Dropkick Murphys, Live on St. Patrick's Day (Hellcat, 2002)

I suppose if you want to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, this album might just do it for you. I had heard some good reports about this band from my youngest son, who has seen them live at the Leeds Festival. You have to face up to it: you either like punk/thrash rock music or you don't. Dropkick Murphys take on from where The Pogues or The Family Mahone leave off.

The album was recorded live on a recent St Patrick's Day at the Avalon Ballroom in Boston, Massachusetts. This surprised me a little, because the overall sound is that of an open-air festival type concert. The sound quality and mixing could have been a lot better, especially in a confined space like a ballroom. Having said that, with this type of music, I don't suppose it matters much. Throughout the album, the band is obviously having a great time as are the audience, who are obviously up for it. I can only imagine that one or two glasses of sherbet have been consumed beforehand, with it being St. Patrick's Day! And they are playing before their home crowd.

There are no fewer than 26 tracks on this album, with many traditional folk songs thrown in; not that you need to know that, for many of the words are indecipherable, as are the tunes. But this is the nature of punk rock as it is, blended into a kind of very loud, chaotic, rhythmless mix. You might say, "It's so bad it's brilliant!" Songs like 'Rocky Road to Dublin', 'Finnegan's Wake', 'Wild Rover', 'Amazing Grace', and 'Gang's All Here', all go under the hammer with this band -- nothing is sacred. However I did rather like the songs 'Dirty Water', 'Nutty', and 'Spicy McHaggis Jig'.

I suspect other albums by the band are much better than this one, but it does have that certain live appeal that I like. Gary has recently cast an ear over their 2005 album The Warrior's Code on GMR.

So if you are up for a bit of fun, or perhaps you were there on the night and just want a souvenir of the evening, well, this one's for you.

[Peter Massey]