Tag Archives: Phil Coulter

EP REVIEW: KRAKIN’ KELLYS- ‘Irish Tribute’ (2019)

Celtic Skate Punk, beer and bar fight !

What happens when traditional Irish Rock n’Roll meets American Punk music? Here the Krakin’ Kellys take six Irish folk music classics and unite punk-rock riffs with Gaelic-inspired melodies. Angry microphones, greasy bass lines meet bagpipes, flutes and accordion for a drunken party which will leave everyone pumped up!

Since forming in 2017 Krakin’ Kellys have its fair to say taken the Celtic-Punk scene by storm. Their debut album from last year was a double winner in the London Celtic Punks Best Of 2018 lists romping home with the Best Debut Album and the Best Album Readers Pick as chosen by the readers of the Blog (nearly 39% of the total vote!). It was a breath of fresh air to the scene with its energetic blend of punk rock and accordions and bagpipes. Allied to this was a bunch of absolutely fantastic videos that the band released that showcase a band at the very top of their game. In fact we only said
“It’s not often I use the words this is a must have album but this is a must have album!”
about one album in 2018 and it was the Krakin’ Kellys Promised Land. Full of energy and bounce and humour. There’s no revelations about politics here and no songs about nuclear war and I can only say thank the heavens. Sometimes music needs to take our minds away from the daily grind. Music to drink to, to dance to, to meet folks and make friends and on Promised Land Krakin’ Kellys delivered us quite a unique Celtic-Punk album.
(You can download/stream Promised Land at the Bandcamp link below)

Krakin’ Kellys hail from the city of Namur in Belgium. The city is the capital of the self-governing Walloon Region which was created, largely along language lines. Wallonia consists of the French-speaking provinces of Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, Walloon Brabant and Namur. There is a burgeoning independence movement in Wallonia that seeks to split Belgium into Dutch speaking Flanders in the north and French speaking Wallonia in the south. As is usually the history behind the conflict is complicated so I think I better go on with the review and leave the controversial stuff alone!

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

The EP begins with possibly the best known Irish song of all time, ‘The Wild Rover’. The song is about a utter wastrel of a man who spends his life drinking and carousing before coming to the realisation he has wasted his life and returns to the home of his parents and promises to reform his ways. The origins of the song are vague and thought to originate via Ireland, Scotland or from the fishing industry but there’s no arguing that it is indeed the most popular Irish song of all time. The Kellys play it as a rock ballad with the amazing chorus the highlight. Pierre-Yves’s accordion and Rémi’s bagpipes supply the Celtic instrumentation while the rest of the band keep the heavy sound of their previous releases intact while still playing a glorious homage to this wonderful song.

As I have mentioned recently sometimes the best of videos are recorded in pubs (the natural home of all Celtic-Punk) with a crowd of friends enjoying themselves and ‘The Wild Rover’ fits the bill perfectly. Take a couple of minutes to check it out as it’s another in Krakin’ Kellys long line of great vids. See how many band t-shirts you can spot. I lost count at a dozen! Next up is ‘The Foggy Dew’ a song about the glorious 1916 Irish uprising against British rule in Ireland. The song has become pretty popular in the Celtic-Punk scene of late due in main to its Celtic-Punk friendly air. Again its done very much in the Krakin’ Kellys style and David’s vocals may divide people along the lines of those who are expecting someone crooning but KK are a Punk band at the heart and I think they fit perfectly. Raspy and semi-shouty they are nothing if not passionate. Time for a more ‘trad’ approach next as the Bhoys mix up three songs you may not know by their names but will from the airs. Of course Thin Lizzy made ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ a international smash hit back in 1973. The song morphs into ‘The Kesh Jig’, an old traditional Irish tune. It’s popularity is attributed to The Bothy Band who recorded the song on their debut album in 1975 and then another traditional song ‘Morrison’s Jig’. Here the band push their trad side to the limit while still remaining at heart the skate-punk band they are. Here again Pierre-Yves proves he’s one of the best accordion players in the business. Half way through now and it’s time for a couple of Dubliners songs starting with Free The People’. Although performed and released by The Dubiners the song was in fact written by Phil Coulter and relates to the struggle for racial equality in the USA and the struggle in the northern 6 counties of Ireland against British occupation and discrimination against Catholics.

