2017-03-22 ALBUM REVIEW – UNCLE BARD & THE DIRTY BASTARDS "Handmade!" (2017)

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Uncle Bard & The Dirty Bastards “Handmade!”
Release date: February 9,  2017
Running time: 62:19, 16 Tracks


After having recently posted the review of the brand new Tossers album, now I’m publishing a write-up of a band with a similar attitude, the mighty Uncle Bard & The Dirty Bastards. The Italian band have released 3 albums and 1 EP in 10 years and nowadays they are one of the most interesting Celtic punk/rock bands from this side of the pond. In fact, they’re clearly one of the European celtic punk bands that really know the traditional repertoire, together with Firkin and probably Fiddler’s Green.  And when I say traditional I don’t mean only the balladeers (The Dubliners, The Wolfe Tones, Pete St. John …) but also the likes of The Bothy Band, Lúnasa or Flook.

Among all the amazing tracks on “Handmade”, I’d pick up a couple of standout numbers because of their lyrics. “The Streets of Dublin” is Uncle Bard & The Dirty Bastards’ answer to Pete St. John’s “The Rare Auld Times”. Lorenzo Testa knew Dublin in the heyday of the Celtic tiger and has been a witness of the city changes because of the financial crisis. “Plastic Paddy’s Day” was originally released in 2015 (video HERE). St. Patrick’s Day is gone, but maybe you should listen to this song and think about it. Apart from the lyrics, it’s a well written number, with a spoken intro, a flute and banjo driven attack, a banjo bridge and another spoken passage.

There are a couple of instrumentals, a set of tunes and a Lorenzo’s composition. The set of tunes consists of “The Donegal Lass”, a tune by Flook’s flutist Brian Finnegan, “Butler of Glen Avenue” by Tony Sullivan and Luca Crespi’s “Tell Me About You”. If you love the traditional stuff played with gusto and a rock twist, you’ll enjoy this brilliant set of tunes. The second instrumental is “The Clarenfridge Fair” and it was written by Lorenzo Testa when he went to Clarenbridge to say hello to Fintan and Tom Cussen at their workshop. Even if it’s not an upbeat tune, the atmosphere and the musicianship are top-notch.

Some songs are also covered on “Handmade!”. “The Ferryman” is another classic song by Pete St. John and it has given a bluegrass-y treatment by Uncle Bard & The Dirty Bastards. It reminds me of some The Waterboys / Sharon Shannon‘s stuff . The closing number is a poignant rendition of Phil Coulter’s “The Town that I loved so Well”. Luca Rapazzini guests on fiddle and Denis Jelly from The Moorings shares vocals duties.

Regarding the other self-penned songs, I have enjoyed Silvano’s songs “Gipsy Geezers”, featuring banjo and uileann pipes and a tune written by Lorenzo Testa (video HERE ), the upbeat banjo and tin whistle led “Stay Untamed” that includes a Luca’s tune, and “A Flat above my Pub”, another lively number featuring the well-known Denis Murphy’s polka. Other amazing numbers written by Lorenzo would be “Lads from the Countryside” (I guess that Irish band O’Hanlons Horsebox will love this number too) “The Man Who Spoke to the Earth”  (where three tunes are played, one by Lorenzo, another by Séamus Egan and the traditional Coleraine’s Jig), “Too Old to Stop Now” (I’m sure that The Logues would love this one too) and  Guido’s “Anger, the Void that stops the Wind”, a song with an Oysterband twist and kick-ass uilleann pipes by Luca.

As Uncle Bard & The Dirty Bastards have said, “Handmade!” is a real labour of love. Once again the packaging is spotless: a four panel digipack with a 20 page booklet. Top quality pics are provided, together with comprehensive liner notes and credits.

After releasing a full Irish standards album, Uncle Bard & The Dirty Bastards showed with their EP that they were able to write top-notch original songs. The Italians reached the stardom with “Get the Folk Out!” and with “Handmade!” they have not gone down from that place. A must have for any Irish music lover.

You can check out what other people have written about this album on Viva la XV! (in Spanish) and on London Celtic Punks (in English)


Track listing:

01 – Handmade 1:54
02 – Gipsy Geezers 4:21
03 – Too Old To Stop Now 3:40
04 – Stay Untamed 3:42
05 – The Man Who Spoke To The Earth 4:33
06 – The Donegal Lass / Butler of Glen Avenue / Tell me About You 3:25
07 – The Ferryman 3:04
08 – Anger (The Void That Stops The Wind) 4:44
09 – The Clarenbridge Fair 2:25
10 – The Streets Of Dublin 4:34
11 – Lads From The Countryside 3:49
12 – The Luck Of The Irish 3:12
13 – Plastic Paddy’s Day 4:59
14 – Rust 4:55
15 – The Flat Above My Pub 3:24
16 – The Town I Loved So Well 5:37


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Review by Kinksmarkham

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