Gary Miller Songs

"As a song poet there are few in the world today to match him"
Green Man Review, USA

The Whisky Priests - '"Here Come the Ranting Lads" - Live!'

 

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Released: 1999

Label: Whippet Records

Format: CD / Video

Cat. No.: WPTCD18 / WPTV18

Credits

Gary Miller – Lead Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Mandola
Glenn Miller – Accordion, Vocals
Hugh Bradley – Electric Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola, Whistle, Vocals
Andrew Tong – Bass Guitar, Vocals
Cozy Dixon – Drums, Percussion

Recorded live at the Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany, 10th October 1998.
Post production at Watercolour Music, Ardgour, Lochaber, Scotland, December 1998 / January 1999 and at Trinity Heights, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, 2nd-6th February 1998.
Mixed by Fred Purser at Trinity Heights.
Remastered by Peter Groom at Fine Cut Facilities, 22nd-23rd February 1999.
Produced by Gary Miller & Glenn Miller.

Liner Notes

The tracks on this CD and its accompanying video are taken from a two-and-a-half-hour concert, which we originally intended to release on double CD. We discovered, however, that during the show the recording equipment had malfunctioned due to reasons entirely beyond our control, resulting in the loss of several tracks from the ‘main set’, as well as all eleven tracks featured as the evening’s ‘encores’, and therefore a large proportion of the show’s many highlights. Following a certain amount of soul-searching, we decided to release the remaining material as this single CD, as we felt that we had captured some wonderful moments and that what remains is sufficiently representative of our typical live show at this time of writing to warrant its release.


(Gary Miller & Glenn Miller, February 1999)

 
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4. This Village [Live] (6:07)
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8. Song For Ewan [Live] (3:49)
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10. Workhorse [Live] (4:03)
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15. Mother, Waiting [Live] (12:15)
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16. Car Boot Sale [Live] (3:48)
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Reviews /Quotes

“Glenn and Gary Miller may never be huge stars here, but on the continent their 12 albums and near-continual touring with a seemingly ever-shifting line-up has brought them quite a following. On ‘Here Come The Ranting Lads’ it’s an audibly enthusiastic one. This is the happiest a crowd has sounded since Frampton Comes Alive! Glenn’s accordion (and arranging skills) puts their songs into another realm entirely from the usual shamrock sing-along. ‘Alice In Wonderland’ should have been a single. ‘A Better Man Than You’ sounds like early Undertones and these guys deserve everything they’ve worked to achieve.” ***
(Sid Griffin, ‘Q’, UK, November 1999)


“There’s a sense of the theatrical from The Whisky Priests in each of their performances and this recording gives a fair indication, capturing the spirit of their stage craft. This is real punk-folk with each chorus sounding like a Luton football crowd baying for blood.
The energy that the Priests shower upon everyone is infectious in that Geordie goodtime way so reminiscent of Lindisfarne. The lads are obviously having a ball and by the sound of the audience it could well be a case of ‘the panting lads’.
Never knowingly shy in their lyrics, take for instance Keith Armstrong’s ‘Everybody’s Got Love bites But Me’ or the anthemic title track from chief songwriter Gary Miller the band can still chant a fine auld song such as Tommy Armstrong’s ‘Oakey Strike Evictions’. There’s even a touch of the Richard Thompsons on the instrumental ‘Success Express’.”
(Musician, UK, December 1999)


“If the acid test for a live album is whether or not it makes the listener feel they missed a real event, then this succeeds due to one track alone. ‘Mother, Waiting’ lasts more than 12 minutes, double the length it should be, with the audience singing the chorus way after the official end and forcing the band to reprise it not once but twice – one of those magic moments that actually does transcend the limits of audio.
For the rest, The Whisky Priests wear their North-Eastern hearts on their sleeves – or maybe their braces – writing original but traditionally-styled songs about miners, fishermen’s widows, sons who never returned from the war and even leaving space for a few caustic comments on car boot sales. All of this is set to post-Pogues folk-thrash and a subtler English roots approach with strong harmonies, which remind you of nothing so much as Steeleye Span – minus Maddy Pryor, of course. Well worth checking out.”
(Norman Darwen, Big Issue In The North, No.279, September 20th-26th 1999)


