs 1913-1938 (2007)

Close your eyes and hear the suffering through the ages, as disasters both great and small are relived in song by roving musicians with only a fiddle or a guitar to stake their claim on history.

Close your eyes and see the carnage reenacted. In Frank Hutchison’s ‘Last Scene of the Titanic’, see all the pretty ladies in their evening gowns and all of the tuxedoed gentlemen plummet over the deck of the great juggernaut as it collides with a massive iceberg, sending them wailing and flailing and thrashing in a demonic ballet into the icy Atlantic waters.

Open your ears and hear the plaintive cry of a child in the night, who wakes from a portentous dream in which his daddy is trapped in the interminable blackness of the coal mine, Blind Alfred Reed’s ‘Explosion in the Fairmount Mine’, only to discover that dear daddy was indeed trapped in a mine explosion and is one of 200 unrecovered miners never to see the light of day again.

True-life scenes such as these are the subject of this massive box-set, in which seemingly congenial-sounding folk and blues songs from the early twentieth century document disasters and real-life tragedies with a quiet intensity that disturbs the casual listener far more than any contemporary death metal band could. This is not Sturm und Drang, this is real pain and suffering devoid of fantasy or romanticism. These are songs for the legions of anonymous dead, musical coffin markers for the ones who were lost along the way.

Highlights range from the grim to the funny. In ‘Mississippi Heavy Water Blues’, Robert ‘Barbecue Bob’ Hicks complains that the murky brown flood waters have washed all the wimmenfolk away. The original version of ‘When the Levee Breaks’ by Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie remains a haunting testament to the 1927 Mississippi Flood. Charlie Poole’s ‘Baltimore Fire’ is spectral in its account of hundreds consumed by the flames of a raging inferno. Then there’s my personal favourite, Bob Miller’s ‘Ohio Prison Fire’, in which a distraught mother is asked to identify the charred remains of her late lamented son:

“I’ll take my boy back now.

The state’s finished with him.

The state’s finished with all of these bodies.

These poor, charred bodies!”

Disc Three switches the focus to murder ballads, showcasing songs of cold-blooded homicide that have clearly influenced the work of such hard boiled musical greats as Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits, the latter providing the eloquent introduction to this set. Early versions of such blood-soaked ballads as ‘Billy Lyons and Stack O’Lee’, the legend of Stack O’Lee or “Stagger Lee” exists in many forms, and ‘Darling Cora’, also known as ‘Darling Corey’, stand alongside lesser-known death row oddities like ‘The Trial of Richard Bruno Hauptmann, Pts. I & II’ an ode to the murderer of the Lindbergh baby. True crime buffs may favor this disc as much as musicologists.


Special mention should be made to the impeccable sonic reproduction by Christopher King, who understands the mystical power inherent in the snap, crackle and pop of old 78 records and faithfully reproduces the elusive sound of the victrola, cranked up and wailing away like a banshee in a tin can. The static of these old grooves perfectly encases the sadness of bygone eras like ancient beetles trapped in amber. Timeless and lifeless.

In today’s post-9/11 world, the fear of arbitrary annihilation is almost taken for granted, yet this collection serves as a moving reminder that tragedies of every kind have always lived on in the music of American folk musicians, perhaps to serve as a talisman for future generations.

CLICK BELOW FOR FREE DOWNLOAD

DISC ONE- MAN v MACHINE

DISC TWO- MAN v NATURE

DISC THREE- MAN v MAN 

ARTWORK AND LINER NOTES

Part of the ‘Classic Album Reviews’ series (here) where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re use to. To lost gems that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern celtic-punk music. Usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

ALBUM REVIEW: UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS- ‘Get The Folk Out’ (2014)

Italian celtic folk n’ roll from Büsti Grandi (Craggy Island)

Uncle Bard And The Bastards- 'Get The Folk Out!' (2014)

Long, long, long before hordes of Polish workers settled in Ireland it was the turn of the Italians who flocked to the dear auld sod. High wages, plenty of regular masses and the, now long deceased, ‘celtic tiger’ promised good opportunities for all that came. Among those Italians were members and friends of the band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards. With good mates in Ireland they saved the money and began to visit them regularly. Here’s how they put it

“Anyway, during those years we started collecting money and traveling once a month to Ireland, to meet old friends living there and spending the weekends rambling around and enjoying Irish music, culture and people. 

