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Dropkick Murphys Bring Out Andy Bookwalter’s Secret Skinhead

Posted by March 30th, 2008 No Comments »

Dropkick Murphys at Showbox Sodo
February 28, 2008
By Andy Bookwalter 

Dropkick Murphys are the greatest band in the world, and I’ll stab anyone who says otherwise.

Lumped in with plenty of great-but-inferior street punk bands like The Swingin’ Utters, Flogging Molly and The Bouncing Souls, DKM remind me what punk rock meant before my life crushed my delicate spirit.

I was a small town teenage slacker in the early 80’s, and punk promised me a community and an escape from suburban mediocrity. Punk then broke that promise, as will any subculture based on teen angst and beer.

After a few years of watching one dive punk bar after another become condos and parking lots, I got bitter. Then one day I heard “Cadence To Arms,” the opening shot from DKM’s Do or Die and it all came back to me.

I dove into Oi! and street punk boots-first. I gave myself a buzz cut with clippers over the bathroom sink. I got myself a flight jacket and a pair of braces. Very soon I discovered two things:

  1. 30 is too old to become a skinhead and
  2. I didn’t like getting into fights.

Since most skinheads spend huge amounts of time being defensive and punching people who call them racists, then generally turn into rockabilly guys or football hooligans well before 30, I decided to turn in my membership card before it got stamped. Still some things stuck with me, and through it all Dropkick Murphys kept churning out anthems for blue collar guys, unions, drunks, fat bagpipe players and the Red Sox.

If a DKM song didn’t grab me right off the bat it turned out I wasn’t hearing it at the right time. Their latest CD, The Meanest of Times, celebrates family, both the blood variety and the other kind that you get to choose. As a theme, it’s thoroughly un-punk.

The Dropkick Murphys on

While I was evolving rapidly in and out of Oi!, skinhead culture, DKM were evolving and growing as well. They’ve never stopped celebrating working class solidarity, loyalty to your friends and scene and general betterment.

Since Do or Die their original lead singer Mike McColgan (current Boston fire fighter and Street Dogs singer) left and was replaced by Al Barr, formerly of the longtime Oi! band the Bruisers. Bassist/vocalist Ken Casey still sings like he wants to grab you by the shirt and shake you, while Al sounds like he’d rather wait and just kill you while you’re waiting for the bus.

My objectivity is so far gone that there’s no way I could give an unbiased review, so I’ll just say that you either get it and you were there too, you get it and wish you were there, or you don’t get it. Get a job in a dusty, noisy place, work your ass off for a while and on a tired Friday afternoon on the way home put on “Worker’s Song” really loud, and it will all make sense.

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