MERRY HELL – A Grand Night Out (Focal Media)

MERRY HELL A Grand Night OutThree albums to the good and a growing reputation, Merry Hell, have seen fit to release a live DVD. Having seen the band perform live and reviewed their last excellent album The Ghost In Our House and other stories…, I slipped the DVD into the player with some anticipation. I was not disappointed.

The selection of songs come from across the three albums and with exception of the elusive ‘No Money’, which I have yet to catch live, all my favourites are in evidence.

The first thing that hit me was the high quality of the sound recording. I actually wondered, initially, if the track was overdubbed, but could see after a few minutes that it was the actual live soundtrack. The performance starts a little restrained and then eases into more comfortable delivery. Not unusual for any live show.

So, what we have here is Merry Hell moving from jig, to light folk to Celtic rock and all colours between. Top of the list, for me: ‘Let’s Not Have A Morning After’, ‘There’s A Ghost In Our House’, ‘The Butcher And The Vegan’ and ‘BLINK… and You Miss It’. Although, I am sure you will all have your own favourites if you are a fan. If you have never heard any of Merry Hell’s music you really are missing out on some damn fine folk/folk rock.

Not seen Merry Hell live? Well, here is the next best thing. Support the band, buy the DVD and have a Grand Night In.

Ron D Bowes

If you would like to order a copy of the DVD then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.

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Artists’ website: www.merryhell.co.uk

‘The Baker’s Daughter’:

THE MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG/MERRY HELL/THE LONDON SEWAGE COMPANY – The O2 Empire, Shepherd’s Bush

Photograph by Red Snapper Pics
Photograph by Red Snapper Pics – http://www.redsnapperpics.co.uk

This was a prestige gig billed for TMTCH as The 30th Anniversary Reprise Show – nothing like making the most of it.

The London Sewage Company are, in Ron’s words, a powerpunk outfit with a lead guitarist inexplicably missing from a heavy metal band. They also have a nice line in humour –“London sewage comes from everything you do” – ho, ho. They played a strong set but it lacked light and shade and you couldn’t help but wonder how their song about London’s lost toyshops would have sounded if written by Ray Davies.

 http://www.redsnapperpics.co.uk
Photograph by Red Snapper Pics – http://www.redsnapperpics.co.uk

Merry Hell showed them how it should be done, mixing power and restraint. My top track was ‘Bury Me Naked’ featuring Andrew Kettle’s only instrumental contribution – on hammer and spade! You have to hear the verses or the whole point of the song is lost so the band held back but the moment the last words left Virginia Kettle’s lips it was as though a switch had been flipped and that huge fairground chorus rolled over us.

They have a sizeable back catalogue now and they mixed them up and much as a ten song set would allow. Ron was disappointed that ‘No Money’ was omitted and I would have loved to hear ‘Iron Man’ but, although that song carried over into their first album, the days of Tansads are now a fond memory. Quite rightly – Merry Hell are their own new creation and ‘The Crooked Man’, ‘The Baker’s Daughter’ and ‘The War Between Ourselves’ are songs for this century.

The Men They Couldn’t Hang seemed a bit off form initially. Their third song, ‘The Ghosts Of Cable Street’, got the crowd bouncing and was excellent but ‘Shirt Of Blue’ seemed oddly lacking in energy. After the mid-set acoustic break – Phil Odgers sang ‘Carrying A Flame’ from The Defiant and Cush’s choice of ‘Hotel Chambermaid’ was interesting – they came back and suddenly stepped on the gas.

‘Smugglers’ hit the ground running and the other selections from The Defiant: ‘Bonfires’, ‘Fail To Comply’ and ‘Scavengers’ eclipsed the recorded versions. There are a few fixed points in any TMTCH set – it’s just a matter of waiting. Jon Odgers sat in for ‘The Crest’ after ‘Going Back To Coventry’ and ‘The Colours’ and ‘Ironmasters’ closed the set with ‘Walkin’ Talkin’’ as an encore.

This was their night and their crowd and at the end we were all bawling out the choruses. All together now: “Red is the colour of the new republic…

Dai Jeffries
Ron D Bowes

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).


Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

MERRY HELL – The Ghost In Our House and other stories…(Mrs Casey Music MCRCD5102)

Merry Hell GhostThis is Merry Hell’s third album and the band are into their stride. There is a tightness and polish evident in this collection of songs, indicative of a band that is comfortable in itself. This is a jam packed feast of fifteen tracks, so, no sign of writer’s block here.

