Written by Eric Sperrazza
There are some bands that are truly great live acts but struggle to find their footing in a recording studio. KISS, in all of their grandioseness, really did not hit their stride of record sales until they released “Alive!” in 1975. The fans loved their stage act but try as they might, the band just could not connect the dots to a studio album. Thus, it was a live record that finally set the stage for better album sales, a happier record label, and even the way KISS wrote and produced music going forward.
With that, I can safely say that the Dropkick Murphys do not suffer from that stigma!
With the wide range of sounds and instruments you hear on a Dropkick LP, along with the “Gang of Hooligans” style choruses, you feel like you are bearing witness to a packed stage and thousands in attendance, all singing along with you in your car, sitting in traffic on a Monday. That is truly the beauty of the Dropkick Murphys. They have taken the magic of Irish folk music storytelling and the fun of a live act at a small pub and duplicated it, time and time again. Thankfully, Al Barr, Ken Casey, and the rest of the band did not try to reinvent the wheel with their 10th studio album, “Turn Up That Dial.”
Rowdy songs, custom-made to amp up even the smallest of crowds, like “Turn Up That Dial,” “Smash Shit Up,” and “Middle Finger,” are peppered into the new LP along with a venerable master class incorporating bagpipes into a rock song, putting AC/DC to shame, with the track “L-EE-B-O-Y.”
On the track, “I Wish You Were Here,” the band slows things down and does a song fit for an Irish wake. Seemingly, this song just felt appropriate and even healing in nature, having come out of being quarantined and away from our loved ones for so long and, for some, even having dealt with the loss of loved ones due to the health crisis of 2020.
For my money, one of the funniest songs on the album is “Queen of Suffolk County.” Listening, I could see in my mind’s eye a room full of people in a dark corner of the bar, singing the tale of a Boston woman not to be trifled with.
Overall, “Turn Up That Dial” is just as much fun as any other Dropkick Murphys album. They didn’t try experimenting with new sounds and formulas. They didn’t attempt a concept album. The band simply gives you exactly what you want with their signature sound and style. In a world where you feel like you can’t hang your hat on anything with consistency anymore, the Dropkick Murphys rode in from Boston to save the day with their unchanging and time-honored brand of Celtic punk fun.
Here’s to eleven new songs to try and sing poorly with a gaggle of patrons at your local watering hole on St. Patrick’s Day!
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