Day by day we found there what we were searching for in our entire life, something that would change us forever. That’s how we fell in love with Irish music and how we learned it”

So in 2007 the boys got together and with just a handful of songs set out on the path that would lead them all over Europe playing with not just the celtic-punk scene’s best bands but also some of the traditional scene’s as well. From dingy wee pub backrooms to rock festivals to mountain huts the bands brand of Italian celtic-punk has gone down an absolute storm everywhere they have set foot.

Back in 2012 after the release of their first album ‘Drinking Not Thinking’ they set out on a busking tour of Ireland, Wales and England  joining local musicians singing old-time stories on street corners. Returning home they were joined by world renowned Irish folk musician Luca Crespi who added uilleann pipes, tin whistle and the Irish flute to the bands repertoire. ‘Up The Bastards’ EP followed last year which brings us nicely up to date with the recently released album ‘Get The Folk Out!’.

The band members are Guido Domingo- vocals, acoustic guitar, bodhrán Lorenzo Testa- tenor banjo, mandolin, vocals, spoons Luca Crespi- tin whistle, uilleann pipes, Irish flute Silvano Ancellotti- electric and acoustic guitar, coarse vocals Uncle Bard- bass guitar, lamenting vocals and Francesco Fabris on drums. Lorenzo is the band’s main songwriter but most of the group have also written a song or two and all contributed to the songwriting process.

UncleBardTheDirtyBastards - Live pic

(from left to right): LUCA, LORENZO, FRANCESCO, GUIDO, SILVANO, ROB ‘Uncle Bard’.

The album is in fact a masterpiece. It straddles nicely both Irish trad and celtic-punk and easily fits into both genre’s. The addition of uilleann pipes moves the bands sound into something quite incredible. From the very start of the album as soon as ‘The Road’ kicks in with tin whistle and vocals soon joined by a whole host of Irish instruments showing that Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards surely know their onions. The following ‘Black Sheep’ is a bit more celtic-punk and more reminiscent of the Molly’s or The Tossers.

Normally we would try to give you a real feel for the album by going through all the tracks and giving you a wee description of each one but there’s not much point with this as it would just say “absolutely fecking brilliant” after each track title. As hard as it is to pick a few standout tracks on this amazing album ‘Green Shamrock Shore’, is one of them, about the death of the celtic tiger and the beginning of the end of Ireland’s boom years and sadly the end of Rob’s time in Ireland. A track laced with sadness but sung in that pint in the air way that fills both yer heart and yer ears. Even more incredible than the high standard of the music is that its mostly their own work too. Only two tracks are covers ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ and the Man In Black’s ‘Ring Of Fire’, both of which are suitably twisted and turned by the band into something new and fresh and as far away from bog standard covers as could be possible without changing both the words AND the tune! Influences abound from Planxty to The Chieftains to the aforementioned Tossers and Flogging Molly but Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are pretty well unique in the Euro celtic-punk scene and deserve to be fecking huge worldwide. Hopefully this album will achieve that. ‘Blue Velvet Glove’ showcases Luca and his haunting expertly played pipes. The songs last only two or three minutes each but there’s so much going on its hard for this reviewer to keep up. ‘The Rambling Bhoys’ is typical of the album with a lovely tune, clear and well sung vocals with lyrics you can easily understand.

‘Skedaddle’ is another great example, fast- slow- fast- slow the perfect song for having a breather and catching your breathe on the dance floor in between going nuts, spilling yer pint and bashing into people. ‘I Only Got One Pint’ is another Uncle Bards classic as is the following ‘Off In The Jacks’. The album ends with ‘Be’ the longest track on the album and begins with just vocals and mandolin before the band kick in and fill the air with the swirling sound of brilliantly played slow tempo Irish folk.

Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards

With fifteen songs that come in at just under a hour, the CD also comes in a very nice digipak with a whopping 16 page booklet including the song lyrics, pictures of every band member and some excellent liner notes containing introductions to all the songs. Do yourself a favour and fork out the bit extra hard earned for the CD copy of the album, you’ll not be disappointed.

Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards

Been playing this on repeat and from that very first moment it stills sounds as fresh as it did on that very first play. From the first few bars I realised I had come across something special. This is already my celtic-punk album of the year and I doubt they’ll be one better along anytime soon. The boys have an extraordinary feel for playing Irish music and I can honestly say I have never heard a non-Irish band sound so authentically Irish. I will be playing this for a long time yet and i simply cannot recommend enough that you get yer mitts on this album. If you don’t think it is “absolutely fecking brilliant” as well then you really have no place coming here!

So there they are, seven years and counting… still roving, still playing. And surely we can be grateful… too old to stop now!

Discography

Drinking Not Thinking – 2011, Up the Bastards! EP – 2013, Get The Folk Out! – 2014

Contact The Band 

Facebook  WebSite  Twitter  ReverbNation they have some pretty amazing videos too over at YouTube

Buy The Album

Compact Disc- From The Band  Download- Amazon  iTunes  

the ever always excellent Spanish blog ‘Celtic Folk Punk And More’ also wrote a review of the album here.

ALBUM REVIEW: RUNA- ‘Current Affairs’ (2014)

Runa- 'Current Affairs' (2014)
Runa were formed in Philadelphia in The USA in 2008 and consist of vocalist and step-dancer, Shannon Lambert-Ryan of Philadelphia, Dublin-born guitarist, Fionán de Barra, Cheryl Prashker of Canada on percussion, Dave Curley on mandolin, vocals, bodhrán, and step-dancing, and Maggie Estes of Kentucky on the fiddle. The band often performs with world-renowned, guest musicians, including Ross Holmes (Mumford & Sons, Cadillac Sky, Chessboxer) on fiddle, Matt Mancuso (Cathie Ryan Band) on fiddle, and Isaac Alderson (The Yanks, Comas) on the uilleann pipes, flutes, and whistles.
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‘Current Affairs’ is their fourth studio album and maintains the high standards they’ve set themselves. They play highly energetic and graceful, acoustic melodies with their fusion of music from Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and the United States. Reminiscent of Irish-American legends Solas the bands Irish-American roots shine through drawing inspiration from the celtic tradition and the modern realities of being Irish in America today.

