Since Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys, Celtic punk rock has become trendy, regardless that this kind of music was around 20 years before either of these bands. I don't want to disrespect DM or FM -- I like them, but it's not hard to see why they're more popular than Celtic punk acts that came long before: They are way more accessible. But enough already with the fast food of Celtic punk -- this review is about the Tossers, a band that has been around since the beginning of the 1990s, and whom blows most Celtic punk bands that are still making new music out of the water. I'd go as far as to say that the Tossers are easily the best thing that happened to Celtic rock since the Almighty Pogues (the capital A is on purpose). You can disagree with me here, but I am a fanboy of both bands, so what can I say...
The Tossers released a live CD/DVD a couple of months ago, recorded on St. Patrick's day, and I felt like it was my duty to review it. This combo shows that the Tossers are not only a great musical act, but a great live band. They are incredible musicians and they never miss a beat, no matter how many drinks they had before the show. Indeed, I don't know if it's because booze is associated with the genre or because Tony Duggins (the singer/mandolin player) wants to imitate the likes of Shane Macgowan or Luke Kelly, but he rarely performs sober. He's even proud of it, saying before the second song "thanks…for the shots of whiskey for making me halfway fuckin' retarded." I don't know if it's because of that, or if it's because of too much yelling, but his voice seems to suffer during the whole show. It's like he's recovering from a bad cold. However, it's a live show: it's faster; louder; and Tony really gives us all he has. He sings louder and punker than ever. He even sings an a capella song ("Press Gang") and shows us that he is very versatile.
Musically, the band is as awesome as ever. They are a little bit less tight on some songs at the beginning, especially during "Buckets of Beer," but they eventually manage to make up for it with the following tracks. But of all the performers, my hats off to Becca, who plays the fiddle as if it were an extension of her body. I particularly liked her solo during "Dancing Shoes."
The choice of songs is great; I like the fact that they played a lot of their older stuff. I also think that all the previously unreleased songs are really good, especially "Teehan's." They play their version of "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya," a song that many people discovered with the last DM's album, and even though it is totally subjective, I like the Tossers' version way better. However, it's really a shame they don't play any song off Purgatory. I love this album, but they completely ignored it. Also, even though the record came out in March of this year, it has been recorded in 2006, so there are no songs off Agony and The Valley of the Shadow of Death is considered as the brand new thing. Clay Hansen is there (he misses many shows, but not this one!) and he sings a good version of "Seven Drunken Nights."
A thing that bothered me is that three songs on the album aren't listed, and are put on the same track as another song. It's really annoying when you want to skip to the next track and you end up skipping two tracks instead. Those unlisted songs are "Dancing Shoes," "Altercations" and a third song previously unreleased.
Finally, any Celtic and/or punk music fan alike should buy this CD/DVD. The DVD alone would be well worth the price. Be warned, though, that if your liking of a band is directly proportional to the loudness of their music, the Tossers don't use any electric instruments. However, if you like musicianship, and I mean true musicianship, and you don't mind a band with mandolin, banjo, tin whistle and fiddle, it's really hard not to like.