The Rogue’s March: Never Fear

NYC’s Rogue’s March have been playing the bars and clubs (and most recently the “Warped Tour”) of New York and further a field since the early nineties. Lead by the whiskey and cigarettes throated London-Irish man Joe Hurley; a fine songwriter and storytelling lyrist in the rich tradition of Shane MacGowan, Dave King and Bruce Springsteen.

“Never Fear” was originally released in 1994 and now re-pressed (hence the review plus Joe sent me copy along with the newie “Chaser”). Could best be described as imagine Johnny Cash and Shane MacGowan sharing a bottle of Johnny Walker Red, smoking butts and trading songs and stories in a seedier bar on 2nd Avenue.

Outstanding tracks include; the live favorite and no f**kin around Celtic punk of “Shut Up and Drink”, the hardcore country of “I Wish My Wife Was a Country Singer” and the punked up Scottish traditional “McPherson’s Lament”. A fine debut CD that if it had come out on a major label with a big name producer it would be sitting in your collection right now.

September 2001

Hudson Falcons: For Those Whose Hearts and Souls Are True

The Falcons are the house band of Jersey highways and back alleys, of fast cars, fast women, burning rubber and gun smoke on the eve of a patriot worker’s revolution

GMM records have released the second full-length album from New Jersey’s own Hudson Falcons “For Those Whose Hearts and Souls Are True.” After a blistering first effort, “Desperation and Revolution” what can you expect? A Sophomore Jinx? Hell no!

If you’re familiar with the Falcons, you already know what to expect – balls out, working class street rock-n-roll (heavy on the rock-n-roll, motherfuckers!) For those of you not familiar, well, please, introductions all around: The Falcons have been aptly described as “Springsteen fronting the Clash” or “Van Morrison fronting Cock Sparrer” or my own “The gang from the Wanderers singing for Stiff Little Fingers” (As in, they got that Brooklyn/Jersey Doo-Wop/Chuck Berry street corner rock-n-roll sound combined with the frontrunners of ’77.) Well, that’s about as accurate musically as I can get, anyway. Lyrically, Mark Linskey has always dealt with the plight of the oppressed, whether it be the abused working class, abandoned vets, Irish history/politics, political prisoners or any other faction that has been stepped on – Mark steps up as their voice….and then there’s the good time rock-n-roll and tales of the Jersey wastelands.

A few things have changed since the first album – namely, it’s players. Mark Linskey is still leading the troops into battle on guitar and lead vocals and guitar virtuoso “Uncle” Chris Lynn is still kicking ass on each cut as expected. However, the bass and drum slots have been taken over by former Brassknuckle Boys Craighton Fischer and Ben Glotzbach and they sound tighter than Sister Mary Pat on a Sunday. The band is fucking rocking like never before.

This album works thematically much like some of the Boss and Little Stevie’s old tales (A ripping cover of “Open All Night” is here!) back when they were “Jersey scumbags” (to quote Mark Lind.) Fast cars, fast women, working your ass off for a livin’ and gettin’ by with rock-n-roll are all themes the record sings the praises of. Frontman Mark Linskey’s tales remind me of both the grizzled old bartender spewing truths to his patrons and of the working class Joe listening to them, all the while hoping to change his world, but wondering deep down if he can. A struggle, yes, but as “Disciples of Soul” notes, it’s one that’s worth listening to and worth fighting for: “Here’s to the wars that can’t be won/Another song that shouldn’t be sung/Another soul that can’t be saved/Another man who died tryin’ anyway/I’m gonna die tryin’ anyway.”

“For Those….” is still telling tales of the working class and pro-Union sentiment on cuts like “I’m a Worker” “Scab” and “Real Tough Guy.” The odes to rock-n-roll are still there on “Sleep, Drive, Rock-n-Roll, Repeat” (A close cousin to “L.A.M.F” from the first record) and “Sweet Rock ‘n’ Rollin’ Bad-Ass Bitch.” My favorite cut on the album is probably the heart-felt rocker called “Loyalty” where the Falcons crew outline what they’re about and what they expect in return. No explanations needed. “I got you’re back, now you get mine.”

Linskey gives the middle finger to all those who have given the Falcons grief for their politics (for being too patriotic, not patriotic enough, IRA sympathizers, Communists, etc) on “Requiem For a Patriot.” The line: “It’s the patriot’s duty to speak up and take a stand/Against the enemies of freedom who kill the common man/If we sit and do nothing we’re as guilty as the damned” says it all. Amen to that and fuck off to any thick motherfucker who doesn’t get it.