Thirteen tracks that come up just a few seconds short of a hour and if its class Irish music you want then this is the place. ‘Current Affairs’ begins with the track Pete Seeger made famous ‘The Banks Are Made Of Marble’, written by a New York apple farmer Les Rice in the 1930’s celebrating the struggles of the working class. Kicking off with acoustic guitar and harmonica before the band join in. Sadly the band recorded the song the night Pete Seeger died and it’s as good a tribute to him as would be possible. ‘The Wife Of Ushers Well’ is a sad song of a mother’s loss breaking into reels half way through before returning to the song. ‘The Hunters Set’ is a collection of tunes centred around hunting from across North America and begins with the fiddle before the whole band finish the song with a almighty racket! ‘Henry Lee’ is a tune with its roots in the celtic nations and their offspring in the Appalachians and is one of the album’s standout tracks telling the tale of a jilted lovers revenge. The guitar playing is exemplary and leads the song in a quite jazzy way. Amos Lee’s ‘Black River’ is a slow ballad capturing the simplicity of the human spirit. This is followed by a beautiful collection of songs with dual vocals in both Scots gaelic and Irish. Its great to hear our native languages and it’s a true testament to the band. ‘The False Knight Upon The Road’ is a traditional song about a young boy who meets someone who tries to trick him. Claude Ely’s gospel song ‘Ain’t No Grave’ has been covered by artists as diverse as Johnny Cash and Norah Jones but never quite like this. Starting as a mournful ballad, fiddle jumps in and the song becomes upbeat with its story of overcoming life’s trials. ‘Who Will Sing Me Lullabies’ was written by Kate Rusby who is already gaining legendary status on these shores so its great to see her influence spreading across the broad atlantic. The word beautiful crops up a awful lot in this review and I can frankly find no better word for what I’m hearing. Kate is I’m sure honoured to have Runa cover this song. ‘The Ruthless Wife’ is the story of the death of vocalist Shannon’s great-grandfather James Allen Lambert in Philadelphia back in 1922.  A proper murder ballad of a policeman (what else could he have been…) killed in the line of duty and a real ladies man. Instrumental ‘Land of The Sunshine Set’ is a set of reels and tunes that gives the whole band a chance to shine and shine they do with each instrument getting a good airing and is as perfect as they come. ‘Rairies Hill’ is a traditional Scots love song from Dundee and breaks into a lovely upbeat section in the middle. ‘The Last Trip Home’ brings the album to a close with a slow and, yes, beautiful song based on the plight of plough horses in the north of england when they had become ‘obsolete’. A truly horrible word used to describe us all when we are no longer needed and stand in the way of what they call progress.
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The CD comes in a gatefold sleeve with descriptions of all the songs and has had as much care and attention lavished on it as the music that’s inside. As mentioned Runa remind me of Solas but not in any sort of derivative way. They have their own sound and ways and this album would be a welcome addition to anyones collection. With its elements of Americana and bluegrass as well as celtic it’s perfect for those quiet times when all you want to do is relax and contemplate life and its tragedies and celebrations.

Contact The Band
Buy The CD

ALBUM REVIEW: THE CRAICHEADS- ‘Brewed In London’ (2014)‏

London Irish Trad Rock

The Craicheads
As it says on their web site
“When two Irishmen, and Englishman, a Frenchman and a Bulgarian all walked into a bar, no one could have predicted what would happen next”
This is the first album from north-west London based band The Craicheads. Formed back in 2008 the boys have been steadily growing in popularity and as one of the hardest working bands on the London Irish pub scene I can tell you its well deserved. Constantly on the go they’ve been regulars at the west ends biggest Irish (hmmm) bar O’Neills for ages now and the constant gigging has seen them hone the skills that make them one of the London Irish most popular bands.
The Craicheads
‘Brewed In London’ is a collection of Irish and country standards and a couple of exceptional original tracks that capture perfectly the energy and spirit of a Craicheads live gig. Of course we would have loved to have heard more originals but with a follow up album promised soon and the covers on ‘Brewed In London’ done in their very own distinctive style we’re more than happy to hang on a wee bit longer.
The Craicheads
Nine tracks clocking in at just under 40 minutes and while the Irish influence looms tall the sounds of country, bluegrass and good old-fashioned rock’n’roll are all there in the mix sounding like The Pogues and The Man In Black having a drinking session. The album kicks off suitably enough with ‘Ring Of Fire’ Mr.Cash’s finest genre busting song and The Craicheads give it the suitable treatment and I’m sure said Mr.Cash would be extremely proud of it. The self-penned ‘Take Me Back To Harrow’ is about the area of London that is still the most defiantly Irish. The song has been adopted by Harrow Borough Football Club as the teams anthem and is a jolly jaunty folk rock trip that the band assure us
“It’s about finding a place to call home in a new neighbourhood”
The Pogues ‘Fiesta’ and ‘Mary Mary’ lead us up to a real modern day Irish classic ‘Galway Girl’ penned by Steve Earle. The CraicheadsAs I said earlier all played in a distinctive way rather than aping the originals these set of covers have been chosen with care and attention by the band. The albums only other original ‘Sligo Shore’ was penned by guitarist Tim on a beach in Strandhill, County Sligo and is the most trad the boys get. A grand bit of Irish traditional folk and a firm fan favourite to boot. ‘Wagon Wheel’ rolls up next the tale of a hitchhiker thumbing a lift to meet his lover. Originally penned by Bob Dylan the songs been covered by bands as diverse as Against Me! and Mumford And Sons but has never sounded so good. ‘Sweet Polka Of Mine’ is the track that jumps out at you and I almost feel a bit guilty having to reveal it as a cover of The Guns’n’Roses track ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’! From the first few bars you hazard a guess that its coming and along it chuggs until it takes a completely different turn and ends up as a Irish polka song. Finally the album draws to a close with a medley of Irish standards. Beginning with whats become the unofficial Irish anthem ‘The Fields Of Athenry’ before morphing into ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and ending with ‘The Hills Of Donegal’. Its this last song, at over ten minutes!, that truly delivers the feeling of a live authentic Craicheads gig. Hot and sweaty and bouncing about spilling Guinness everywhere. These are the perfect lot to get the party started and guaranteed to get you on your feet and keep you there.

