The Fenians,
Have Fun or Get Out!
(Mizen Head, 2001)

Looking at the cover of this disc, you might begin to wonder if this is another Guns 'n' Roses wannabe group. Leather and jeans, with the lead singer in a kilt and with glorious strawberry blonde locks reaching past his shoulders. Thankfully, I don't let the covers influence me into a prejudgment. It would have been wrong if I'd followed that initial impression.

An Irish quintet, the Fenians are based in Orange County, California, of all places! This isn't strictly Celtic music, there's a number of influences making themselves known, but underneath it all is a Celtic base. Named for the legendary Irish warriors, the Fianna -- or possibly the Irish revolutionary republican organization founded in 1857 in the United States to fight for Irish independence -- this highly charged quintet has a rebellious side. I would have to say that they're aptly named!

The Fenians are Terry Casey (lead vocals, mandolin), Brendan Harkins (bass, vocals), Tardu Yegin (whistles, sax, flute), Chris Pierce (drums, vocals) and Rob Williams (vocals, guitar). All are talented, and combined they make a great Celtic group that you'll be wanting to hear much more from.

"The Good Ship Calabar" is a traditional piece, but the Fenians arrangement is delightful. There's much hijinx going on during the piece, and partway through the ending we're treated to a grand Popeye imitation. This would be a great song to see them perform live, and I was envious of the audience as the band just jammed on for quite a while, this being the second longest track on the disc!

Casey has a decent voice, and although he did a great job on "Dirty Old Town," I couldn't help but find myself missing Ewan MacColl's vocals. Aside from that, this was a great rendition of a classic tune. It left me with no complaints, and the audience was hollering along and feeling no pain, too!

"Drunken Sailor" flew by at light speed and left me laughing. The Fenians have an overabundance of energy and it is infectious. This one will have you tapping your toes and singing along in no time at all! It is one of the best renditions of this particular song that I've ever heard. The vocal effects at the end are a perfect touch.

This CD was put together over the course of four days as the group performed at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana, Calif. I would love to see them live, as they definitely put on a good show. The audiences enjoyed them, that is for certain. And unlike other live recordings, you can hear the band wonderfully! This is a great recording job, and one I am happy to recommend to you!

- Rambles
written by Naomi de Bruyn
published 30 November 2002

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