There aren’t really any Irish-flavored songs on this release, there didn’t need to be. I have spoken with Mark and he is an articulate student of Irish history/politics, so I know he is well versed in the arena. And of course, they covered the old Wolfe Tones classic “Come Out Ye Black and Tans” and anyone who has heard “Brenda Murphy” knows they can go trad. in the wink of an eye, but it’s refreshing in the sense that the Falcons don’t have to include the “Irish song” just to include it for the sake of. Just straight up street rock-n-roll burning as it goes down like a shot of whiskey. (Speaking of all things Irish, though, one of my favorite cuts is “Fallen Heroes” which was co-written with former Dropkick Murphy Rick Barton.)

“No mess, no fuss, just pure impact” (to borrow a time-honored Oi! Slogan) is how the Falcons do it. Time honored traditions and values are what the Falcons uphold. The Falcons live what they preach. They are always out on the road, so come check ‘em out when the blow through your town and definitely pick up this album.

Keep on fighting the good fight – you know the Falcons will: “Every day another fight/Against desperation in the night/It’s the Promised Land we seek/but hey, we’re a different breed.”

August 2001

Review by Sean Holland

Devil’s Advocates: Free Radio

Brooklyn, New York’s The Devil’s Advocates is one of Scott M.X. Turners musical vehicles the other being The United 32’s and his solo project. For those unfamiliar with The Devil’s Advocates they fuse “driving punk, reggae punk, Irish punk, acoustic punk, drunk punk, more reggae, dub and pop” with heavy Irish Republican and left wing activism (he makes Billy Bragg sound like George W. Bush) influenced lyrics.

“Free Radio” is heavy on the politics; it’s a fundraiser for a radical left of center New York Radio station that is clashing with its new owners. Musically its chanting Rage Against The Machine post-metal crossed with some very Wolf Tones sounding tin whistle. Good stuff.

The Prodigals: Dreaming In Hell’s Kitchen

Four piece NYC based The Prodigals have been described by no less a rag as New York’s Village Voice as “Jig Punk”, a term that I would disagree with as it seems limiting to what The Prodigals are trying to achieve musically. The Prodigals to me seem to fall somewhere between the frantic Folk-Punk of The Tosser and the more experimental New Yorkism’s of Black 47, yet still firmly rooted to a rich understanding of the traditions of where the music comes from, along with a bass line that can only be described as a living breathing organism that just drives the music.

“Dreaming In Hell’s Kitchen” the follow up to 1999’s “Go On” sees the band further expand their sound bringing in African folk sounds to complement the Irish folk. Sometimes I think I am hearing an Irish Dave Matthews Band or even touches of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” (especially on “Happy Man”). “Dreaming In Hell’s Kitchen” is certainly less “Jig Punk” then “Go On” and the band seem to have made a conscious decision to strive for commercial success on their own terms.

“Dreaming In Hell’s Kitchen” is a classy CD, beautifully written, played and produced by a band that have set their sights on big goals and they certainly have the talent to achieve those goals.

August 2001

Big Bad Bollocks: Night On the Tiles

The Big Bad Bollocks are the East Coast answer to a combination of the Macc Lads and the Pogues. (To steal a pretty much accurate description I once read.) BBB, however, come across as a more traditional English group on the piss (utilizing mainly squeezebox and tin whistle for the folky stuff) and things are expressed from a decidedly English point of view.

Johnny ‘Alien’ Allen is a Liverpool transplant/poet/playwright whose views and viewpoint can be summed up nicely in the title of their second album, “Night On the Tiles.” Released in 1999 on Monlyth records, it’s a drunken good time, with attitude, wit and a bit o’ heart as well. With songs that range from a tribute to everyone’s favorite “Guinness,” to a rollicking ode “Drinkup Yabastards” and the sea-shanty-ish “Drunker Than I Was” (it being a grand example of a whiskey-fueled roll in the hay) it’s not hard to gauge the album’s main creative fuel. The BBB do love a good drink, but are more-talented than you may think Allen’s playwright background turns more serious on “Uncle Ted”, a tale of working class hell and the sheer dead-on descriptive-ness of “Aunty Mary” makes you laugh your arse off and wonder where Allen comes up with it all. Then they can rock-n-roll like a demented Buddy Holly on “Motorcycle Jacket” and the Cockney/English music hall tradition pops up in “Tiddly Om Pom”…a great little ditty.

All in all, the album would fit in very nicely playing over the speakers in your local pub’s loo, as you release another night’s hard work and chuckle with relief. Pick it up and slam it back, it’s your ’round. (Also check out their first EP “Where the Beef Meets the Sea” and if possible, their split 7″ with the now defunct oi legends All Systems Stop.)