The tunes are knocked out with power, passion and pride and it would be criminal if The Craicheads were confined to the pubs of London town… though to be honest we’d not be complaining too much!
Contact The Band

ALBUM REVIEW: JOHNNY CASH – ‘Out Among The Stars’ (2014)

Songwriter. six-string strummer. storyteller. country boy. rock star. folk hero. preacher. poet. drug addict. rebel. sinner. saint. victim. survivor. home wrecker. husband. father and more…

Johnny Cash- Out Among The Stars

Yes you’re eyes do not deceive you its a new album from ‘The Man In Black’ himself. Ten years after the undisputed king of country passed away here’s a Johnny Cash album that was recorded in the early 80s and has never been heard before. At the time of these recordings he was signed to Columbia Records and his career was in a bit of a slump, a suggested reason why they never released it. His son found these recordings last year among a multitude of other material so its likely that Johnny’s estate will be releasing stuff for a long time to come.

Johnny CashIt has also been suggested that the reason the album was shelved was because it was a little too pop for Johnny’s taste though he was never adverse to experimenting so I find that hard to believe. Throughout his career he tried to expand what people thought of country music and even though he always stayed within the country genre he’s responsible for shifting the boundaries of what we consider country music today.

To these ears though it sounds like classic Cash. His voice instantly taking me back to my childhood of sitting round the record player listening to my mammy’s Johnny Cash collection. All the adults I knew, especially the Irish ones, seemed to be a massive fan of his with their record collections bulging with his albums. it was impossible not to like him. The subject matter was so much darker than other country artists and lets face it he was as cool a fecker as ever there was in music! He was himself the quintessential Scotch-Irish American, with a bit of Native American too he use to say!

It was that background that was possibly responsible for why we looked at Johnny differently from other country stars. As Kris Kristofferson said of him

“He’s as comfortable with the poor and prisoners as he is with presidents. He’s crossed over all age boundaries. I like to think of him as Abraham Lincoln with a wild side.”

‘Out Among The Stars’ is generally a sprightly album with ‘Rock’n’roll Shoes’ as descriptive of the LP as the sentimental ‘After All’ is or the title track about a young man robbing a store which has a feel of ‘Folsom prison Blues’ about it. A cover of the Dave Edmunds and Carlene Carter duet “Baby Ride Easy” rolls along with spirit, an affectionate homage to ‘Tennessee’ is actually pretty good despite the addition of a children’s choir! and ‘I Drove Her Out Of My Mind’ is yer classic country’n’western outlaw track about murdering your ex-wife…

Johnny Cash

13 tracks at just under 40 minutes is pretty good value and though their are a couple of duffers, the duet with Waylon Jennings of Hank Snow’s classic ‘I’m Moving On’ springing to mind, what Johnny Cash album would be right without one or two, it still adds up to a very strong album and according to those in the know some Cash experts are already considering it to have been one of his better 1980’s albums so the reasons behind its shelving remain a bit of a mystery but we can be glad that it saw the light of day eventually.

