Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Classic Album: The Warriors Code by Dropkick Murphys

Today is St Patricks day, which for me as an un-Irish punk loving fella means one thing – it’s Dropkick Murphys day. It’s been my yearly tradition for over ten years now to always listen to the legendary celtic punk band every St Patricks Day. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the release of The Warriors Code, arguably their career defining album. I went back and checked it out.

The Warriors Code begins with a song named Your Spirits Alive. Beginning with some soft bagpipes and some piano the song builds into a rowdy punk rock anthem about paying tribute to lost friends. Ken Casey and Al Barr’s dual vocals are always a highlight of any Murphys song and they work together brilliant on this opening track. The next song, title track The Warriors Code is a more controlled track and is about Boston boxing legend Micky Ward, who also featured on the album cover artwork. Dropkick Murphys are no strangers to taking traditional music and making it their own and they do just that in the third song Captain Kelly’s Kitchen. Based on the traditional song Courting In The Kitchen this track is a trademark Murphys party song. With vocals coming from all directions you can’t help but want to sing, dance and be merry when this song comes on. The Walking Dead is a more straight forward punk song lamenting the old times and crying out for something new and different.

Sunshine Highway has an instantly recognisable introduction, including a pounding drum beat and accordion before the band launch into a song about drug rehabilitation. Scruffy Wallace’s pipes really shine throughout the song as does a Marc “The Kid” Orrell guitar solo. The next song Wicked Sensitive Crew was written as a response to claims that Dropkick Murphys promote violence. Lyrically this is one of the funniest Murphys songs ever, poking fun at “pop punk tough guys with neck tattoos” and claiming that they’re actually “touchy feely sensitive guys.” Musically it’s another Murphys party song that will get you arm in arm with strangers in the pit singing along to the chorus at the top of your voice. The Burden takes us to the halfway point of The Warriors Code. This song is a slower song about believing that someone has strength when nobody else does.

The second half of the album see’s the band returning to their hardcore punk rock routes with the song Citizen CIA. At just one minute and twenty eight seconds long is by far the shortest onthe album but ticks all the hardcore punk rock boxes. It’s relentless in making you want to get crazy and break things and scream along with the chorus. On the next song – The Green Fields Of France (No Man’s Land) the band change things up completely. This is a slow, thoughtful folk song. Here Al Barr’s vocal is absolutely perfect in an cover of an anti war ballad by Eric Bogle. Barr’s voice really grabs your attention and makes you really listen to what he is singing. The first few times I heard this song it really managed to pull on my heart strings. Take It And Run changes musical direction again and is a rousing rock and roll number. Barr and Casey’s two and throw vocal delivery really make the song.

Up next is the song that took Dropkick Murphys up another level in terms of popularity. The song I’m Shipping Up To Boston comes from an unpublished Woody Guthrie lyric about a sailor looking for a wooden leg. This song was featured in the Academy Award winning film by Martin Scorsese, The Departed and introduced the band to a whole new legion of fans. Ironically this is my least favourite of all the Murphys songs but was definitely a career defining song. The Auld Triangle is a criminally underrated Murhpys song in my opinion. Beginning with a lengthy introduction featuring piano and some pipes before the song explodes into life with Ken Caseys gravelling Irish American tones really stealing the show in this song about life in prison. The penultimate song Last Letter Home is an extremely sentimental song. It’s tells the true story of communications between American Sgt. Andrew Farrar and his family before he sadly dies in the Iraq war. The song talks about Farrar wanting the band to play an acoustic version of the classic Fields Of Anthenry at his funeral, something the band did. This song really displays why so many people love the Dopkcik Murphys, it shows them as a band of the people and never forgetting where they have come from despite all of their success. The album concludes with a reworking on the Boston Red Sox song Tessie. The Boston Red Sox Baseball team went eighty six years without winning the World Series, the biggest prize in baseball. The year the Murphys released this song the Red Sox finally managed to win the series and since then the band have become somewhat of a good luck omen for the organisation, being involved in winning the World Series each time they have performed at Fenway Park. Tessie, despite it being somewhat of a hometown song has always been a big hit when I’ve seen them come play live in England, despite baseball not really being that popular a sport here. I’ve never really understood that but its always great fun to see them play it live.

Find out more from Dropkick Murphys here: https://www.facebook.com/DropkickMurphys

Now listening to A Few Good Men by Dropkick Murphys

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