Review Summary: “Boys on the Docks” is virtually what put the Dropkick Murphys on the map; a starting point in which the Murphys greatly improved on.
It’s hard to believe that just twelve years ago, the world knew nothing of the Dropkick Murphys. Before the cult following, bagpipes, and Irish drinking songs, was a Boston based punk rock band that was just trying to make it. Fronted by original singer Mike McColgan, the Murphys released several EPs in order to strike a record deal. The ultimate of these, “Boys on the Docks” is virtually what put the Dropkick Murphys on the map, for the band authorized a deal with Hellcat Records the following year.
“Boys on the Docks” is essentially a stark contrast to the band’s present day works. On this particular EP, the bagpipes, accordions, and Irish flutes are missing, and vocalists Al Barr and Ken Casey play a much smaller role than Murphys fans are used to. For what “Boys on the Docks” lacks however, is simply accommodated for with sheer intensity. This EP accurately portrays what is to come in following records “Do or Die,” and “The Gang’s All Here;” its hard-hitting punk and sludgy production fundamentally define the band’s early sound. “Boys on the Docks” is your typical punk rock EP, for it features six tracks in which do not even encompass fifteen minutes.
Out of the six tracks, two are original versions of Dropkick Murphys songs that were recognized on upcoming releases, Boys on the Docks
and Caps and Bottles
. The title track is practically a testament to the Murphys’ worldview, “Say hey johnny boy, the battle call United we stand, divided we fall.” The band has certainly stood by these beliefs throughout their career, from the group vocals on “Do or Die’s” Skinhead on the MBTA
to the gang loyalty in “The Meanest of Times’” Famous for Nothing
. The proceeding tracks are certainly no exception, for Never Alone
claims that, “We got loyal friends, we keep our heads held high,” and Caps and Bottles
advocates defending those closest to you. The fighting nature of Caps and Bottles
is even introduced by a broadcast of a hockey fight during a Boston Bruins game.
“Boys on the Docks” does suffer due in large part to no variety, for every track is your typical punk song with accelerated pace and brutal vocals. McColgan may not have the lasting effect that Barr and Casey do are front men however, his cleaner yet still hazy singing provides the record with a great deal of edge and character. Fans of the more recent Dropkick Murphys work may be stunned at the differences of “Boys on the Docks,” but this EP is basically how the Murphys became the band they are today. From the downright angry Eurotrash
to the fiery Front Seat
, this 1997 release displayed enough potential for the band to get off their feet and develop into the Celtic rock outfit that many know and love.
Boys on the Docks
Caps and Bottles