“It may not have been possible, it might not have seemed feasible, but WHY HAS IT TAKEN THEM SO LONG TO RELEASE A VIDEO?? For a band that is essentially a sensational live act, it’s more than just the icing on the cake – it’s practically the whole damn cake! The commanding stage presence of Gary Miller standing rock steady at the eye of the storm and singing his heart out, finds a resonance in the hearts of his audience, who sing, shout, dance, crowd-surf… and throw flowers. His eloquent and impassioned delivery of his own songs speaks to the lost innocent in us all. The crowd in the Markthalle, Hamburg on 10th October 1998 refused to let one song finish – the anthemic ‘Mother, Waiting’ – Gary’s setting of a poem by Keith Armstrong, first released on the ‘Bleeding Sketches’ album in 1995. If you’ve never seen The Whisky Priests live, get an idea of the integrity and raw excitement of their shows from this unforgettable video – then go and see the real thing.”
(Jenny Coxon, Folk Buzz, UK, Issue 60, Autumn 1999)


“Following the success of 1993’s ‘Bloody Well Live!’, the UK’s hardest working – and most determined – band, The Whisky Priests, put together an epic video and CD package captured at the same venue, in October 1998, in front of a sell-out audience at Hamburg’s Markthalle.
The band, after fifteen years, seems now to have established a settled line-up whose proficiency and professionalism can’t be faulted. The rhythm section of Andy Tong (bass) and Cozy Dixon (drums) add a rock-solid core to the sound, which comes into its own live, and with multi-instrumentalist Hugh Bradley (electric guitar, mandolin, mandola, whistle) gelling with frontmen, brothers Gary (acoustic guitar, vocals) and Glenn (accordion, vocals) Miller, there’s a vitality and freshness previously only hinted at.
With such an immense back catalogue to choose from, selecting sixteen numbers for ‘Here Come…’ was always going to be awkward, but intelligent use of light and shade sees the band range through the speed folk they’re adept at, to the thoughtfully delivered ballads. Also on display are their folk roots, with covers of historic and tragic tale, ‘The Oakey Strike Evictions’, and pit poet Jock Purdon’s ‘Blackleg Mining Man’.
The self-belief so integral to The Whisky Priests’ vision comes across so much more vividly live, as does their pride in performance and joyous on-stage abandon. As a follow-up to their last live collection, ‘Here Comes The Ranting Lads’ is an unqualified success, and also manages to serve as a comprehensive introduction to the often wild but more often wonderful world of The Whisky Priests.”
(Steve Caseman, ‘Rock ‘N’ Reel’, UK, Issue 33, Autumn 1999) 


“Full bore, no holds barred stuff this, 16 tracks of total commitment recorded live in Hamburg in October 1998. The driving, percussion led rhythms and a singing style which can only be described as ‘with abandon’ make this just the right sort of record for your millennium party. It’s wild and great fun and guaranteed to keep the neighbours awake.
However, all this apparent mayhem hides some serious talent. The playing is tight and precise, Cozy Dixon’s drumming is consistently spot on and holds the whole together, whilst Gary Miller’s writing is as forceful as the presentation. The whole performance has a refreshing sense of integrity about it. I’m left with the impression of a band who are determined to entertain yet genuinely believe in everything they sing, there are no space fillers and make weights here.
There’s a good mix of serious and lighter material, the title track lets you know just what to expect of the album with a wild thrash and ‘Everybody’s Got Love Bites But Me’ speaks for itself, then right in the middle of all the mayhem there’s an unaccompanied arrangement of Jock Purdon’s ‘Blackleg Mining Man’ that stops you dead in your tracks. Tommy Armstrong’s ‘Oakey Strike Evictions’ is delivered with force and not a little anger, whilst ‘Song For Ewan’ serenades a child. Perhaps serenade is the wrong word to use for this band’s explosive delivery, whatever you choose to call it, it’s music with guts and conviction.”
(Jim Hancock, ‘Folktalk’, UK, Issue 23, Winter 1999/2000)


