Nee Gud Luck [Bonus Track Edition]

by The Whisky Priests

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    Seminal debut album by "cult-indie-folk-rockers" from North East England. Recorded and originally released in 1989. Includes the original 15-track album plus 5 bonus tracks from the same session which originally appeared on the band's 'Halcyon Days' EP.

      £6.99 GBP

     

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about

The Whisky Priests debut album originally released in 1989 on Whippet Records on CD, Vinyl and Cassette (WPTCD4/WPTC4/WPT4). This download includes the original 15-track album (released on Vinyl and Cassette) plus the 5 bonus tracks from the same session which originally appeared on the 'Halcyon Days' EP (WPTC3) aswell as the original 20-track CD version of 'Nee Gud Luck'.


Original CD liner notes (1994 reissue):

Together, the two of us formed The Whisky Priests in August 1985, after our final year at Gilesgate Comprehensive School in Durham, playing our first gig on 4th October 1985 at Fowlers Yard, Durham City.
Our mutual interest in music and our native North East England formed the initial basic template for our ideas and, in the years since, we have had to battle against a variety of set-backs just to keep that basic idea alive and kicking. Constant line-up changes have led to over thirty different members along the way, which has made things far from easy for us, plus we make no secret of the endless recording and publishing agreement disputes and the overall music media and industry apathy towards our cause. This has only made us more determined in the pursuance of our vision to its ultimate conclusion, through good times or bad, for better or worse. Perhaps one of the largest obstacles we have had to overcome has been the fact that we have been somehow forced into the position of achieving our goals almost totally unaided. It would have seemed inconceivable at the start that all these years down the line we would be running the band as a self-managed, self-financed, self-motivated and self-contained business, making all our own decisions as well as running our own fan club and mailing list, plus much more. And yet, here we are! And in spite of everything, we firmly believe we have got to this stage with our integrity and self-esteem intact.
Now that our four-year term with Celtic Music is finally at an end and ownership of all our own material has reverted back to us, we are proud to be able to reissue our first three albums on our own Whippet Records label, in special new editions, with repackaged booklets and bonus tracks.
We have always prided ourselves in our independence, as well as the special relationship we seem to share with our following. It is difficult to imagine that we could have reached this far without the enthusiasm and sheer loyalty of those who have stuck with us through it all and helped drive us on through all the difficult times. You have left us with many truly wonderful memories and experiences – long may they continue!
This special reissue is dedicated to you…

The beginning of 1989 marked a rebuilding process for The Whisky Priests. Red Rhino, the distributors of our 1988 EP’s, had gone into receivership, leaving us with no distribution for our recordings. In addition, we were now down to only three members - mandolin/harmonica player, Bill Bulmer and ourselves - bassist Michael Stephenson and drummer Sticks having quit the band simultaneously in December 1988, thus effectively severing our first solid line-up and ending the first era of the band.
As fate would have it, an interview for BBC Radio Cleveland in January 1989, during which we announced that our bass player and drummer had recently walked out on us, led to a chance telephone call from Mick Tyas, from Newton Aycliffe, South Durham. A friend of Mick’s, while listening to the radio, heard of our plight and informed Mick, who immediately rang us up. We invited him over to our house for a meeting/audition and duly drafted him into Whisky Priests active service. At the time of compiling these sleeve notes, Mick is still with us, remaining the band’s longest serving member after ourselves, despite a couple of months ‘sabbatical’ in 1990.
In the meantime, our search for a drummer was going nowhere (we’d never had much luck with drummers!), so we went to a local junk shop, bought a marching snare drum for £10 (we already had a stand and some sticks), passed it on to an old school friend and then regular follower of the band, David ‘Bamber’ Simpson from Gilegate in Durham City, taught him how to keep time and hit a beat and within a week he was up on stage with us playing his first gig. The renaissance had begun!
Meanwhile, at a band meeting/rehearsal, a suggestion was raised to use a northumbrian smallpipes on a few songs. Through another twist of fate, Mick announced that he knew a northumbrian piper called Pete French, from Darlington, who also happened to play fiddle and with whom he had collaborated over the years in various folk bands as well as a long term duo playing local folk clubs, prior to his association with The Whisky Priests. Anyway, Mick brought Pete along to a rehearsal and we were suddenly up to a six-piece for the first time in the band’s history.
Then along came Mitch, from Tadcaster in Yorkshire. Mitch became a sort of casual manager and advisor. He was full of enthusiasm and in the brief period he was involved with us, he played an important role in the band’s development. We have fond memories of Mitch receiving telephone calls from E.M.I. and others at his ‘office’ in ‘The Angel And White Horse’ Sam Smiths Brewery public house, Tadcaster.
His first step was persuading us to replace Bamber with the young sixteen-year-old Steve Green, also from Tadcaster, who Mitch knew through a mutual friend, thus bringing together the final element of the line-up that recorded ‘Nee Gud Luck’. We had realised for some time that Bamber’s limited musical ability was proving something of a liability but didn’t have the heart or the ruthlessness to do anything about it until Steve turned up on the scene, via Mitch, and he has the unfortunate distinction of being the only member out of 30, to date, who we have ever asked to leave the band, rather than doing so of their own free will.
Mitch’s next move was to arrange a meeting with Celtic Music, in the hope of securing distribution for our EP’s and the album we were planning to record. Unfortunately, we were persuaded to sign a full-blown recording and publishing agreement, when all we had really wanted was a distribution deal for our own Whippet Records label. This led to four years of disagreements, legal wrangling, creative restrictions, etc.
Mitch’s final contribution to the band was securing our first agent for gigs outside the UK, when he answered an advert in the national music press from Liverpool based D.O.A. (Definite Option Agency). This resulted in our first tour abroad, to Germany at the end of 1989, shortly after the release of ‘Nee Gud Luck’, as well as a successful relationship with then co-partner of D.O.A., Bill Lavelle, who became our European Tour Manager, spiritual advisor and close friend for a number of years. Neither should we forget Bill’s good mate and merchandiser/roadie extraordinaire, Les McCoy!
Our first tour of Germany also included in its party current Whisky Priest Paul Carless on Harmonica, who appeared with us on a casual basis for a number of years, before replacing Kevin Wilson on a full-time basis in 1992.
The immediate outcome of our contract signing with Celtic Music was the recording of our debut album ‘Nee Gud Luck’ in August 1989. A few weeks prior to the recording session, however, Bill Bulmer announced his plans to leave the band, although he agreed to stay long enough to record the album and until we could find a suitable replacement. Already, this heralded the beginning of the end of another mini-era of the band, as it would not be too long before Pete French and Steve Green went their separate ways as well, although both would return later for another brief spell in 1990.
We financed the recording of ‘Nee Gud Luck’ ourselves and as a result our budget at the time was severely limited. We therefore worked very fast to record as much material as possible, with most of the instruments being laid down live in one take, and in fact we managed to record and mix a total of 23 songs over nine days at a total cost of £900. To say the album was rushed and ‘done on the cheap’ is something of an understatement! The album (15-track Vinyl LP and 15-track Cassette) and the accompanying ‘Halcyon Days’ Cassette EP were released simultaneously in November 1989. A 20-track CD version of the album, adding as bonus cuts the 5 additional tracks from the ‘Halcyon Days’ EP not on the original LP and Cassette versions was later released in May 1990.
An informal agreement between Celtic Music and ourselves ensured that although Celtic Music had become the band’s record company, the Whippet Records identity, which we had established with the release of our 1988 EP’s would be maintained. This would allow all Whisky Priests recordings released during our time with Celtic Music to be issued on the Whippet Records label.
When we visited the offices of Celtic Music to recover our master tapes, following our out of court legal settlement in November 1993, we discovered that the only remaining master tape of ‘Nee Gud Luck’ still in existence was the CD production master, which had been less than adequately transferred from the original studio master, resulting in a less than perfect reproduction on the original Celtic Music three format album pressings (WPT4/WPTC4/WPTCD4). All the other master tapes had been destroyed, including all the 24-track master tapes thus allowing no future possibility to ever remix any of the tracks, as well as the original studio master of the original mixes of all 23 tracks. These had been the only tapes in existence containing the three unused tracks from the session, namely rerecorded versions of ‘No Chance’, ‘Instrumental Medley’ and ‘The Row Between The Cages’ (all of which had been originally recorded and released in 1988 on the 12” EP’s ‘No Chance’ and ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’). As a result of the loss of these tapes, we have been unable to reproduce the quality of the original recordings for this reissue, which was of course also lacking on the original releases, since we have had to re-master from the only remaining production source, the lesser quality original CD master. Hopefully this will not detract from the enjoyment of the listener in any way.
Although ‘Nee Gud Luck’ was well received in many quarters, being hailed as “the contemporary folk masterpiece” (‘Rock ‘N’ Reel’) and a “cracker of a debut” (‘Folk Roots’), the album was completely ignored by the so-called major music industry moguls, beginning a trend, which continues to this day. Although the album failed to make any impact with the so-called ‘right people’, it did sow the seeds for the band’s current high profile ‘cult’ status and is now regarded by many as a landmark in the band’s history. Anyone who missed it first time now has an opportunity to judge it second time round.