There are jolly jigs, shanties and a soupcon of country & western in the mix. The songs are often reflective, witty and never dull. The voices intertwine well and the musicianship accomplished.

There are so many good tracks that it is impossible to take it all in on any cursory listen. It is an album that insists on multiple visits. It also presents the reviewer’s quandary of picking favourite songs.

Nevertheless, here are my top picks from the disc. ‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ is a confident opener, with a melody that sticks. The marvellous ‘Human Communion’ starts with single guitar and Virginia Kettle’s solo voice tripping a catchy tune and slowly the band joins in. Also worthy of mention is ‘Love Is A Game’ a pleasant, danceable ditty. Topping the list are the barn-strutting   ‘No Money’ and the humorous ‘Hey. Scotty’. Of course, with subsequent visits, I am sure other tracks will become firm favourites. Such is music.

Not a filler amongst this choc filled album. It’s all typical “Merry Hell” and that should be good enough for anybody. Having enjoyed their first two albums, I am pleased to say the group is going from strength to strength.

If you have never sampled the delights of this band before, this album is an excellent introduction to their music.

Ron D Bowes

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.merryhell.co.uk

If you’ve not seen this before (and why not?) – ‘There’s A Ghost In Our House’:

Merry Hell – news from The Ghost In Our House tour

The first leg of the “Ghost In Our House Tour” is behind us and we are now busy rehearsing for the forthcoming acoustic leg.  For those who haven’t seen the acoustic incarnation of the band we can’t recommend it highly enough. Some of the venues on this leg will be seated giving you the opportunity to enjoy the more subtle side of the band but as ever there will be the opportunity to belt out an anthem or two! There may even be other new songs added to the set…

The band have been worked hard on the tour and actually played two sets in both Derby and Lancaster.  Derby saw the first performance of material from the new album when “The Baker’s Daughter” was aired for the first time by the six piece acoustic band.  It was played again by the full band at night along with ‘The Ghost In Our House’ and another driving rocker, ‘Rage Like Thunder’, though Stocksbridge were denied the latter which, due to a special request, was replaced in the set by ‘Emerald Green’. We made our third visit to Telfords in Chester, a venue where the audience are as close to the band as its possible to be which always makes for a lively night!

Our return to The Miller in London was an eventful night and a late one.  The pizzas and chips were as good as we remembered and so was the atmosphere.  Nothing could dampen our spirits even though the van key snapped in the lock of the tour bus. We had to leave the gear at the venue, get taxis back to the hotel then pay the congestion charge again the following day to get the van out of central London! Thanks to everyone who travelled to get there, especially our local contingent (Julian, Rachel, Janie, Denise, Anita, Col & Chrissie). We also held a raffle for 2 tickets for our London gig next April supporting The Men They Couldn’t Hang and the lucky winner was Yann Kerbiriou from Kent.

From there we headed back to the Midlands for a gig in the old Tansads’ stronghold of Chasetown, local haunt of Iron Man CD cover star, Oz, where John treated the locals to a special encore of ‘Horses’.  The band and crew were also treated to top quality pre-gig catering and hospitality from Oz.  Massive thanks again to Andrea and Ed in Stocksbridge who laid on a mighty feast that would have fed a football team and provided the most luxurious merchandise space to date with three entire tables to display our wares and to sign people up for the free Ghost EP.  We then switched South Yorkshire for North with our first visit to Keighley and an intimate seated venue, The Exchange, though it didn’t take too long for people to abandon their seats for the dance floor!

MERRY HELLOWEEN III

Closing the first half of the tour our third Merry Helloween event again proved to be one of the highlights of the year. With the Citadel packed to the rafters, the crowd suitably fired up and the band raring to go, a good time was guaranteed.  Turning the set list on its head as usual, ‘Hope You Don’t Mind’ was the surprise opener, followed by ‘Finest Hour’. The band were backed by screen projections showing an array of ghost related images.  All the usual favourites were there, just not necessarily in the usual order with the likes of ‘Drunken Serenade’ and ‘This Time’ appearing later in the set.  There was a welcome return for Lee’s ‘The Gentle Man’, which hasn’t been played in a long time with Lee’s Grandad, subject of and inspiration behind the song, appearing on screen at the end.

The band were visibly moved by the audience singalong sections with ‘Lean On Me’, ‘War…’,  ‘One More Day’ and John’s now traditional ‘Horses’ encore, all being loudly and proudly sang back at the stage. Making his Citadel debut, Nick also commented afterwards on how impressed he had been with the audience singing.  All too soon the fluorescent balloons were bouncing around in the crowd and on stage as the evening closed with a full tilt ‘Let The Music Speak’…or so we thought. The band returned for a surprise 2nd encre and how had no one noticed that ‘Rosanna’s Song’ hadn’t been played yet?  So many favourites, so little time – so who is up for doing it all again next year?