“This CD and its accompanying video are culled from what all accounts was a blinder of a two and a half hour concert in Hamburg in October ’98. The CD contains close on 70 minutes of wonderfully sodden, ranting, in-yer-face punk-folk-rock from arguably its finest practitioners. The bold thrusting energy of the terraces is channelled into a glorious celebration of many of the Priests’ golden anthems, some of which I hadn’t heard in years. I remember my first encounter with the Priests, intimidated by the sheer drama of Gary’s vocal style, which I at the time felt was over the top, even histrionic, but time has enabled me to appreciate its unique expressive qualities. Over the years, the force and passion of the band’s performances hasn’t in any way diminished either, despite personnel changes, and the gentler (for the Priests!) songs like ‘This Village’ still make an awesome impact. The current line-up is tight as hell both instrumentally and vocally – sample their acapella version of Jock Purdon’s ‘Blackleg Mining Man’ on one hand and the new instrumental ‘Success Express’ on the other. The video, which comprises tour footage from 12 of the 16 tracks from the CD, is shot in a commendably straight manner without intrusive gimmicks, and although watching it you don’t feel 100% part of the crowd, it still comes pretty close to conveying the power of the band’s live show in all its unbridled, inspirational rawness. Obviously tremendous fun for band and punters alike. Essential!”
(David Kidman, ‘Tykes News’, UK)


“This is ideal for anyone who thought that the early Pogues were over-polite. It’s also a superb live album, capturing all the sweat and passion of an energy-soaked gig by a band who have already released a dozen full-length CD’s, including two previous live outings. “Are you feeling positive?” they ask at one point, just before a lyric about wife beating.
Twins Gary and accordion player Glenn Miller lead a three-piece rhythm section through songs about blackleg miners, love bites and car boot sales. Here are snapshots of working class life in the North West [sic], sung so that you can catch every word and performed with a rare passion. The ferocious results are what survive from a two and a half hour gig in Hamburg. The songs of Gary Miller and poet Keith Armstrong are modern folk music, no less.”
(Brian Hinton, ‘Folk On Tap’, UK, Issue 81, Oct-Dec 1999) 


“After many problems, fixes and general not nice things, Glenn and Gary Miller have come through with an album choc full of what the Priests are all about – one of the UK’s best independent exports. The story of this album is one that may well be familiar to many a musician. On the night, everything went like a dream; unbelievable audience response, tight playing – indeed, the stuff that dreams are made of. Unfortunately, the recording equipment (unbeknown to the band at the time) decided to be a bastard and fouled up on many of the songs – including 11, yes, that’s right, 11 songs from the encore! However, because the spirit of the event could never be captured again, they decided to release what was salvaged. And, folks, this is it. You still get 16 tracks, featuring some cracking songs, ‘When The Wind Blows, Billy Boy’, ‘Mother, Waiting’, ‘This Village’, ‘Widows Of Hartley’ and ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’. As always, many of the songs deal with hardships and a kind of life even Dickens would have shuddered at. Cracking, realistic lyrics, superb playing, and yes, a great night was had. Relive it any time you want!”

(Dave W. Hughes, ‘The Modern Dance’, UK, Issue 27) 


“As anyone who was in the select audience who caught the Priests at the Metropolitan, Bury a few weeks ago will know, they currently boast probably the best line-up of the many they have had.
This CD and video set captures the band at their very best in a massively successful gig in Hamburg towards the end of last year.
The video is a real treat for fans, with 12 songs ranging from recent tunes from their last (and for my money, best) studio album ‘Think Positive!’, to old favourites such as ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’.
The CD boasts a further four tracks, including the current live favourite ‘Car Boot Sale’, which they played around three times at the original gig because of dodgy recording equipment. It fair takes an old fan back to the early days, when the lads played ‘Blaydon Races’ as an encore.
Despite the technical hitches, which fans can catch up with on the most recent newsletter, both the CD and the video came out extremely well, a truly fine record of what looked like a splendid gig.
As a live collection, they supersede the superb ‘Bloody Well Live!’, and truly capture a great band at the height of their powers. Brilliant. Buy it today.”
(Richard Lewis, ‘Bury Times’, UK) 


