CD Review – The Mighty Shamrocks “Paddy”
This has been a long time coming. After several years slogging around the Irish dancehall circuit The Mighty Shamrocks came to the attention of Terri Hooley of Undertones fame and the owner of Good Vibrations Records in 1979. He immediately offered them the opportunity to record their debut album but; by the time they’d completed it in 1983 the label had gone bankrupt and the Masters have been gathering dust ever since, with bootleg copies falling into the hands of several Irish, Northern Irish and American-Irish musicians who have all gone into print citing its’ influence on their music.
Why all the fuss, you ask? Well; when this was recorded The Mighty Shamrocks sounded like nothing Ireland had heard before as they carefully/accidentally fused Country with some Blues and a healthy dose of nascent Punk and the end result could easily be a template for Alt-Country.
Opening track Coronation Streetis breathtaking in it’s simplicity as the singer’s nasal drawl dreams of earlier more romantic times and uses the Soap Opera as a template as Dougie Gough supplies some marvelous Twang guitar in the background.
Although the album was recorded on a budget that would have embarrassed a Church Mouse; The Mighty Shamrocks manage to create a sound so fulsome it puts many bands recording today to shame.
It’s only when you listen very carefully to the lyrics in Dance The Night Awaythat you remember that this was recorded at the height of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, as they sing about hiding their fears one night a week by going to a dancehall to drink copiously and meet girls.
The standout track is easily Cowgirls (get the Blues)which has Mickey Stephens warbling like a young Hank and Ricky Nelson’s pedal-steel is right out of downtown Nashville as a group of female backing singers do their best to sound like the Ronettes.
When the album didn’t get released in 1983 the band dissolved and the members went their separate ways thinking their time had gone. In early 2012 a fan, Fran McCloskey handed a copy of the bootleg to Hooley as a keepsake; but with the finances now in place he has resurrected Good Vibrations and the album has finally been released and will cement The Mighty Shamrocks place in Irish musical history.
The album is named PADDY is a lasting testament to the band’s original drummer Paddy MacNicholl who didn’t live to see it finally released.