“The Meanest Of Times” by The Dropkick Murphy’s

Artist: Dropkick Murphys
Title: “The Meanest Of Times”
Label: Born & Bred Records
Release Date: 9/18/2007
Genre: Celtic Punk
Rating: 3.5/5

Having more Metal blood running through my veins than that which is Punk associated sometimes finds me being out of touch with a band like The Dropkick Murphy’s but luckily I am a quick study and able to appreciate the likes of the music found on their sixth release “The Meanest Of Times”. The seven member group from Beantown (or Boston to those readers worldwide who have no idea what that means) have had a steady and loyal following for years but this was raised exponentially with their music appearing in the Martin Scorsese mob epic “The Departed”. Having your songs in an Academy Award winning motion picture would certainly allow a band to rest upon their laurels just a little bit but this would not be the case for the Murphy’s who instead deliver a scorching, boot stomping, raise your pints into the air bunch of tunes that talk about family life and friendship, as well as remaining loyal to ones roots and beliefs. The charge into Celtic Punker turf begins with “Famous For Nothing” and this one gets you started right as the double chorus and bagpipes sing to you about alcohol fueled memories. “God Willing” keeps the toes tapping and is quite honorable in its message about friendship as it quotes that the best laid plans can all change by tomorrow and how you never know when the last time you will see your friends might be. “God willing I will see you on the other side”, it sings and while a rather ominous notation it is one that seems to lean on us a little about appreciating those around us just in case.

The downside to being a touring musician and leaving ones home behind is sung about during “Echoes On “A” Street” and this could have very well been a livelier Springsteen track based on the lyrical flow. One of my favorite tracks is “(F)lannigan’s Ball” as I just love how the bagpipes and vocals work across the whole tune and “Fairmount Hill” finds the band re-doing an Irish traditional tune called “Spancil Hill” with new lyrics and arrangement. The song is probably the most somber of the albums offerings as it picks up speed again immediately after it completes. As I listened to the whole thing in sequence I did not find it over the top in its Celtic feel and instead determined that these elements were used a little less than I had discovered were done on the earlier records. We still find the tin whistles and banjos and pipes presented for our aural pleasure but the listener will not feel as though they are listening to an albums worth of jigs when they put this one on and instead just a healthy dose of the Emerald Isle mixed in with some well thought out Punk riffs. The band also kicks some ass during their seeming anti-war statement in “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya” and this takes the traditional tune “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and re-arranges it just a little bit. The albums closer is a perfect track called “Never Forget” and its one that’s sings about how we should never forget when we have love and family to count on. I thought this was a very powerful message and think that it’s something we could all use a little reminding about from time to time.

Made up of a whopping seven members the band features the following players: Ken Casey (vocals, bass guitar), All Barr (vocals), Matt Kelly (drums), James Lynch (guitar), Tim Brennan (mandolin, accordion, banjo, bouzouki, tin whistle and acoustic guitar), Marc Orrel (guitar, accordion, piano) and Scruffy Wallace (bagpipes). Everyone in the group seems to provide backing vocals which adds to the big sound that they have on the recording. This is the bands first release on their independent vanity label and the album is packaged to look like a photo album and quite beautiful to look at but the interior finds no photos and just a lyric book to guide you along the bands path a little bit more. I liked how each song has the band explaining a little bit about the track that you are listening to before the lyrics are viewed and feel more bands need to offer this up to their public. I did not like discovering that there are several different versions of the album as between the I-tunes, European and vinyl versions I found that there were different tunes presented that were not available on this domestic US release being reviewed. Years ago I was more accepting of this practice but in today’s music buying world we are finding people much more hesitant about purchasing physical music and by making too many different versions in different regions is beginning to backfire on the bottom line. I really enjoyed this one and it was good enough for me to seek out some of their earlier material. I have to admit that the amount of ass-kicking and drinking that I wanted to do after listening to this CD made me glad that I was only half Irish. Now, would someone please get me a pint of Guinness….

Track Listing:
1. Famous For Nothing
2. God Willing
3. The State Of Massachusetts
4. Tomorrow’s Industry
5. Echoes On “A” Street
6. Vices And Virtues
7. Surrender
8. (F)lannigan’s Ball
9. I’ll Begin Again
10. Fairmount Hill
11. Loyal To No One
12. Shattered
13. Rude Awakenings
14. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
15. Never Forget

Official Website: www.dropkickmurphys.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *