Dropkick Murphys
The Meanest of Times


3.5
great

Review

by Mike Allen USER (107 Reviews)
December 10th, 2009 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Dropkick Murphys continue to deliver the type of music you would expect from them, but reluctantly nothing more.

For the longest time, the Dropkick Murphys’ latest release “The Meanest of Times” had been a difficult record for me to understand. You may ask how? First of all, since “Do or Die” the band had completely transformed their sound, beginning with hard-edged somewhat unoriginal punk to the Celtic rock that they are associated with now. Lead singer Mike McColgan had a great deal to do with this; he left the band following “Do or Die,” and the Murphys were forced to replace their leading songwriter and vocalist. Not that McColgan had a negative impact on the band, but his departure may have been the greatest thing that has happened to the Dropkick Murphys. On the band’s next full-length release “The Gang’s All Here,” Al Barr and Ken Casey took the reigns as lead vocalists and have had been absolutely instrumental to the band’s success since. In 2001, “Sing Loud, Sing Proud” marked a new direction for the Murphys, incorporating Celtic elements into their music more than they ever had. Throughout the next two albums “Blackout” and “Warriors’ Code,” the Dropkick Murphys perfected their sound and basically were indications that a Celtic-punk rock classic was not far off.

That’s where “The Meanest of Times” is frustrating. It does seem however, to be too much to ask. The band had seemingly grown with nearly every record, both in terms of songwriting and instrumentals. Barr and Casey had developed into an absolutely incredible tandem of vocalists, complementing each other beautifully and presenting the records with even more edge and ruggedness. With “The Meanest of Times” it doesn’t appear that the Dropkick Murphys had progressed; the record seems to be pretty much replicates of “Warriors’ Code” and “Blackout” in several areas. So as I was about to sit down and write a review about how the Dropkick Murphys didn’t improve or expand at all, I listened to the record again and thought, so what? More of the same music from the Murphys can hardly be a bad thing. “The Meanest of Times” proves to be an excellent album in its own right, containing many of the same elements that have developed them into such a prevalent band.

This record in particular may be the Dropkick Murphys’ catchiest and upbeat record to date, making use of accelerated paces and uplifting vocals. The Murphys again waste no time getting started, for opener Famous for Nothing slaps you in the face, pulls you in, and leaves you wanting more. God Willing is another one of these tracks; its melodies soar and the atmosphere makes you want to jump all over the room like a mad person. These songs are found throughout the record, Vices and Virtues being an example, for the line “Whiskey, war, suicide, and guns” is incredibly difficult to let go of. Although “The Meanest of Times” is mostly of buoyant nature, the Murphys don’t disappoint to throw a few curveball. The State of Massachussetts is fully-equipped with a mandolin riff and Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya proves to be an outstanding cover of traditional track Johnny Comes Marching Home.

“The Meanest of Times” however, does expand on the storytelling end, for (F)lannigan’s Ball and Fairmount Hill hold true to this. Another traditional track, (F)lannigan’s Ball features guest vocalists Spider Stacy from the Pogues and Ronnie Drew from the Dubliners. Along with Barr and Casey, each vocalist trades off, talking about the events of a drunken ball. The mandolin returns for Fairmount Hill, which is closest track on the record to resemble a ballad. The track concludes brilliantly with the music fading out Casey reluctantly singing, “When I awoke in California, many miles from Fairmount Hill.” Following track Loyal to No One could very well be the record’s best and most innovative track. The impact is instantaneous and the bagpipes and accordion contain some of the band’s best instrumental work to date. Loyal to No One is one of those tracks that could have elevated “Blackout” or “Warrior’s Code” to classic status had it been released on those records.

A classic may be too much to ask from a band like the Dropkick Murphys, however “The Meanest of Times” is yet another suggestion that it could happen. This record may not have really expanded on many of the band’s concepts and diversity, but clearly doesn’t deserve to be overlooked at all. “The Meanest of Times” is neither an improvement nor a setback for the Dropkick Murphys, and includes some outstanding tracks that would topple several of their previous works.

Recommended Tracks:
Famous for Nothing
God Willing
(F)lannigan’s Ball
Fairmount Hill
Loyal to No One



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user ratings (257)
Chart.
3.7
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SAvaGE888 (4)
The meanest of times showcases the passion and energy these Celtic punk rockers are capable of produ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
EVedder27
December 10th 2009


6088 Comments


That's it for the studio records, will do the Boys on the Docks EP to round out the discog.

Nagrarok
December 10th 2009


8245 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Listening this now. Agree with that it's very noticably more upbeat. Review reads almost like a 3.5, and since they didn't really show anything new, it might just be the right mark. Not decided yet though, not finished listening.

No mention of the Thin Lizzy cover?

EVedder27
December 10th 2009


6088 Comments


Thanks for the pos, and I agree that the review may be a little harsh for the rating. The way I see it the record gets a 4.5 for quality and a 3.5 for being what I expected. My version actually doesn't have the Thin Lizzy cover and I guess its a bonus track. I'll definitely check it out.

Nagrarok
December 10th 2009


8245 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, it's a bonus track, but I wasn't sure if it is on every release. It's listed here in the track listing.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 10th 2009


7338 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

another excellent review. i agree that this isn't as good as the previous two (maybe three) albums, but it's still pretty great. for me the intensity of the album until fairmount hill is a weakness, for me the album needs a breather before the tenth track. i also find that the songs arent as catchy as on their other albums but they're still some great ones.

PuddlesPuddles
December 10th 2009


4772 Comments


Showin love for the Ved. Consistent great reviews are the name of the game, pos'd

EVedder27
December 10th 2009


6088 Comments


Thanks AliW and Puddles. And AliW I definitely agree that the intensity is a weakness, it really doesn't have the variety of Warrior's Code or Blackout. I think if there were a few tracks like The Green Fields of France thrown in here it would easily be a 4.5.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 10th 2009


7338 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i dunno about a 4.5 cos i generally dont like the faster songs here as much as those on blackout and warriors code, but yeah it would definitely be stronger

Ponton
Emeritus
December 10th 2009


5793 Comments


Good review Mike.

Hmm, maybe it might be best to say "the same level of quality music," as opposed to "type of music" in the summary? Idk, either way it works.

renegadestrings
December 10th 2009


1442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

still don't have this one... but i'll be damned if i don't love "The State of Massachusetts"
good review as always, but its time to find a new band to critique

Ponton
Emeritus
December 10th 2009


5793 Comments


I think he's about done with this one to be honest. He does discography reviews where he goes through and reviews all of the band's releases.

EVedder27
December 10th 2009


6088 Comments


Thanks, guys and yeah I'm just gonna finish the discography with an EP. Will be back to doing single albums after that. And Observer thanks for the suggestion but I guess "type" was kind of what I was going for there.

Crymsonblaze
December 10th 2010


7480 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

God Willing has been stuck in my head for like the past two days straight.

Spec
October 7th 2012


27167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cause it's a great song.

ViperAces
November 24th 2012


12429 Comments


I DONT PREDICT THE FUTURE
I DONT CARE ABOUT THE PAST!

Demolitionizer
November 7th 2013


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album has the song "God Willing" my favorite Murphys song



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