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

The Pogues: The Very Best Of

In my humble opinion The Pogues were at least the greatest rock band of the eighties if not one of the greatest band of all time – but if your reading this zine then you already know that (and if you didn’t then fuck off your on the wrong site). The Very Best Of… contains twenty one of their best known tracks each one a classic but each one that you probably already own already. The big question is why was this released (even the former band members were unaware this was coming out)- apart from as another record company rip-off. When is the record company going to wise up, stop trying to rip people off and put out that collection of rare shit we’ve been waiting for.

Track Listing: Dirty Old Town, Irish Rover w/ The Dubliners, Sally MacLennane, Fiesta, A Pair Of Brown Eyes, Fairytale Of New York w/ Kirsty MacColl, The Body Of An American, Streams Of Whiskey, The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn, If I Should Fall From Grace With God, Misty Morning, Albert Bridge, Rain Street, White City, A Rainy Night In Soho, London Girl, Boys From The County Hell, The Sunny Side Of The Street, Summer In Siam, Hell’s Ditch, The Old Main Drag, And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

July 2001

The Nogoodnix: Pub Punk United

On a scale of Folk to Punk the Nogoodnix hit a Punk 9 and a Folk 1. Formally a red mohawked, union jack (???) clad punk band called the Trauma School Dropouts they reinvented themselves in ‘99 as a ‘Pub Punx’ band. Musically the band plays really good Clash/77 style punk with an infusion of Irish/Pub Rock – actually the remind me a lot of The Real McKenzie’s (w/out the bagpipes). My big problem with this CD though is the ‘Darby O’Gill’ vocals that singer Duane Beer seems to slip into on the more Irish oriented numbers – Duane Beer is a really great punk vocalist who’s voice really carries the punk tracks but when he breaks into the ‘Lucky Charm’s’ voice it just doesn’t work. All the same a really good CD – outstanding tracks include: the mid temp ‘Angelina’, the punk rock of ‘Untimely Blessings’, ‘Wrong Again’ and ‘Every Now And Then’. ‘Piss On Luck’ with its Louie Armstrong introduction that then charges into Clash style punk.

July 2001

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

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