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Bernie Torme Band/Torme/Electric Gypsies
So who the bejesus is Bernie Torme I hear you ask. Dublin born Bernie like millions of young Irish men before him and after took himself over to the big smoke of London, looking for fortune and adventure. Arriving in the mid-seventies with guitar in hand and the sounds of Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher and a certain Mr. Hendrix ringing in his head, Bernie quickly got caught up in the exploding punk scene. Forming the Bernie Torme Band with Phil Spaulding (now a very, very expensive session player – think Mick Jagger’s band) and Mark Harrison (later a member of Shane MacGowan’s Nips), they toured with the likes of The Jam and The Boomtown Rats. But unlike the other 3 chord wonders Bernie could play guitar with a ferocity that would even impress Jimi himself. Bernie was the guitar hero of punk.

After punk mutated into new wave or went underground – depending on who you ask, Bernie took up an offer to join heavy metal hero’s Gillan, fronted by ex-Deep Purple screamer, Ian Gillan (that name used to mean something once kids). Torme played on Gillan’s most successful albums, including the UK number 1, “Future Shock”. After Gillan took its course, Bernie took up the very difficult task of stepping into Randy Rhodes shoes and help Ozzy Osborne finish his US tour after the tragic death of Randy. The eighties saw Bernie form his own band with future LA Guns front man Phil Lewis and a super group with Twisted Sisters, Dee Snider. The nineties saw Bernie join together with Chris Jones and John Pearce, both of UK punk legends The Anti-Nowhere League to form the Electrics Gypsies.

Now you ask why you’ve never heard of him. Seems to be a combination of Bernie getting board being a sidekick, bad luck (Torme with Phil Lewis should have been huge in the sleaze metal eighties) and stupid record companies (Desperado with Dee Snider.) “Punk or What” from the Bernie Torme band is the true gem of the 3 CDs I was sent to review. It’s a collection of archived recordings from the punk days of ’77 to ’79 – Demos, Singles and Radio Sessions. And unlike a lot of the punk stuff from those days, this sounds fresh and holds up to the standards of today. Think if The Who (“Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere”, is covered) had come out of London in ’77 with Jimi Hendrix on lead guitar.

“Demolition Ball”, released under the band name Torme, originally came out in the early nineties and now is re-released on Bernie’s own Retrowrek Records. “Demolition Ball” is a fine slab of guitar driven sleazy heavy metal that just didn’t have a chance after the Nirvana explosion. The funny thing ‘bout listening to Torme is why the band didn’t strike it huge in the late ‘80’s metal explosion. I used to read Kerrang religiously between ’86 and ‘92 and I honestly don’t remember them doing one thing on Torme. I do remember them bitching about why there were no UK bands able to compete with the hair metal coming out of the States at that time. Then jumping on the latest no hopers out of Scunthorpe or some other crappy provincial English town (anyone remember Wolfsbane?) as the next big thing, when the answer to their payers was right under their collective noses, selling out the Marquee Club on a regular basis. Wonder what Bernie did to piss ‘em off.

“Scorched Earth (Live 1999-2001), by the Electric Gypsies is stripped down, live, loud and raw rock’n’roll. The guitars are explosive and the rhythm section give the guitars a punk rock kick up the arse. There is a cover of the Sex Pistols, “Pretty Vacant” which is incredible and unlike other metal bands that have covered the Pistols (Megadeth, Motley Crew), these guys get it ‘cos they were there.
http://www.bernietorme.com/ cover
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The Woods Band: Music From The Four Corners Of Hell
In a single word, refreshing. In two words, very refreshing. "Music From The Four Corners Of Hell" is an album that can be played anywhere at anytime and it's going to be appropriate. It's an album for everybody. Young, or old, it doesn't matter. It's an album you don't want to leave at your folks house, cause they might steal it, and never give it back. It's an album you can take down to your local pub, slap it into the house stereo and watch everyone look up with observant eyes and ask in unison, "Who is this?" Well it's Music from the Four Corners of Hell!

In Dublin, around the turn of the century, The Four Corners Of Hell was the nickname of Golden Lane, an area known for its pubs, drinking and brawling. (sounds good to me!)

