Category Archives: Feature

Neck

June 2001

Led by song-smith Leeson O’Keeffe (formerly of Shane MacGowan’s Popes), NECK are a 6-piece London – Irish band playing PSYCHO-CEILÍDH: Their songs reflect emigrant and 2nd-generation Irish life; combining the rip-roaring spiritual abandon of Irish songs and tunes with the vibrant electric guitar driven energy of Punk Rock; evident in the line-up of whistle, fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, drums and vocals – the overall effect is one of total release!

An extensive live schedule has taken their adrenaline-fuelled show all over Britain, Ireland, Europe and the U.S.A.. Each year they play at numerous festivals, including Britains’ biggest – Glastonbury 2000. Plus, gigs with the likes of The Frames, Kila, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, The Popes & ,in 2000, Black 47, The Levellers on their Isle of Wight weekender and playing at Londons’ Mean Fiddler final night party with Shane MacGowan and The Popes, The Men T. C. H., Edwyn Collins and Eddie Reader have helped expand the NECK following. On the day that really matters-St. Patrick’s Day – they kicked off their busy 1999 itinerary by playing live on top GB DJ Chris Evan’s breakfast show on Virgin Radio and Sky TV (both National), topping that in 2000 at London’s Millennium Dome.

NECK have played numerous live sessions on radio stations in London (i.e.GLR), Dublin and New York, as well as on Dutch T.V. and have appeared performing 2 songs in the Belfast-set motion picture “With or Without You” (Film Four, 2000) starring Christopher Ecclestone (Shallow Grave) and Dervla Kirwan (Ballykissangel).

Added to all this, NECK have a very high profile in the Irish press in Britain, with the U.S. folk music and Irish press following suit: New York’s Irish Voice listed them joint 6th in their Top Ten Irish releases of 2000-which included the likes of U2 and Sinead O’Connor! Following two tours in 2000, college and Irish radio in the U.S. are picking up on the band as well, with airplay and live sessions.

2001 has begun with a vengeance:-with a Southern U.S. tour(including Nashville, Savannah and The Carolinas) ;a hectic St.Patrick’s weekend highlighted by going-on after Ed Byrne at Londons’ 1,500 capacity Hackney Empire ; and a tour of Ireland (with gigs in Belfast, Derry, Donegal and Dublin)with a live session on Irish-language Dublin station Raidio na Life, already undertaken. Individually too, NECK’s musicians are gaining recognition, with whistle-player Marie McCormack in demand for solo recitals, while Leeson and fiddler Marion Gray guested with The Alabama 3 at The Camden Underworld. That’s with all three maintaining a well-known presence on the London traditional Irish session circuit!

So in summing-up:this infectious, exhilarating marriage of music and mayhem means that, at least in this case, excess is definitely more!

Mutiny: Folk-Anarchy from Down Under

May 2005

With the re-release of the the 1997 album ‘Rum rebellion’ now available on Philadelphia’s Fistolo records Gregory Bones of Melbourne’s long time punk folk group Mutiny recalls the making of the album.

The tale of Rum Rebellion starts in the old world when we toured Europe in 1994. We had already been playing our mix of folk and punk for a few years and had released a 7 track EP ‘Any Way You Can’. After two months on the road playing England, Germany and Holland and even playing our bastardized jigs to real Irishmen in real Irish pubs (in Ireland!) it occurred to us that our strengths were not so much in being a punk folk band, but that we were Australian and had an antipodean colonial sound that was unique. When playing our music, songs like “The Squatting Song” with Chris’ throaty voice, we were telling stories in an Aussie folk ballad manner that had something more to offer people overseas who had heard many a crusty Celt outfit. It was these ideas and a newfound sense of national identity that would influence the writing of “Rum Rebellion” when we returned home.

When we got home we found a new fiddle player in Michelle (who plays a mean fiddle) and started rehearsing and writing songs while Briony was still in Europe and hence Chris became the main vocalist. Another influence at this stage was the retro punk explosion; bands like Green Day, certainly the story-telling lyrics and energy of Rancid’s “Let’s Go,” and the books of Irvine Welsh lent to a tell-it-like-it-is street story in our newer lyrics. We played up and down the coast, and started recording with our friend Nic Carrol at his home studio. His place was a shop front house with the shop part soundproofed for a band room and the control room upstairs next to his bedroom. Every time he wanted to move a mike or we wanted to hear how the take sounded outside the cans we would have to run up and down the stairs so we all got very fit.