(Gary Miller & Glenn Miller, August 1994)


Reviews (reissue 1994 version):

“‘Nee Gud Luck’ was the first album by The Whisky Priests, and was recorded in August 1989. Initially released by Celtic Music it has now been reissued on CD on the band’s own label Whippet Records, with extra tracks and sleeve notes. Using a mixture of instruments, including northumbrian pipes, bouzouki and fiddle as well as mandolins, acoustic 12-strings and accordion, The Whisky Priests have managed to capture the passion and fire of a pit community in a way that no others have managed to do. Some of the songs are traditional but most have been written by vocalist/guitarist Gary Miller, who sings them in his own distinctive manner.
Throughout the album, indeed throughout all of their records, The Whisky Priests give the impression of living and breathing what they are singing about. They prove time and again that electric guitars are not needed to give music a hard edge and emphasis, more an attitude. Lyrics are very important and given the fact that the songs are usually fairly short in length there is a lot crammed in. As a debut it is striking and full of variety.”
(From joint review of ‘Nee Gud Luck, ‘The First Few Drops’, ‘Timeless Street’, reissue 1994 versions), Kevin Rowland, ‘Feedback’, UK, Issue 29, 8th June 1995.


“‘Nee Gud Luck’ is actually a re-issue. It contains 15 tracks, plus a further five as bonus tracks. Another instrumental medley highlights the musical prowess as well as the superbly evocative ‘Streets Paved With Gold’, ‘The Oakey Strike Evictions’ and ‘The Durham Lockout’. This album, perhaps more than any, features some of the best historical glimpses into the true life of the shipyards and pits from the so-called halcyon days. Quite a lot of traditional material this time, although ol’ Gary’s done more than the odd song. As is often the case with all their albums, the lyrics are printed in the CD cover. Many of them can be read without the aid of the music, and as such, read well. Images, sympathies and genuine true life is painted with such a vast range of colours – why hasn’t Gary brought out a book of poetry?”
(From joint review of ‘Bloody Well Live!’, ‘The Power And The Glory’, ‘When The Wind Blows, Billy Boy’, ‘The First Few Drops’, Nee Gud Luck’, ‘Timeless Street’, reissue 1994 versions), Dave W. Hughes, ‘The Modern Dance’, UK.


“The Whisky Priests now have their entire catalogue under their own control and these re-issues are a confident celebration of 9 years of hard work and determination to keep Gary and Glenn Miller’s basic idea of an English Northeast band on the road. So far there have been over 30 different band members as line-ups have changed and changed again. Gary Miller has written 32 of the recorded tracks, plus 4 further collaborations with Glenn Miller and one with Mick Tyas, and Glenn has written a further two. Also included are well-known ‘Trad’ songs and tunes from the N.E., which have been part of their repertoire from the beginning. They have also written many more songs, which are as yet unrecorded – a prolific outpouring of energy and creativity, which also characterises their live performances. All 3 re-issues include a 16-page insert booklet with words for all the songs, the story of The Whisky Priests so far, in three instalments, and a selection of archive photographs.
The twin ‘likely lads’ from Durham with a schoolboy vision in 1985 are now independent businessmen without losing their integrity and self esteem. An inspiration to all of us who attempt to create our own contribution to the global ceilidh. Enjoy the fruits of their labour at a bargain price!”
(Joint review of ‘The First Few Drops’, ‘Nee Gud Luck’, ‘Timeless Street’, reissue 1994 versions), Jenny Coxon, ‘Folk Buzz’, UK, Spring 1995.


“Reading the sleeve-notes of these reissued early Priests albums, you find a tale of indie tenacity of the first order. To say that that tenacity and clarity of purpose fuels the music puts it mildly. Whether you like them or not, you have to admit that without the likes of this band, music would be a weaker-kneed constituency altogether.”
(Joint review of ‘The First Few Drops’, ‘Nee Gud Luck’, ‘Timeless Street’, reissue 1994 versions), Steve Morris, ‘Brumbeat’, UK, 1995.


“Passionate in your face from the start to the finish, these CD’s show the early development and unique Priest style taking form. All three feature bonus tracks, sleeve notes and lyrics, making each excellent value for money. Hard driven folk rock with rare verve, it’s honest, hard music and ideal for foot to the floor motorway driving.”
(Joint review of ‘The First Few Drops’, ‘Nee Gud Luck’, ‘Timeless Street’, reissue 1994 versions), Mark Hughes, ‘First Hearing’, UK, 1995.


