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DUSTY RELICS


hand, if you feel you’re an enthusiastic supporter of the left-field folk genre, why not make an investment of your time starting here—you’ll be well rewarded! Pete Fyfe


www.tommyfleming.com


The Mighty Shamrocks PADDY Good Vibrations: BIG6


HHHH Final release for mythical and influential Irish alt.country bootleg This has been a long time coming. After


several years slogging around the Irish dancehall circuit, The Mighty Shamrocks came to the attention of Terri Hooley of Undertones fame and the owner of Good Vibrations Records in 1979. He immediately offered them the opportunity to record their debut album, but by the time they’d completed it in 1983 the label had gone bankrupt and the Masters have been gathering dust ever since, with bootleg copies falling into the hands of several Irish, Northern Irish and American-Irish musicians who have all gone into print, citing its influence on their music. Why all the fuss, you ask? Well, when this was recorded, The Mighty Shamrocks sounded like nothing Ireland had heard before as they carefully (or perhaps accidentally) fused country with some blues and a healthy dose of nascent punk; the end result easily be a template for alt.country. Opening track, Coronation Street is


breathtaking in its simplicity as the singer’s nasal drawl dreams of earlier more romantic times, use the soap opera as a template; Dougie Gough supplying some marvelous twang guitar in the background. Although the album was recorded on a budget that would have embarrassed a church mouse, The Mighty Shamrocks manage to create a sound so fulsome; it puts many bands recording today to shame. It’s only when you listen very carefully to the lyrics in Dance The Night Away that you remember that this was recorded at the height of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, as they sing about hiding their fears one night a week by going to a dancehall to drink copiously and meet girls. The standout track is easily Cowgirls


(Get The Blues) which has Mickey Stephens warbling like a young Hank and Ricky Nelson’s pedal-steel right out of downtown Nashville; a group of female backing singers doing their best to sound like the Ronettes. When the album didn’t get released in


1983, the band dissolved and the members went their separate ways, thinking their time had gone. In early 2012 a fan, Fran McCloskey handed a copy of the bootleg to Hooley as a keepsake, but with the finances now in place he has resurrected Good Vibrations and the album has finally been released and will cement The Mighty Shamrocks place in Irish musical history. The album, named PADDY is a lasting testament to the band’s original drummer Paddy MacNicholl who didn’t live to see it finally released. Alan Harrison www.themightyshamrocks.com


Tom Russell BORDERLAND/ MODERN ART; INDIANS, COWBOYS, HORSES DOGS/ HOTWALKER Floating World Records HHHH Two for the price of one; re-issues from roots music’s most literate scribe A quarter of a century after opening its


doors Oakland, California based Hightone Records was sold, during 2008, to the Shout! Factory imprint. Tom Russell’s Hightone catalogue—along with recent gems BLOOD & CANDLE SMOKE (2009) and MESABI (2011)—is available in the States from Shout! Factory. During 2012 in the UK, a slightly different picture began to emerge. In late February—licensed from Shout! Factory—Floating World Records re-issued as a ‘2 for the price of 1’ package: THE ROSE OF SAN JOAQUIN (1995) with THE MAN FROM GOD KNOWS WHERE (1999). In early July, the combination of BORDERLAND (2001)/MODERN ART (2003) was released, followed a month later by INDIANS, COWBOYS, HORSES, DOGS (2004)/ HOTWALKER (2005). It’s the latter quartet of discs that are now under focus. Late last century Russell relocated to El Paso, Texas from New York City. The proximity of his


new abode to the border—Russell has confirmed in interview, he can see Juarez from near his house—simply accelerated an already profound interest in all things Mexican. Less than a handful of years later the border lifestyle seeped into the eleven songs that compose BORDERLAND, his fifth Hightone release. Recorded in Austin, and produced by Gurf Morlix, allusion to the ‘border’ was, however, intentionally two-fold, with some lyrics focusing on the sometimes rocky relationship between a man and a woman. MODERN ART plus the 2004/2005 albums


were recorded just across town at Mark Hallman’s Congress House Studio, and the latter shared the 2003 production credit with Tom and his long-time sideman Andrew Hardin. Russell’s penchant for character portraits—both real life and fictional—find expression in eight of his own compositions, plus half-a-dozen cover songs. Gems among the latter included American Hotel by the late Carl Brouse and Michael Smith’s The Dutchman. Russell’s The Kid From Spavinaw eulogised baseball legend Mickey Mantle, Muhammad Ali requires no explanation, whilst Tom waxed autobiographical in the title song. The twelve song INDIANS, COWBOYS,


HORSES, DOGS was produced by Hallman; a Russell painting gracing the front cover—a trend that was repeated on HOTWALKER and subsequent releases. INDIANS, COWBOYS, HORSES, DOGS found this Californian once again exercising his love for cowboy songs. Amongst the half-a-dozen covers were Bob Dylan’s Seven Curses and Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts plus Marty Robbins’ gunfighter love ballad and November 1959 number 1 Country Single, El Paso. Tom and cowboy poet, Paul Zarzyski co-wrote the excellent Bucking Horse Moon and All This Way For The Short Ride, whilst Russell’s The Ballad Of Edward Abbey recalled the author and environmentalist. On MODERN ART, Crucifix In A Death Hand featured the words of hero Charles Bukowski set to music by Russell. Self-produced, HOTWALKER is a very ‘different’ musical documentary and tribute to a series of bohemian Americans. Among many they include Bukowski [d. 1994], album narrator Little Jack Horton [d. 2004]—a circus midget, movie actor, stuntman and Bukowski’s one-time barstool buddy, and Dave Van Ronk [d. 2002] the folk-blues legend and Pope of Greenwich Village. Arthur Wood www.tomrussell.com


Maverick 109


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