UNCLE BARD & THE DIRTY BASTARDS – The Story So Far (Angel Air SJPCD650)

The Story So FarI have to confess, I’d never heard of this lot let alone that they’d released enough albums to warrant a compilation. For the similarly uninformed, they’re a Celtic-punk six piece who, featuring Uilleann pipes, tenor banjo, mandolin, and Irish flute, trade in the same Irish gene pool stock as The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and their ilk.  They’re also Italian. And were the first Italian band to ever play at the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, Ohio (USA), the most important Irish music festival in the United States.

The reference points pretty much tell you what to expect, this collection culled from their three previous studio albums, their debut, Get The Folk Out, released in 2014, seven years after they were first formed. For the uninitiated, however, this may as well be their first or latest studio set, and serves as a solid introduction to what they’re about in all their raucous energy.

It kicks off as it intends to proceed with ‘The Flat Above My Pub’ taken from 2017’s Handmade, the initial mandolin notes giving way to a full on flurry of pipes, fiddles, whistles and probably a kitchen sink, giving way to the bodhran-backed slacker anthem ‘If Only He Applied Himself’ from 2020’s The Men Beyond The Glass. Their love of all things Irish throws up ‘Green Shamrock Shore’ off the debut, a number that could well have been plucked from the traditional craic archives but which, like all their material, is self-written. The same album also contributes the staccato propulsion of ‘Black Sheep’, closing time shanty swayalong ‘The Rambling Bhoys’, ‘The Dark Side Of The Leaf’, a rare excursion into moodier almost ballad mode with spooked banjo and a measured stomp rhythm, and back to a moshing gallop, the drinking son (but aren’t they all?) ‘I Only Got One Pint’.

Handmade contributes a further two tracks, ‘Gipsy Geezers’, which plays like an underdog manifesto, and, opening with pipes and the air of a lament before picking up the tempo, ‘Anger (The Void That Stops The Wind)’, while from the most recent you get a celebration of tenacity in ‘Back On Your Feet’ (“Fail again. Fail better”), the swayalong, trumpet-brushed ‘Wish’ and the equally reflective and determined (“I will get along/And come out of the storm”) five-minute plus anthemic ‘Man Of The Storm’.

The Story So Far is rounded off in solid style with a new recording, a mandolin-propelled cover of Phil Coulter’s ‘Molly Maguires’, the only niggle being that Guido Domingo’s vocals don’t always make it easy to distinguish the lyrics (though you can check them out on the band website). They may be based in Northern Italy, but they have the waters of the Shannon flowing through their veins, and Guinness not Peroni in their glasses.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website: www.ubdirtybastards.com

‘Man Of The Storm’ – official video:


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