“Finnegan Wakes” by The Dubliners - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1966Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

First time on LP for these 12 tunes, all recorded live at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, over 2 nights on April 26th / 27th, 1966. The album was their third and final to be recorded for Transatlantic Records. The packed crowds are hanging on every word from these fine craftsmen of the folk genre; on their home territory they serve up their most outspoken and anti-authoritarian set to date. Something clicked down the line with a certain Shane McGowan – listen out for the cry of “Pogue Mahone” in “Monto” (a highly controversial jibe at the Catholic Church’s closing down the infamous red light district).

And check out the political satire of “Nelson’s Farewell” – a hoot at every turn. “Oh, poor auld Admiral Nelson is no longer in the air, toora loora loora loora loo!” On the face of it, a cheery Dublin farewell to an old friend – but deeper down, this was a 2 fingered salute to authority, 11 years ahead of the Pistol’s “God Save The Queen” in terms of sheer bollocks. Admiral Nelson’s column in Dublin had been built in 1808 – the campaign to remove it started with newspaper articles in 1809! In 1876, the Dublin Corporation took up the question of removal, but discovered it did not have the power to do so. In 1923, W. B. Yeats supported its removal on aesthetic grounds (“It is not a beautiful object.”), and in 1926, and again in 1928, the debate was renewed. The peoples’ will constantly rebuffed, it was to be a group of “social revolutionaries” that settled the matter once and for all. At 2am on the 8th March 1966, a bomb blasted the upper half of the pillar (“But now the Irish join the race, we have an astronaut in space!”), throwing the statues rubble into the street. O'Connell Street enjoyed a cheery atmosphere for a few days as people crowded in to appreciate the novelty that was being referred to around town as ‘The Stump’. Within a matter of days of the blowing up of the pillar, a group of Belfast school teachers (Gerry Burns, Finbar Carrolan, John Sullivan and Eamonn McGirr, known as The Go Lucky Four), reached the top of the Irish music charts with “Up Went Nelson”, a popular folk song set to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, which maintained the number one spot for eight consecutive weeks. Other songs very quickly followed – there was “Good Lord Nelson” by Tommy Makem and “Nelson's Goodbye” by Joe Dolan. It was Joe Dolan’s song which The Dubliners took for their own as “Nelson’s Farewell”. They were playing it live within a month of the bombing, and it appeared here on “Finnegan Wakes” shortly afterwards. Topical folk – you can’t beat it! Ronnie Drew was born to sing these songs – the King of earnest sarcasm was in his element… “Oh fifty pounds of gelignite it sped him on his way, and the lad that laid the charge, we're in debt to him today. In Trafalgar Square it might be fair to leave aul' Nelson standing there, but no one tells the Irish what they'll view. So the Dublin Corporation can stop deliberations, for the boys of Ireland showed them what to do!” The Rule Brittania flute at the end was the cheeky genius finishing touch to this fantastic anti-government pro-folk blast!

This quintet were pure dynamite – as Irish as a shillelagh and as together as a brotherhood. Ronnie Drew’s gruff rasp and Spanish guitar, Luke Kelly’s balladeering, and chords on the five-string banjo, the multi-talented Ciarán Bourke’s guitar and tin whistle, Barney McKenna’s tenor banjo and mandolin and the classically trained John Sheahan’s violin. What a combo. Will the world of folk ever see their likes again?

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:14] 7.9.png The Dubliners - Finnegan’s Wake [live ’66] (Traditional) Folk
A2 [02:37] 6.2.png The Dubliners - Sunshine Hornpipe / The Mountain Road [live ’66] (Traditional) Folk
A3 [04:13] 6.3.png The Dubliners - Monto (Take Her Up To Monto) [live ’66] (George Desmond Hodnett) Folk
A4 [02:44] 7.2.png The Dubliners - The Dublin Fusiliers [live ’66] (?) Folk
A5 [02:13] 7.3.png The Dubliners - Chief O’Neill’s Favourite [live ’66] (Traditional) Folk
A6 [03:08] 8.4.png The Dubliners - Surrounded By Water (The Sea Around Us) [live ’66] (Dominic Behan) Folk
B1 [02:54] 8.3.png The Dubliners - McAlpine’s Fusiliers [live ’66] (Dominic Behan) Folk
B2 [03:26] 7.6.png The Dubliners - Hot Asphalt [live ’66] (Traditional) Folk
B3 [02:40] 8.0.png The Dubliners - The Glendalough Saint [live ’66] (Traditional) Folk
B4 [02:17] 6.8.png The Dubliners - Within A Mile Of Dublin [live ’66] (Traditional) Folk
B5 [03:54] 8.2.png The Dubliners - Will You Come To The Bower [live ’66] (Traditional) Folk
B6 [04:09] 9.8.png The Dubliners - Nelson’s Farewell [live ’66] (Joe Dolan) Folk

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