Musically speaking, Music From The Four Corners lies somewhere next to The Dubliners, The Pogues, & Sweeney's Men, (Go figure, out of the three bands I mention, Terry Woods has been in two) The Woods Band delivers the perfect combination of Folk & Rock. (As well it should, Terry's been at it for decades.) Out of the 12 tracks of this album, 6 of them are outstanding traditionals such as:

Finnegan's Wake
The Spanish Lady
As I Roved Outbr> Terenece's Farewell
Leave Her, Johnny Leave Her
The Dublin Jack of All Trades (with Ronnie Drew on Vocals)

Terry's old Pogues band mate Spider Stacey shares the songwriting duties on "Love On Tillery". It's impossible to name a favorite, but the Ewan McColl number, "The Travellin' People" might take a medal. I HIGHLY recommend this album to anyone interested in hearing one of the biggest influences this genre of music has. Because Mr. Terry Woods has been involved with just about everything.

by the way, anyone interested should also look out for the 1971 Woods Band Debut album.

Review By "Barstool" Brian Gillespie

http://www.woodsband.com/ cover

RantMusic: Kamikaze Syllables
I remember a couple years ago, when these guys played Irish-flavored gypsy punk, and went by the name McGnarley's Rant. They had an album called "Fisherman's Pride" that was pretty damn good and even stayed in my CD player for quite a while. Back then, the band constantly traveled around the Pacific Northwest from gig to gig in this big ass green schoolbus.

That was a long time ago. Obviously, the name is no longer McGnarley's Rant, and the music is not as Irish influenced as it once was in the past, yet, it's much more solid than it used to be. The latest effort, "Kamikaze Syllables" produced by Hugh McMillan (Spirit Of The West) is a fresh sounding album that draws from punk, to jazz, to psychedelic gypsy to power-folk. I really enjoyed this album, and to sum it up in one word, it's original.

The band has come a long way since they played for the first time at a St.Paddy's Day gig at Selkirk College three years ago. Nowadays, with over 500 gigs under their belt, they've been known to play from large scale festivals, to their own headlining gigs all across Europe. I wouldn't be surprized to see the name poping up more often. If you're wanting to hear something very different, yet original as hell, i'd have to recommend this album. It grows on you.

Favorite tracks include:

Instill
Kamikaze Syllables
Staring At The Stars
Right To Invade

Review by Brian "Ranting Fool" Gillespie

http://www.rantmusic.com/ cover

Warsaw Poland Bros.: St. Patricks Day Demo
So, a few months ago a friend tells me about this band called Warsaw Poland Bros. The first thing I ask is "Are they a Polka band of brothers from Warsaw, Poland?" Uhh, no. Here's the description I was told: Bad Religion meets The Pogues with a reggae twist. A modern day Clash...

What the fuck? Sounds good to me. So I borrow an album called "Dub Confrontation" As you can see by the name it's a dub album. A very good dub album, mind you. (If you're into that sort of thing) So I start fishin' around on the internet. Turns out the Warsaw Poland Bros. have been around for quite a while, and love to play live. Then I notice they have a St. Patrick's Day Demo out there somewhere. Finally thanks to Guenevere, I obtain a copy of the demo. It was released in 2000, and the main reason they recorded it was to get gigs at Irish bars. Interesting mixing up "Whiskey In The Jar" into a skankin' ska song. Then you have the song that was dropped into a blender, "Whiskey You're The Devil", a ska meets polka meets jazz meets funk meets punk....forget it. All the bases are covered in this one...

Warsaw Poland Bros. music isn't exactly Bad Reigion meets The Pogues with reggae, but I can see why someone whould say that. They are primarily a ska-reggae-dub medley band that uses whatever different genre they want at various times in an album. If you ask me they are an original band that doesn't really fit into one specific genre. (that's what it's about isn't it?) If this band were an animal it'd be a chamelion with dreadlocks...

If you can, try and find a copy of The St. Patricks Day Demos, if not, check out their other albums.

Review by Brian "Blenderboy" Gillespie

http://www.warsawmusic.com/

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros: Streetcore
Damn, what can I say? When "Streetcore" was released it was an intense day, I mean of course I wanted to hear the album, but also didn't want to accept the fact that this was it. No more Strummer studio albums. "Steetcore" was the final project from one of my BIGGEST musical influences of all time , people like Joe don't come around everyday, if ever again.

"Streetcore" contains 10 tracks, 7 of them written by Strummer himself, "All In A Day" was co-written with Danny Sabre, there's also a Bob Marley cover, "Redemption Song", and a Bobby Charles tune "Silver & Gold". It's a good thing the Mescaleros and the Strummer family decided to release it, because it's solid material. Makes me wonder if there will be more unreleased recordings in the future. I'm sure there will be, buti'm sure they won't have the same impact.