Reviews (original 1989 version):

“The long-awaited first album from County Durham’s finest ‘punk-thrash-folk’ outfit won’t disappoint those who have their 12” EP’s, and will win over others more traditionally-inclined and not previously attuned to The Whisky Priests’ loud and fast renderings of Durham mining songs and dance tunes.
The fifteen tracks on ‘Nee Gud Luck’ come from the same sources as before – old songs of Tommy Armstrong sit side by side with contemporary, locally and topically-based compositions from lead singer Gary Miller with help from brother Glenn. Since the brothers formed the band they have garnered a wide reputation for their raw Pogues-like treatment of ‘trad.’ material, but the recent addition of Northumbrian pipes and fiddle, alongside mandolin, harmonica and spoons has broadened the band’s scope and has resulted in a remarkable mature work of variety and vitality, rewarding attentive listening and inviting frenetic dancing.
Side one’s attractions include a new arrangement of the Priests’ first single ‘The Colliery’, complete with brass band, and a vibrant reworking of ‘Dol-Li-A’, an old Newcastle street song that contrasts with the haunting melody of ‘Jenny Grey’, accentuated by the pipes, accordion and mandolin – very Northumbrian-sounding but a Miller Brothers’ original. The second side finds the Priests in full flow. Glenn’s ‘Death of The Shipyards’, featuring his accordion with appropriate percussive clanks as background, suggests a Wearside equivalent of a Phil Cunningham air, and is followed by a raucous ‘Oakey Strike Evictions’ and a lively set of Pressgang songs and tunes.
It was their arrangement of Tommy Armstrong’s poem ‘The Durham Lockout’ which made the greatest impact on this listener’s ears. Gary’s rough vocal, backed initially by solo pipes, and gradually by the group ensemble with accordion to the fore, emphasises the bitterness and harshness of the old colliery life.
In short, ‘Nee Gud Luck’ is a cracker of a debut – a splendidly successful fusion of old and new in which The Whisky Priests simultaneously reveal a healthy respect for their own cultural past and considerable musical promise for the future.”
(Original 1989 version), Neil Hedgeland, ‘Folk Roots’, UK.


“The Whisky Priests on their early EP’s lead a ferocious punk thrash slam dance through traditional and original North-East music. Described then by Sounds as “compulsive dementia” and “accordions on acid”, with the energy and anger of Crass or The Exploited, with frantic tales from their very roots, of 200 years of toil and struggle by their own people. Slamming the exploitation of the colliery workers and tales of young Durham lads being butchered and slaughtered at war, mining accidents, old age and nostalgia and a scathing attack on the lager lout.
With their long-awaited debut album ‘Nee Gud Luck’ they have surpassed ‘Rum, Sodomy and The Lash’ and produced the contemporary folk masterpiece as if they’ve ripped up their earlier vinyl and started again. Thankfully the thrash elements are still there but they have laid down some startling sad epitaphs for the death of the collieries and shipyards. ‘The Colliery’ bustles along with some great brass from the Bearpark & Esh Colliery Band’: “We laughed and cried, we prayed and died down at the colliery”! ‘The Durham Lockout is a poem by the pit poet Tommy Armstrong set to music and features some exceptional work on the Northumberland small pipes. Gary Miller has pushed himself up with Bragg and MacGowan as a classic contemporary folk songwriter and in ‘Jenny Grey’ he has penned the most extraordinarily beautiful lament:
“The factory gates have all closed down before me
And the lights are dimming on the edge of the town
And they’re singing a sad hymn in the church in our village
And your face looks so sad as the tears flow down
When they are drying the blood from my body
And the flowers and grieving are all for me
And when I am gone into Hell or to Heaven
Oh Jenny, Jenny Grey, cry for me”
(Original 1989 version), Gillfish, ‘Rock ‘N’ Reel’, UK, Spring 1990.


“Almost a century after it was written, the classic miners’ song ‘The Durham Lockout’ has been brought back to life. The famous Tommy Armstrong song has been given the 1990’s treatment by the excellent Durham band The Whisky Priests. These six lads have been described as the North East’s answer to The Pogues.
But what they’ve really done is made popular the songs and struggles of the mining community – long after more trendy artists from the region have ditched their own culture.
‘The Durham Lockout’ appears on the Priests’ first album ‘Nee Gud Luck’, along with that other Armstrong classic ‘The Oakey Strike Evictions’.
Most of the album is original material, but steeped in the tradition of the coalfield songwriters.
The Priests upbeat, punk-folk sets both traditional and contemporary songs alight.
All the feel of the region is here, played by serious young men with a mission.
They are supported by Bearpark and Esh brass band on an excellent Gary Miller song, ‘The Colliery’.
The Whisky Priests have taken the best of North East mining culture and brought it to a new audience.
If you ever get the chance to see them live you will see what a fearsome following they have gathered.
Every miner should have this record in their collection.
We should wish the Priests well in their efforts to convince the rest of the world that the North East has more going for it than property development and Cathedrals to the consumer.”
(Original 1989 version), ‘The North East Miner’ magazine, UK, April 1990.


“The Whisky Priests have struggled up from the post-industrial wastelands of North-East England. They have now brought their unique culture to a whole new audience by singing about the workers and their families who have formed the traditions of the North-East. They have brought some pride back to us up here. It is not just around Britain but in West Germany too they have been building up a big reputation for themselves. The subjects The Whisky Priests sing about might be born out of the struggles with the heavy industries of coalmining and shipbuilding but poverty, greedy landlords and the human carnage of war are themes that we can all readily understand, they have no geographical boundaries. The very music itself, played on accordion, violin, pipes, mandolin, guitars and marching snare is irresistible. Dance, jig, reel, clap, tap or just listen thoughtfully but it is pretty damned difficult to ignore The Whisky Priests.
On their debut album, ‘Nee Gud Luck’, traditional folk songs like ‘The Collier’s Rant’ and ‘Dol-Li-A’ are successfully interspersed between singer Gary Miller’s own works. ‘Death of The Shipyards’ is a moving instrumental with a spice of High Noon / Spaghetti Western gunfight tension. First the River Tees then the River Wear have been devastated by the ‘death of the shipyards’. ‘Coal-Digger’s Grave’ always gets the audience up dancing to the hilarious story of the miner who jumps up from his coffin to shout “Give Us Whisky!”. ‘Pressgang Medley’ contrasts the vocal styles of Gary and giant bass player Mick. Gary sings of the man desperately fleeing the navy pressgang that hunts for young men through the coastal towns and villages to fill their crews. The medley suddenly bursts into a lively instrumental called ‘Proudlock’s Hornpipe’ (I would like to believe that this is dedicated to ex-Middlesbrough Football Club striker Paul Proudlock, but then I am obviously wrong!).
This is a great LP so go and buy it at once. The Whisky Priests have also released a 6-track cassette tape called ‘Halcyon Days’ featuring the riotous ‘Geordie Black’ and ‘Adam Buckham’. Some of the songs have an old-fashioned mono feel to them, which gives this tape an unusual and nostalgic atmosphere.
The Whisky Priests completed an exceptionally successful tour of West Germany in December 1989. They will be returning for a much bigger tour in autumn so look out for them wherever you live, they will be appearing near you soon…”
(Original 1989 version), Rob Nichols, ‘Ket’, UK, 1989.