We were playing as often as we could at this stage and supported the likes of Conflict, Citizen Fish and Propagandhi on their Australian visits, and found ourselves doing the legendary Wedding Parties Anything Christmas show, taking on their rider.

Eager to put out something new, and knowing the album was a fair way off, we mixed some of the tracks and put out an EP called “Bodgy Tatts.” It was in a cardboard sleeve and saw us folding and sticking hundreds of the things ourselves. Gradually the album comes together and we plan to go to Europe again.

Like I said before, there was a move to incorporate Australian colonial folk into the Mutiny sound and we were listening to bands that had done this before – like the late ‘70’s-‘80’s leftist folk act Red Gum and the late 80’s-early 90’s Melbourne folk rock balladeers Weddings Parties Anything (whose Christmas booze we drank) and the great Sydney celtic rockers Roaring Jack. So in “Rum Rebellion,” you find many references to local streets and history, tunes that are colonial in a ‘Botany Bay’ kind of way…as well as lots of punk polka, jigs, and a bit of eastern European ska, klezma, and gypsy stuff. I listen back to it and think it’s a really honest record, a document that captured where we were at – the sound of five people who had been playing a lot of shows together, putting the set down on tape.I am also fond of the graphics, the cover of the re-release is an old painting of governor Bligh hiding from the troops during the Rum Rebellion which was the back cover originally. The new back cover is another old painting of Bligh being thrown off the the bounty. Lightening strikes not once but twice. All the lyrics were hand written by a friend for 40 bucks and the photos of the band were done by my brother. They look great and we come across as a bunch of crusty pirates but like all great photos they weren’t set up, we were playing a show in a lane-way during a Brunswick st festival, we didn’t get booked for the official stages so we helped set up and play the ‘pirate stage’ when we started all these punks turned up and danced and my brother took the shots.

After releasing Rum Rebellion we toured Europe again and then the states in 99, it always got amazing reviews but we a bit under the radar as we were a bit early for the whole celt punk thing. Its great Fistolo have re-released the album and its good to hear it all these years on when I fell quite removed from it The band has moved on in many ways and it’s a bit like another bands record but listening back we were not bad then… not bad at all. We have released other material since such as 2002’s Bag of Oats mini album which has a tougher tighter and more accordion driven sound and we have another patch of recordings we have yet to put out which may be the best Mutiny yet so keep you’re ears open.

\m/ Celtic Heavy Metal \m/

While Shite’n’Onions has focused on Celtic punk and rock since inception there is one area of Celtic rock that we have never really touched on –\m/ Celtic Heavy Metal \m/.

This omission is somewhat ironic as I first heard the mixing of traditional Irish music and rock through metal bands. My introduction to Celtic anything (with the exception of my parents Dubliners and Wolfe Tones tapes and successfully avoiding trad music at school) was through a band called – Mama’s Boys – 3 brothers from the North of Ireland raised playing traditional Irish music who discovered Horslips and had a Saul on the road to Damascas conversion from trad to rock’n’roll. Mama’s Boys recorded and toured throughout the 80s and while the infusion of Celtic sounds was somewhat sporadic (tracks like Runaway Dreams) it really perked up my ears. Small bit of trivia – Flogging Mollys’ Dave King was briefly singer for Mama’s Boys prior to joining the big league with Fastway (and former Mama’s Boys bassist and vocalist John MacManus now plays bass for Fastway). Mama’s Boys split in the early 90s after death of younger brother Tommy and the remaining brothers John and Pat want full into Celtic music with an band called Celtus who had moderate success in the UK.

With my interest pricked I delved into Thin Lizzy’s back catalog and especially stuff like Emerald (please Flogging Molly cover this!) and the amazing Black Rose. While Lizzy never incorporated traditional instruments the guitars shreaded Celtic melodies like you wouldn’t believe.

