This is the first time we have done a music review on The Shamrock and it was impossible to ignore this excellent charity venture by the supporters behind The Celtic Network (check out their website: thecelticnetwork.com). The idea was to put together a fundraising album which, very much in the spirit of Brother Walfrid himself, was designed to raise money for needy charities and groups. The five charities chosen here – £5 from the sale of every CD gets split between them – are very much close to the hearts of Celtic supporters:
- The Kano Foundation
- The Good Child Foundation (Thai Tims)
- Life Cycle for Neuroblastoma
- Sean’s Trust
- The Invisibles
Charitable ventures are always worthwhile and the Celtic support has an incredible record in the field of fundraising which many appreciate is a core value of the club which Brother Walfrid was instrumental in creating. But, I hear you cry, is the music any good? It certainly is. The TCN bhoys and ghirls have put together a truly impressive collection of bands and artists who have contributed over an hour’s worth of Celtic-related music. Some of the acts are already well-established and known to most Celtic fans, particularly The Wakes and Charlie and the Bhoys. The fine London-Irish band The Bible Code Sundays have contributed a couple of songs as has Gary Og and the Exiles and Paddy Ryan.
The songs have Celtic and Irish themes and represent a spectrum of views on diverse issues including emigration, football as freedom, growing up Irish outside Ireland and tragic Celtic heroes. Dustybhoy contributes two songs in tribute to Tommy Burns and Phil O’Donnell, and the former particularly is a great effort and a memorable tune. Billy No’Well plays it straight (relatively!) with a tune – which will be well-known to fans of Christy Moore – that is a homage to the great expedition to Seville on the trail of the UEFA Cup as well as a moving number on the immigrant experience called ‘Invisible’. Hutchy‘s song ‘The Spirit of Walfrid’ outlines a particular immigrant’s experience which of course lends its name to the CD and his other selection, ‘In Paradise’ tells another gritty tale.
Each of the songs are worth a listen in their own right. I think it is fair to say that the better-known acts raise the bar, as you might expect. Paddy Ryan is in great voice with slant on the old Wolfe Tones favourite ‘My Heart Is In Ireland’ and even more so with the inspiring ‘Home from Home’, a tale of a community in struggle with a clear message: ‘we will fight on’. ‘The Immigrants’ by Gary Og and the Exiles ploughs a similar furrow, introducing us to Michael Davitt, the first Celtic Park and the light that Paradise first shone for those fresh from the Emerald shore into the darkness of inner city Glasgow. ‘Willie Maley’ by Charlie and the Bhoys has beomce a standard among the support in the last decade and deservedly so. Despite its familiarity it is still a welcome addition to this compilation but more so the wonderful ‘Inter Milan’, a song that truly captures the glory of that afternoon in Lisbon from the perspective of both players and supporters. It is a simple tune but very effective and one of the few songs in the Celtic Songbook about that perfect season.
The real highlights of the ‘The Spirit of Walfrid’ for me though were the pair of songs submitted by both The Wakes and The Bible Code Sundays. Each band has a different take on the Irish and Celtic experience, one coming from Glasgow and the other London. The production values in their works are impressive, reflecting their previous studio experience, and with the vibrant ‘Colours’ (“This Is Our City – These Are Our Colours) and the Jinky homage ‘The Uncrowned King of Football’ The Wakes confirm that not only can they write and deliver great tunes, but they are a band destined for greater things all round. ‘They Built Paradise’ and ‘Maybe It’s Because I’m an Irish Londoner’ are two driving and uplifting Irish folk/rock tunes which illustrate why The Bible Code Sundays have such a great following. They have a tremendous frontman Ronan McManus (whose brother Declan is no stranger to the music business although better known through his stage name Elvis Costello) and an energy which is best transmitted live. The two songs here give an insight into why, despite the distance from Glasgow and Ireland, supporting Celtic is a key feature of their Irish identity and also help explain why this fine band were once described as ‘The Clash on Irish steroids’!
All in all this is a tremendous compilation of 17 songs which would be well worth spending your money on. It is a unique Celtic supporters-led initiative and the organisers have created an excellent collection of contemporary Celtic-related music and the fact that five different charities benefit from each sale makes it an even easier decision to purchase. Buy it – it’s a taste of Paradise to take with you anywhere.
Shamrock Rating: 8/10
Available both in CD format (£7.50) as well as digital download (£5.00) at goodcauses.thecelticnetwork.com.
The CD can also be purchased in person from Celtic Canvas Art near Celtic Park in the Forge Market (open Thursday – Sunday 10am – 5pm) and Calton Books, Glasgow’s independent radical book shop, at 159 London Road – close to the Barras (open Wednesday – Sunday 11.30am – 4.30pm).
The good causes TCN page also contains further details on the 5 charities set to benefit from sales.