“After establishing themselves so emphatically on the live music circuit, both locally and internationally, The Whisky Priests were always likely to face the problem of reproducing the frenetic power and energy to which most listeners have become accustomed. However, on ‘Nee Gud Luck’ their first LP, though it may lack some of the raw appeal of their live performances, they more than compensate for this with a collection of songs full of variety and offering plenty of promise for the future.
The LP opens, in typical Whisky Priests style, with ‘The Colliery’, a song which builds up to a fast and furious pace, complemented by thoughtful lyrics which never trivialise the plight of the collier whilst, at the same time, painting a graphic picture of life underground. On top of this, the inclusion of the Bearpark and Esh Colliery Band is a nice touch to an already accomplished song.
Other highlights include live favourite, ‘Streets Paved With Gold’, an indictment of the myth that there is fortune to be made in a certain capital city, including some excellent harmonica work from Bill Bulmer, ‘Shut Doon The Waggon Works’, a rousing tune on the effects of factory closures in a community with some fine accordion work from Glenn Miller, and my personal favourite, ‘Jenny Grey’ a touching lament on the eternal subject of unrequited love, allowing Pete French to use, to full effect, the hauntingly enchanting sound of the Northumbrian small pipes to convey the full poignancy of the lyrics.
‘Death of The Shipyards’ will be new to the ears of anyone who has only ever heard the band live, and is a most evocative instrumental on the closure of the yards in Sunderland just over a year ago, whilst the other slower, more reflective track, ‘The Durham Lockout’, is another song, written by Tommy Armstrong, on the struggle of the working man in the industrial North-East in the face of oppressive colliery owners.
You might be forgiven for getting the impression that ‘Nee Gud Luck’ is full of songs of doom and gloom, however, nothing could be further from the truth, the majority of the tracks being highly entertaining dance tunes like ‘The Rising of The North’, ‘Dol-Li-A’, and ‘Spring-Heeled Jacks’, whilst the anti-war number, ‘The Durham Light Infantry’, provides a stirring finish to an accomplished collection of songs, full of energy and variation, which promises much for the future, both live and on record.”
(Original 1989 version), Steve Taylor, ‘S.R.T.’, UK, 1990.


“Some may have read my previous reviews of the Durham-based Whisky Priests’ earlier 12” singles. If you liked those, you would certainly not be disappointed with ‘Nee Gud Luck’, which for all the polish in the production, helped along by the experienced Mickey Sweeney, still retains the basic loud raucousness of their earlier recordings and their live performances. At the same time it is enhanced immeasurably by the variety of material and change of pace throughout, which has come about from the addition of Pete French on Northumbrian pipes, fiddle, spoons and mandolin, and Bill Bulmer on mandolin, harmonicas, bouzouki and jaw harp. A new drummer, Steve Green, has joined the original trio of the two Miller brothers – Gary on vocals, Glenn on accordion, and Mick Tyas, on bass.
The marathon value for money 15 tracks contain, as before, a mix of vamped-up versions of old Durham mining songs and tunes and new compositions, mostly by Gary Miller, influenced by aspects of social and political life in the North East of England today. Of those on the first side, the opening ‘The Colliery’ is a reworking of the group’s now deleted first single with the additional appearance of a local colliery brass band, and ‘Streets Paved With Gold’ is particularly adept in its depiction of a Northerner’s false hopes on leaving for London. ‘Shut Doon The Waggon Works’ confirms the usefulness of the enclosed lyric sheet for those having difficulty with the dialect. ‘Jenny Grey’ is one of my favourites – its haunting melody accentuated by the addition of pipes and fiddle makes this sound like a traditional song, but it is in fact a joint composition by Gary and Glenn.
There are in fact too many riches in the collection to do everything justice in this review, but it is on the second side of the album that the true range of the Priests’ writing and arrangements are revealed. It opens with ‘Death of The Shipyards’, a lament composed by Glenn for the Wearside dockyards played on the squeezebox with clanking percussion backing, leading straight into a fast and furious rendering of Tommy Armstrong’s ‘The Oakey Strike Evictions’. A medley of pressgang songs and tunes follows – a firm live favourite set, which transposes well to vinyl, including the well-known ‘Here’s The Tender Coming’ and culminating in a hectic romping ‘Harvest Home’. The pace changes sharply for a stunning six-minute interpretation of Tommy Armstrong’s ‘The Durham Lockout’ – the brutality of the treatment of the miners being evoked by Gary’s vocals. Definitely one of the major high spots for these ears, but the feet are once more urged to get moving on ‘Spring-Heeled Jacks’, a self-penned instrumental, before the traditional ‘Collier’s Rant’ is cantered through at breakneck speed, and the album is completed with another of Gary’s songs ‘Durham Light Infantry’, conveying the futility of the First World War to the irresistible backing once more of accordion, drums and ensemble, signing off with a snatch from a popular First World War song. ‘Nee Gud Luck’ came out just before Christmas, too late to get into any critics’ top ten of 1989. There’s no doubt it would have a very high placing in this writer’s list, and certainly marks the arrival of The Whisky Priests as a name to reckon with.”
(Original 1989 version), ‘Broadbeat’, Scotland, UK, April 1990.


“The Whisky Priests have finally released their debut LP, ‘Nee Gud Luck’. They have been threatening it for a year but now it is finally here.
Coupled with a six-track cassingle, ‘Halcyon Days’, it is certainly worth the wait.
The Priests have a rare ability to conjure up images of a couple of generations ago when men were miners and whippets were common. Such is the quality of their original material it is impossible to distinguish it from their arrangements of traditional folk songs.
The new compositions are much more listenable than previous releases. They have concentrated on better production and mixing and the lyrics are no longer shouted. Yet they still conjure up a raw, dirty and enthusiastic feel.
Glenn Miller’s beautiful instrumental, ‘Death of The Shipyards’, illustrates this more reasoned approach. ‘The Colliery’ adds a new dimension with a brass band and the Priests step out of the Beamish-style sawdust-floored pubs into the market place.
‘Halcyon Days’ incongruously includes a verse from ‘The Likely Lads’ theme.
The Whisky Priests are the North-East’s music. They are the community spirit of the pit villages, and the social history behind them. But more than that, they are damned good fun.”
(Original 1989 version), Chris Lloyd, ‘Northern Echo’, UK.


“The utterly brilliant Whisky Priests, formed back in the mid ’80’s in Durham, have developed a big following for their raw and passionate folk/thrash tunes, which have also brought them richly deserved critical acclaim.
The music is powerful foot-tapping stuff, from the heart of the Durham coalfields, which has drawn parallels with The Pogues – but they definitely have their own sound.
From their early days playing the Queen’s Head at Sherburn Road Ends, the group have gone on to national tours (including one supporting ‘The Bhundu Boys’ way back when) and being the “unequivocal stars” of this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival. Their LP ‘Nee Gud Luck’ stormed the folk charts, and got songwriter Gary Miller the title: ‘classic contemporary folk songwriter’.
Gary Miller has proved himself an excellent songwriter – evidence borne out by listening to ‘Nee Gud Luck’. I would rank him along with the MacGowans and MacColls of this world and it is surely only a matter of time before they are as big as The Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang – they certainly deserve to be.”
(Original 1989 version), Richard Lewis, ‘The Bury Times’, UK, December 1990.


