Monday, March 07, 2016

The Langer's Ball "Whiskey Outlaws" CD :

These Twin City treble makers and rhythm rapscallions have yet again awakened me from my doldrums, breathing new life into the term "Celtic Rock", and once again restored my faith in humanity and old school merry- making.

   Beginning a mighty album with a high velocity ode to the Prohibition years, the album's title track, "Whiskey Outlaws" gallops in like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and with a Rockabilly ferocity that compliments The Langer's 

Ball tried and tested Celtic Rock & Reel, this humdinger will really get you off your proverbial arse as you pogo your head through the ceiling and these St. Paul brigands will not only raise the rafters but get you dancing to their
glorious fusion of Roots Rock & Roll, 70's era Punk Rock, and old time rowdy sing-a-long Irish drinking songs, because :

        "There's nothing you can do but sit there in wait
         Devil's spawn they sprung from Hell,
         Kicking down the gate
         Blood and guts and whiskey is their intoxicate.."

Next, "World Turned Upside Down" is resuscitated from the folk song graveyard, reinvigorated by the prowess of these crazy Minnesotans, dug up from the earth as it were, with a stellar cover of this classic Leon Rosselson tune. (Although this 1960 hit may be loosely based on the 1640 English workers ballad written as a protest against the policies of Parliament regarding Christmas celebrations) A rousing heartfelt tune that no bunch of musicians could have done a better version of and one that will have you singing along at the top of your lungs, pumping your fist, demanding more and reminding you (whether your collar be blue or white) who it is that has built the world around you - the indomitable worker - and nurtured it over the ages. Fair play ye Langers ! This really is one of the best versions of this old Diggers anthem that I've heard and sung along to yet.

     Afterwards, "Jug of This" really takes you away from the daily turmoil and tragedy of the modern world, transporting you to a simpler time where all that matters is good music, good friends and a barrel of the brewers finest. Come on folks, don't dismay, quaff of the intoxicating harmonies and rhythms of The Langer's Ball and forget your cares and the unpaid electricity bill and bar tab while these Minnesotan merry makers help you escape from it all for a few magical moments. Friends, don't let your throat stay dry, heed the wise words of The Langer's Ball and let their mirthful melodies take you away :

           "Turn me into a fish and let me swim in a jug of this"

    Next, "Drinking for Two" keeps the high spirits soaring above the modern miasma, raising the   rafters, lifting your own chin and never failing to make you grin at the devilish art that The Langer's Ball are so well known for crafting and delivering to you like an illegal cask of  Connemara's finest poitín. I love the way The Langer's Ball can go from bluesy ballads of the dewy-eyed and the heartbroken to the boisterous and rip-roaring rhythms of the pub or the Punk 

Rock pit, and then back to the battlefields of love and loss, to only astonish you in a few short seconds with another musical thunderbolt shaking the ground beneath your feet like an earthquake on the San Andreas Fault. Flawless, rowdy, blitheful and absolutely unique, The Langer's Ball will never disappoint.

      "Gods Gonna Cut You Down" next shows you the derring-do of a band not afraid to tackle legendary songs or hot hits written and composed by peerless musicians like Johnny Cash. Many bands botch it when it comes to covering a hit (countless covers of Pogues songs comes to mind) but not The Langer's Ball. Their rendition of this old Johnny Cash classic is nothing short of superb.

      Next, "Bottoms Up" showcases the diverse prowess of these mighty Minnesotans, as the band gets you up on the dance floor with a rousing chorus and a Slavic spirit that would make Gogol Bordello or Balkan Beat Box proud. 

      Afterwards, The Langer's Ball prove to the world that they can cover a Horslips classic without embarrassment. A mighty feat indeed. While I am not going to claim that I prefer this version over the original, it was nonethless a valiant attempt and for that I tip my hat to thee, Langer's Ball. 

   Next, "The One", shows the bands depth and grace, capturing an ambiance of love and loss and the dangerous position oneself can find themselves in, when they are betting all their odds against a lost cause. This is an exemplary tune and shines a radiance on the excellence of a Celtic Rock band that defies all expectations and soars high above like a storm crow amidst the monsoon rains and impending gale.

    Afterwards, "Mick McGuire" is another pub sing-a-long that reaffirms the loyalty to tradition that is such a part of The Langer's Ball. Michael Sturm's exuberant vocals and his and Danny McDermott's great guitar work, as well as the storming drumming of Colin McCowan and Hannah Rediske's pennywhistle and backing vocals, complimented by the resounding throb of bassist Lance "Lam" Gams, make this a fine version of one of the best pub sing-a-longs there ever was.

    And in case you imagined all this fun was coming to and end, "Cork Dry Gin" keeps us tipsy and dancing our toes off with another definite crowd-pleaser by St. Paul's finest. And in case you're not into drinking songs than I still think you will surprise yourself by singing along to this catchy and jubilant landlubber shanty.

     Right after, The Langer's Ball get in their time machine and take us back  to the Roaring Twenties, with Mort Dixon and Harry M. Woods 1927 hit, "I"m Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover", taking us back to those Tin Pan Alley days and getting us ready  for St. Paddy's carousing. And once again, another Langer's Ball cover that doesn't fail to amaze me. In fact, I think this is the best version of the hit I've heard yet.  And if that's not brilliant enough for you, the addition  of a superb rendition of 1926 favorite "Bye Bye Blackbird" definitely shall. And with these marvelous covers you are again mesmerized and amazed by the transcendent accordion accomplishments of Hannah Rediske. Fair play indeed.

    Concluding a stunning and unrivaled album, The Langer's Ball "Whiskey Outlaws" couldn't have had a better swan song for a true gem than "Pigeon at the Gate", a great tribute to traditional music and Celtic sounds.

  Whatever you decide to spend your money on this year, please don't scrimp when it comes to supporting some of the best musicians the world has known, and buy The Langer's Ball "Whiskey Outlaws" if it's the last thing you do.

             - Rory Dubhdara, Radio Rebel Gael 


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