The Roaring Jack Archives - Oldest 21st Century Reviews
The Mahones – Here Comes Lucky
And how lucky we are to have another inspired Celtic folk/punk band from Canada. They just can’t stop producing them ! Instead of picking up guns they just pick up mandolins, accordions and importantly GUITARS. Not as folky as The Fables but when they turn it up they certainly stray into Flogging Molly territory. They remind me a lot of a cross between that great Oz band Weddings Parties Anything with The Lowest of The Low on the slower, more melodic tunes.
’One Last Shot’ starts the Spanish flavoured theme that runs through the album. ;’The Queen and Tequila’: an imaginary tale of drinking with Shane MacGowan in NYC and surviving to face the horrors of another day. Perhaps there’s a ring of truth there? Certainly this dilemma of running out of alcohol is confronted on ’Is This Bar Open till Tomorrow’? A lamentable situation not allowed in the rollicking ’Going Back To Dublin’.
I love the accordion driven instrumental ’The Battle of Auchtermuchty’. Short and sweet, it prepares you for the frenetic onslaught of ‘Whisky Devils’. The guitars are ringing loud, accordion and mandolin dancing around each other before joining in a crescendo at the chorus with the tin whistle blending in for good measure.
On the last song ’Raise Your Hand’, they demand you raise your hands ‘for the traveling band’. I certainly am. I would also be yelling hard for an encore. A hard to find CD (in Australia, that is) from a great Canadian band but well worth the effort. Is the bull on the cover running headlong into the maddening crowd for a reason or is it just organised chaos from an unstoppable beast? You be the judge.
Can’t wait for their soon to be released double best of CD, Paint the Town Red in March 2003. (Perce Blakeney)
The Fables – A Time
OK, OK, I’m a sucker for any band which records a Roaring Jack song, and this album features the Fables’ version of ‘Buy Us A Drink’. Somewhat amazingly, this band had never heard Roaring Jack’s original. Rather, they learned ‘Buy Us A Drink’ from fellow Canadians the Irish Rovers. They’ve added their own musical introduction and ending, and the song does not suffer for it at all. This newest version of the one of my favourite RJ songs may not be as wild as the original, but it still kicks serious butt.
And the rest of the album? Quite simply, this quintet is stunning. The interplay between fiddle, mandola/mandolin and electric guitar is breathtaking at times, and the rhythm section keeps it tight and (mostly) fast. The Fables consists of musicians very well known in the Canadian folk scene, a Newfoundland Celtic supergroup of sorts. Not only that, but each member of the band has a terrific singing voice too! Glenn Simmons (guitar, vocals) writes warm and captivating songs, telling of life in a cold maritime region with a long history of Irish and Scots migration. There are funny ones too, like the hysterical ‘Sure It’s All the Same’, where the singer has the best of intentions but keeps getting led into wild drink-fuelled situations. There are some traditional standards here, like ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’ and ‘As I Roved Out’, but they’re given new life with such energetic interpretations. (Andy Carr)
Steve Towson - In A Shattered State (Caucasian Fall Records)
It’s impressive what can be achieved with just vocals, an electric guitar and strong political convictions. Brisbane-based Steve Towson takes this simple formula and uses it to create some raw, memorable, politically charged music.
What floors me immediately about this CD is the guitar sound. Heavy on the fuzz, reverb and staccato, Towson really hammers away at that poor old electric guitar. His style reminds me of the rabid playing of Ed Kuepper on the first couple of Saints albums. This solo performer has the uncanny knack of sounding like a whole punk rock combo at times. Vocally, Steve Towson can howl and shout with the best of ‘em. His is a style reminiscent of Richard Hell and even St Chris Bailey himself at times. Despite all these punk rock comparisons, Steve incorporates many other influences into his music, most notably reggae and the blues.Steve’s splendid musical knowledge is matched by his knowledge and understanding of political situations. He is obviously well read and takes an internationalist approach to his lyrics. ‘The Ogoni 9’ concerns the environmental (anti-Shell) activists who were hung by the Nigerian military dictatorship on a jumped-up murder charge in 1995. Other tracks display Steve’s views on globalisation and the corporatisation of everything, and there are even a couple of more personal love songs.
Sometimes on this recording, that guitar drowns out or muffles Steve’s vocals and the lyrics cannot be heard. But that’s never stopped many a good punk band from getting its message across. I’m sure Steve’s live shows are killers, and that they provide ample opportunity for him to explain his lyrics and make others aware of some of the sick shit going on out there in the name of profit. Definitely worth a look and a listen.
Wow, I’ve come to the end of the review without mentioning Billy Bragg at all! (Andy Carr)
Flogging Molly - Drunken Lullabies
Just the band to pick you up after a crappy day at work. ‘Drunken Lullabies’ kicks off the album and sets a frantic standard for the rest of the songs. The traditional Irish instruments sit well with the rollicking rhythms thanks to the clean production of Steve Albini. Imagine Celtic folk/punk set to the tempo of hardcore music.
Dave King’s impassioned vocals and guitar playing are imprinted on every song, especially ‘If I Ever Leave This World Alive’. His great vocals lift this band above many similar ones. His songs of drinking, misadventure and passion flow through the album. Every song is good and it’s hard to disagree that this is the album of the year. So I won’t. Just buy it, turn it up loud and often. (Perce Blakeney)