more on the discovery of the album here

 THE BLACK PROJECT

on another note Grinning Beggar and Paddyrock, two of the biggest names in celtic-punk have united and are planning on bringing out a celtic-punk Johnny Cash tribute album. All the details here

 

“He’s as comfortable with the poor and prisoners as he is with presidents. He’s crossed over all age boundaries. I like to think of him as Abraham Lincoln with a wild side.”
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/music/inside-complicated-faith-johnny-cash#UDwLBHHQUw8RHPOL.99

 

Tracklist

01. Out Among the Stars
02. Baby Ride Easy (with June Carter Cash)
03. She Used to Love Me a Lot
04. After All
05. I’m Movin’ On (with Waylon Jennings)
07. If I Told You Who It Was
08. Call Your Mother
09. I Drove Her Out of My Mind
10. Tennessee
11. Rock and Roll Shoes
12. Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time (with June Carter Cash)
13. She Used To Love Me A Lot Jc/Ec Version
Read more at http://www.getrockmusic.com/15495-johnny-cash-out-among-the-stars.html#hAvPh5WBumIEMmE3.99

Tracklist

01. Out Among the Stars
02. Baby Ride Easy (with June Carter Cash)
03. She Used to Love Me a Lot
04. After All
05. I’m Movin’ On (with Waylon Jennings)
07. If I Told You Who It Was
08. Call Your Mother
09. I Drove Her Out of My Mind
10. Tennessee
11. Rock and Roll Shoes
12. Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time (with June Carter Cash)
13. She Used To Love Me A Lot Jc/Ec Version
Read more at http://www.getrockmusic.com/15495-johnny-cash-out-among-the-stars.html#hAvPh5WBumIEMmE3.99

Tracklist

01. Out Among the Stars
02. Baby Ride Easy (with June Carter Cash)
03. She Used to Love Me a Lot
04. After All
05. I’m Movin’ On (with Waylon Jennings)
07. If I Told You Who It Was
08. Call Your Mother
09. I Drove Her Out of My Mind
10. Tennessee
11. Rock and Roll Shoes
12. Don’t You Think It’s Come Our Time (with June Carter Cash)
13. She Used To Love Me A Lot Jc/Ec Version
Read more at http://www.getrockmusic.com/15495-johnny-cash-out-among-the-stars.html#hAvPh5WBumIEMmE3.99

EP REVIEW: STANDARD UNION- ‘The Myth Of Terra Nullius’ (2014)

Folk inspired tales of love, life and culture. Working Class Street Rock’n’Roll

STANDARD UNION EP COVER

Anyone who reads my reviews will know I have a thing for Aussie celtic-punk bands (here and here) and these fella’s from Adelaide are no exception. Keeping up the extremely high quality of the other leading bands from the scene Standard Union definitely lean towards the more punky side of things. With their only full-length album coming out in 2002 they have been hardly prolific but 3 singles since 2013 must mean another is due shortly.

If not the music then one thing that Standard Union do have in common with those other top Oz bands is that they are a ‘lyrics band’.

 “We write story songs, Just like all the good ones do. Like Johnny Cash did, like Shane McGowan.”

Standard Union Acoustic Set 2013so states Owen Foley band’s principle lyricist and mandolin player. Those 11 years since that first album have seen Standard Union mature as songwriters, with a uniquely Australian working class theme, allowing their influences to transition seamlessly from one song to the next. Their live sound is as relevant and aggressive as any punk band you’ll hear, and yet it stirs feelings of nostalgia, of convict ships and bushrangers, of the old bush bands from a time gone by.

This country is harsh, if you let it, it will break you and that’s the struggle,” states Owen “but y’know the struggle’s what makes this land and the people in it so incredible and that’s the story. Those are the stories we wanna tell.”