“Six-piece folk rockers with more bite than a coal-miner’s whippet. The Whisky Priests are not just being noticed for their flat caps, pit boots, braces and severe haircuts.
Although The Whisky Priests have existed for a number of years through many changes of line-up, it was in 1990 that the band’s profile suddenly increased dramatically. With the success of their debut LP ‘Nee Gud Luck they have built up a massive following and have played over 100 gigs this year – including 4 tours to Europe.
Gary Miller has been described as a ‘classic contemporary folk songwriter’ who is up there with the much-revered Bragg and MacGowan. An acoustic roots ensemble of the most fervent northern traditions, they are proud and pragmatic in their outlook on life, in their music and about their origins.
They sing rousing songs gritted with ingrained coal dust, about real people, two centuries of sweat and tears of the struggle of their kinfolk in the troubled North-East. And after the social history lesson The Whisky Priests are an excellent dance band, whether or not your native clogs lay in County Durham or Dewsbury.”
(Original 1989 version), Rosy O’Sullivan, ‘Leeds Other Paper’, UK, December 1990.


“Someone once told me that The Whisky Priests are: (1) a folk-thrash band, (2) similar to The Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang’, (3) a one-dimensional group. After listening to these recordings, my response is: (1) Yes indeed! (2) in spirit more than in sound, and (3) if they ever were, they’re not anymore!
The Whisky Priests are a sextet: Gary Miller (vocals, 12 & 6 string guitars), his twin brother Glenn (accordion), Bill Bulmer (mandolin, bouzouki, harmonica), Mick Tyas (bass, vocals), Pete French (Northumbrian pipes, fiddle), and Steve Green (drums). They hail from Durham County in the northeast of England. Much of Durham County’s industry was based on coalmining and shipbuilding, both of which have greatly declined in the past decades. This historical background is important, for it plays a vital role in the Priests’ music.
After ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’ was recorded, a couple of guys dropped out, the two Millers and Bulmer carried on as a trio for a time, and then they ordained three new Priests to reach the current roster. This line-up is the best yet and the inclusion of Pete French’s Northumbrian pipes and fiddle is a great move for the band. The addition of French fills out and enhances the Priests’ sound and makes it a bit more traditional in nature, but the band still keeps its wildness and raucousness intact. The new chemistry could draw more fans to the band, while enabling the Priests to keep their original followers.
The six-track cassette ‘Halcyon Days’ is the initial release with the new line-up, and it’s the best of the three EP’s. They re-recorded ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’ with pipes in the mix, and include a speedy, powerful instrumental ‘Bill Hartnell’ that demonstrates the whisky hasn’t been diluted at all! The title track, written by Gary Miller and included on ‘Nee Gud Luck’, is a song about the lost days of youth that everyone can relate to – the theme is universal but the ‘action’ is in Durham County.
This type of ‘local but universal’ song appears a few times on ‘Nee Gud Luck’, the Priests’ impressive first full-length LP. Anyone who listens to this album and still calls The Whisky Priests a one-dimensional folk-thrash band just isn’t paying attention. Sure, they still crank it up a lot – and when they do they’re great – but that’s not all they can do. There’s ‘Jenny Grey’ (penned by Gary and Glenn), a superb traditional-type song of lost love performed with a slow and even tempo, and Glenn’s soothing instrumental ‘Death of The Shipyards’ featuring acoustic guitar and accordion. On the other hand they operate at full throttle on a pair of no-holds-barred instrumentals and the rousing ‘Coal-Digger’s Grave’ with some gruff, shouting vocals. Two more outstanding tracks are the rocking ‘Streets Paved With Gold’ (a 1990’s Durham County emigree meets ‘The Grapes of Wrath’), and ‘Durham Lockout’, about a lengthy lockout of coal miners. This track begins with just Northumbrian pipes and vocals, and gradually builds as more instruments are added with each verse. Lead vocalist Gary Miller’s voice is rough-hewn – more like rough-chiselled – but it works nicely within the Priests’ format. The songs are sung in a sometimes impenetrable regional dialect, but ‘Nee Gud Luck’ has a lyric sheet, which is essential reading.
The Whisky Priests have come a long way from ‘No Chance’ to ‘Nee Gud Luck’; they sound better and are more versatile, yet have a firm grasp of their regional, traditional, and folk-thrash roots. For those of you who like ‘progression’ in bands, The Whisky Priests have taken a solid first step forward.”
(From joint review of ‘No Chance’, ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’, ‘Halcyon Days’, Nee Gud Luck’ original 1989 version), Al Reiss, ‘Dirty Linen’, U.S.A., Issue 30, October/November 1990.


“My friends, Rob and Julie, tell me that a member of Fairport Convention says that this is the band that ‘makes the Pogues sound like Weather Report.’
Hmm, pretty strong stuff. Normally, I’d answer that sort of blather with a gruff, obscene retort. Like ‘piss off!’ But I’ll restrain myself… maybe because the guy could be half right.
Okay, enough of the preliminaries. The Whisky Priests are a sextet from Durham who unleash a torrent of thrash folk that, well, reminds one of The Pogues. Except that where The Pogues show definite rock ‘n’ roll tendencies, The Whisky Priests toe a more traditional line. Then again, don’t make the mistake of equating ‘traditional’ with staid or conventional.
Led by the brothers Miller, Gary on lead vocals and guitar / bouzouki / mandolin, and Glenn, accordion and backing vocals, the Priests employ traditional instruments such as fiddles and pipes, as well as an electric bass and drums to provide the band with that extra ‘oomph’, which really makes their songs kick ass.
Just listen to songs like the rousing instrumentals ‘Rising of The North’ and ‘Spring-Heeled Jacks’ or ‘Streets Paved With Gold’, ‘Collier’s Rant’, ‘Dol-Li-A’, ‘Halcyon Days’ and ‘The Durham Light Infantry’. And ‘Jenny Grey’ is the best song Shane MacGowan never wrote.
Songs about the mines, shipyards, pressgangs, soldiers that never came back and pining for a woman’s love. Gary Miller’s voice is appropriately rough-hewn, sounding like he spent a lifetime in the coalmines of Blighty.
The only complaint has to do with the production, it’s a bit tinny and Miller’s vocals could have been turned up a bit. But those are the only complaints. The playing’s hot, tight and the songs are delivered with great élan.
The Whisky Priests have all the earmarks of being ‘The Next Big Thing’ folk/rock-wise. They deserve to be heard by millions.”
(Original 1989 version), Brian Greenlee, ‘B-Side’ U.S.A., August/September 1991.


“This band of Celtic rogues from the North of England takes a raw, acoustic approach to pub rock. Their album, ‘Nee Gud Luck’, has no rural pretences – in fact, no pretence at all. Both original songs and traditional tunes are given the same thrashing with bagpipes, strings of every description, harmonica, guitars and drums. More fun than a barrel of colliers!”
(Original 1989 version), ‘CMJ New Music Report’, U.S.A., 25th May 1990.


