Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Real McKenzies — Shine Not Burn
I've seen Vancouver's The Real McKenzies a number of times in various formats, incarnations and levels of inebriation over the years, and I've never left a show unimpressed or not soaked in beer.
The band's mix of rock, punk, folk and traditional Scottish music has found a following worldwide, and Shine Not Burn was recorded live at Wild At Heart in Berlin, Germany's Kreuzberg district over three nights last August. They were all-acoustic sets featuring a nine-piece band, with the expanded lineup including Magdalena Schmied on violin and Karl Alvarez (All, The Descendents) on mandolin, bass and backing vocals.
While everyone in the group likes to drink and party hard, this excellent 21-song collection from Fat Wreck Chords shows that they also know how to play their instruments. Matt MacNasty, in particular, gets an opportunity to show his bagpipe prowess on "Drink The Way I Do," "Auld Mrs. Hunt" and the instrumental "Taylor Made II."
But the real star of every Real McKenzies show is the band's founder, who was kind (or drunk) enough to lend his name to the group: lyricist, harmonica player and lead singer Paul McKenzie. He's one of the most entertaining frontmen around, whether he's singing or addressing band or audience members.
McKenzie is on top of his game on Shine And Burn, as he barks out favourites from the group's 18-year career. There's not a clunker among them, but some of the highlights include "Nessie," "Bastards," "Scots Wha' Ha'e," "Pour Decisions," "Bitch Off The Money," "Wild Mountain Thyme" and "King O' Glasgow."
The Real McKenzies will embark on a two-month European tour in August, but hopefully more North American dates will be in the works upon the band's return. As much as I enjoy Shine Not Burn, I'm ready for the real thing again.

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