Thin Lizzy lead me to Gary Moore and his 1987 Wild Frontiers album – the most complete Celtic metal/rock album I had heard to date – Moore took Lizzy’s Black Rose (which he played on) and added trad instruments – fiddles and uilleann pipes – and was joined by members of The Chieftains to make the ultimate tribute to the late Lizzy front man Phil Lynott.

And that was really my Celtic rock world (and yeah The Pogues existed but when you did the metal then that was all you did) through the early 90s. My interest in Metal wained in the early 90s as I opened up to newer sounds – Therapy?, That Petrol Emotion – and metal changed when Kirk Cobain slew big the beast that was hair metal and I didn’t like the sound of the new flavors of the month from Kerrang!! – Sepultura and Pantera and all the various shades of black, death and fart metal. One band I did catch by chance playing live around that time was Skyclad – the originators of Folk-Metal – thrash meets Lizzy”s Emerald with a full time fiddle player to boot – Skyclad were to open for Danzig in Dublin but Glen stubbed his toe and Danzig pulled out – Skyclad pulled together a last minute gig in a biker bar in Capel Street and they were amazing (audience filled with guys in kilts with clamors and this was pre-Braveheart). Skylclad had started something for the metalheads of Dublin. Me, I moved and moved on musically.

Interestingly both Celtic punk and metal bands stick within the musical structure of their respective genres. While the punk bands will see their roots in The Pogues and their forefathers The Dubliners and that drinking, fighting, rebel ballad tradition. The metal bands reference Horslips and further back to The Chieftains and focus on Celtic mythology and pre-history – the scally caps are replaced by blue face paint.

So, 17 years on there is now a whole sub genre of Celtic Metal with bands from Ireland, Germany and as far a field as South America. The scene developed first in Ireland and was primarily influenced by the aforementioned Skyclad and Horslips – early and influential Irish bands were Cruachan, Primordial and Waylander who all took the lead from Skyclad and combined trash/black metal with traditional Irish folk in a Horslips goes metal style.

“Skyclad were the original Folk Metal band I suppose and they certainly influenced both Waylander and Cruachan, but coming from Ireland I’m sure both Keith [Fay of Cruachan] and myself thought we had a divine right to play Folk Metal, especially as we’re both influenced by the Horslips as well.“

—Ciaran O’Hagan of Waylander (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_metal)

Following on in the wake of Cruachan, Primordial and Waylande came more Celtic metal bands from Ireland including Geasa and Mael Mórdha and bands cropping up in places as diverse as Switzerland (Eluveitie), Spain (Mägo de Oz) and Germany (Suidakra).

So, with the help of Wikipedia and Youtube I thought we would take a look at the current crop of bands that Skyclad, Horslips and to a lesser extent Thin Lizzy can take the blame for:

Cruachan – Founders of Celtic metal waaaaaay back in 1992. Founding member Keith Fay was inspired by Skyclad and took what they were doing and added a Celtic dimension. Horslips were another big influence. Originally Cruachan were a black metal band infused with traditional Celtic music  though their metal sound has moved more towards traditional heavy metal. Cruachan will be the band most familiar to Shite’n’Onions readers as Shane MacGowan co-produced their album Folk-Lore. Shane-o also contributed vocals to versions of “Spancil Hill” and “Ride On”  on that album.

http://www.cruachanireland.com/

Eluveitie are a Celtic metal band from Winterthur, Switzerland founded in 2002. Switzerland was of course the original European home of the Celt’s. Eluveitie often sing in Gaulish (an extinct Celtic language). The band had decent chart success with their last release Slania in both the Swiss and German charts.

http://www.eluveitie.ch/

Geasa are a Celtic metal band from Dublin, started in 1994. Their style is traditional Celtic music merged with black metal. The band has released one demo album, one EP, and three full-length albums.

Mael Mórdha (founded 1998) are also from Dublin and play Celtic doom metal (ie Black Sabbath at their most depressed.) They describe themselves as “Gaelic doom metal”. The band tried to enter the Eurovision Song Contest 2005 as Ireland representative.

Mägo de Oz are from Spain and have been around since 1988. Their style is more traditional heavy metal (ie Iron Maiden) meets Celtic (band members included a violinist and flautist). Mägo de Oz has had some serious success in Spain and South America.