August 2001

Review by Sean Holland

Cruachan w/Shane MacGowan: Ride On CDS

All right I admit it; I was a Heavy Metal fan back in the Eighties – so out the window goes any credibility I had! But at least I feel well qualified to review this disk. Cruachan mix Metallica pre-“Black” album riffing (not really Death Metal at all) with Tin Whistle, Irish Flute, Bódhran and Uilleann pipes along with a heavy dose of Celtic mythology.

Shane MacGowan does a nice job producing this 4 track CDEP ensuring the traditional instruments are not lost in the metal mix. Shane also lends some vocals to their cover of the song Christy Moore made famous ‘Ride On’ though this is a lot closer to Metallica’s ‘One’ with it’s slow gentle introduction that grow more and more powerful as the song progresses climaxing in some very intense riffing. Shane duets with vocalist Karen Gilligan at the song’s beginning, the Metal vocals of Keith Fay replacing Shane as the song progresses.

“Maeves March 2001” is a Chieftains gone Metal instrumental; “Sauron” is similar in style to the English Folk-Metal’s of Skyclad and “To Hell or to Connaught” just want’s to be Horselips “Trouble”

August 2001

Blood or Whiskey: Never Be Me / Sober Again CD-S

This CD single is an Ireland only release teaser from Blood or Whiskey’s new full length CD ‘No Time To Explain’ (reviewed above). The ‘A Side’ tracks are from the CD, ‘Never Be Me’ a fast temp catchy as hell Pogues/Undertones hybrid, which won’t scare the old dears who listen to ‘The Larry Grogan Show’ (is he still alive?) and ‘Sober Again’, a slow ‘bhoys’ on the way home from the pub sing-along. The ‘B Side’ has two previously unreleased songs ‘Oh Oh’ an anti-love song – fast and spiteful and ‘Kelly of Killann’ the old Clancy standard given the ‘Blood or Whiskey’ kick up the arse – worth buying just for this.

July 2001

Blood or Whiskey: No Time To Explain

I can’t quite remember how I discovered ‘Blood or Whiskey’ but some how I came across their self titled debut CD (on ‘Sounds Records’ later re-recorded on ‘Rejected Records’) three or so years ago and it’s raw traditional Irish based punk would have put it straight to near the top of my list of favorite CD’s of all time if I was into keeping lists. So with bated breath I awaited the new CD. Could the band really improve on the classic first CD? And in short yes. The band still play fast hard edged ‘Trad Punk’ with Barney Murray still sounding like the bastard son of Ronnie Drew and Shane MacGowan (perish that image – yuch). Musically they have slightly expanded their sound (not a bad thing) adding in the catchy as hell Undertone’s style choruses, a touch of ‘The Clash’ and do I hear the ‘cut your bullshit attitude’ of early ‘The Radiators (From Space)’? So if you haven’t heard Blood or Whiskey before and are willing to take a chance on some thing special then you won’t go wrong here. Probably the only CD that can give ‘Flogging Molly’s’ ‘Swagger’ a run for its money. I’d almost say it’s the best thing to come out of Leixlip, Co. Kildare since Arthur Guinness brewed that very first pint of Guinness in 1756.
My favorite songs so far, though this will change with repeated listening are:

‘Your Majesty’, fast trad punk about Bob Geldof and his OBE (Order of the British Empire) – an award ‘Sir’ Bob received from Queen Betty II herself and what Barney and the lads think he should have told her to do with it. ‘Frank’, another fast one that sound like it’s written about someone I know.
‘Rudy’ with it’s ska feel and the punky ‘Paranoid State’ and ‘Breaking Through’

July 2001

The Tossers: Communication & Conviction (The Last Seven Years)

This CD was a nice introduction to the windy city’s The Tossers. The CD is actually a compilation of the first two now hard to find Tossers releases, 1994’s ‘The Pint of No Return’ and 1996’s ‘We’ll Never Be Sober Again’, along with a couple of out-takes from the ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’ sessions and a live version of ‘The Irish Rover’. ‘The Pint Of No Return’ was I believe The Tossers first release and it’s fast and frantic acoustic punk with a nice mix of original and Irish standards. ‘We’ll Never Be Sober Again’ shows a much bigger sounding polished band with added horns and female vocals while still keeping true to their roots. Real good stuff and I look forward to hearing a lot more from The Tossers.

July 2001

Potato-eating, Whiskey-drinking, Bog-trotting, CELTIC PUNK ROCK

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