The Standards – Come Out Ye Black and Tans

I thought it might be fun to compare various versions of the standards and give my view on the songs by the different bands. My pilot post is on Come Out Ye Black and Tans by Dominic Behan. My first experience with the song was at the now defunct McNulty’s Pub at Westport Plaza in St. Louis. It was played by an Irish acoustic musician from Kansas City, Eddie Delahunt.

McNulty’s was a special place for me – it was there I learned how important it is have my Guinness served on Nitrogen instead of CO2. My taste buds experienced the heaven of Middleton Irish Whiskey and the hell of potcheen (albiet a licensed and taxed version) along with getting to sample many other fine Irish Whiskeys that opened my eyes that there was more to the water of life than Jamesons and Bushmills. It was also there that I heard my first live Irish music. Eddie Delahunt would come playing every few weeks and his performances were fun and lively.

Every song has a meaning to people, be it good, bad, intentional or not. I am a true American mutt, based on the genealogical research my father has done, puts my family in the Americas prior to the Revolutionary War. The Troubles in Ireland have not affected me or my family – so the aspect of the song as a rallying cry does not sway me so much as the emotion of patriotism and belief in a cause that is worth fighting and dying for. My enjoyment of this song is not the political but the empathy that freedom from oppression is worth the fight.

The songs I pulled are from my personal library, and if I left someone’s out, it is because I do not have it. Secondly, since most of my focus is on Celtic Punk and Celtic Rock, I have excluded traditional versions of the song as well. I have always felt that song with a balance between respect for the tradition but with inspiration to expand, this would be an excellent rock song. It has a hard beat, deep emotion and great lyrics.

Here are the band’s versions I listened to, each song is great in their own respective rights so I have not ranked them, only given my personal take on the songs in no particular order:

  • Saint Bushmill’s Choir – their version is near the top of the list for me. it is well-balanced version of the song “rocked” up. The pace is quickened and the vocals well done.
  • The Kreelers – with the exception of the instrumentation, the Kreelers version leans more to the traditional version, the vocals are even and to me feels lacking the emotional power the song is capable of driving.
  • The Sandcarvers – another good “rocked” up version, The Sandcarvers capture the emotion and beat but the tempo has been slowed down for my taste.
  • The Rovers – here is my favorite version – it starts slow and builds up. The tempo is increased, the vocals drive the emotion of the song – to me it captures the anger while adding great elements of rock to it.
  • The Bleeding Irish – this is perhaps the most traditional of the versions I have listened to for this. Driven primarily by vocals, this song misses the hard percussion I feel can really drive this song forward.
  • The Muck Savages – this is one of the few versions that tip the scales more towards rock and in doing so some of the deeper emotion beyond anger is lost.
  • Between the Wars – another version more traditional than most. I enjoy the vocals and increased tempo. Between the Wars has more instrumentation than The Bleeding Irish but still missing some driving percussion to really rock.
  • Charm City Saints – another scale tipper towards rock with a lot of the deeper emotion lost in taking the surface emotion and expanding on that. The instruments tend to overpower the vocals.
  • Screw City Saints – the intro is my favorite of all the versions I listened to, but like Charm City Saints, the vocals get lost.
  • The Gentlemen – this version has great balance, up tempo and rocks. This one was near the top of my list.

Each song is fun to listen to and they each have something that makes them special. And with a lot things, everyone has a different view on what makes the songs great. The Rovers topped my list as the best balanced between the versions but The Gentleman and St Bushmills Choir are pretty close. The more traditional versions are great when I really want to get the emotional impact of the song and the Muck Savages, Charm City Saints and Screw City Saints are all great on my pissed off, “fuck you” kind of days.

I hope you enjoyed my pilot forray into the looking at the standards and I want to thank my co-worker Carol for not complaining about me listening to the same song for several days in row.





Review of Between The Wars – Carried Away

I want to send a big thank you to Jay Stevens of Between The Wars for sending me a copy of their CD Carried Away!  I would be in the poor house if I had to buy all that have found to be great music.  Streaming has been a great money saver, but doesn’t give me the freedom to listen to a whole CD from beginning to end.  I hope to repay his kindness by spreading the word about their fun and delightful music.

First, I want to give a caveat that I have no musical background, have a poor ear for pitch or tone – so if you are looking for a technical review, you won’t find it here!  But I can review it on the emotional level and to me, music is more about the emotion and power.  The stirring of the soul is much more important to me than the technical aspect.  If I wanted technical music with no soul, I would probably be listening to top 40 dredge instead of Celtic Rock and Punk.  The second caveat is that I have never a review before, so bear with me as I find the best way for me to express my thoughts.

The songs on the CD are:

  1. Neveready
  2. Superherosong
  3. You Were the One
  4. Ciaran
  5. Whiskey in the Jar
  6. Ride On
  7. Come Out Ye Black and Tans
  8. I Am Standing Up
  9. The Ballad of the First Fleet
  10. Revenge in E Major
  11. Never Gonna Change

As you can see, the CD has a mix of original and well-known cover songs.  I always find it interesting on how bands will work on spinning covers in a unique style, but where I find bands truly shine is in their original compositions.  I appreciate a band who can create something new that infuses the same classic-style soul and themes, with the timely influence of the world today.

From the gate, Between The Wars hits you with contagious rhythm, causing unconscious foot and hand tapping.  The songs are melodic, relying equally on the instruments and the vocals.

Some of the stand out songs to me are:

  • Ciaran – What stood out of me is the love of the father for the son, and the son of the father.  While I am not able to relate to the son’s perspective, I hope to be able to be that kind of father to my sons and to encourage them to find their path in the world and for them to know my pride for them.
  • Ride On – This song about longing and aching for something you cannot have has always been one of my favorites.  The heartache of the song is well-delivered, Between The Wars’ version gave me chills as listening to it (which was very welcome, as I listened to it in my non-air conditioned car in 100 degree heat!)

There are some songs I had greater hopes for that did not deliver for me.  I have yet to hear a version of Come Out Ye Black and Tans that is able to drive the balance of melody and hard-driving instruments that I think Celtic Rock and Punk could bring it.  I want to find a version that can take the hard-driving rock and still keep the vocals, so please let me know if you know of one.  The versions that rock the music tend to scream the vocals, removing some of the emotional impact of the song.  Other versions tend to be more traditional, just a little rocked up.  So far, my favorite version is still from the defunct Bleeding Irish.  The other cover that fell a bit short of  expectations was Whiskey in the Jar.  The song was good, but nothing for me that was mind-blowing.

Overall, I found the CD fun to listen to, with a good mix of light and deep songs that stirred my soul.  Listening to the CD made me wish I lived in Melbourne, or that Between The Wars makes it big enough to have an US tour so I can see them live and buy their swag to show that I am a fan of theirs.  As it is, I will settle for their CD and enjoy what I can.

I look forward to any feedback on my review in general, of specifically of Between The Wars CD.  I believe in free speech so feel free to disagree with me – I am just one Yank in the broad global Celtic Rock and Punk fandom.