With the announcement of their career-spanning compilation album titled “The Very Best: 25 Years of Irish Punk”; we here at Dying Scene thought we should take some time and tell you what we think.
The album is a collection of the finest from The Mahones throughout their career and with 18 songs to choose from on the album, you’d be crazy not to find one that you like. With songs that have becomes staples in a punk’s playlist, both young and old, the band has summed up their 25 years of experience into one excellent album. Now I know what you are thinking, revisiting and re-recording the classics could change the way they sound after all of these years. Let me assure you, these guys haven’t lost a 4/4 beat; and I will do my best to give you some insight in the short time we have together.
The album starts off strong with a re-release their track “A Great Night on the Lash”, a song all about drinking, making noise, and having a good time. The raw emotion from the first rendition has easily carried over to the new recording, letting you share in the pandemonium of a long night/early morning out with the band. It kicks just as much ass as the first version and is a great way to get you in the mindset for a nice thick beer. Overall, this song was already a classic for me, but the revisited version is just as good and will put your mind in a barstool next to a slumping irishman.
The next few tracks on the album give you a strong taste of authentic Irish sound. Heavy fiddle, flute, and accordion give that almost folky vibe to the punk chugs and chanting that they accompany. The straight-fowardness of the drums mixed with the multiple layers of instruments and countermelodies give you something to bop your head to and something to smile about.
One song I particularly liked on the album was “Streets of New York”. It brings that slow side to punk that makes the speed hit so heavy. The song brings the feel of that waltzy ¾ time traditional of Irish folktales. The song was good when it was first released on their album “Paint the Town Red”, but since then you can tell the band has really embraced the song because the version on the new album has a passion and soul in it that you can only get from living the Irish punk scene.
Their song “Past the Pint of No Return” was probably my favorite on the new album. The original version has a upbeat, rushed feeling which, for some older bands, can be tough to keep going after all these years. I thought The Mahones did an excellent job keeping that feel in this song while putting a little bit more wisdom and soul into how it is performed. It seems that the band grew with the song and it shows in the music. Also, it’s always awesome to hear someone rip out a fiddle solo mid-song!
Overall thoughts: The album as a whole is one of those ones you listen to straight through. When I sat down to write this piece, I wanted to get a taste of the new sound and to hear some songs I haven’t heard before. I started the album at the top and I didn’t touch the skip button once before it was over. It is easily listenable and doesn’t beat you over the head with the irish or the punk; the nice mix of both give the album a spice, but the garnish doesn’t overpower the flavor of the music or of the messages. They have a genre, and they do it well, but they frequently pull from other genres to give variance to what, for some, can be a slightly repetitious sound.
The album contains a passion that you can only get from performing for 25 years, and it shows up in force for this ‘greatest hits’ album. Overall, I rate it a 4.5. It is definitely worth the attention, if not for the true professionalism of a timeless Irish punk group, then for the awesome music that this group puts out.