Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Priests Team With Hell Raiser Shane MacGowan

Shane MacGowenHoliday collaborations don't always work. And if you ask people how a collaboration between singing Catholic priests and a hard-drinking Irish hell raiser would turn out, most will give you a blank expression. A few might wait for a punch line.

There is no punch line. Drink-loving Irish singer Shane MacGowan did collaborate with trio of actual singing priests. And they did produce something that's more than worth a listen. It's moving. You'll see for yourself in a moment.

The Priests.

The Priests are Father Martin O’Hagan, Father David Delargy, and Father Eugene O’Hagan. They are all full-time parish priests in Ireland who take care of everything you might expect: presiding over christenings, marriages and funerals.

They first met at MacNissi’s College (Co. Antrim), where their singing earning them the nickname Holy Holy Holy. Years later, they were invited by the Monsignor John Magee (Papal master of ceremonies) to sing for the Pope. And they have enjoyed a fairly successful recording career since.

Shane MacGowan.

MacGowan, of course, became famous after drawing on his Irish heritage and founding The Pogues. Most of his songs have been influenced by Irish nationalism, Irish history, the experiences of the Irish in London and the United States. Later, he formed Shane MacGowan and The Popes.

The idea that MacGowan would team up with a group called the Priests shouldn’t be too surprising. While he has a reputation for being a hard-living bloke (and rightly so), he is also a remarkable, although sometimes overlooked, artist.

His skills as a songwriter are immense and he helped to create an audience for a unique blend of Irish/punk music. Anyone who has heard Fairytale of New York can attest to MacGowan’s talent. His voice also lends itself well to the rollicking Irish music he loves. He is frequently tapped to sing with other groups, including Lancaster County Prison and the Mighty Stef.

Even the late Joe Strummer referred to MacGowan as "one of the best writers of the century." They frequently appeared on stage together with The Pogues.

Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth is hopeful and compelling, showing the Priests’ voices in their best form. MacGowan is a very appropriate addition to the album. His voice, the voice of a guy who’s probably seen a lot, makes it just right.

“Our sharing the song with Shane MacGowan will come as a big surprise for many fans, both ours and his," said Father Eugene. "Neither of us is about to change our respective styles of music or performance but it goes to show how music builds bridges and brings us into creative contact with unlikely partnerships."

The first two albums that The Priests produced have sold more than 3 million albums. The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth is the fifteenth track on their third album, Noel. The most popular track is actually Sussex Carol.

Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth By The Priests Featuring Shane MacGowan Ascends To 7.8 on the Liqud Hip Richter Scale.

MacGowan and The Pogues are said to be playing their last shows ever in December of this year. It's a sad thought that we may see the fairytale end, but glad to see Shaney Mac taking chances. Recently, he covered I Put A Spell On You, a benefit for Haiti featuring Johnny Depp, Nick Cave Bobby Gillespie, Glen Matlock, Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jones, Paloma Faith, and Eliza Doolittle.

Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth is the fifteenth track on Noel. There is also a version without MacGowan if you want to experience the contrast. You can also find the album, Noel, on Amazon.
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