Released: June 1988
Label: Whippet Records
Format: 12" Vinyl EP
Number of Tracks: 5
Catalogue Number: WPT1
The Whisky Priests second official release and the first release on Whippet Records.
1500 copies approximately.
Distributed by Red Rhino/The Cartel.
Recorded at The Pig Pen Studio, High Farm, Elwick, 1988.
Produced by The Whisky Priests & Alex Morris.
Engineered by Alex Morris.
Band Photography by Andrew 'Spanner' McGann.
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
“The natural fad heirs to the jangle bands are the anarcho-folkies – among whose number I guess we can include The Men They Couldn’t Hang.
To say The Whisky Priests resemble The Pogues would be like saying a brick with two corners chipped off resembles a brick with one corner chipped off. Eh?
Truth be told, these accordions-on-acid boys are closer to the madcap mayhem of We Free Kings and, despite the folky pointlessness of it all (and probably because of it), this five-tracker is compulsive dementia.”
(Joint ‘single of the week’, ‘Sounds’, UK, 30th June 1988)
“5 tracks in all on this 12” EP, and you know, there’s not a bad track in sight, why aye!
The first three songs are played at a fast ‘n’ furious break-neck speed akin to The Pogues thrashers, but musically they’re as tight as Thatcher and her cronies when someone mentions the N.H.S.!!!
Gary Miller (guitarist, vocalist and bouzouki) who writes their lyrics has managed to produce some excellent images of life in the working-class North-East in the past and the present day, the main theme being the pits, their social history and humour, much in evidence on ‘The Coal-Digger’s Grave’.
Musically their sound is based around some great Accordion work, with Bouzouki, Mandolin and Harmonica thrown in for good measure, with the rhythm battered out by Sticks on drums.
The last track, ‘The Bonnie Pit Laddie’, is a traditional song arranged by The Whisky Priests, which they do handsomely.
One band to watch out for; can’t wait for their LP!!”
(Sean McGhee, ‘Rock ‘N’ Reel’, #1, UK, Autumn 1988)
“The Whisky Priests sound as if the Devil himself is after them, as they clatter and rattle through ‘No Chance’ – we’re firmly in new wave folk territory here, 85 m.p.h. and a vocalist who sounds like a Geordie gargling glass. All the Priests apparently love traditional music and let it affect their writing. Five tracks long, this EP proves that quite conclusively, with mandolin alongside standard punk back line. Songs about miners dying, getting beaten up by local hooligans and a roustabout version of ‘Bonnie Pit Laddie’ litter the vinyl. If there’s one fault, it’s that the whirlwind pace of everything does tend to tire you and The Whiskies could do to include a slow number or two on their forthcoming album, which, if it’s half as canny as this, will be worth a shufty.”
(Simon Jones, ‘Folk Roots’, UK, 1988)
“The Durham lads take a backhander from The Pogues, and embark upon a crusade to popularise their native north eastern folk tradition, with accordion, mandolin and harmonica, and gritty booming vocals. With the hobnail boots, cloth caps, braces and mufflers, and bottles of Newcy Brown, they look the part too. Aye – but listen to the lyrics, if you can keep your feet still long enough, that is. The Whisky Priests put the boot in where needed, their feet are jigging in the 1980’s, not the thirties. They blast the lager-casual coward gangs that the Sun has just discovered terrorising every town and city in the land, and lament the crushing despair of unemployment, exploitation, and warmongering.
But there’s a hell of a lot of humour here too – a drunken burial party begins to bury the coal-digger who jumps up to shout “Give us whisky!”. Well canny.”
(Rob Nichols, ‘Ket’, #1, UK, 1988)
“Those preachers of hard drink, hobnail boots, cloth caps and woollen mufflers are gracing vinyl again with their sermons.
The Whisky Priests have released a five-tracker on their own Whippet Records, distributed through the Cartel.
Again, the backdrop for their musical tapestries is the closed and crumbling factories, the lingering smell of a Woodbine, and pictures of the iron men who worked the pits and shipyards of yesteryear.
In true Priests fashion, it’s only a straitjacket or a good keelhauling that will prevent the listener from reaching for a bottle of Newcy Brown and dancing on a window ledge to this infectious sound.
The single, due in the shops in a fortnight, opens with ‘No Chance’, a sad lament of a young man growing old in the desperate search for work, killing time with visits, when he can afford it, to the cinema and watching the war-effort film and singing the final notes of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.
Next comes ‘The Coal-Digger’s Grave’, an hilarious account of a coal-digger caught in a cave-in. The burial party reaches Dead Man’s Hill (well after closing time) and begins the burial only for the deceased to jump up and shout, “Give us a whisky!”
The remaining songs, including a traditional arrangement of ‘The Bonnie Pit Laddie’, are in the same vein.
So next time there’s a man on a window-ledge, stay calm: it won’t be a stockbroker ending it all – it’ll be one of the Priests’ fans enjoying himself.”
(‘Sunderland Echo’, UK, 2nd July 1988)
“With a whiff of Newcastle Brown, flat caps, ‘dance to thee Daddy’ and Players’ cigs, The Whisky Priests do a marvellous gravel-voiced stomp on Geordie folk songs. With all the delicacy of a sledgehammer, they rattle and roll through Tyneside life with muscley reality.”
(‘City Life’, UK, 1988)
“The first song on the album is ‘No Chance’, a rather sad little tale about an unemployed youth, who spends his time hanging around the quayside waiting for his boat to come in and watching films at the local cinema.
‘The Coal-Digger’s Grave’ continues the North-East mining tradition, with a tale of a man caught in a cave-in.
The other side of the album is more traditional and raucous. ‘The Hard Men’ echoes the folky overtones of the record and it’s quite easy to imagine arms flailing and dancers rucking when they play this live.
‘Wise Man’ will get the feet of even the most miserable person dancing.”
(‘Side Track’, UK, July 1988)