‘“Here Come The Ranting Lads” - Live!’ was recorded once again at the Markthalle in Hamburg but this time in 1998 and has 16 tracks. This one starts off with the title track, which starts off with the words “Here come the ranting lads” repeated a couple of times acapella before the band steams into their usual set of high energetic folk rock and right from the very first song the crowd are in raptures. Once again the lyrics and subject matters are compelling. The Whisky Priests are epic storytellers through their songs. This time we have songs about being the only one without a love bite, ‘Everybody’s Got Love Bites But Me’, car boot sales, ‘Car Boot Sale’, and the epic of a mother waiting for her son to return from the war on the crowd augmented 12-minute ‘Mother, Waiting’. It’s a mesmerising piece; the lyrics are quite moody, yet in the hands of The Whisky Priests it becomes a rousing crowd sing-along. The Whisky Priests can easily portray different emotions through their lyrics even though their music can still be pretty rousing. Over both of their live albums you realise what amazing lyricists The Whisky Priests are and brilliant performers. If you have never been into folk rock music before then you should open your ears to The Whisky Priests, they are not your typical folk rock band. ‘“Here Come The Ranting Lads” - Live!’ is also available on video, which shows what an amazing visual band they are, and how much emotion and passion they put into their music. It’s well worth watching the video. I have never seen The Whisky Priests live but the video gives you a good impression of what a gig would be like.”
(Will Munn, Album of the issue (with ‘Bloody Well Live! Special Edition’), ‘Rhythm and Booze’, UK, Issue 16, December 2000)


“If you don’t know The Whisky Priests by now, then I’m tempted to conclude you’ve been listening to Des O’Connor albums for the last three decades! You’re certainly not here with the rest of us. For The Priests are just about the most atmospheric and inspiring example of committed DIY you’ll find, no matter how many stones you look under.
They’ve been lauded and slagged off in equal measure, ignored in their own country but eaten alive in Europe, have had no, repeat no big time help, and deserve every ounce of success which comes along. There… so what do they do?
They play a passionate hard core, folk thrash, rooted in the ways and means of their native north-east. That this sweat drenched slice of flat cap ‘n’ hobnail boots video cum album was recorded in Germany at the Markthalle, Hamburg speaks volumes. The crowd go ape at a set of fist punching, invitation to pogo, mining rants from the pens of poets Jock Purdon and Keith Armstrong or The Priests own brand of rockin’ nostalgia typified by titles like ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’ or ‘When The Wind Blows, Billy Boy’.
This, my friends, is where determination gets you.”
(Simon Jones, ‘Traditional Music Maker’, UK, October 1999) 


“Recorded live at the Markthalle, Hamburg one night last October, the latest line-up of The Whisky Priests certainly shop the huge crowd how to have a good time. The last time I saw them play was in a small club in Camden, but here they are on a large stage with a full lighting rig and a crowd that puts British audiences to shame. Yet another example of us having great bands but just not appreciating them.
The CD has 16 songs against the video’s 12, but lovers of the band will want to purchase both anyway. The video is very well filmed, with good camerawork, while the sound is also top quality. For those who have never heard them then the Priests have a sound all of their own. They have been kept going by the sheer tenacity of Gary and Glenn Miller, and it is Gary’s vocal style combined with Glenn’s accordion that give them such a unique taste. They are currently joined by Hugh Bradley, Andy Tong and Cozy Dixon, but that may well not be the same in the near future!
I am always surprised that such a broad vocal can come from one so small, as Gary is not the largest frontman in the world, but the video shows just how much passion he puts into it. They are proud of their roots and some of their greatest songs such as ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’ and ‘The Oakey Strike Evictions’ show this. However, not all of the songs are about the North East, and ‘Alice In Wonderland’ tells us all to be positive in our outlook.
Call them roots, call them folk, call them rock, call them what you like. But never let it be said that The Whisky Priests are anything but a bloody good band who wear their hearts on their sleeve and are honest in their music. If you are fed up with yet another created pop band on the radio and want to hear some real earthy music with passion then this is the band for you. Buy the video first, then get the CD to go with it.”
(Kevin Rowland, ‘Feedback’, UK, Issue 56, 26th January 2000) 


