ALBUM REVIEW: Dropkick Murphys - This Machine Still Kills Fascists

8/10

Dropkick Murphys - This Machine Still Kills Fascists

Almost two decades ago, Dropkick Murphys covered Woody Guthrie's "Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight" on their 2003 album Blackout. The idea of using Guthrie's unreleased lyrics for a future Dropkick Murphys album has since been on the cards. Ken Casey said that Woody's daughter, Nora Guthrie, the custodian of Guthrie's unreleased archives, felt that her father would have been a fan of the Dropkick Murphys and allowed the band access to the unreleased lyrics.

Opener "Two 6's Upside Down" musically shares the infectious folk brilliance Violent Femmes' "Country Death Song" does. Dropkick Murphys inadvertently pay homage to two legends whilst making an impressive opening track in its own right. Next up, "Talking Jukebox" is more upbeat with jangly western guitars.

The passionate riotous fire is felt on "Ten Times More", which benefits from pounding marching band drums; perfect for a protest song depicting struggle. Furthermore, "Ten Times More" is the first song to introduce the bagpipes; from here, the Dropkick Murphys sound becomes more present. "All You Fonies" is especially poignant and addresses the need to form and build unions and the impact of collective as opposed to individual bargaining. Dropkick Murphys feel increasingly comfortable using their niche sound, introducing the fiddle and passionately using the speaker box.

The band's more sanguine sounds are heard by introducing the heavier side of their music on the piano-led "Waters Are A'risin" with subtle harmonica parts. The tempo rises to a crescendo on the accordion-led "Where Trouble Is At", which begins with the riotous screaming of this song's title. This song's engaging, passionate adrenaline rushing energy is similar to the Levellers' "The Recruiting Sergeant". With Woody's lyrics and Levellers' music, a lively, poignant, crowd-pleasing classic is inevitable.

Country music singer Nikki Lane is brought in to sing "Never Git Drunk No More", about a man promising his spouse he would quit drinking and avoid the bars. The backdrop of the bagpipes, acoustic guitar and accordion perfectly captures the emotions and tension of this conversation between a man and his wife. Turnpike Troubadours frontman Evan Felker is enlisted on "The Last One". Angle folk guitars and Bob Dylan-inspired harmonica allow pondering. The Last One" lyrically philosophises, in the same way, Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind" does with a more explicitly political twist. It's easy to see upon listening to "The Last One" how Dylan became in awe of Woody, who provided him with the perfect template to shape his genius.

The special guest everyone wants to hear from is saved for last when Woody Guthrie's voice is used on the final track, "Dig A Hole".

The Dropkick Murphys give Woody Guthrie a dignified and honourable tribute on This Machine Still Kills Fascists. The band knew when to lean on their signature sound and when to draw from the sounds of other folk artists. The emotions in conveying Guthrie's lyrics are adroitly captured from the calls to collective action to sensitive conversations between man and wife.

The legacy of Woody Guthrie, folk music, protest songs and the Dropkick Murphys is guaranteed with This Machine Still Kills Fascists.

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