Primordial – are from Dublin and along with Cruachan are the Granddads of Celtic metal. The band was formed in 1987 and added a Celtic bent to their black/doom metal sound in the early nineties.

Suidakra are a melodic death metal (if you can imagine that) band from Germany with Celtic influences.

http://www.suidakra.com/

Waylander are from Norn Ireland and play more traditional heavy/power/trash metal with Celtic influences. The band were formed back in 1993 and were part of the first wave of Celtic metal bands emerging from Ireland – as with Cruachan, Horslips were a huge influence.

Celtic Legacy were another Irish band that were around from the mid-nineties to 2010 (they basically went broke trying to finance their own stuff). The band were heavly influenced by Thin Lizzy at their Celtic best.

http://www.celtic-legacy.com/

Joe Strummer: A Guy Named Joe: Rest in Peace / Remembering Mr. Strummer, and “The Only Band That Mattered.”

January 2003

A Guy Named Joe: Rest in Peace.

Moving. The floor was moving. And when I say that, I don’t mean there was a packed dance floor and the seas of people gave the illusion the floor was moving. I mean, the floor was physically moving, bowing up and down. I feared the balcony would collapse, so I braced myself, but never took my eyes off the man on stage and his rocking band of musicians.

To my right – skinheads. Not wearing scowls like normal, but vibing. To my left – a 50 year old man who told me he hadn’t been to a show in ten years. Ten years. Scan the crowd. Punks off to the right. Rastafarians grooving up front. Mods drinking pints and dancing in place. Rudeboys having dance-offs. Normals all over as well. No, the kids will never be, as Jimmy Pursey once imagined, united. But this was damn close. As close as I’ve ever or probably ever will see. The occasion? Simple. Joe Strummer was in town (with his new band, the Mescaleros in tow) for the first time since the 80’s. Everyone who was once or presently part of any scene in the city, it seemed, was out to pay his or her respect. In these trying times, the Clash and Joe in particular always seemed to rise above it all – truly representing the credo they wore in the 80’s – “the only band that matters.”

But now, time has dictated, as it so often does, that everything must change. Now we reflect on what has come before and reassess it, reevaluate it and, goddammit – just listen. Joe is gone. Nothing’s gonna bring him back, and I don’t really give a damn about the circumstances surrounding his passing. There is no need for me to give you a tired history of the Clash or Joe’s early days in the pub rock scene. There are volumes of quality (and not-so-quality) work out there that do that more clearly and more accurately than I would ever be able to do. No need to present a discography. If you are a fan, you know what Joe has produced over the years. Nah, words, as so often is the case, wouldn’t do this passing justice.

The Clash, as you all probably know by now, are due to be inducted into the Rock-n-roll Hall of Fame in 2003. They were set to play a quick set at the induction ceremony, and maybe as a precursor, Mick Jones had been joining Joe onstage in England as of late, their well-known feud seemingly in the past, as Joe being the cool bastard he was has been putting the blame on himself for years now. So maybe, just maybe, the circle was complete – the bands two headmasters playing together for the first time in years signaling to someone somewhere that all was well in the rock-n-roll universe. So maybe Joe’s passing wasn’t all in vain. Maybe now his and his band’s greater message will be heard louder and clearer than before. Maybe.

But that unity vibe at that show, the sheer potpourri of the crowd that night – I’ll never forget it. I don’t think Joe did, either, as he said in print oft times that the Chicago show that I mentioned was one of the best he ever played – said it had a vibe, man. So Joe showed a lot of people the way, he gave them something to believe in, and although he’s gone, the vibe he talked about – the Strummer vibe – that’s forever.

So, in the end, I guess I simply know this – one of the coolest men to ever put on a pair of boots and play rock-n-roll is gone. I think I’m gonna cue up “Death or Glory”, have a drink, and vow to never fuck a nun and later join the church.

By Sean Holland
Remembering Mr. Strummer, and “The Only Band That Mattered.”

I think I was about 12 years old the first time I heard The Clash. It was on one of those MTV rip-off, “Friday Night Videos” program shows. . I’m sure it was “Rock the Casbah”. I liked the song, but that was about it way back then. A few years later, I started listening to punk quite regularly. I started with stuff like Black Flag, Minor Threat, T.S.O.L., GBH, and like many other kids, the music just exploded from that point on. Listening to punk band, after punk band, after punk band. I was hooked.

