This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 9/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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"For a great time, call The Kings of Irish-Jewish folk-punk," aka Josh Lederman y Los Diablos. If this description doesn't stop you in your tracks and compel a re-reading of it, you must either be an Evelyn Wood honors graduate or Greil Marcus. Well, I'm neither. But being Irish, having a wife who is Jewish, and enjoying a love of folk music may position me three quarters of the way towards possessing the necessary qualifications to make this call: does the music live up to this band's self-described slogan? And, more importantly, is the music worth listening to?
Also self-described as The Pogues meet early Tom Waits, Lederman y Los Diablos stack themselves up against some pretty tough icons. So here goes.
The two most enjoyable songs "Silver Queen" and "Darling Quit Drinkin'" are definitely ones that could easily be found somewhere in The Pogues songbook.
"Silver Queen" opens with a twangy instrumental, then morphs into a high energy, percussion-driven portrait of a woman desperate both to leave town and her mark on the world:
"...Whatever happened to the singing, laughing girl in June?"Darling, I Quit Drinkin'" is another rollicking cut, this one of an overimbiber's 360 degree metamorphosis:
She met a maestro in September
Married off in late December, left her mark but we remember
Tried too hard to be surrendered., it took the silver screen to mend her..."
"Darling, I quit drinkin'. I didn't want you to see meBy song's end, resolve has weakened and a relapse has crept in:
I just want to be the man that you want every time you need me
I love you, I won't leave you and I love you more than me
Darling, I quit drinking last night at three..."
"...Soon the birds were back upon my window in the sun"Stolen Flower" eloquently details the passages of an affair:
And I let them have a sip, but only just one
Until the song upon my lips evaporated too
And I couldn't reach the telephone because it might be you
And the ringing must have scared the birds away from my room too..."
"Well the morning's old coffee, cause I've been up all night dreamingA special award should go to "I Fell Inside A Ditch," the hands-down winner for best song title of the year.
Your smile was still beaming when you left here at three
Now your daughter's in school, and your husband's off somewhere...
...We'll meet in December, when the winter's upon us
When the Christmas lights dance above Central Square
I'll be waiting on the corner with a snowflake in my pocket...
And if you should walk by me and not even see me
I'll hide by the lamp post that lights your way
I'll let you forget me, and I'll fall asleep knowing
That a snowflake in December is a flower in May."
Three and one half instrumentals appear. "The Moosejaw Express" has a polka/klezmer rhythm, "A Dram For The Boys" contains elements of bluegrass and "Ana Nevsky" is a polka/klezmer-driven, infectious cut encased in an irresistable rhythm. The second half of "I Fell Inside A Ditch" picks up speed and intensity in a bluegrass style.
The verdict: the writing throughout the release is oblique enough to be a Waits relation. The delivery seesaws between Waits and Shane MacGowan and the backing flirts with many genres. But forget all this because the bottom line is this is an enjoyable offering.
Los Diablos are Josh Lederman on vocals, guitar and drums; Pete Varga on mandolin, slide guitar and cello; John Buczkowski on accordion; Pat McHugh on bass; Dan DeLeo on bass and Rock Pierik on drums and percussion. Assisting on thsi release are Jim Bouchard on banjo; Ab Frank on vocals; Emily Groganon covals and Billy Hardy on fiddle.
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