‘Halcyon Days’ cassette EP Reviews

“The Whisky Priests 6-track cassette EP sees the band in magnificent form, the production is A1 with the mix giving equal importance to each instrument, big Mick on bass creates a rock solid back rhythm that the layers of accordion, guitar, fiddle and spoons fit onto with such ease, to create a riotously enjoyable sound that never diminishes or loses one drop of its appeal throughout this tape! The ingenuity of the band is demonstrated on their reworking of ‘Grandfatha’s Fatha’, where they utilise the Northumbrian pipes as lead instrument and the result is startlingly effective. Pete on fiddle gives an indication of why he’s such an asset to the band with his unquestionable power and skill on the instrument, most notable on ‘The Clog Dancer’. Stirring, stylish rock with its roots firmly in the north-East tradition. Can’t recommend it enough.”
(‘Halcyon Days’ Cassette EP), Sean McGhee, ‘Rock ‘N’ Reel’, UK, Spring 1990.
credits
released November 1, 1989

credits

released December 1, 1989

The Whisky Priests line-up on this recording:

Gary Miller - vocals, acoustic 6 & 12 string guitars, nylon-strung guitar, bouzouki, mandolin
Mick Tyas - bass, vocals
Glenn Miller - accordion, backing vocals
Pete French - fiddle, northumbrian smallpipes, spoons, mandolin, backing vocals
Steve Green - drums, percussion
Bill Bulmer - mandolin, harmonicas, bouzouki, jews harp, backing vocals

Guest Musicians:
Members of Bearpark & Esh Colliery Band:
Arranged by Dave Young
Michael Evans - Cornet
Garry Mitchell - Cornet
Gareth Young - Trombone
Alun Young - Euphonium
Dave Young - Tuba

Recorded at Cluny Studio, Byker, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, August 1989
Produced by The Whisky Priests & Mickey Sweeney
Engineered by Mickey Sweeney
Photography by Phil Neely

Original album ℗ & © 1989 Whippet Records
This Compilation ℗ & © 1994 & 2016 Whippet Records

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The Whisky Priests Durham, UK

The Whisky Priests (1985-2002) was founded by twin brothers, Gary & Glenn Miller (“the Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of Folk Music”). The band was internationally renowned for its energetic live shows, released a number of critically acclaimed albums, toured extensively and developed a worldwide cult following. ... more

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Track Name: The Colliery
THE COLLIERY

The pit where I worked was built in Eighteen-Ten
And it's claimed the lives of many good men
Like rats in a hole we crawled underground
Digging for coal at the colliery

I had long shifts to put in every day
And I worked like a slave for a poor man's pay
We hated our boss because he worked us hard
For a pittance to keep our families

And the curse of God was on our lives
Though we prayed to Him for better times
We learned to cry and we learned to die
Down at the colliery

I had a wife and six bairns to feed
We paid the price of a rich man's greed
I sweated and toiled in that unholy black hell
Feeding the fires of Britain's industry

And we found no joy in our toil
As our lungs filled with dust and soot and soil
We laughed and cried we prayed and died
Down at the colliery

Both servants and masters shared the land
They abused our humanity but they used our hands
And they would steal our brains to destroy our souls
But we were put on God's earth to go below it for coal

This land was built by men of steel
But the fires are now dying in its industries
The machines have rusted and the pit stands dead
The men lie idle no more prayers are said

And the curse of God was on our lives
Though we prayed to Him for better times
We learned to cry and we learned to die
Down at the colliery

(Gary Miller)
Track Name: Shut Doon The Waggon Works
SHUT DOON THE WAGGON WORKS

The lights are going out on the edge of Ghost Town
As a coldness penetrates through curtained windows
For the colliery streets shed no warmth light or heat
There is no joy or friendship here in winter

As me and my marrers go to get ourselves a pint
All we get are looks which make us shiver
For the people have changed though the place still looks the same
But the waggons don't run here anymore

Times are hard in this world
When you get put out of work
The people up in power
Have shut down the waggon works

There are jobs up for grabs in other parts I hear
While our village has been scrapped through lack of care
They've decided to scrap jobs in the places they matter most
Though the towers still belch their smoke into the air

(Gary Miller)
Track Name: Streets Paved With Gold
STREETS PAVED WITH GOLD

He knew there was no future
Building ships or hewing coal
And he knew there was nothing for him
If he stayed here on the dole
So he picked his busted ball
Out of the back of the net
And kicked it off towards another goal

He packed all of his best clothes
And his photographs of home
And remembering his mother's warnings
To keep himself from harm
He said farewell to the land of council houses
And set off for the land of fatal charms

He left his home in the heart of the north
To seek streets paved with gold
But when he reached the golden land of dreams
He found he'd struck fools' gold

He thought that like Dick Whittington
They would parade him through the town
And shower him with golden handshakes by the load
Well they didn't make him lord mayor
But they made him king of the roads

And as he wandered down strange dark streets
And stared at all the strange faces in fear
He thought of streets he'd once known so well
And familiar faces that had once filled him with cheer

He left his home in the heart of the north
To seek streets paved with gold
But when he reached the golden land of dreams
He found he'd struck fools' gold

He knew that his harmonica was going out of tune
As he vamped 'The Blaydon Races' in the street
But as he passed his cap round he knew he needed money
And he knew too well he needed food to eat

Now some men work for silver
And some men work for gold
And some men work for bugger all
And that's all they can afford

He left his home in the heart of the north
To seek streets paved with gold
But when he reached the golden land of dreams
He found he'd struck fools' gold

He left his home in the heart of the north
To seek streets paved with gold
But when he reached the golden land of dreams
He found he'd struck fools' gold


(Gary Miller)
Track Name: Jenny Grey
JENNY GREY

I watched as you watched me with hope in my heart
And I wondered what your eyes were telling me then
But a wall drew around me and trapped me forever
And there was no key that could free me again

I passed by a headstone, which no shadows darkened
There I saw a young woman with flowers and tears
And I envied the soul for whom she was grieving
And I lost all desire to continue my years

When they are drying the blood from my body
And the flowers and grieving are all for me
And when I am gone into Hell or to Heaven
Oh dear Jenny Grey cry for me

We walked together in the cool summer morning
And the birds were all singing in the valley below
But the wind stole their voices as the sweet vision faded
And I walked home without you alone

The factory gates have all closed down before me
And the lights are dimming on the edge of the town
And they are singing a sad hymn in the church in the village
And your face looks so sad as the tears flow down

(lyrics: Gary Miller / music: Glenn Miller)
Track Name: The Coal-Digger's Grave
THE COAL-DIGGER’S GRAVE

There had just been a big cave-in in the depths of Belly Row
And Jim Greenwood was stretched out on the ground
And those with no guts were smiling at the back
While the strong men had failed to bring him round

The burial party had just reached the top of Dead Man's Hill
It was well past closing time and all the men had drunk their fill
They were starting to shovel the soil over his head
When he jumped up and yelled, "Give us whisky!"

The top men are calling for enquiries round the town
They've got a lot of face to save
And they've sent out appeals for the men to rally round
"Will someone put a body in the coal-digger's grave?"

