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Local act

Dropkick Murphys

Soulful hooligans

This being punk rock, we'll take our great existentialist moments where we can find 'em. There are a few on the Dropkick Murphys' The Gang's All Here (Hellcat/Epitaph), like the one where the boys gather round the piano at one of those rowdy Irish wakes, lifting their glasses in praise of some late hooligan of their acquaintance, and then, rather than get all misty-eyed, they decide to have one last round or three on the dead man's tab, "dance on the grave of the misbehaved," and storm out into the streets to raise holy hell, as if they might, by so doing, resurrect the corpse. And then, just as we're feeling kinda warm and uplifted by this hooligans-cheating-death scene, the narrator pipes up and denounces the entire debacle as cheap and tawdry sentiment, the smoke screen for a hideous and vulgar lie. Implicating the mourners, the revelers, the dead man, all of 'em, he delivers his own curse upon them all -- upon they who might have saved their fallen friend before it was too late, but had instead simply laughed and kept drinking. Cowards! he cries, in so many words. Traitors! Easy marks! Have ye no shame?

It's gutsy stuff, and there's plenty more where it came from. Since signing to Rancid's Hellcat label, the Murphys have consistently taken a broader view of punk than most. They're still likely to yank recipes out of the anarchist's cookbook, as on this album's "Pipebomb on Lansdowne" (by the way, thanks for the Phoenix name-check on that one), but the walking basslines and Chuck Berry solos on "Blood and Whiskey" and "Perfect Stranger" identify them as flame-keepers of timeless Saturday-night rock and roll. Do they overdo it on traditional Irish covers? Well, maybe, but if a Boston punk band can't overdo "Finnegans Wake," who can?

-- Carly Carioli

Official Home of the Dropkick Murphys

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