As a rabid Dropkick Murphys fan (I consider them to be one of the top five bands in the world), I had to include them on the list. My favorite album of theirs is actually Sing Loud, Sing Proud from 2000, but since this is a strictly 1990s mix and the only other album the Murphys released in that decade was The Gang's All Here in 1999, I had to go with their debut Do or Die.
Sure, The Gang's All Here has Pipebomb On Landsdowne, Blood And Whiskey, Curse Of A Fallen Soul and The Fighting 69th, but Do Or Die has all the hits, the true classics. You can't argue with Caught In A Jar, Road Of The Righteous, the "pub version" of Boys On The Docks (about bassist Ken Casey's grandfather John Kelly), Faraway Coast (about singer Mike McColgan's experiences as a soldier in the first Gulf war), Skinhead On The MBTA and Barroom Hero.
This was the only album they did with McColgan who after the album left to pursue a career as a firefighter. This merry Boston bunch then recruited Al Barr from the Bruisers and haven't look back since.
The strength of Dropkick Murphys since day one has been their combination of pretty much every good form of punk there has ever been. There's the '76/'77 scene and the British ska wave of the late 70's as well as early 80's hardcore and the British skinhead Oi! scene.
Dropkick Murphy's were (and to an extent still are) a melting pot of Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash, Gang Green, The Damned, The Nips, The F.U.'s, and many others, only augmented by McColgan's snotty, hollering vocals. With the arrival of Al Barr's gruff, raspy vocals and Lars Frederickson's production the band adopted a more rockier, Rancid-like sound on The Gang's All Here which the band's has stuck to till this day. Which I love, but it's important to understand that Dropkick Murphys sounded like a quite different band in the early days.
And then of course there's the Irish influence which comes not only from several members' Celtic heritage, but also from listening to The Pogues and The Dubliners. In taking The Pogues' base idea (traditional Irish music with a punk edge) to its limits, Dropkick Murphys in essence greated something new. Aggressive, often quite fast, songs with hooligan vocals that made you realise Oi! and The Wild Rover have some very essential in common: the sing-a-long aspect.
In the liner notes of their 2002 live album Live on St. Patrick's Day From Boston, MA a critic writes "Dropkick Murphys don't give concerts - they throw parties", which really sums everything up. A Dropkick Murphys show is just about the funnest thing there is, good spirits all aroundand a complete sense of unity were the boundaries between band and audience disappear. It's impossible not to jump around like a lunatic, scream along to every line with your fist in the air and drink Guinness and whiskey til you drop with a blissful grin from ear to ear.
But more than anything I find Dropkick Murphys' music uplifting. Sounds crap, but there's no better word for it. It's positive and hopeful and has helped me lift my spirits on countless occasions.
(mp3) Dropkick Murphys - Cadence to arms/Do or die
(mp3) Dropkick Murphys - Boys on the docks (recommended!)
(mp3) Dropkick Murphys - Skinhead on the MBTA
Buy Do Or Die @ Amazon.com.