Artists’ website: http://www.merryhell.co.uk/

‘Ghost In Our House’ – the official video:

 

Merry Hell breaks loose!

Merry HellRising 8-piece folk-rockers, Merry Hell, release a new video and limited edition 4 track CD to tie in with their forthcoming tour and to herald the forthcoming album The Ghost In Our House (And Other Stories)coming in the new year.  The CD will be a free give away at gigs between now and Christmas but is also available to buy online from the band’s website. www.merryhell.co.uk/shop

The video was largely filmed at The Old Court Buildings in Wigan, where band member and producer John Kettle has his studio.  However, our female lead singer, Virginia Kettle did have to walk in and out of the sea off the North Wales coast in order to obtain a number of shots. The storyline was developed by the whole band and shot and produced by our fiddle player Neil McCartney.

GhostTracks on The Ghost EP are:

1: There’s A Ghost In our House (3.21) An up tempo and atmospheric track that reminds us that ghosts can come in many forms.  To describe it as haunting would be a little clichéd but once heard, the tune will inhabit the twisting corridors of your mind, emerging at the most unexpected moments. Almost but not quite the title track of the new album but certainly its inspiration.

2: The Baker’s Daughter (2.58) A memorable folk-rock anthem with a chorus that audiences have been joining in with almost as soon as they have heard it.  The lyrics tell a story that will strike a chord with many of the female listeners.

The first two tracks are taken from the album which will be out in the New Year.  The final two tracks are bonus tracks

3: Nobody Knows Me Like You (4.41) Slower and gentler musically but with a strongly reflective and insightful lyric that make the song powerful in a different way.  Newly recorded by the band and exclusive to The Ghost CD EP.

4: Rosanna’s Song (3.56): A live version of a crowd favourite, recorded at The Grand Venue in Clitheroe.  Living proof that, while Andrew’s voice has been likened to a strimmer in a bucket of gravel, he does have a softer, more velvety underbelly.  A beautiful ballad of friendship.

The title track (more or less) of the EP:

The Armistice Pals

armistice pals header non internetEveryone remembers the charity version of ‘Perfect Day’ with its myriad of voices from the pop and rock world.

Let’s hope everyone will also remember the upcoming answer from the Folk World – ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ – with a plethora of voices from across the acoustic folk and roots spectrum representing the great and the good, young and the old, seasoned and emerging, all on the same single. The group is called The Armistice Pals and is releasing a fitting tribute to Pete Seeger, who sadly passed away this year as well as marking the 100 years anniversary of the breakout of the First World War. All profits will be distributed between four peacekeeping charities.

However, perhaps it’s not a perfect world after all and the late Pete Seeger’s classic anti war song, ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’, points a finger at the carnage, supposedly ‘ the war to end all wars’ which tragically mislead us to believe it was worth the sacrifice.  The sacrifice, not only of the lives of those who died, but the resultant desolation and struggle of the loved ones who were left behind. Whole swathes of communities were left bereft of their young men-folk who trustingly signed up into ‘Pals Battalions’, many of whom were never to return, with those who did too often spending lives blighted by the experience.

Armistice Pals is the name of the folk community ‘super band’ who are all performing on this single, which is due out on Remembrance Sunday, 9th November 2014. It was the brain child of Damian Liptrot (manager of folk-rock band Merry Hell), who, as the project expanded, has invited Folkstock’s Helen Meissner on board as co-organiser. The project has attracted over 30 names including Chris and Kellie While, Julie Matthews, Judy Dyble, Christine Collister, Dave Swarbrick, Ray Cooper, Sally Barker, Peter Knight, Boo Hewerdine, Gavin Davenport, Blair Dunlop, Lucy Ward, Ken Nicol, Merry Hell, Luke Jackson and Kelly Oliver. A line up so good that, were it to be a festival, it would undoubtedly be the event of the summer.

The single will be released via the usual digital outlets as well as a physical CD and as a nod to the historical element, a limited edition vinyl 45, on new community label, Folkstock Records.

As this is intended to be a community project, we are inviting Folk Clubs across the country to contribute by organising an ‘Armistice Pals Night’ during the week of the release of the single. This can take any form but should include a collective version of ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?’ at some point during the evening, followed by a passing round of the hat to support the Armistice Pals charities.