The first track "Coma Girl" has first single written all over it. It's classic Strummer, mixing together different styles of music into his own. Simply put, this track makes you smile, because you realize you're listening to the last album from an amazing musican.

"Get Down Moses" is the most roots-rock-reggae track on the album. This is the type of stuff Joe/Mescalero fans had come to expect from album to album, lyrically, and musically.

The folk flavored song, "Long Shadow" was originally written for Johnny Cash to cover on his "When The Man Comes Around" album. Johnny decided not to use it. It's a stripped down ballad using an acoustic guitar and vocals. I wonder how many other songs like this may be laying around on various studio tapes across the world. Lyrics like "Somewhere in my soul, there's always rock and roll" explain exactly where Joe was coming from. One of two tracks produced by Rick Rubin.

"Arms Aloft" like "Coma Girl" is another uptempo track worthy of a second, or thrid single. "We were arms aloft in Aberdeen!" I'm guessing this song is an example of the direction the band was heading toward before that shitty day back in December 2002 when Joe left us.

In the track "Ramshackle Day Parade" the lyric "Every dog must have his day." could almost be used as Joe's lifelong dedication to all the underdogs of the world. About a third of the way through this song, I started to get upset,thinking, "Damn! Why couldn't They (whomever "They" are) have taken Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, or some other worthless wanker instead of Joe!" That's when I started thinking about how the good ones are always the first to go, and how this is another goddamned example.

Another stripped down number is Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" the second track produced by Rubin. Okay, i'll admit, I pretty much shed a tear on this one, and i'm sure plenty of you did as well.

Speaking of "Redemption Song," and Johnny Cash, here's a little twist of fate: According to Rick Rubin, on an upcoming Johnny Cash Box Set, there's a Joe Strummer/Johnny Cash duet of "Redemption Song". "When we were recording [Cash's 2002 album] 'The Man Comes Around,' Joe was coming every day, because he loved Johnny Cash, and he just happened to be in L.A. on vacation. He actually extended his trip a week longer just to come every day and be around Johnny." Rubin said.

I don't know about you, but to have two original artists such as Strummer, & Cash, coming together from two very different musical directions in the twilight of thier lives, to duet on a song written & recorded by a third original artist (Marley) who recorded it shortly before he passed away is almost too much to handle, way too much.

The seventh track, "All In A Day" was co-written by Danny Sabre, and returns to that rockin' Strummer/Mescaleros sound we all love so damn much. I still can't get over that "Redemption Song" duet.

"Burnin' Streets" sounds like Joe is looking back at the early Clash/punk days. Yes, London is burning.

"Midnight Jam" was the last track the Mescaleros recorded before going on Christmas break last year. Strummer's vocals were taken from Strummer's old radio shows on BBC. I'm sure all the radio broadcasters out there feel that this track has a little bit extra special meaning.The remaining Mescaleros did a good job putting this one together.

"Silver & Gold" a Bobby Charles number originally called "Before I Grow To Old" back in 1952. It's a bluesy folk number. The kind of stuff i'd picture Joe doing later on in his career. It's kind of sad listening to Strummer sing about how he's "Got to hurry up before he grows too old" but it's also good motivation to cram as much as we can into our lives, because, none of us know when "They" are gonna take us away!

Thank-you for the music Joe. Rest In Peace.

Review by "Barnacle" Brian Gillespie

http://www.strummersite.com/

Greenland Whalefishers: Streets of Salvation
In 2001, Norway’s Greenland Whalefishers released “Loboville”, arguably the first great post Pogues album of the new 21st Century. Almost 2 years later the band are following it up with “Streets of Salvation” their 3rd full length (“Main Street Sword” being the 1st).

I was a little apprehensive about listening to “Streets of Salvation” for the first time, my biggest fear being that “Loboville” was a fluke or a one off. Fortunately my fears were misplaced and “Streets of Salvation”, is a fine, fine release. While this is not “Loboville Part 2”, I’m pleased to announce that the Whalefishers have made the 1st great Greenland Whalefishers CD of the 21st Century – don’t worry there is nothing radically different to the prior releases (though maybe some more obvious Waterboys influences then before), it’s still the sound of the Pogues battered by the cold North Atlantic waves. Just this time I find myself not thinking “Hey this sounds just like the Pogues”, now I’m thinking “Wow this sounds just like the Greenland Whalefishers”.

Highlights include but not limited to:

The title track, “Streets of Salvation” a fast paced rocker with rich Celtic melodies - “Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond” I think.

The driving Celtic rock’n’roll of “Limp Jo’s Story”, “Olivia’s Drop Out” and “The Escape”.

“No More Crucified Days” with it’s Mike Scott/Waterboys influence.

“When The Insane Came Marching In”, a Pogues like instrumental.

The much covered and much more toned down (well compared to Neck’s or the Dropkicks) version of “The Fields of Athenry.” Definitely truer to the lament Paddy Reilly made famous.

Other standouts include “The Night Rick Holder Died”, and the unrelenting punk rocker “For Bitter & Whiskey” and pretty much everything else for that matter.
http://www.g-w-f.com/


The Crofters: Hold My Beer While I Kiss Your Girlfriend
Cocky young bunch of buggers, judging them by the title of their CD. They have a right to be cocky, judging them by their music. This is a nice find – actually, they found me, never heard of The Crofters, till this puppy dropped through my mail box.

The average age of this band is only 23, but these young Scottish-Canadians have tons of experience – former members of the Glengarry Bhoys, playing and touring with The Mahones and The Woods Band most recently.

The Woods Band is a good comparison, and actually I first heard “Hold My Beer…” the same day as I heard The Woods Band debut and at points the CD’s are perfectly complementary. Like the Woods Band, The Crofters present us with a nice mix of originals and traditional standards, given a high energy Celtic rock treatment. Though this time with a Scottish bent (“Scotch Rock” they call it)– Check out, “Scotland the Brave”, I haven’t heard this much Scottish passion since Scotland beat England 2-1 at Wembley in ’77.

Cheeks buggers indeed.
http://www.thecrofters.ca


The Bourbon Knights: Cry of the Banshee
Funny isn’t it how music moves through circular influences. Johnny Depp, he of the weird guitar noise credits on Shane MacGowan’s, “The Snake”, allegedly based Jack Sparrow in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” on Keith Richards and Shane MacGowan. While The Bourbon Knights base their music on Jack Sparrow and his like, yet sound like Cpt. MacGowan and Richards. On the good ship Banshee, MacGowan is definitely the captain, with Richards a haggard ol’ deckhand. Other members of this motley crew would be Tom Waits, Ronnie Drew and The Dolomites.

“Cry of the Banshee” contains some of the most demented, darkest, heaviest, acoustic based roots music I’ve ever heard – with maritime, traditional Irish, British and American influences along with a big punk rock sneer and some swing/jazz influences just to show off.

Highlights include the brilliantly sparse drum/vocal combinations of “Santi Anno” and “Whip”. Steve Earl’s, “Heroin”, which sounds as evil as its title, and “Charles Stewart” (a trad song covered by The Pogues as “I’m a man you don’t meet every day” –“Gentleman Soldier” is also covered, but it not a standout.)

Demented, quite demented, must be the salt air of SE Illinois has driven ‘em all mad.

Aaaaarrrh!!!! Tickle me feather sword (got know a 2 year old for that reference.)
http://www.bourbonknights.net/


The Fenians: Every Day's A Hooley
I’m going to go out on a limb here, after spending a couple of weeks listening to the forthcoming CD from Orange County's (of all places) The Fenians. I think I can claim with confidence these guy’s are not just as they claim “Southern California's finest traditional/contemporary Irish band”, but the finest in all North America.

The music is high energy, traditional Irish with a whole slew of other influences (classic rock, reggae, funk, calypso and lots of cool sax – must be the SoCal influence), falling somewhere between the more traditional Woods Band and the Jig Punk (© The Prodigals) of The Prodigals. Production is top notch, the vocals perfect and the band as tight as the proverbial ducks arse. The songs are the right mix of traditional, contemporary traditional and originals that will bring a smile to your face (Bakers Dozen), a tear to your eye (Grace) and wet your lips for another glass of Paddy (Token Whiskey Song). Check out “From Clare to here” with its laid back saxophone and “Every day’s a hooley” with its reggae undertones.
http://www.thefenians.com/
Larkin: The Curse Of Our Fathers
Portland was frozen solid under a few inches of ice, and a few inches of snow. It doesn't really happen that much around here, so you can imagine all the jackass drivers slamming into everything and everybody in sight. I thought about the last time it snowed, when I saw a Subaru 4x4 Outback with a full set of chains on bone dry pavement. I started laughing so hard, I swerved into oncoming traffic. I didn't want to do that today, so I stayed home. (Not to mention, nobody else was going anywhere!) Sure enough, the world's greatest postman drove by. I don't know how, but he did. (must be a New Englander) I looked out the window just in time to watch him drop off a package that obviously contained a CD or two from some far corner of the world.

