Dropkick Murphys – Okemah Rising

Dropkick Murphys once again meet Woody Guthrie on 'Okemah Rising'....
Dropkick Murphys : Okemah Rising
7.7 Dummy Luck
Dropkick Murphys : Okemah Rising

Almost two decades ago, Celtic punks Dropkick Murphys put music to some unused Woody Guthrie lyrics for “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” (about going to the band’s hometown to find a missing wooden leg), and it became a hit after being included in The Departed. Last year, while Murphys singer Al Barr was on hiatus from the band to take care of his ailing mother, the rest of the group made a whole acoustic record of songs to unused Woody Guthrie lyrics, This Machine Still Kills Fascists (QRO review). Now they’ve taken some other songs from those recording sessions for the follow-up companion piece, Okemah Rising.

Like Kills Fascists, Dropkick Murphys reconnect with the American troubadour tradition that is often overlooked. Okemah might be a little more straightforward and blunt in pieces like “Run Hitler Run” (because of course there’s a song about kicking der Fürher’s ass…) or “Rippin Up the Boundary Line”, but neither the band nor Guthrie were shy about what they’re saying. The pro-labor, workingman’s anthems such as “My Eyes Are Gonna Shine” and “Watchin the World Go By” have particular resonance today, and even have a new pro-immigrant aspect thanks to that many of the jobs cited are now mostly done in America by migrant labor. But it’s not all righteous fury, as there are also some hepsteppers like the hilarious story “Bring It Home” (featuring Jaime Wyatt) – and there’s even a “Tulsa Version” of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” to close it out.

Like most albums culled from recording session outtakes of the last one, released soon after the last one, there is a bit of a feeling that Okemah Rising isn’t completely necessary. But it’s still unlike most anything else out there, the messages from back then still resonate in the here & now, the Dropkick Murphys still know how to rock, and we still need to kill fascists.

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