Opening with a splendidly crisp “Dr Gilberts” which I haven’t heard since the days of Five Hand Reel, the quartet of Andy Dinan (fiddle), Ian Fletcher (guitars and programming), Jon Thorne (double bass) and Richard Sliwa on percussion certainly know how to swing. Having caught my attention from the outset perhaps it’s just me but the one thing I’m not too sure about is the ‘jazz’ bridge which segues from the second tune to the third. There’s no doubt what a superb musician Fletcher is (as are the others) it’s just that for me at least it’s a step too far and a distraction from what is an otherwise brilliant set-piece. I suppose if you’re looking to compare artists…a good way to judge whether you’ll possibly like someone you haven’t heard before…then I’d say Ducie are nearer to Lunasa than the Bothy Band and every bit as exciting. Crossing genres is staple fare for a band of this quality and they don’t have any problem combining Celtic with Austrian, Afro-Cuban and even Reggae engaging the listener with enough technical dexterity to pass over the fact there are no vocals. This really is a delightful debut and will undoubtedly prove popular amongst connoisseurs of high end music.
The Bad Shepherds announce new album and UK Tour, “Mud, Blood & Beer”
After an extended hiatus during 2012, ADRIAN EDMONDSON’S celebrated folk-punk outfit THE BAD SHEPHERDS, have announced details of their return with a album and major 24-date UK tour. Both will be entitled ‘Mud, Blood and Beer.’
Ade tells the story in his own words…
“The Bad Shepherds’ last performance was at The Union Chapel towards the end of 2011. We’d been going since 2008, made two albums and done hundreds of gigs. We needed a break, to get a fresh perspective on things as much as anything else. I had some TV shows to make, and a side project called The Idiot Bastard Band with Phill Jupitus and Neil Innes. Troy was going on a year-long world tour with the Finnish prog-metal band Nightwish, and Andy was starting a new band, Ducie. Knowing how the balls can sometimes drop forever when you stop juggling I wasn’t really sure that we’d ever really get back together.
That night at The Union Chapel was quite an emotional event. It’s a funny feeling, knocking something on the head when it’s going well. I’ve done it a few times before, most obviously with The Young Ones and Bottom. But there’s always a fear that what you’re doing is going to get stale, and that it’s best to get out when you’re at the top.
Bizarrely, last year there was a move to revive Bottom. I wasn’t quite sure about it from the start. I’d called an end to my working relationship with Rik in 2003, a) because I thought we’d peaked, and b) because there were lots of other things I wanted to do in my life, music being one of them. When the idea for the new Bottom series came we met and worked on it for a while, but pretty soon I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do – it felt too much like treading the same path again.
I came to realize that what I really wanted to do was get together with The Bad Shepherds again. Why? Because I am in love with the band. Because I love the sound we make. Because I love being with Troy and Andy. Because the best gigs I’ve ever done in my life, in any art form – in terms of excitement and connection with an audience – have been with The Bad Shepherds.
And on top of that I’d begun to write bits of lyrics and tunes for completely new songs. Our set list up until now has been full of radically re-arranged covers of punk and new wave era songs, mixed with traditional jigs and reels. But I was eager to get together with Troy and work on these new self-penned songs. Songs that take their inspiration from who we are as people and as a band, and how we’ve got to where we are through all the MUD, BLOOD and BEER.
At first the idea of ‘folk’ with a punk attitude didn’t appeal to me more than likely due to my ‘traditional’ prejudices but when I heard that multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley was on board I thought perhaps I shouldn’t be too dismissive. And so it’s proved. Of course, having a front-man as famous as Ade Edmondson spitting out the words helps and third member All-Ireland champion Andy Dinan holds his own. What lies beneath the performance is an energy that many of today’s ‘folk’ artists (with the possible exception of perhaps Bellowhead) could well take note of as the Shepherd’s fight their way to the surface like drowning men struggling for breath after a trip on Titanic. Therefore tracks such as the Sex Pistols “Anarchy In The UK” and Teenage Kicks “Sound Of The Suberbs” find a fresh lease of life in an acoustic setting. Even the “Ramones Medley” with its kick-ass tune sandwich featuring Donockley’s Uillean Pipes and Dinan’s fiddle going full throttle is just the tonic the doctor ordered…and not a moment too soon if the rumours of a possible farewell tour (after only four years together?) are to be believed. Forget folk for folk’s sake and think more along the lines of folk for fun.
By hook or by crook here is a CD just waiting to be reviewed. The Bad Shepherds consist of Adrian Edmondson, Troy Donockley, Maartin Allcock and Andy Dinan with additional percussion from Mark Woolley (no jokes please) who obviously just want to have a good time along with their audience and in the process create a bit of acoustic anarchy. And what better way than to open proceedings than with the anthem “I Fought The Law”. The sleeve notes state that Edmondson performs ‘thrash’ mandolin and who would we be to criticise his judgement when that’s exactly what he does. Of course, the clever stuff is left to Donockley, Allcock and Dinan that shines through in the band’s sparkling arrangements where, take for instance, the change gearing up the rhythm half-way through the Jam’s “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight” works brilliantly. Surprisingly (for this reviewer anyway) Ade maintains a serious edge to his vocal prowess without outlandishly over emphasising the lyrics by forcing them punk-like from rasping tonsils and for those of a ‘folk’ persuasion that might be frightened off by the mere thought of a badly judged performance just sit back and enjoy. By the way, check out Troy’s plaintive Uillean Pipes on “The Model”…it certainly beats the original arrangement. Now, before I fence myself in by saying how much I enjoyed this album let’s start counting down together…