For those of you who are unaware of Gary Miller, he was the co-founder (with twin brother Glenn) of legendary English folk-punks The Whisky Priests. Now a solo artist Gary explores on the DLI (Durham Light Infantry) EP the horror of war through the eyes and experiences of the enlisted man from the coal mines of Durham and the banks of the Nile to the western front and untimely death. The Ballad of Lance-Sergeant William Stones is particularly tragic, after surviving the Somme he was accused of cowardice (though strongly disputed) and executed.
DLI is the precursor to the forthcoming album from Gary, ‘From Coalfield to Battlefield’, which based on the 4 tracks from DLI I’m very much looking forward to.
Gary Miller who along with his twin brother Glenn was the driving force behind legendary North of England folk punk pioneers the Whisky Priests (1985 – 2000 and now reformed in 2018). Gary’s latest project, Mad Martins, is a highly ambitious piece of art, a 50-track triple CD, enclosed in a beautifully designed and illustrated (by Helen Temperley) book with the lyrics to the all the songs, poems and spoken word pieces. Gary collaborates with poet Keith Armstrong and producer Iain Petrie.
Mad Martins the story of the three notorious Martin brothers is told in original folk songs, poetry and spoken word. The three brothers, William, Jonathan and John were born in the late 1700s in Northumberland, England. Jonathan, a sailor, religious fanatic and arsonist who set fire to York Minster, dying in the infamous Bedlam lunatic asylum. John, a city planner, inventor, English Romantic painter, engraver and illustrator – biblical paintings of hell fire and general mayhem (I’m pretty sure some of his stuff ended up on as LP covers for heavy metal bands). William, a solider, inventor, scientist eccentric and self-described philosopher.
Like I said before this is a highly ambitious piece of art that has been pulled off to perfection. Check out the sampler below.
This is the 4th CD in the “It Came From The Barn” serious from Germanys, One Million Dollar Records – the world’s only specialist Irish-Folk-Punk, Cow-Punk, Polka-Trash and Bluegrass-Punk (!!!) record label. Volume IV features five bands and 17 tracks.
First up are England’s (the North of…) The Whisky Priests, a band I’d heard ’bout but had never bothered to check out. For some reason I figured they were more on the folkie side of things but man was I wrong. They are as tough as nails and as hard as a kick in the nuts by a coal miner’s steel capped boots. Think of a North of England version of the Pogues fronted by Billy Bragg at a Coal Miners riot in the 80’s.
We’ve never tasted whisky Just lager and red wine But by Christ we can’t half knock ’em back When it comes to judgement time We’ll take you on at drinking And if you lose we’ll skin your hide Then you’ll say we’re the hardest gang in town And we’ll go home drunk with pride
The Hard Men (Gary Miller)
Pronghorn (4 tracks) sound like (insert the name of your favorite band here) on major drugs. “Lady-Boy of the Night”, sounds like The Charlie Daniels Band on major drugs. “Jewish Thing”, sounds like your local Jewish folk group on major drugs. “Roobarb and Kurdish” is Suggs from Madness with the circus band on major drugs. You get my drift. Strange stuff indeed.
Greenland Whalefishers (4 tracks) should need no introduction from me and you should already own each of the four tracks here on your copies of Loboville and Main Street Sword.
The Revelling Crooks (4 tracks) play what they describe as Irish-Klezmer-Country-Balkan-Folk. Interesting, but didn’t really strike my fancy.
Finally we have Katkalta (1 track) with “Last Order”, who from their photograph look Japanese and play some manic Celtic-Punk with some extra manic Japanese (I think) vocals.