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Grandfatha's Fatha

Released: October 1988

Label: Whippet Records

Format: 12" Vinyl

Number of Tracks: 6

Catalogie Number: WPT2



The Whisky Priests third official release.

1500 copies approximately.

Distributed by Red Rhino/The Cartel.

Track Listing
1. Grandfatha's Fatha  (2:57)
 3. Geordie Black (2:45)


The Whisky Priests line-up on this recording:

Gary Miller – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Bouzouki, Mandolin
Glenn Miller – Accordion, Backing Vocals, Bouzouki
Michael Stephenson – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Bill Bulmer – Mandolin, Harmonicas, Bouzouki, Backing Vocals
Sticks – Drums

℗ & © 1988 Whippet Records



“They began as a five-piece band led by the Millers and Bulmer. ‘No Chance’, a five-track EP, is their second release and is quite raw, raucous and 100% folk-thrash fun. You can immediately sense the Whisky Priests are a kindred spirit to the Pogues and the unhangable ones. But here and on all the recordings, the Whisky Priests’ music is different. I think they have more traditional leanings than the other two groups; most of the Millers’ original compositions fit into the traditional style, many rooted in, and borrowing from, life in Durham County over the years. And although the following words from Graeme Anderson still ring true on ‘Nee Gud Luck’, they best describe ‘No Chance’ and the follow-up EP: “a brand of music which defies you not to dance… A good Priests song hits you full in the face with the force of a pit yacker’s shovel.” [‘Sunderland Echo’, UK, 22nd July 1989].
‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’ is improved by a crisper and clearer production, but the band has lost none of its rough-edged charm. Gary Miller’s title track of hard-driving, upbeat music is a tale about someone’s grandfather, who watched as his father died in the mines. The Priests zoom through an instrumental medley of traditional tunes (‘Hexhamshire Lass’, etc.) accompanied by that “pit yacker’s shovel”. Glenn’s composition ‘Ghost of Geordie Jones’ is a fine song about a World War 1 soldier, performed with an air of sadness and anger on acoustic instruments.”
(From joint review of ‘No Chance’, ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’, ‘Halcyon Days’, Nee Gud Luck’), Al Reiss, ‘Dirty Linen’, U.S.A., Issue 30, October/November 1990.

“The Whisky Priests’ third release, and second 12”, sees them going from strength to strength.
‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’, a tale of death down the pit and the effect on a son, is given a real ‘Whisky Priesting’. It’s played at a pretty fast pace and based around a particularly good accordion tune, proving these guys are no songwriting slouches.
‘The Instrumental Medley’ is a wonderful piece of North-Eastern nostalgia. All the traditional tunes here, including ‘Dance To Yer Daddy’ and ‘Keel Row’, are given a new angle, without loss of feeling for the originals.
‘Geordie Black’ is a great sing-along adaptation and sees the lads adopt a moderate speed and it all works real well.
‘The Row Between The Cages’, a manic rocker in a Men They Couldn’t Hang / Pogues vein, rushes along with Gary relating the tale of a pit-head fight.
But for me the standout track on this record is Glenn’s (accordion / bouzouki) first composition on vinyl, the simply classic ‘The Ghost of Geordie Jones’, a particularly sad tale relating to all the Geordies killed in WW1. To me it has the same spine-tingling something special that ‘Green Fields of France’ had when I first heard it. Quite simply, The Whisky Priests have come of age with this 12”. The last track, ‘Byker Hill / Elsie Marley’, reaffirming this totally. The first part a lovely slice of tradition, the second part they handle famously.
As a taster for their debut LP (which is now rescheduled for release in early ’89) it couldn’t be better. I’m now waiting in anticipation, but in the meantime this is one hell of a record to add to your collection, so go ahead and buy it – make their day, these lads deserve it.”
‘Rock ‘N’ Reel’, #2, UK, Winter 1988/9.

“From the mining villages of County Durham comes an unholy folk-thrash – from a gritty five-piece band called The Whisky Priests. They mix traditional North-East songs with their own compositions, rooted in their homeland.
“We try to get a blend between the historical and modern aspects of the North-East”, said accordionist Glenn Miller from Sherburn. Bleak collieries dominate their songs and their record sleeves. “Nobody should forget their roots”, said Glenn. “Your roots are what you are.”
Their new EP, ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’, is due out in three weeks on their own Whippet label. The speed-folk of their previous ‘No Chance’ EP is still very much at the forefront, but the boys seem to be mellowing a little with a couple of less raucous numbers. ‘Geordie Black’ in particular has a gorgeous lilt, a sad but romantic waltz. The title track is about the drummer’s father seeing his father killed in a pit accident. Another new song, ‘The Row Between The Cages’, is a poem by the late County Durham pit-poet Tommy Armstrong set to music.
In many ways the Priests are the North-East’s answer to The Pogues. Both bands recapture the atmosphere of traditional folk songs in their new works, and both bands use traditional instruments. The Pogues had to move to London to find real success, and the Priests feel almost forgotten about by the people of the North-East. In Cardiff they recently played to a crowd of 2,500, and their records are selling well in the South, in Europe and Australia.
The remnants of Hull’s Housemartins, The Gargoyles, asked them to play at their farewell gig last week, and after last Friday’s performance at The Angel, Durham, a film-maker approached them to write some music for him.
So grab a bottle, pull on your clogs and dance with these bonnie pit lads.”
‘Northern Echo’, UK, 11th November 1988.

“With song titles like ‘Weshin’ Day’, ‘Dance te yer Daddy’ and ‘The Row Between The Cages’, it is immediate that County Durham’s Whisky Priests have done little to discard their cloth cap and clogs – and that has to be good news. I call it up-tempo drinking music – not a million chords away from various efforts by The Pogues. Above all though, The Whisky Priests are a tight, professional team and bloody good fun.”
‘Sunderland Echo’, 4th February 1989.

“The Whisky Priests have released their third vinyl tribute to the people of the North East coalfield. Whilst everyone else seems to be masking Durham’s identity behind flowers or mediaeval pageantry, The Whisky Priests speak out for their culture and its more immediate roots, from two hundred years of toil and struggle. They are a folk band that has very firmly wrenched fingers from ears and not a whale in sight. Without any watering down of message or delivery, these Whisky Priests have taken their music out beyond the folk clubs and Arts Centres to a large enthusiastic audience. Make no mistake about it; this is a wonderful band both live and on record.
‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’ is the finest of the Priests’ records to date and bodes well for the forthcoming LP. There is a welcome variance in tempo and humour. Old and new battles against advanced technology, there’s a spot of partying. The human tragedy of ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’. But the harrowing ‘Ghost of Geordie Jones’ opens up a whole new side to The Whisky Priests. The band’s sound is stripped to the bare bones for a brilliantly sad epitaph to a victim of the terrible Great War. This is so tenderly treated and yet undoubtedly the most powerful The Whisky Priests have ever been.
The Whisky Priests sing about real people, not just silly bland lovey stuff. So you really should go and see them play and hear the records, you might well enjoy yourselves immensely.”
‘Ket’, #5, UK, 1989.