If you would like to know more about the project, all the artists, the charities and the inspiration can be found at http://www.armisticepals.com or contact us direct via armisticepals@hotmail.co.uk

We hope that you will feel able to enlist and offer your support.

Helen and Damian
for The Armistice Pals

THE ARMISTICE PALS: A FULL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS

Attila The Stockbroker (poet/musician and sheer force of nature, whose father survived the Somme).

Billy Mitchell (one time Jack the Lad, ex-Lindisfarne and much else besides).

Blair Dunlop (One of our brightest, youngest singer-songwriters, currently telling tales from the ‘House Of Jacks’, he also found time for a stint in The Albion Band..).

Bob Pegg (Storyteller, singer-songwriter and member of the legendary Mr Fox).

Boo Hewerdine (one time Bible basher, all time songwriting phenomenon).

Chris While and Julie Matthews (singers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, award winners in their own right and members of more prestige bands and projects than you can shake a stick at).

Christine Collister (one time She Devil, ex-Daphne’s Flight, much sought collaborator and loved by Q magazine).

Dave Mather & Peter Robinson (singer/songwriters (one of them has written an opera you know), ex-Houghton Weavers, stand up comedy and currently presenters of Salford City radio’s first folk show).

Dave Swarbrick (simply a living legend. As it says on the flyers, ‘needs no introduction’).

Edwina Hayes (multi-million You Tubed singer-songwriter with the ‘sweetest voice in England’).

Eric Bazilian: (Hooter, hitmaking songwriter worldwide for self and others, now he’s One Of Us!).

Flossie Malavialle (multinational singer et chanteuse aussi, gig travelling traffic reporter).

Gavin Davenport (much vaunted solo singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, award winning, ex-Albion band member).

Gren Bartley (the spine tinglingly beautiful guitarist, banjo playing poet).

Helen Watson (Singer/Songwriter, multi genre artist, producer and erstwhile member of Daphne’s Flight, Carmel and Sons of Arqa, as well as taking a great photo).

Johnny Coppin (broadcasting singer-songwriter, ex-Decameron and now sufficiently multi-faceted to be considered a true diamond).

Judy Dyble (singer/songwriter, ex-Fairport, nearly King Crimson and Facebook dog blogger).

Kellie While (singer-songwriter considered to have one of the outstanding voices of her generation, ex-member of The Albion Band and so much else, her arrival makes The Pals a family affair as her mother and sometime singing partner Chris is also involved).

Kelly Oliver (singer/songwriter, guitarist and harmonicist who has taken Boots Of Spanish Leather to places most of us can only dream of).

Ken Nicol: (globetrotting, guitar endorsing, ex-Albion Band and Steeleye Span virtuoso).

Kevin Brennan MP (an accomplished musician, fan of folk music and passionate supporter of live music).

Lavinia Blackwall (the vocalist who is both a Trembling Bell and a Crying Lion).

Linda Simpson (singer/songwriter, ex-Prog/Folk/Rock legends Magna Carta and supplier of some ideas that are so good that I’d like to present them as my own).

Lucy Ward (singer/song writer and possibly the current heart of British Folk Music as she gets played on virtually every folk show I listen to regardless of the other tastes of the presenters!).

Luke Jackson (bright young purveyer of Fumes and Faith).

Merry Hell (8 piece folk-rocking explosion of melody and joy).

Ninebarrow (award-winning, Dorsetshire folk duo).

Patsy Matheson (singer/songwriter, spent time Waking The Witch, now The Domino Girl).

Peter Knight (singer/fiddle player, Gigspanner, Feast of Fiddles, Steeleye and holder of the world record for continuously playing the violin whilst travelling up and down the lift in the Empire State Building).

Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers (30 Year veteran of punk-folk luminaries, The Men They Couldn’t Hang).

Ray Cooper (singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, ex-Oysterband and now a pearl in his own right).

Richard Ryall (singer/songwriter, member of the band Litmuss and he comes from a land Down Under).

Robb Johnson (Irregular singer/songwriter and social conscience).

Said The Maiden (3 rising doyennes with harmonies the envy of angels).

Sally Barker (folk singer and by popular acclaim, the true winner of The Voice).

Sian James (Singer, writer, harpist, composer, conductor and actress from Wales, a big Armistice pals ‘Creoso’ to her).

In addition, there is also The Pals Chorus, made up of friends and members of several folk clubs who will be recorded together to help swell the voices and to represent the fact that this is a true community project.