The Fenians – Have Fun or Get Out! (CD)

Unless an individual is actually a fan of Irish and Scottish music, chances are good that the only bands that the average person will be familiar with are Flogging Molly and (if they are lucky) Great Big Sea. To say that The Fenians do not have much in common with either of those two bands is an understatement; the style present on “Have Fun or Get Out!” is much more traditional, with a bouncy tempo typically accentuated with a tinwhistle. This means that there are none of the punk influences present in the case of Flogging Molly and there is not quite the modernization present in Great Big Sea.

Individuals might be tangientally familiar with some of the music that The Fenians play on this disc; “Whiskey in the Jar” was covered by both Thin Lizzy and Metallica, while it would probably be hard to find someone that is not familiar with “Drunken Sailor”. As is the case with the title of this album, The Fenians have fun with each of the compositions on this disc. This is essentially a ho-down with Irish togs; the bass line that plays through a great deal of the tracks is the same type of walking bass line that would make its way into bluegrass music. “Goodbye Mick, Goodbye Pat” is the archetypal Fenians track, in that the tinwhistle is flittering through the track as the bass bounces in the background. The vocals here tell a story, sometimes funny, sometimes not and individuals find themselves involved in all aspects of The Fenians, whether instrumental or vocal.

It may just be that “Young Ned of the Hill” is the best track on the disc, as it still contains the story-telling element essential in Irish music, but this is compounded with a driven rhythm that does not too far removed from more current types of music. Perhaps the most interesting part of “Have Fun or Get Out!” has to be the instrumental tracks, in which the entirety of the band’s skill can be shown without being obfuscated by the vocals. While the audience is very kind and quiet throughout most of this CD, there are a few moments where they cannot contain themselves and it sounds as if everyone present is singing along with the band. A fun romp through Irish music, The Fenians sound as fresh today as they did in 2001 when they recorded this disc; here’s to hearing more from them soon.

Top Tracks: Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time, Whiskey In The Jar

Rating: 6.5/10

The Fenians – Have Fun or Get Out! / 2001 Mizen Head / 11 Tracks / http://www.thefenians.com / Reviewed 13 March 2006

[JMcQ]

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