By the time I “re-discovered” The Clash, I realized I had heard these guys before. It suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks…. These guys are a bit different, a little bit more than the standard bands I was listening to at the time. It had more than just three thrashing chords, and the galloping drums. The Clash were one of those bands who introduced me to other music out there. “London Calling” introduced me to reggae music, and to ska music. The Clash made me open my eyes to everything else that was out there. So, I expanded my horizons and had a lot of music to catch up on. I was a busy man.

A few years ago I started listening to The Clash again. It was kind of like catching up with an old friend. Most of my old cassettes were long gone, so I slowly started recollecting them on CD. Finally, I was listening to Joe Strummer’s solo work. I don’t recall how I got ” Global A Go-Go”, It might have been after watching Black Hawk Down, and hearing “Minstrel Boy”, or maybe Joe was playing on David Letterman, or the Conan O’Brien show. What I do remember was hearing “Johnny Appleseed” and thinking goddamn how good it was. Once again I was hooked. After all those years, Joe Strummer still sang about the truth, still played with that fire, and most important, he was still very down to earth. Joe may have been older, but he was also wiser. Not to mention, he was still a very cool dude! I was glad I had the album. Everything was going along fine, until that awful December morning, when I heard the news…….

I never met Joe Strummer, but I also never felt so awful about the passing of someone I had never met. I was upset, and angry. I felt like we all were cheated. Somebody like Joe Strummer wasn’t meant to die, it simply just wasn’t on the agenda. You’d figure it was meant to be someone else, somebody less important. It just goes to show that the good ones are always the first to go.

I’d like to simply say, “Joe Strummer, Rest In Peace,” but, I think it would be more fitting if I said that “I hope you give ’em hell, up there in heaven, Joe!!”

Bless that man,

Brian Gillespie

Paddy Punk in Japan

December 2008

Paddy Punk in Japanese Rustic Stomp Scene

After being exposed to the Japanese Paddy-Punk band, THE CHERRY COKES by a fellow Shite’n’Onions contributor, I decided to investigate further into Japan’s Paddy-Punk scene to see if there were more bands like this, with an appreciation for the Celtic folk-punk music, and a flair for the execution of it with such infectious zeal. I found a number of bands with some really good material and I began to aurally gobble this stuff up, collecting whatever I could get my hands on.
Development, Styles, and Practitioners

Japan has long been known for its embrace of western customs, styles and tastes, and then putting a twist on it to make it all their own. This has held true with music as well. In the field folk-punk music, however, that ‘twist’ falls under the larger umbrella term of “Rustic Stomp.”

The term “Rustic Stomp” was allegedly coined by the band, The Tokyo Skunx, (often written “The Tok¥o $kunx,”) back in the early ‘90s, and seems to be characterized by mixing the more folk-style music instruments along with the typical rock instruments. In almost all of the bands that I have looked into, certain instruments are always present: electric guitar and a drum kit are invariably accompanied by a bass fiddle, (AKA “double bass”, “stand-up bass”, or according to many liner notes, the “wood bass,”) an accordion and a banjo. Various other assorted instruments are to be found as well, including tin whistle, trumpet, mandolin, saxophone, bouzouki, fiddle and/or bagpipes. It is a safe guess that it is the instrumentation falls under the “rustic” portion of the moniker, while the “stomp” is quite blatantly the music. Punk rock tempos and structures are mixed with elements of rockabilly, ska, cowpunk, bluegrass, country/western or seemingly any other passing influence, tossed into a giant blender, set for purée, and served at dizzying speeds. Some of the big names in the style, (aside from THE TOKYO SKUNX,) are DOG’GIE DOGG, THE CABALLERO POLKERS, and THE FUJIYAMA KINGS. (Bear in mind, that this is by no means a comprehensive list as my knowledge of these bands is quite limited.)

Among the assortment of western-influenced styles and combination of styles, is our own Celtic folk-punk. And the Japanese bands that have chosen this have continued with the manic, explosively hyperactive and energetic treatment as their fellow “Stompers.”