“What does it profit him
The right to be born
If he suffers the loss of liberty?
Laws were made for people
And the law can never scorn
The right of a man to be free
We are the people
And we shall overcome”

The Kellys play the song as normal but with a heaviness that belies whatever version you have previously heard before. Next is a mention for a familiar name here on the London Celtic Punks site, that of Ewan MacColl the writer of  ‘Champion At Keeping Them Rolling’. The Dubliners recorded the song in 1972 and perhaps because it was the last recordings of the original line up the song is often thought to be written by them but Ewan was a master of songwriting and telling the story and tribulations of working class life.

“I am an old-timer, I travel the road, I sit in me wagon and lumber me load”

The song speaks of a long distance lorry driver and contains everything you need to know about Ewan. Humour, anger, social injustice and more humour. Again it’s not a song that needs much doing to change it to a Celtic-Punk song, none of the songs The Dubliners recorded do! So onto the last song and the second song from Phil Coulter. ‘The Town I Love So Well’ was written by Phil Coulter, renowned musician, songwriter and record producer about his childhood in Derry city, a place at the centre of Irish resistance to British rule. The song begins with the simple tale of his upbringing in a place filled with warmth and love before ‘The Troubles’ began and Derry became a place plagued with violence. The songs final verse includes a message of hope for a “bright, brand new day”, saying “They will not forget but their hearts are set / on tomorrow and peace once again”. Phil Coulter is also responsible for one of the most beautiful songs ever written, ‘Scorn Not His Simplicity’ about the birth of his first daughter with Down’s Syndrome and later died aged four. Take another minute or two to check out the song here as sung by Luke Kelly. Anyway back to the Krakin’ Kellys and they go out on a high! Beginning as a acapello version with the band led by David bagpipes come in and it soon erupts into as class a Celtic-Punk song you will ever hear. Fast and furious and full of passion.

Six songs and over twenty minutes of one of the very best bands around in the scene at the moment. Krakin’ Kellys are an interesting band for a number of reasons. Their output is regular and of a very high standard alongside their videos which are always worth several viewings and here they show a love and respect for source material that you would not expect for a band from the heavier side of Celtic-Punk. One of the favourite (if not my actual favourite) bands of the assorted London Celtic Punks collective we are all gagging to see them live and hopefully appear alongside them in one of their fantastic videos!!

(You can stream Irish Tribute on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Irish Tribute  FromTheBand

Contact Krakin’ Kellys WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Twitter

ALBUM REVIEW: FIRKIN- ‘Finger In The Pie’ (2014)

Firkin- The crazy Irish band from Hungary!

Firkin- Finger in the Pie (2015)

Well here we go again and I feel a sense of deja-vu here as we find ourselves reviewing yet another Hungarian celtic-punk record. We seem to have done so many this year it’s hard to keep a track of them all and once again its yet another outstanding album. The quality of the music and the bands is simply unbelievable and it completely baffles me how they can manage it. Lets face it the Hungarian scene dwarfs the scene here in England in both number of bands and releases. What attracts Hungarians in such numbers to celtic/Irish music is for others more knowledgeable than myself to comment on but I for one am sure glad they are.

NYE Firkin

Firkin are one of the biggest bands in Hungary and are these days quite a draw all across Europe too. They were formed in 2008 and have released a whole bunch of albums as well as official DVD’s and toured numerous times. If putting in the work gets you the glory then certainly Firkin have been working overtime.

Though it was released last year ‘Finger In The Pie’ sees Firkin ploughing much the same field as previous albums and we are not complaining one iota. Sadly the vocalist on this album, Barna Marthy, has since left but new singer Andy has stepped ably into his shoes and Firkin carried on without pause or catching breath! The first of the album’s fourteen tracks is an old Irish trad classic, and a personal favourite of mine, ‘Donegal Danny’. From the very first bars you’ll be amazed at how clear Barna’s vocals are and he could easily pass as a local! Fast as anything but still staying close to the traditional roots of the song, about a crew of fishermen from Killibegs, who are drowned at sea, bar one, in the wild ocean of the Atlantic. Written by Phil Coulter, a genius of Irish songwriting who counts ‘The Town I Love So Well’ and ‘Scorn Not His Simplicity’ among his most famous works.

“So here’s to those that are dead and gone
The friends that I loved dear
And here’s to you then I’ll bid you adieu
Saying Donegal Danny’s been here me boys
Donegal Danny’s been here”

Followed by ‘If I Could Be The Pope’ and this strikes a chord with me. About being brought up a Catholic and it never really leaving you. Great tune with again Barna and his vocals and lyrics on fire with the flute up front and as catchy a chorus your like to hear. Love this song and definitely one of the album stand out tracks.

