The Bad Shepherds ‘Mud, Blood & Beer’ (Monsoon Records)
Released 19th August 2013
Third album from Ade Edmondson’s folk-punk troubadours The Bad Shepherds; first off credit to Edmondson for not including his obviously headline grabbing name within the band moniker; having listened to ‘Mud, Blood & Beer’ I would hazard that further plaudits will be forthcoming for The Bad Shepherds re-workings of classic punk and ‘alternative’ standards.
‘Mud, Blood & Beer’ has been three years in the making and follows the previous ‘Hook Or By Crook’ album, itself a wonderful release; however this new release is much more vibrant, and takes The Bad Shepherds into emotionally darker territories; the album includes eight covers, though such is the imaginative approach to the arrangements the original source material is it at times difficult to recognise.
Opening with the Madness penned ‘Our House’ itself a celebration of wide-eyed youth, the Bad Shepherds mournful rendition suggests a lament to the passing of youthful innocence, the subtle use of fiddle bringing a level of poignancy not previously explored within the original; the same fiddle adds urgency to a wonderfully stark rendition of The Stranglers ‘No More Heroes’ whilst ‘The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum’ has an almost Baroque feel and as befits such styling has taut layers of tension entirely fitting the lyrical theme. Highly inventive re-workings of The Jam’s ‘Going Underground’ and The Blockheads ‘What A Waste’ lead to a genuinely magnificent version of The Adverts ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ only identifiable when Edmondson recites the instantly recognisable lyrics; the original lyrical theme was an imaginative extension following the execution of murderer Gary Gilmore; even knowing this The Bad Shepherds reappraisal is entirely convincing.
Covering ‘Shipbuilding’ is a very brave move; Robert Wyatt arguably delivered the definitive version back in May 1983 when he took it to the upper echelons of the UK chart; The Bad Shepherds delivery led by All Ireland Fiddle Champion Andy Dinan and multi instrumentalist Troy Donockley is full of suitably haunting hues, which allows ample space for Edmondson to deliver a surprisingly strong vocal interpretation. In contrast to previous Bad Shepherds releases ‘Mud, Blood & Beer’ features two original tracks; the title track being an Edmondson penned homage to all the festivals the band have performed at, a wistful description of their experiences at such events as Bearded Theory, Solfest, Rebellion and Chagstock and an affirmation of the ethos that drives this band, the closing track being a furiously paced traditional style jig that would leave any festival goer salivating for more.
Three albums in and The Bad Shepherds have produced their most daring, most diverse collection to date; the band have previously announced an extensive UK tour throughout November and December; by then the nights will have closed in, Glastonbury, Bestival and Party in The Park will be mere Photobucket entries – it might be an idea to join The Bad Shepherds, to rekindle those festival moments.
No More Heroes
The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum
What A Waste
Gary Gilmore’s Eyes
Road To Nowhere
Mud Blood &
Beer Off To The Beer Tent