As some bands cross lines and can include ska, reggae, bluegrass, or a number of influencing sounds (or combinations of sounds,) on a single release, their are some bands that could be considered “Paddy-Punk” without an exclusive commitment to Celtic-influence material. A good example of such a band is THE CLASSIC CHIMES. Referred to as “The Japanese POGUES,” to me their sound is less in the Irish/Celtic style than in a some country/rockabilly with some Irish as well as “spaghetti-western” sounds stirred in. THE CHERRY COKES are another band who blur the lines between their influences so smoothly that sounds bleed into each other without the confines of definition.

Rustic Stomp in Celtic-Styled Bands

Those bands who are entrenched and committed to the Irish/Celtic side of Rustic, seem to advertise this intent in any of a number of ways. Although through the music is the most obvious way; cover/traditional songs and or jigs, reels and hornpipes, for those bands with more original material, a band name says a lot. Much like many bands in west, an Irish-styled rustic stomp band is often identifiable through their name: THE CLOVERS, THE ROYAL SHAMROCK, THE CROAGH PATRICK and MT. PAIOT’S, (formerly “MT. PAIOT’S OIRISH ORCHESTRA.”) You hear these names and you can guess what to expect. JUNIOR, on the other hand, have chosen to wear their hearts on the sleeves, or kilts, as it were, and tip their musical hand through wardrobe. Every photo of the band, JUNIOR, that I have seen, the members were proudly bedecked in various tartans. Also fairly indicative as to the music.

Comparisons and Recommendations

If pressed for recommendations from this arena, I would have more than a single candidate to suggest. If one were looking for a very western sounding, paddy-punk-style band, I might steer the listener towards MT. PAIOT’S ‘Northland Stomp’ CD due to its high ratio of English lyrics, (or at least in the song titles and liner notes,) and familiar phrasings borrowed from bands like FLOGGING MOLLY, (“Dirty Town” samples fairly blatantly a piece from “Devil’s Dance Floor”,) THE POGUES, (a version of “Repeal of The Licensing Laws” that is almost note for note!), or just some of the mood akin to those of bands like MUTINY, (“Devil’s Waltz”,) or THE GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS, (‘Wakari-Sake’.)

If however, the listener wanted to experience the origins of Rustic Stomp despite the influencing styles, THE TOKYO SKUNX are among the bands that really pioneered the movement in Japan, (as well as reputedly coined the term!) and have a sound with more “spaghetti-western”/cowpunk/psychobilly flavors at work than anything Celtic. This band also has a very large catalog to choose from.

THE CHERRY COKES, (a name recognized by most S’n’O-ers,) provides a good mix of both the Celtic and non-Celtic Stomp, delivered primarily at the typical amped up pace that this style’s sound is so frequently associated with. The availability of these guys’ material makes them very attractive for checking out as well.

The CDs by bands with the strongest thematic ties to the Celtic influence, but with a delivery firmly entrenched in the identifying exuberance of the Rustic Stomp scene, are 2003’s ‘Rights’ by the band JUNIOR, or 2007’s ‘Hell’s Jig’ by THE CROAGH PATRICK, (see the S’n’O review by ahem your humble author!) Both blast through track after track with the speed and dizzying precision of a scalded cat! And both provide a very accurate portrayal of this facet of the scene’s potential.

My own personal favorite, (at least as of this writing,) has to be 2004’s ‘Greenfield Rumble’ by THE CLOVERS. This CD spends as much energy on creating a unique mood for each track as it does for for any other aspect involved. Each song stands apart from each other yet retains that “family resemblance,” creating a disc that remains fresh and interesting all the way through. I was also quite pleased to hear, (finally,) a song by a Japanese band that incorporated some Japanese-influenced sounds, (albeit created by the banjo,) and segued into a song that bridged that gap so smoothly, that if any tune could be nominated to represent the Paddy-Punk end of Japan’s Rustic Stomp, this one would walk away with it. The Shite’n’Onions site doesn’t handle the Japanese characters well enough for me to write the name of the song, but it is the second-to-last on the CD, just before it wraps up with a slow bagpipe tune that just gushes with touching, mournful emotion.