“The Whisky Priests have been in existence nearly fifteen years. This is their tenth album and was recorded live in Hamburg. The album is entitled ‘Here Come The Ranting Lads’ and rant they certainly do! They sound like the Pogues at their most vociferous. Virtually every song is delivered full blast with bass, drums and an assortment of other instruments.
Personnel are brothers Gary and Glenn Miller, Hugh Bradley, Andy Tong, Cozy Dixon. Most of the songs were composed by Gary Miller. Between them they play guitars, accordion, bass, drums, mandolin, etc.
If you don’t like this particular style of delivery the chances are that you won’t pay a great deal of attention to the lyrics. Shame, because according to the CD’s accompanying blurb Gary Miller is “one of the best composers in British Folk Music” whose ability as a songwriter must now be unquestioned”! I must concede that the initial blast belies a strong lyrical content.
There are fifteen songs and one instrumental on the album. There are songs celebrating new life, songs expressing a yearning for earlier, better times, songs exhorting us to think positively. There’s a quirky love song called ‘Everybody’s Got Love Bites But Me’. There’s an anti-war song called ‘Mother, Waiting’ in which the mother “knows a letter is coming… from a mad king, who has killed much time and killed her gentle son”. There is even an anti-car boot sale song (!), which scorns this traditional weekend phenomenon with its “Rogues by the score amid bargains galore”.
Most of the songs are in the traditional idiom with a re-working of at least one traditional song (‘The Oakey Strike Evictions’). Being a North-eastern band it’s no surprise that some of the band’s songs were inspired by the coal mining industry and express the hardships associated with that life. For instance, ‘Widows Of Hartley’ is a song which touches on the misery experienced by the women whose husbands and sons died in the mines: “Our men and boys are dead, our lives cracked open, damp corpses in our beds”. Similarly striking lyrics are to be found in ‘Blackleg Mining Man’: “He’s the one who helps the boss nail his brothers to the cross”. ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’ is a song written by Gary to commemorate one of his own ancestors who was killed in the mines.
It’s raw ‘in-your-face’ music, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. I reckon it’s worth a listen though.”
(Gordon Johnston)


“As the title suggests, this is a live concert recording, on this occasion the Priests were ‘spreading the gospel’ to a very receptive audience at the Markthalle, Hamburg back in Oct ’98. Meaningful and heart-felt self-penned songs fill the entire 69 minutes of the CD. Unrelenting rock based Drum, Bass and Guitar form the backing. Vocals and Accordion take the lead along with the occasional touch of Mandolin. The excitement of the performance over-spills into the band’s voices and fingers lending a rough edge to what might have been a smoother sound. Perhaps a ‘studio’ album would give a better idea of what The Whisky Priests can do.”
(Tim Howes, ‘Shire Folk’, UK, No.68, Jan-April 2000) 


“Twin brothers Gary & Glenn Miller formed The Whisky Priests in August 1985. They made their first single in 1987 and formed the Whippet Records label through which all of their material has been released. Vocalist Gary plays acoustic & electric guitars & mandola while Glenn plays accordion and sings. The band is based in York, England. The rest of the guys are Hugh Bradley (electric guitar, mandolin, mandola, whistle & vocals), Andy Tong (bass guitar & vocals) and Cozy Dixon (drums & percussion).
‘Here Comes The Ranting Lads’ was recorded live on 10 October 1998 at the Markthalle in Hamburg, Germany. Gary and Glenn produced this their eighth release. Gary penned ten of the tunes. Their unique sound is a mixture of Traditional U.K. sounds, folk and new wave with a touch of blues. Some of the great tracks are ‘Car Boot Sale’, ‘A Better Man Than You’, ‘Everybody’s Got Love Bites But Me’, ‘Success Express’, ‘Mother, Waiting’ and ‘Ranting Lads’. The Whisky Priests have been described as ‘Accordions on Acid’.”
***½
(John Bates, ‘The Catalogue Man’, U.S.A.)