Another review and good news for UK and US fans: The album ‘100 Midnights’ is due to be released on CD in the US and the UK on 6th March.
The Mighty Stef ‘100 Midnights’ March 3rd, 2009 Tuneraker.com Full URL
You heard U2, now it is time for some FRESH, NEW talent from Ireland: Meet Dublin’s blue collar rock bard The Mighty Stef.
The Mighty Stef, aka Stefan Murphy, is part Punk rocker and part bohemian. His new album ‘100 Midnights’ shows both sides at work, sounding like the result of a session with Johnny Thunders and Scott Walker in the back room of a pub.
When it comes to music, Stef’s heart beats for rock ‘n’ roll. His sound incorporates a big dollop of New York Punk with the flamboyance of Johnny Thunders and a pinch of blue collar rock a la Springsteen. Stef’s lyrics have a dry humour and his put-downs are cutting.
‘100 Midnights’, his second album to date, focuses on the bohemian side of Stef. The selection of songs favours downtempo numbers and the arrangements smell of seedy dive bars.
The best tracks on the album remind me of Scott Walker’s interpretations of songs by Belgian chansonnier Jacques Brel. They are bawdy ballads bursting with life, raucous and sad at the same time. Start with the title track ‘100 Midnights’, then check out ‘I Swear I Have No Feeling For That Girl’ and ‘Kings Of New York’ if you like that style.
Stef enlisted the help of some famous friends in the making of this album. Two members of legendary London-Irish hellraisers The Pogues appear as guest vocalists. Original Pogues frontman Shane McGowan duets with Stef on a cover of ‘Waitin Around To Die’, a song written by leftfield Country singer Townes Van Zandt. And Cait O’Riordain, the original Pogues bass player, duets with Stef on the track ‘Safe At Home’.
The rock ‘n’ roll animal that regularly graces Dublin stages for a bit of impromptu mayhem is largely missing from the album. Try ‘Safe At Home’ with Cait O’Riordain for a taster or the ace bubblegum Punk ballad, ‘Downtown’, that would have made Joey Ramone proud. This is real sing-a-long, fists in the air stuff.
‘100 Midnights’ is a great after hours listening album that captures that elegantly wasted feeling like no other.
Stef and his band are currently on tour in the US. They are due to hit the stage of the Mercury Lounge in New York on 7th March and will play three gigs at the prestigious ‘what’s hot in alternative music’ festival SXSW in Austin, Texas, between 19-21st March.
A short passage from Mighty Stef's lengthy interview (regarding his work with Shane):
...The circumstances could hardly be more appropriate. The Mighty Stef is speaking from an old-fashioned coin-operated phone booth in Barcelona airport on the Monday morning following his stag weekend. There’s always a story with Stefan Murphy, whose second album 100 Midnights is a rough-edged but hugely impressive panorama of songwriting styles and sounds, from the bolshy, Brechtian title tune to the poolroom blues of the closing ‘A Pretend Sailors Goodbye’; from No Wave Spector (‘Downtown’) to shlockabilly country death dirges (‘Golden Gloves’).
If the songs frequently invoke Tom Waits’s description of The Pogues as sounding like sailors on shore leave, that’s no accident: both Cait O’Riordain and Shane MacGowan make cameos on the record (Stef is handled by ex Pogues manager Frank Murray), the former on the mother-son duet ‘Safe At Home’, the latter on a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s classic ‘Waitin’ Round To Die’.
“Shane came in armed with another verse for the song,” Stefan recalls, “he thought that this verse he had concocted in his brain was very apt: “A friend, he said he knew how some good money could be made/We found a rich boy walking all alone/I got me a razor blade/And I took him in the shade/And I started me a graveyard of my own.”
Holy shit – that’s some verse.
“He thought that he’d ripped it off Hank Williams, but I searched for those lyrics and I couldn’t find them anywhere, so it was just a little bit of Shane magic that we were privy to at the time. I’ve been asked a series of times by people doing press stuff and friends and family, ‘What was it like meeting Shane MacGowan?’ Well, first of all he was an absolute gentleman and a really good, spirited person to be in the company of. And yeah, when we were finished, we got drunk, we had a great time, we sat around listening to music and playing pool and drinking whiskey and gin and everything else. For somebody of the pedigree of Shane to be contributing to my work was a real thrill – I still don’t understand the full weight of that.”
Excerpt from "A deeper blue - The life and music of Townes van Zandt":
"As Townes had played more and more shows in Ireland in the 1990s, he had come to enjoy and appreciate the Irish people, the pubs, the music, the countryside, and the idea of Ireland. `People from Ireland and people from Texas ... can both get real sad´, Townes said, explaining his affinity. Both peoples `rebound´, he went on, `when they realize they´ve got the blues forever.´ Townes told an Irish writer of his affinity for Shane MacGowan - leader of Irish punk band the Pogues and Ireland´s greatest living songwriter - and said that one of the songs on the new album was written about him*.
MacGowan´s own affinity for what he called `piss artists´ - great artists who are also alcoholics (he cites James Joyce, in particular)- makes it easy to imagine his reciprocal affinity for Townes".
*From "Talk Townes", an article by Patrick Brennan, February 1995. It is not revealed which song Townes said he wrote with Shane MacGowan in mind.
"Just once I would like to see the coyote eat that feathered freak !" (Sledge Hammer)