Jim Greenwood had survived many pitfalls in his time
And the thinkers couldn't think what else to do
"We cannot starve your family and we cannot steal your home
But somehow we're going to get you"

And they sent him off to fight in the war
And the bullets knocked him to the ground
And they said, "That's the end of you my son"
But the bugger he came back round

(Gary Miller)
Track Name: Dol-Li-A
DOL-LI-A

It's fresh I come down Sandgate Street
Dol-Li, Dol-Li
My best friends here to meet
Dol-Li-A

Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li, Dol-Li
Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li-A

Dolly Coxon's pawned her shirt
Dol-li, Dol-Li
To ride upon a baggage cart
Dol-Li-A

Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li, Dol-Li
Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li-A

The green cuffs have gone away
Dol-Li, Dol-Li
That will be a crying day
Dol-Li-A

Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li, Dol-Li
Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li-A

The black cuffs are coming in
Dol-Li, Dol-Li
That will make the lasses sing
Dol-Li-A

Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li, Dol-Li
Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li-A

Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li, Dol-Li
Dol-Li, De-Dillen-Dol
Dol-Li-A

(Trad. arr. The Whisky Priests)
Track Name: Halcyon Days
HALCYON DAYS

I remember Charlie Douglas when we were still at school
He was my very best friend
But I passed him as a stranger in the street the other day
He didn't even know my bonnie face
And little Cathy Thompson with her hair and heart of gold
I vowed I would love until the end of time
But we were young and I failed to realise
That she would never be mine

I remember the times when we used to laugh and play
But this cruel world always seems to take those times away
Now it all seems like a dream that just happened yesterday
Those times will never come again

We rang bells and ran through gardens
But caused no harm to anyone
And the rows and fields were our own
And we would mucky all our best clothes
Jumping becks and climbing trees
And stayed out late didn't want to go back home
And the gypsy-camp battlefield where we used to play at wars
Was innocent fun and games back then
But now we are acting out our battle plans for real
Though we say we are fully grown men

In our ignorance and bliss we were happy in our lives
And our innocence could never let us down
On grassy moors we chased and in greeny lanes we roamed
Creating our own world in our town
But it could never last forever fate caught up on us in time
And turned our whole world upside down
For our minds then knew of guilt and all the pain of love and hate
While our dreams were left shattered on the ground

Oh what happened to you whatever happened to me
What became of the people we used to be

(Gary Miller)
Track Name: The Oakey Strike Evictions
THE OAKEY STRIKE EVICTIONS

It was in November and I never will forget
When the polisses and the candymen at Oakey Hooses met
Johnny the Bellman he was there, a-squintin' roondaboot
And they put three men on every door to turn the miners oot

What would I dee if I had the power mesel'
I would hang the twenty candymen and Johnny whey carries the bell

They went from hoose to hoose and then they put things in the road
But mind they didn’t hurt themselves carrying heavy loads
One would carry the poker oot the fender or the rake
But if they carried two at once it was a great mistake

What would I dee if I had the power mesel'
I would hang the twenty candymen and Johnny whey carries the bell

Some of the dandy candymen were dressed up like a clown
Some had hats without a peak and some without a crown
One had nee laps on his coat but there was one chap worse
'Cos every time he had to stoop it was a laughable farce

What would I dee if I had the power mesel'
I would hang the twenty candymen and Johnny whey carries the bell

Now there was one chap had nee sleeves or buttons upon his coat
And another had a bairnies ribbon wrapped around his throat
One chap wore a pair of breeks belonging to a boy
One leg was a sort of tweed and the other was corduroy

What would I dee if I had the power mesel'
I would hang the twenty candymen and Johnny whey carries the bell

Well next up comes the masters and I think they should be shamed
Depriving wives and families of a comfortable hyem
And when they shift from where they live I hope they gan to hell
Along with the twenty candymen and Johnny whey carries the bell

What would I dee if I had the power mesel'
I would hang the twenty candymen and Johnny whey carries the bell

Aye it was in November, I never will forget
When the polisses and the candymen at Oakey Hooses met
Johnny the Bellman he was there, a-squintin' roondaboot
And they put three men on every door to turn the miners not

What would I dee if I had the power mesel'
I would hang the twenty candymen and Johnny whey carries the bell

What would I dee if I had the power mesel'
I would hang the twenty candymen and Johnny whey carries the bell
Track Name: Pressgang Medley: a) Captain Bover / Here's The Tender Comin' / Proudlock's Hornpipe / Harvest Home
CAPTAIN BOVER

Where hast thou been me canny hinny
Where hast thou been me winsome man
Where hast thou been me canny hinny
Where hast thou been me winsome man

I’ve been tae the nor’ard cruisin’ back and for’ard
I’ve been tae the nor’ard cruisin’ sair and lang
I’ve been tae the nor’ard cruisin’ back and for’ard
But I daren’t come ashore for fear of Bover and his gang


HERE’S THE TENDER COMIN’

Here's the tender comin’, pressin’ all the men
Oh dear hinny, what shall we do then?
Here's the tender comin’ off at Shield's Bar
Here's the tender comin’ full o’ men o’ war

Here's the tender coming, pressing of me dear
Oh dear hinny, tak ye ’way frae here
They will ship ye foreign, that is what it means
Here's the tender comin’, full o’ red marines

Here's the tender comin’, pressin’ all the men
Oh dear hinny, what shall we do then?
Here's the tender comin’ off at Shield's Bar
Here's the tender comin’ full o’ men o’ war

And if they tak ye Geordie whe's to win our bread?
Me and little Jackie better off be dead
Here's the tender comin’ off at Shield's Bar
Here's the tender comin’ full o’ men o’ war

So hide me canny Geordie, hide yersel’ away
Hide until the frigate makes for Drudge Bay
Here's the tender comin’ off at Shield's Bar
Here's the tender comin’ full o’ men o’ war

Here's the tender coming, pressing of me dear
Oh dear hinny, tak ye ’way frae here
They will ship ye foreign, that is what it means
Here's the tender comin’, full o’ red marines


(Trad. arr. The Whisky Priests)
Track Name: The Durham Lockout
THE DURHAM LOCKOUT

In our Durham County I am sorry for to say
That hunger and starvation are increasing every day
For the want of food and coals we know not what to do
But with your kind assistance we will see the struggle through

Now I need not state the reason why we have been brought so low
All the masters have behaved unkind as everyone will know
For we won't lie down and let them treat us as they like
To punish us they've stopped the pits and caused the present strike

May every Durham colliery owner that is in the fault
Receive nine lashes with the rod and then be rubbed with salt
May his arse be thick with boils so that he can never sit
And never burst 'til all the wheels go round at every pit

For the pulley wheels have ceased to move that once went swift around
The horses and the ponies too have been brought from underground
Our work is taken from us for they care not if we die
For they can eat the best of food and drink the best when dry

While the miner and his poor wife too each morning have to roam
To seek for bread to feed the hungry little ones at home
The flour barrel is empty now, our true and faithful friend
Which makes the thousands wish today the strike was at an end

We have done our very best as honest working men
To let the pits commence again we've offered to them ten
The offer they will not accept, they firmly do demand
Thirteen and a half per cent or let the collieries stand

Well let them stand or let them lie, do with them as you choose
To give them thirteen and a half we ever shall refuse
They're always willing to receive but not inclined to give
And very soon they won't allow a working man to live

With tyranny and capital they never rest content
Unless they are endeavouring to take from us per cent
If it were due what they request we willing would give
But very soon they won't allow a working man to live

Now the miners of Northumberland we shall forever praise
For being so kind in helping us these tyrannising days
We thank the other counties too for they've been doing the same
And everyone who hears this song will know we're not to blame


(lyrics: Tommy Armstrong / music: trad. arr. The Whisky Priests)
Track Name: Collier's Rant
COLLIER'S RANT

As me and my marrers were going to work
We met with the Devil it was in the dark
I up with my pick it was in the neet
I knocked off his horns likewise his clubfeet

