Hamell On Trial: Ed’s Not Dead – – – Hamell Comes Alive

The best way to describe Ed Hamell is a small sweaty bald guy pushing forty who plays his 1937 small-body Gibson acoustic guitar like a Tommy Gun. ‘Ed’s Not Dead – – – Hamell Comes Alive’ was recorded in Los Angeles last year when Ed opened for Ani DeFranco – just before his near fatal car crash (thankfully he’s recovered and is back on the road again). Live is the best way to experience Hamell On Trial and this CD really brings across the intensity of Ed’s live show – A one-man band armed with a battered acoustic playing it like you’ve never heard before, through a hugh Marshall Stack and telling tales of Pimps, Prostitutes, Junkies and life’s losers (plus a couple of sensitive numbers just to throw you), along with his between song banter and X-rated humor. This is Folk punk at its best with some great standup/spoken word thrown in for free – enough to make James Taylor have a heart attack. 16 tracks of acoustic intensity including a version Folson Prison Blues that will leave Mike Ness quaking in his fairy boots. Highly Recommended – my only disappointment is that Ed leaves out the Stevie Nicks story. Cat Steven’s this ain’t.

June 2001

Dropkick Murphys: Sing Loud, Sing Proud!

The Dropkick Murphys could only come from Boston with their mix of Irish folk, 77 style punk and blue collar politics. The most noticeable thing about ‘Sing Loud, Sing Proud!’ is the continuing shift in musical style from a street punk band punking up a couple of traditional Irish songs on earlier CD’s to a fully-fledged Celtic-punk outfit. This move has been helped along by the addition of Ryan Foltz (Mandolin & Tin Whistle), Marc Orrell (Guitar & Accordion) and Spicy McHaggis (Bagpipes).

The CD opens with the all bagpipes and soccer terrace chants of ‘For Boston’ the Boston College fight song. ‘The Legend of Finn MacCumhail’ follows, which was originally the b-side of ‘Curse of a Fallen Soul’ but its way to good a track to languish as a vinyl only b-side. Track 3 is the old union standard ‘Which Side Are You One?’ (also done by Billy Bragg). In the tradition and style of ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ and ‘The Fighting 69th’ the band cover the old Irish fighting song ‘Rocky Road to Dublin’. Next up in the vein of BAC is the full throttle bagpipe punk of ‘Heroes From Our Past’. ‘Forever’ is a slower almost (I don’t want to say it) power ballad. ‘The Gauntlet’ is catchy punk with the great melodies that the DKMs specialize in. ‘Good Rats’ is a chant it out traditional sounding Irish drinking song with the very sloshed sounding Shane MacGowan trading vocals with Al Barr. ‘The New American Way’ ‘The Fortunes of Way’ dedicated to Brian Deneke and ‘Ramble and Roll’ are all powerful straightforward punk tracks. Al Barr’s vocals sound great on ‘The Torch’ a slower acoustic number sound about how parents can breed ignorance & bitterness in their children. ‘A Few Good Men’ is a fast acoustic track with chanting backing vocals in the style of ‘Gangs All Here’. ‘Caps and Bottles’ from ‘Boys On The Docks’ is re-recorded here – great track – but I don’t know why it’s needed. Finally we have the much covered ‘Wild Rover’ (the toothless wonder Shane MacGowan on vocal vinyl only) played just right with a real barroom feeling and ‘The Spicy McHaggis Jig’ a bagpipe led chant about the a-fore mentioned Spicy’s love life. In short BUY THIS CD or better still BUY THE LP.

June 2001

http://www.dropkickmurphys.com/

Filthy Thieving Bastards: Our Fathers Sent Us

The Filthy Thieving Bastards is Johnny Bonnel and Darius Koski of Swingin’ Utters fame side project. The EP (9 tracks – longer the most CD releases) is a non-cover version tribute CD in the style of their hero’s-The Pogues (mainly), Billy Brag (some), Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones, The Clash, John Lennon and Elvis (P&C). Musically for the most part it is punked up acoustic guitars with some nice mandolin and banjo running through it, very like the post Shane MacGowan Pogues, almost the CD the Pogues could have made if they didn’t split after ‘Pogue Mahone’. Other notable Tracks include ‘Thick’ a Stooges/Garage romp and the excellent ‘S.S.S’, which sounds like The Clash at their very best.

June 2001

Saints Bushmill’s Choir: Give ‘Em Enough Booze

Saint Bushmill’s Choir come from the Capital Hill section of Seattle and perfectly describe themselves as a ‘Clash cover band that plays mostly Pogues songs’, hence the title ‘Give Em Enough Booze’. This is a five track EP of their interpretation of some Irish folk favorites including ‘The Foggy Dew’, and a really great version of ‘Sam Hall’. Eric Greenwalt has a great dirty punk voice and the band are tight and capable especially with the Irish instruments.

June 2001

http://www.saintbushmillschoir.com/

The Kings of Nuthin’: Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

Not quite in the genre of celtic/folk/punk/whatever are the Kings of Nuthin. I recently came across them by accident when they played with The Skels at the Linwood in Boston and they really blew me away. Their Debut EP ‘Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying’ is eight tracks of bad-assed rock-a-billy infused with the intensity and attitude of punk along with the best vocals this side of Tom Waits.

June 2001

Mama’s Boys: Relativity + 5

This is a re-release of the last Mama’s Boys CD originally released on a Swiss label in 1992 with five additional live tracks recorded in Europe November/December 1990. Mama’s Boys played classic late 80’s hard rock with the great guitar playing of Pat McManus and the classy blues voice of Mike Wilson, but what really makes this CD stand out (and the reason why I’m including a hard rock CD in the reviews) is the fusion of fiddle and uilleann with great blues based hard rock on tracks such as ‘Left and Right’ ’Cardboard City’ and especially ‘Falling’ also check out their interpretation of the traditional ‘Mourlough Shore’. Drummer Tommy McManus died in 1994 from leukemia and the band split. Brother’s Pat and john McManus now play in the excellent New Age Celtic band Celtus (Flogging Molly fans might be interested to know Dave King was briefly vocalist for Mama’s Boys).

June 2001

Celtic-punk'n'roll

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