The Mahones are one of my favorite bands of all time. I’ve been following them since the mid-Nineties, I’ve put them on live in Boston a couple of times and wrote the sleeve notes for their tribute album. All this means that I can’t really do an unbiased review of The Hunger & The Fight. So take it from me with my totally biased opinion, The Hunger & The Fight is pure classics Mahones. The album is the first half of a double concept album (please don’t stop reading now! they have not turned in Pink Floyd or Yes or some other prog rock horror) and deals with the Irish experience – part 1 is mostly Irish / Dublin themed songs (knacker drinking, stealing piebald ponies, joyriding and rugger buggers – I jest) and part 2, due for release next year focuses on the Irish in exile. The Hunger and The Fight (part 1) in ways reminds me more of early Mahones albums, a little bit more paced then the full force albums of recent, more acoustic with touches of punk. The love of The Replacements that the Mahones collectively have really stands out on The Hunger and The Fight.
So without any further ado I give you song-by-song the The Hunger & The Fight:
Brian Boru’s Battle March is the Mahones interpretation of the battle march of Brian Boru, Ireland greatest high king. Horslips meets the Chieftains to open up the hardest Celtic arse kicking delivered since 1014
The title track, The Hunger & The Fight has that laid back Replacements meets Celtic feel, featuring a duet with Tara Slone of Canadian alt heros Joydrop
Paddy On The Railway is fast and furious with The Tossers’ Tony Duggins going to head to head with Finny
Stars (Oscar Wilde), the ballad Stars, a biographical ode to Dublin legendary writer Oscar Wilde, highlights the fact that Finny McConnell is a top notch songwriter bar-none. Simon Townshend (The Who) joins on harmony vocals and acoustic. Finny must have been beside himself to have Simon on the album
Prisoner 1082 is a fast paced punk rocker in classic Mahones style. A true story of Finny’s uncle, Donal ‘Danny’ Donnelly and his escape from Belfast’s infamous Crumlin Road jail
Pint of Plain is an Irish jig on steroids a “drinking song for those who can’t drink”.
Someone Saved Me slows down the pace just a wee bit. A classic ballad that would not be out of place on Digging The Days
The Auld Triangle is the ol’ Brendan Behan classic done in Luke Kelly style. This song never gets old.
Blood On the Streets of Dublin continues in the more laid back vain taking the listener back to Dublin 1916 and the Easter Rising.
St. Patrick’s Day Irish Punk Song is loud and ruckus and classic Mahones. In fact its the bastard offspring of Drunken Lazy Bastard.
The album also included a couple of bonus covers. Of the two I f*ckin’ love the cover of Van The Moans I Can Give You Everything, pure garage rock, true to the original 60s R’n’B sound and as powerful as the day it was written. The other track, Last One To Die, is a great Rancid cover from the forthcoming tribute album.
Twenty five years on and more tour miles driven then the rest of the entire Celtic-punk scene combined, The Mahones on The Hunger & The Fight still have the enthusiasm of a band in the studio for the first time (but thankfully the 25 years and many albums under their belt studio experience).