(not brilliant sound quality but WHAT a spectacle!)

‘Kind And Fine’ is put to the tune of ‘The Foggy Dew’ and is sung by another former band member Pali. ‘Molly Malone’ you would have heard before numerous times I am sure and if I have one minor quibble it is that while theirs nothing wrong with including songs like this in your live set I don’t see the point of recording it but this takes nothing away from Firkin who make a great stab at it with the fiddle work and whistle especially standing out. Flute starts ‘Parasite’s Lust’ and if you think its heading into Jethro Tull territory you couldn’t be more wrong as soon the band are pulling it back into classic celtic-punk territory.

‘High And Low’ sees Firkin really pushing the boat out. A string sextet accompanies them on this epic ballad that has more than a wee nod to folk-metal but without the showoffery. The song occasionally feels like it may take off but the band show great restraint in holding it back. That restraint was certainly due as the following track shows Firkin’s metal edge much more clearly and ‘The Child Of Fire’ would be at home in any folk-metal bands repertoire. Judit Bonyár guest vocals on ‘I Am Who I Am’ and her voice suits the fast celtic- rock out perfectly. The fiddle is amazing on this track and the whole song despite the female vocals has the traditional Firkin feel about it that we have come to love. ‘Loch Lomond’ sees the band step into Scots territory and the pipes begin and even if the songs title doesn’t ring too many bells as soon as Barna begins to sing you’ll be accompanying the song along. Very nicely played and again played as fast as possible but with one foot firmly in traditional music. The album’s title track is up next and ‘Finger In The Pie’ begins slowly but soon speeds up into the album’s stand out track and guaranteed to have you leaping out of your chair.

“Early in the morning with the devil in my belly
Singing nasty little tunes of the drinks last night
My finger on the phone, but I throw it on the telly
and I reach out for the bottle right by my side”

During the early slow bits of this tale of unrequited love you can feel a surge is coming and it won’t disappoint when it arrives with fiddle, flute and a electric guitar solo all at play here with the frantic drumming.

Another female guest vocalist appears on the next song, ‘My Love John’, and again Nóra Fehér has the most beautiful voice that is simply perfect to sing this song. It has a 60’s/ 70’s classic English folk sound to it and with the strings sextet back on this number as well it shows the range that Firkin have and also how far they will go to achieve perfection for their music. ‘Dirty Julie’ shows that range again as Firkin punk it up with a daft song with a catchy tin whistle laden chorus. A nod to the North-East’s premier pop-punk band The Toydolls as well and we’re heading towards the end of the album and ‘Nincompoop’ and again its a fast paced punky number and looks like ‘Finger In The Pie’ is going to go out with a bang.

And indeed the album does end with a bang with ‘Jumpin’ Lovers’. A fast as hell instrumental using the famous ‘Tam Lin’ reel. Again this may mean not so much to you but soon as the song begins i guarantee you’ll recognise the tune. Lili’s fiddle playing has been perfect throughout the album and nowhere better than on this amazing song.

So you get thirteen songs with one instrumental of which the band penned eight and a collection of six covers of traditional songs that range from the obscure to the well known. Apart from the one tiny gripe mentioned above this is a great album and further cements Firkin’s place as one of Europe’s best and most favoured celtic-punk bands. At well over forty minutes you certainly get your monies worth too and the actual CD is put together with a lot of thought and devotion with band photos galore and lyrics included.

Firkin NYE

to be re-directed to the Facebook event simply click on the flyer

Firkin are heading our way later this month for a gig at the famous Dublin Castle in Camden on New Years Eve. They will be joined on stage by another band who recently lost an important member but have come back stronger than ever in Mick O’Toole. To say I am looking forward to this is an understatement and I can honestly say there’s no better way to see in 2016 than in the company of these two great bands.

Buy The Album

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Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Soundcloud  Spotify

if you are interested in finding out more about the great scene in Hungary (and you’d be mad not to be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here.

for an alternative view of this album check here and read ‘Celtic Folk Punk And More’ and their view of ‘Finger In The Pie.

  • Firkin released ‘Revox’ this year which was a three track single featuring the songs ‘If I Could Be The Pope’, ‘Finger In The Pie’ and ‘Parasite’s Lust’ featuring new singer Andy and as stated above he has filled Barna’s shoes and more!

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