Standard Union

There’s quite a electric rock’n’roll twang to this EP and although sounding a wee bit rough and ready maybe on your first listen it grows on you straight away. High energy and plenty of fist (or pint!) in the air moments make the EP fly by far too quickly and its only leaving us at 30492 eagerly awaiting a full lengther!

Buy The EP here from Arrest Records and pick up some of their previous releases too. They also released the Paddy McHugh And The Goldminers album too so do yourself a favour and get that too!

Contact The Band

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there’s a very interesting interview with Owen from the band here from Bombshell zine.

Discography

Bruised Egos and Blood (2002/12 tracks) Bruised Egos and Blood re-issue (2003/14 tracks)  The Lonely Victories (2006/9 tracks)  Self-Titled promo (2010/5 tracks)  Born For Hangin’ sampler (2012/2 tracks)  Grand Gestures And Empty Promises (2013/4 tracks)

if looking on a mobile click on the blog logo at the top of the page to find out more from us…

ALBUM REVIEW: THE WAKES- “The Red and The Green” (2013)

a Glasgow based folk’n’roll bunch of hooligans and outlaws. They might all be Jock Tamson’s bairns but their Mammy is Roisin Dubh!

by Rory Dubhdara, Radio Rebel Gael

wake1

I know that not every band can survive through its third release, sometimes its just like sequels to movies that you once liked. You wish that they had just released the debut and then called it quits. But with The Wakes, you realize that you have discovered a band that only gets better with each release, and this ‘The Red and The Green’ is proof positive that The Wakes are here to stay, to keep you dancing, boxing, drinking, thinking and demanding more of their unique Glaswegian euphony. So I felt obligated to share my strong feelings about this CD and review which is a stupendous third release by The Wakes, with an awesome cover that gives tribute to revolutionary Scot and Clydesider, John Maclean, a man whom would feel at home with these Rebel rockers, known as The Wakes.
There are musicians whose sounds are bound to cause a riot, and if not a riot, than at least a good fight, the spirit of their music so moving that you are ready to wage war. Dropkick Murphys or The Battering Ram, led by legendary crooner and balladeer, Declan Hunt, qualify in that regard, while other bands might make you sentimental, thinking back to those ‘glory days’ of yore. Other musicians write songs that make you want to cry, their ballads so heart-breaking that you can literally feel the pain of the man or woman that the musician is singing about. Johnny Cash or Christy Moore come to mind. And there are not too many bands that can combine that fighting spirit with that distinctively Irish, poignant feeling, like these Rebel Glaswegians, known as The Wakes.

‘Colours’ , the first tune on this shining example of Glasgow-Irish Rock n’ Reel that is ‘The Red and The Green’, is a moving tune about hate and the walls that are built up by the State and society, to divide us all. Here , The Wakes, call to battle is a call to tear down those walls, and let peace and the brotherhood of man, prevail, even if momentarily. And even though I have never been a believer in utopian ideas like ‘World Peace’ or the idea that Big Business is building jobs for you and me (dream on suckers, they are outsourcing your job to China, as we speak), I like the sentiments, because all The Wakes are really saying is to not judge a book by its cover, don’t judge someone simply because they are different, don’t assume that all Protestants are Loyalists, or that all muslims are in Al Qaeda, or that all supporters of West Ham United are wankers. Ha Ha. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Paul, can really croon and reminds his fellow Glaswegians

“This is our city and these are our colours…”

wake2

Afterwards, Eamonnn’s thunderous drumming and Chris Crooky’s flute finesse take us to the goldfields of 1849, where its ‘To Hell or California’ because we aren’t going to live forever, and we might as well risk it all for the chance of a lifetime to rise from our grim poverty by striking it rich. A mighty and upbeat tune that will make you want to dance a merry jig on the skull of Maggie Thatcher. And you can just blame The Wakes, because ladies and gents, they have that kind of infectious rhythm that drive a man to dance, rather than drink.
Next, ‘Men To Be Feared’ reminds us of a rougher day in Irish-American history where law held less sway than the law of the gun, and where men, lived by the creed

“You live by the sword and you’ll die by the sword”

A song that is probably my favourite on this kick ass album, another historical fighters anthem that brings to mind the gangs of the 5 Points, circa 1857, and the legendary battle between the Bowery Boys and the Dead Rabbits on Mulberry Street on July 4th, 1857, in New York’s , Lower East Side. As the song goes

“Baptized in blood….We live to fight another day !”

