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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

(the) Men They Couldn't Hang - Night of A Thousand Candles~, Silvertown*

Name: The Men They Couldn't Hang
Album(s): Night of A Thousand Candles~, Silvertown*
Year(s): 1985~, 1989*
Style: Celtic Folk, Roots Rock
Similar Bands: Black 47, Pogues, Levellers, James, Bluebells, Midnight Oil
"One-Word" Review: Celtic Hoe-Down On A Prog-Train
Based Out Of: London/Southampton England
Label: Demon~, Imp Records~, Jive*, Silvertone*, RCA*, BMG*
 Night of A Thousand Candles - Cover & Record
Night of A Thousand Candles - Back & Record
Silvertown - Cover & Record
Silvertown - Back & Record

Night of A Thousand Candles (1985)
  1. The Day After 2:41
  2. Jack Dandy 2:24
  3. A Night To Remember 3:14
  4. Johnny Come Home 2:26
  5. Green Fields of France 6:29 /
  6. Iron Masters 4:11
  7. Hush Little Baby 4:22
  8. Walkin' Talkin 2:25
  9. Kingdom Come 3:09
  10. Scarlet Ribbons 5:55
Silvertown (1989)
  1. Rosettes 3:34
  2. A Place in the Sun 3:07
  3. Homefires 4:02
  4. Diamonds, Gold & Fur 2:39
  5. Company Town 5:42 /
  6. Lobotomy Gets "Em Home 3:22
  7. Blackfriars Bridge 4:06
  8. Rain, Steam & Speed 3:56
  9. Down all the Days 2:41
  10. Hellfire & Damnation 2:42
  11. El Vaquero 2:38
Album Rating (1-10): ~6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Tom Keane - Bagpipes~ (Pogues, Clannad, Clancy Bros, Nomad)
Shanne Hasler (Bradley) - Bass, Flute~ (The Launderettes, The Nipple Erectors, Wreckless Eric, The Chicken Family)
Chimp Carver - Design, Artwork~
Jon Odgers - Percussion, Drums~* (Catch 22, Swill & The Swaggerband)
Nick Robbins - Engineer, Mixing~
Graham Sharpe - Guitar~
Paul Simmonds - Guitar, Bouzouki, Keys~Mandolin* (Catch 22, Liberty Cage, Naomi Bedford, Swill & The Swaggerband, Lob)
Tony Poole - Management, Producer~
Tim Young - Mastering~
Harold Burgen - Production~
David Howell - Photography~
Phillip Chevron - Producer~
Lindsey Lowe - Trumpet~*
Stefan Cush - Vox, Guitar~*(The Feral Family)
Philip Odgers "Swill" - Vox, Guitar, Tin Whistle, Melodica~* (Catch 22 Liberty Cage, Swill & The Swaggerband, Crash Alley)
Tom O'Grady - band name
Mick Glossop - Producer, Engineer*
Nick Muir - Piano, Accordion, (Fire Next Time, Bedrock)*
Ricky McGuire - Bass (UK Subs, Swill & The Swaggerband, Fits)*
Bobby Valentino - Fiddle (Fabulous Poodles, Mike Oldfeld, Any Trouble, Nick Lowe, They Style Council, Billy Bragg)
Phil Smee - Sleeve Design*
Keith Morris - Photography*
Kris Heuer - Crest Design*

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of these guys before buying these two albums, independently of one another. I liked the cold, industrial artwork on the first album I bought (which was their first album), and before listening to it, I found the other album, picking it up because of the name recognition. Both albums make the band seem to be a real blue collar, working man’s band, and I imagine the contents to be something close to Big Country.

Album Review: The band really broke out onto the music scene in 85 in a big way with their first album, and a strong supportive backing from John Peel. They have basically been active ever since, with a few lineup changes, and a few breaks, but they have recently put out a new album based on fan supported pledges. They will co headline festivals in the UK, as they are still a somewhat well-known act.

“The Day After” starts with a pulsing, driving drum beat, and grows into a folky hoe-down, complete with banjo. It reminds me a little of James. In the chorus, there is a chanting group of vocals supporting the lead.
“Jack Dandy” begins with more jangely guitars, and grows into a driving Celtic drinking sing-a-long.  The bouncy bass line really drives the song home in the end.
“A Night To Remember” was a single from the album. And it begins with a more country-ish tone in melody and vocal inflection. The acoustic guitar carries the rural, mountainside atmospheric song. This song too, becomes quite jangely towad the end.
“Johnny Come Home” is a bouncy three acoustic chord stomping ballad, employing punk rock start and stop time signatures (I Fought The Law).
“Green Fields of France” is a cover of an Eric Bogle song, and is a slow, side-to-side  traditional (drinking?) sounding Celtic song that reflects on a World War 1 victim. The vocals become doubled as the song gains emotional steam. It cycles back for a second verse with a bit more frustration behind the vocals.