You know it's shitty out, when you can't even make it to your mailbox, and after a full half hour of falling on me arse in the ice & snow, I decided to bust out my old soccer cleats. That did the trick, trusty little fuckers...I opened my mail and found a demo from Larkin. I'd been waiting for this one, so I fired up the ol' CD player and gave it a listen. At this point I didn't give a damn about the weather...

"Holy shit!" I says aloud. Upon first listen, I was sure it was The Skels! Well maybe not, but Larkin sure sounds pretty damn close. The only thing missing is the banjo. I liked what I was hearing, and since it was about 10:30 in the morning, and I wasn't going anywhere, I decided to pour myself a pint of the black stuff (no not coffee) and turn up the volume.

Larkin hails from Tulsa, "Tornado Alley" Oklahoma, and after listening a few tracks from these guys, it's obvious they can tear it up, torando style! The band is named after Jim Larkin,( http://www.irelandsown.net/larkin.html ) It's a perfect mix of traditional Irish songs (rebel, drinking and ballads) and originals. The backgrounds of the six band members are extremely diverse. Ranging from punk, classical, blues, jazz, rock, to old-time music.

The album contains 13 tracks.

The traditional songs include:
A Nation Once Again
Join The British Army
Merry Poughboy
Come Out Ye Black & Tans

The originals:
The Curse Of Our Fathers
N.I.N.A.
A Better Man I'll Be
Island Of My Dreams
Anywhere Street
The Voice On The Wind
Ashes

I highly recommend picking up this album. By the 4th or 5th song, It's obvious these guys are for real! Also take note: Larkin's currently writing new material for a new album. It's going to be called "Reckoning" and S'nO's favorite artist, Boz, will be drawing up the album's artwork. It should be out sometime this summer, and I have to admit, I can't wait.

Larkin
P.O. Box 491
Tulsa, OK 74101

Review by Brian "Barnyard Hooligan" Gillespie (Wanna-be Weatherman)

http://www.larkintulsa.com/

Scurvy Bastards: Battle Born
Avast, Ye bloody landlubbers!
A desert pirate jug band, is the best way to describe The Scurvy Bastards. Playing a grip of sea "desert" shanties on various instruments such as: a Banjo, a Squeezebox, Pots, Pans, a Guitar, and a growlin' Cap'n with a microphone in one hand and a jug o' grog in the other. You've got to love this shit! The second you slap this album on, you'll be tempted to sail down to the nearest port and pillage the loot of every landlubbin' bastard you set yer eye(s) on! Hell, the first time I heard this album, I turned up the volume to 11, put the speakers up to an open window, and planted a giant Jolly Roger flag in my neighbors front lawn, I then rolled over a wooden barrel o' grog, and started yellin' and dancin' like a drunken Scallywag. I ran into the bushes and hid like a ninja, once I saw the cop cars quickly approaching.

From my experience, this is the perfect album to quietly smuggle into a party, wait for every one to get a little drunk, and quickly throw it on in the CD player. Within 5 seconds the party will turn into a giant Pirate fest! Complete with all the "Yarr's, Arggh's, yo-ho-ho's" you can handle. (costumes optional) The Scurvy Bastards are a good time kinda band. The kind of band you'd love to see live. Your elbow will be swingin' and your drink will be disappearin'.

The cover art looks similar to Hell's Ditch, complete with an olde nautical map. & the music is in the same vein as: The Whole SIck Crew, and early Dolomites. The Scurvy Bastards formed in 1999, in Carson City, Nevada, and before you mention the fact that Nevada is nowhere near the ocean, remember this...At one time the Pacific Ocean was much higher than it's current elevation. So technically, Nevada at one time was at the botttom of the ocean....Okay, so i'm streching a bit. Who gives a shit, this is a great album, and all you salty dogs should get ahold of it. The current plan is to release another album in 2004, so start savin' yer gold coins, or get a job swabbin' poopdecks somewhere.

Tracklist:
Blunderbuss/Jar Of Porter
Old Man Crow
Train Robbin'
Dungeon Song
Turkish Song
Bocephus
Surrounded By Water
Greenland Whale Fisheries
All For Me Grog
Goblin Town
Curse Of Cthulhu
Polaris

Check out the BiARRGHraphy: at
http://www.scurvybastards.com/ or http://www.702records.com/scurvy.shtml

Scurvy Bastards
c/o Slovenly Records
PO Box 204
Reno, NV 89504 USA

Review by "Barnacle" Brian Gillespie

http://www.scurvybastards.com/