Or, if you are the type to sample as many flavors off of a buffet as you can fit on one plate, then 2007’s various artists’ CD, ‘Green Anthem,’ contains 14 appetizers from across the Japanese Rustic-Stomp steam table, including MT. PAIOT’S, THE CROAGH PATRICK, THE CLOVERS, as well as bands named NANCY WHISKEY, THE MERRY DRUNKARD BAND, and PRINCE ALBERT.

Some Vendors

One of the biggest hurdles that I found in acquiring some of the mentioned material has been the language barrier. Most of these bands have names in English so a web search is easy enough, but once a site that sells them is found, it is usually completely in Japanese. Fortunately, the ever growing influence of English has been recognized in Japan and many vendors’ sites are now available with a built in translation. http://www.Amazon.co.jp has an “In English” button in the upper right corner of the page, as well as Amazon.com’s “Used & New” feature for a bit of a reduction in price! http://www.HMV.co.jp also has an “English” feature. http://www.jpophelp.com is an American site devoted to Japanese media so it is fairly easy to navigate. That ease of navigation comes at a price, though, as this site, with its massive selection and English fonts was the most expensive vendor by far, even factoring shipping and handling charges, (the second biggest hurdle!).

Links

Fortunately for the linguistically limited like myself, the majority of these bands, I have found, have their MySpace pages written in English. This is quite helpful when it comes to ordering their releases as they more often than not will list who is carrying their material. MySpace is also great for hearing a track or two to see if a band catches your ear. So to assist in this, I put together a MySpace list of a few bands:

MySpace
THE CHERRY COKES: http://www.myspace.com/thecherrycokes
MT. PAIOT’S: http://www.myspace.com/mtpaiots
THE ROYAL SHAMROCK: http://www.myspace.com/royalshamrock
THE CROAGH PATRICK: http://www.myspace.com/thecroaghpatrick
THE MOONSTOMPERS: http://www.myspace.com/moonstompersyasu
JUNIOR: http://www.myspace.com/jprjunior
PRINCE ALBERT: http://www.myspace.com/princealbertcountry
THE CABALLEROS POLKERS: http://www.myspace.com/caballeropolkers
DOG’GIE DOGG: http://www.myspace.com/cowtrash
PING-PONG DASH: http://www.myspace.com/pingpongdash8969
TURTLE ISLAND: http://www.myspace.com/turtleislandpunktribeorchestra
THE RADIOTS: http://www.myspace.com/radiots

For me, discovering the world of Japanese Rustic Stomp was like being a child again and finding a hidden room full of toys in the attic. There is a thriving scene in Japan of the exact style of music that Shite‘n’Onions was built on and I am just scratching the surface. The song ‘Ace of Clover’ off of MT. PAIOT’S ‘Northland Stomp’ CD has a line that, (through it’s broken English,) reads, “We met the Irish and they’re great guys. Its our own music!” I love that. The Japanese have taken this music and embraced it as their own and created some great material for this genre.

Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel

Horslips, Black 47 and me on TV

May 24, 2010

A couple of weeks back I was down in NYC to be interviewed for a
documentary series for Irish TV. The series traces the journey of an
Irish man named Micky MacGowan who emigrated  at the end of nineteenth
century and worked his way across North America before striking it
rich in the Klondike Gold Rush. This fella’s memoirs “The Hard Road to
the Klondike” were the inspiration for Horslips to make some of their
finest albums; Aliens, The Man Who Built America.
Anyway, Barry Devlin and Jim Lockhart formally members of the artists
know as Horslips wanted to speak to me about Celtic punk in the US –
where it comes from, what does it mean and why it could only come from
anywhere but Ireland. So in the back room of Paddy Reilly’s I
bullshitted away about all of the above and anything that came into my
mind, which wasn’t much – bloody hard to think when surrounded by a
camera crew and being grilled by two musical legends. I did my best!
Later in the night at Paddy Reilly’s, Jim and Barry joined Black 47 on
stage as their 20th anniversary gig was filmed by the boys from TNG
for inclusion in the documentary. Black 47 were on fire that night and
honestly in a setting like Reillys Black 47 are the best live band in
the world!