“Iron Masters” was a single from the album, which had to be edited for radio play in the UK because it referenced Margaret Thatcher in poor taste at the song’s end with “Oh that Iron Bastard, She still gets her way.” It begins quietly, with just the guitar and story sung vocals. The marching drums come into the song, and the bold, proud Irish sounding chorus takes over. The tempo grows to a sprint, and the song finds a second life rather quickly as an aggressive barn dance. There is a bit of a breakdown with trumpets before it regains its pace and drive.
“Hush Little Baby” begins with the acoustic guitar quietly being played for the first minute. Then a drum crashes down and a melodica accompanied oompa/gypsy beat picks up with an altered, yet familiar Hush Little Baby melody. The song is a bleak and dark interpretation of the nursery rhyme.
“Walkin' Talkin” starts off with a rollicking vocal melody that can only be categorized as a bit of Irish Rockabilly. The song just charges on forward non-stop through the entire hoe-down of a song.
“Kingdom Come” features the same deep chorus of vocals, but this time, they are filtered through an echo, cave-like effect. From there, the song takes on a traditional, driving Celtic sing-song melody.
“Scarlet Ribbons” begins with a flute, and is followed up with a mandolin, and the song progresses like a renaissance era minstrel story-ballad. But the vocal style is that of a nationally proud battle crier. This falls into the emotional remembrance genre of song.

“Rosettes” begins with twinkling sounds from a mandolin, then blasts off in some sort of dark Celtic Punk, that actually sounds a little like Midnight Oil. The vocals are a little angrier.
“A Place in the Sun” was a single. The vocals are a little calmer and clearer. But there is still a very strong Celtic musical backbone to the song. The song does not sound all that particularly catchy or stand out-ish. It feels like an original track from a band headlining a small town Irish festival.
“Homefires” steps back from the angry, energetic vocals and is a memorial/roots song. The marching tempo picks up after a little bit, breathing more life and multiple vocals into the song, but it is has become a traditional sounding drinking sing-a-long.
“Diamonds, Gold & Fur” starts with a fast drum beat, and a piano that takes a page out of Squeeze’s playbook, but this is a bouncy honky-tonk produced pub rock song. The song employs a harmonica for the short instrumental break. The song sounds like a combination of the best parts of the Blasters, and a little like John Wesley Harding (Wesley Stace).
“Company Town” steps back into the Celtic roots culture with a slow ballad as it beginning.  It sings of corporate rule over blue collar life in a small, company owned town. The mood of the song is both longing, nostalgia and hatred in the same breath. The pace of the song slowly picks up from the beginning, but it never becomes too crazy nor stays quiet. This is a solid, respectful song, and is explanatory of where the band excels best: capturing life and sentiment from the oppressed working class

“Lobotomy Gets "Em Home” starts with a bass hook as the cement of the melody. If the song was produced differently, it would be a straight forward punk song with its rollercoastering bass line. But with the style of the era that the band was involved in, this song is just a rollicking, driving folk song. Even the vocals are angry and energetic.
“Blackfriars Bridge” is another slower, historical Celtic roots song. This one feels much more airy and it starts out as new age. Like all the similar songs before it, the band is never just ok with leaving a song as a quiet ballad. They always bring up a rock element, and kick in extra energy and emotion. And this song in particular builds up in vocal and instrumental stress to the very end.
“Rain, Steam & Speed” was a single from the album that keeps its roots in Celtic melody, but with a slightly funky bass line. The verse is a little quiet, but the formulaic chorus holds the harmonizing hooks. The song, like many hints on this album are very prog oriented, although there can be a fine line between Celtic style music and prog rock.
“Down all the Days” begins with a jangely guitar, then like a chugging train, the song takes off, fueled by the drum beat. These songs are simple tempos to carry out fun barn dances or hoe-downs as banditing passengers recalling better times on a cargo train.
“Hellfire & Damnation” is a Kinks-like swampy, staggering southern tinged brass-jug band’s alcohol dream. It features stand out horns akin to Dixie-land jazz. And the vocals are again similar to Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze. As if it were played in a nearly empty barroom, a trickle of applause stumbles in at the end.
“El Vaquero” ends the record with a wispy, rainy moonlit graveyard anthem for a minute and half. Then the music transports the listener to a 1800’s vaudevillian bar for a few paces, until it reaches the back room for a brief moment, where a sinister Dracula character lays. The listener is then returned to the graveyard, to plod along through to the end of this very visual instrumental.

Stand Out Tracks: ~The Day After
*Diamonds, Gold & Fur

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John Peel

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