Probably the best sluggers sing-song since Dropkick Murphys ‘The Warriors Code’.  Brilliant fighters melody by Glasgow’s finest, The Wakes.

The Wakes
There are so many magnificent melodies and Fenian harmonies on this amazing CD that its difficult to pick favourites, but after ‘Men To Be Feared’, which rates as my #1 brawlers tune, their stellar version of ‘Peat Bog Soldiers’ must be noted as one of the finest versions I’ve heard yet, and I would be remiss not to give accolades to Christopher James, whose harmonica really made this tune so damn beautiful to your ears. Not to mention the powerful chorus sung throughout this marvellous battle hymn.
But, ‘John Macleans March’ really must be remembered with special recognition, possibly being a tie with  ‘Men To Be Feared’ as the top tune of 2013, and 2014. it’s the kind of tune that brings the Rebel Spirit of the Red Clydeside to your living room with surround sound and marching feet, chanting slogans of protest and solidarity, as you feel like you are marching against recruitment for the British Army with John Maclean himself, and I know that this tune would make him proud, if he was still with us, as it’s a jubilant reminder that the fighting Celtic spirit of Glasgow is still alive and kicking !

(listen to ‘The Red And The Green’ by clicking the play button below on the Bandcamp player)

Contact The Wakes

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FromTheBand

For More On John Maclean 

Wikipedia  Internet Archive

ALBUM REVIEW- JOHNNY RIOUX ‘CowbOi!’ (2013)

many of us who come from Irish backgrounds will have had the misfortune to have heard a quite a lot of country’n’western music…and when I say a lot I mean a LOT. although what we grew up listening to was not strictly country’n’western it was country’n’Irish a hybrid of the worse in country music AND the worse in Irish music! names like Big Tom, Margo and that giant of c’n’I Daniel O’Donnell an still bring me out in cold sweats and nightmares of sitting in our local Irish club with a coke and crisps being forced to listen to 4 middle aged Irishmen from Derby wearing cowboy hats singing Take Me Home Country Roads!

well what a surprise I got this morning…

I had’nt heard of Johnny Rioux until very recently and it turns out that not only is the Boston based musician in The Street Dogs but he’s also part of Texan celtic-punk band Murder the Stout (along with fellow Street Dogs guitarist Marcus Hollar) and he’s been in and also worked with a shed load of other bands including record producing for Flatfoot 56, the Street Dogs and Roger Miret and the Disasters.

Cowboi!

The album itself is a mix of ‘country-fied’ punk and Oi! standards (and a few less so) but more in keeping of Johnny Cash than Jim Reeves! This fits in easily with the recent wave of alternative (punk?) country bands like Old Man Markley and Banjoey Ramone. As a offshoot of celtic-punk its great to hear old fashioned music given a new twist and like celtic-punk it may hopefully inspire people to delve into the back catalogues of some of the best country artists…just as long as they stay the hell away from country’n’Irish!!

Here’s a 30 minute set from YouTube to whet your appetite for buying the album!

Johnny Rioux’s Facebook page is here

Track Listings:

01 – Working (Cock Sparrer)
02 – If The Kids Are United (Sham 69)
03 – Voice Of Generation (Blitz)
04 – Someones Gonna Die (Blitz)
05 – Societies Fools (The Bruisers)
06 – Crucified (Iron Cross)
07 – A.C.A.B (The 4Skins)
08 – Oi! Oi! Oi! (Cockney Rejects)
09 – Police Oppression (Angelic Upstarts)
10 – Evil In Brain (Blood For Blood)

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