Follow the horses Johnny me laddie
Follow the horses canny lad-o
Follow the horses Johnny me laddie
Away lie away me canny lad-o

Marrer oh marrer now what do you think
I've broken my bottle and spilt all my drink
I've lost my tools among the great stones
Draw me to the shaft lad it's time to go home

Follow the horses Johnny me laddie
Follow the horses canny lad-o
Follow the horses Johnny me laddie
Away lie away me canny lad-o

As me and my marrer were loading the tram
His laugh it went out and my marrer went wrong
You would have laughed to see the fine game
Old Nick took my marrer and I took the tram

Follow the horses Johnny me laddie
Follow the horses canny lad-o
Follow the horses Johnny me laddie
Away lie away me canny lad-o

So here's my horses and here's my tram
Two horns full of grease will make her to gan
There's my marrer all stretched on the ground
You can tear up his shirt his mining's all done

Follow the horses Johnny me laddie
Follow the horses canny lad-o
Follow the horses Johnny me laddie
Away lie away me canny lad-o

(Trad. arr. The Whisky Priests)
Track Name: The Durham Light Infantry
THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY

When I was just a young lad
I used to mine the land
With a pick across my shoulder
Or a shovel in my hand
But then the bloody war came
And my hero's instincts grew
And the posters in the street said
"Your country needs you"
"Your country needs you"
And I knew then what I must do

So Billy signed up
For a soldier's bloody wage
And Jimmy joined the navy
So that he could rule the waves
And they stood so proud and smart
In their uniforms so new
And the people lined the street with flags
Coloured red white and blue
Coloured red white and blue
And you'll die for your country too

So we're off my boys
Through the hell and the noise
To die for our country
And they'll raise a cross
To remember the loss
Of the Durham Light Infantry

In the muddy fields of Flanders
We fought like men from hell
And the ground itself was ripped apart
Where all my best mates fell
Jacky Cranston got his balls blown off
And a shell took Chorley's leg
And in all that hell and madness
I wished that I was dead
I wished that I was dead
And all the sky was filled with lead

So we buried all our dead
At least those that could be found
As well as bits of bodies
That were scattered all around
And it made me sick with anger
At the things the war had done
But when it was all over
We still kept marching on
We still kept marching on
Though all my mates are dead and gone

Now we'll sing a song of victory
That was paid for with the brave
But we're left only with monuments
And an unknown soldier's grave
And a special day once every year
To remember them to God
And commemorate their bravery
With a poppy the colour of blood
A poppy the colour of blood
We've paid too high a price with all that blood

(Gary Miller)
Track Name: Adam Buckham [Bonus Track]
ADAM BUCKHAM

It's down the long stairs
And it's straight along the close
All in Baker's entry
Adam Buckham knows

And it's oh Adam Buckham oh
Oh Adam Buckham oh
Oh Adam Buckham oh
With his bow legs

Now nanny carries water
And Tommy cobbles shoes
And Adam Buckham goes around
Gathering all the news

Now Adam kissed a servant maid
And that would never do
And if the lads get hold of him
They'll make him sorely rue

(Trad. arr. The Whisky Priests)
Track Name: Grandfatha's Fatha [Bonus Track]
GRANDFATHA’S FATHA

When I was a young lad and had never known a job
I would visit my grandfather once a week
And I’d listen to his tales whilst sitting on his knee
But of his days at work he’d never speak

I found out that his father had died long ago
When granda was a young lad like mysel’
It was down the pit he died whilst working on the gang
There was a big explosion so they tell

They were cut off from the world
When the big cage doors were closed
They sang and talked to keep their spirits high
Then his father told the tale
Of when he’d met Old Nick Himself
And then he joked he’d see them all in Hell

They’d both left home together
They were both on the same long shift
And with the other men they piled into the cage
But the clanging of machinery as they descended down
Was warning them “you’re going to your graves”

When the cage reached the bottom
All the men clambered out
And like tiny ants they laboured in the gloom
Then an almighty bang rent the air
As the men began to shout
And the roof caved in to seal them in their tomb

No one knew what had happened
Until the dust began to settle
It looked like there’d been a battle
With the Devil down in Hell
My grandfather had been knocked unconscious
By a beam that had grazed his skull
While his father just lay lifeless where he fell

They’d brought him to the surface
By the time that he’d come round
Someone said “Son forget what happened
To you down there in the dark”
But his mind could never escape the horror
Of seeing his poor father die
In that dark hole that was called his place of work

(Gary Miller)
Track Name: Geordie Black [Bonus Track]
GEORDIE BLACK

Oh my name is Geordie Black and I'm getting very old
And I've hewed tons of coal in my time
When I was a lad I could either put or hew
Out of the other ones I would always take the shine
Now I'm going down the bank and I cannot use my pick
And the master has no pity on old bones
Are you new or on the bank in amongst the bits of lads
Up upon the heath a-picking stones

Oh my name is Geordie Black in my time I've been a crack
And I've worked both the Gus and the Betty
And for coals upon the Tyne out of the others I would take the shine
And lick them all for iron down at Hawks's

Now when I was just a lad carried on my father's back
He would take me away to the pit
And getting in the cage and then going down below
Was enough to make a youngster take a fit
To sit and keep the door in the darkness and the gloom
And many a weary hour by myself
And to hear the awful shots as they rumbled around the pit
And the lumps of roondy coal come down pell mell

Oh my name is Geordie Black in my time I've been a crack
And I've worked both the Gus and the Betty
And for coals upon the Tyne out of the others I would take the shine
And lick them all for iron down at Hawks's

Now I'll bid you all goodnight for it's nearly time to lowse
And I hope I've tried to please you everyone
Mind you pray tonight and do all the things that's right
For in this world that's the way to get along
Now here's success to trade for on the Wear and Tyne
I don't like to see the faces slack
For if the pits lie idle then no wages come today
It grieves the heart of poor Geordie Black

Oh my name is Geordie Black in my time I've been a crack
And I've worked both the Gus and the Betty
And for coals upon the Tyne out of the others I would take the shine
And lick them all for iron down at Hawks's

(lyrics: Trad. arr. The Whisky Priests / music: Johnny Handle)
Track Name: The Clog Dancer [Bonus Track]
THE CLOG DANCER

Now then marras what fettle
I hope I find you well
If you gather all around me now
My story I will tell
When I was young I used to be
A miner like yourselves
But now because my hair’s turned grey
They’ve put me on the shelf

For fifty years I’ve worked in the pit
And many’s the change I’ve seen
When I was young when a man was done
They’d set him on the screen
But now today when your hair turns grey
Like a squaddie with an old peg leg
They’ll tell you you’re no use anymore
Get out in the road and beg

My age it is just sixty-four
For work I’ve got no chance
They’ve barred me from the championships
My clogs for the belt to dance
They said that I was getting on
For work I was no use
They’ve paid me off and thrown me out
Get into the old workhouse

So listen all my young lads
Take heed of what I say
Get out of the pit if you’re young enough
To make good your own way
Because if you don’t and you stay below
You’ll wake to find one day
You’re all washed up and you get the push
Because your hair’s turned grey

(Trad. arr. The Whisky Priests)