After a few pints and some reflection on the night and being really
impressed with the lads from Horslips I thought it would be great to
put together a Celtic-punk tribute to Horslips – basically these guys
started it all and wouldn’t it be great to bring it all back to where
it started

So, if your interested in contributing a track let me know I’ve a
couple of spots left to fill

In Memory of Alistair Hulett

January 29, 2010

Alistair Hulett, 1951-2010.

Schooldays over and I was working Saturday nights in a lowlife outer suburban bar as bilge monkey still far from fully grown – a scrap of a kid, I was – when I discovered the great Roaring Jack of Sydney City. I spend most nights playing tin whistle along to favourite on a scratch-built stereo and was well pleased to bring home a 45 single I found in Parramatta, ‘The Swaggies Have All Waltzed Matilda Away’ by Roaring Jack. As The Pogues’ iconic ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’ rarely left my turntable, I was delighted to learn of an original folk rock act at large in my home city. So there was the 45, with yesteryear’s vagrant on the cover with his sad hurdy-gurdy slung over him and the Mighty Boy Records athletic logo on the disc. The song drew a shuttle across the loom of Australian history, a song written by a Glaswegian migrant, one Alistair Hulett. He reiterated popular sentiments of The Powers That Be fucking people around and the ironically resentful-yet-malleable nature of the colonial-gone-capitalist Australian psyche. ‘Swaggies’ culminated in a call to “raise the red flag” but I’d listened to enough Billy Bragg to not find the radical politics overtly stark (I was left by nature anyway). What I really liked was the raw, strong melody, a tune that bespoke of sincerity. The song had the feel of a march about it and it was not hard to imagine a colliery brass band playing behind it.

And so, consulting the street press, I sought out the band in question. Only just old enought to get into the pre-sterilized, pre-wankerfied pubs of Newtown (that change being addressed, prophetically, by Alistair in a couple of his own songs), I followed Roaring Jack from the rabble of The Sandringham Hotel and its bubbling mosh, like a tavern built into a ship’s dungeon, to The Harold Park Hotel near the racetrack at Glebe, and back again.

Alistair Hulett was the lead singer and main songwriter of Roaring Jack and he cut a mean, neat figure with his electro-acoustic six string and John Lennon specs. He was fit and sharp and direct in speech, delivery and stage presence. Multi-instrumentalist Steph Miller was like a quartermaster or First Mate at his side and Alistair would slice through set after set without missing a beat. I have never since heard such a quality and quantity of songs from a pub band. One Roaring Jack set would put most Sydney’s bands’ entire repertoires to shame and there was no shortage of these sets, they’d just play all evening and right into the night.

I could not believe that I got to be amongst it all. Leaping from bar and stage with the drinking songs, ‘Lights Of Sydney Town’, ‘The Lass Behind The Beertaps’ and the blazing, fatalistic ‘Buy Us A Drink’. Alistair made fond nods to tradition with the waltzy ‘Wild Rover Again’ and ‘Polythene Flowers’, and then there was the boozey reggae of ‘Ball Of Yarn’. And the defiant Union songs, ‘Days of ’49’, ‘Lads Of The BLF’ and ‘Cat Among The Pigeons’, a four segment folk-punk epic that took in everything from Steeleye Span to hillbilly hoedowns to Marxist prose.
From the first time I heard ‘Proddy Dogs And Papes’, I considered it Alistair’s finest work. A sad and pretty melody in Scottish cadence, he ong is one of those rare gems that sounds equally powerful in slow ballad form or as a flatknacker punk rocker. It follows the theme he explored in ‘The Auld Divide And Rule’; the futile, self-thwarting machismo of sectarianism. You want to physically turn away from the infantile, deluded automatons that are the football fans described in the song, it is emotive stuff.

Alistair was a prodigious writer of no-bullshit folk ballads who played like a crusader. He did great justice to his influences; Billy Bragg, Woody Guthrie, Dick Gaughan and Shane MacGowan. Roaring Jack were electrified Celtic punk before Flogging Molly were a glint in Dave King’s eye and were always undaunted in their own powers of expression. Alistair was the sharpest edge on a sharp band that gave me something to look forward to seeing at least once week, and listening to on the days and nights in between shows.

… Goodnight, and joy be with you all.

Will Swan
Sydney, Ought Ten