"Dreaming In Hell's Kitchen"-The Prodigals critically acclaimed third album.
The Prodigals are one of the most successful bands to emerge from the East-Coast Irish scene. The band members grew up largely in Ireland; their original songs blend a funky and anarchic energy that is pure New York with a genuine passion for the traditional music of Ireland.
The Prodigals have played throughout the United States, from Los Angeles and Las Vegas to Chicago, Boston and Maine, as well as abroad in Canada, Germany and Ireland, but they remain firmly rooted in Manhattan.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, MARY HOULIHAN
November 11, 2001
The vibrant Irish rock of the Prodigals continues to shine forth from the group's latest release, Dreaming in Hell's Kitchen. The New York-based quartet--two Irishmen, two Americans--have perfected a hook-filled disc that speaks equally to the traditions of Celtic music and American rock 'n' roll. Producer Johnny Cunningham (Solas) doesn't interfere with the Prodigals edgy style but simply ushers the group to a more multi-textured, complex and satisfying mix. The songs receive a patina of the homeland via the brouge-inflected vocals of Ray Kelly and Gregory Grene. The strong rhythm section--drummer Brian Tracey and bassist Andrew Harkin--consistently delivers a powerful backbeat. Standouts are the jubilant "Happy Man," a stark reading of the traditional "Jackie Hall," and the driving beat of the lovelorn "Baggot Street."
DREAMING IN HELL'S KITCHEN, PULSE! MAGAZINE, J. POET 4 Stars
The Prodigals are an Irish-American folk rock band that came together in New York about four years ago to play a one-off gig on St. Patrick's Day. The chemistry was there, as anyone who's ever heard them play can tell you, and they've become a major attraction on the Irish-American pub and folk-music circuit. If Dreaming in Hell's Kitchen gets the attention it deserves, they could easily become stars on the roots rock scene, too. They've been compared with other popular Irish bands, including the Pogues and Chieftains, but they're closer to what the Ramones might have sounded like if they'd taken traditional Irish music as their starting point. They breathe fire into traditional tunes "Lord Randall" and "Jackie Hall," but it's on their own compositions, mostly odes to drinkin', lost love and rowdy behavior, where they really shine. "The Morning After" and "One True Cause," a timely examination of everyday fanaticism, sound like potential anthems.
ALL MUSIC GUIDE, DAVE SLEGER 4 Stars - AMG Pick
The third album by this group of Irish-American Celtic rockers sees traditional Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham in the producer's chair. While his history is solidly rooted in Scottish music (Silly Wizard, Relativity, and ightnoise), recent years have seen him branch out in diverse directions. His involvement with the Raindogs in the early '90s through his session work with the Dropkick Murphys' Sing Loud Sing Proud prove that he's no stranger to the rock & roll end of the musical spectrum. On this album he generally doesn't tamper with the Prodigals' edgy style of folk-rock. His fiddle accompanies the band on select occasions but, oddly, what sets this album apart from their previous two records is the strength of their original pieces. While the entire band is credited with composing the music for the Prodigals' own songs, the lyrics are, by and large, written by accordion player and co-lead singer Gregory Grene. The selections in which he sings lead are generally more gentle and uplifting ã on the surface, if not in lyrical content too. Guitarist Ray Kelly sings lead on half of the songs and delivers them in a more coarse and surly manner. The rhythm section of bassist Andrew Harkin and drummer Brian Tracey are firmly established as one of the most melodic and grooving duo involved in rock & roll, folk, Celtic rock, worldbeat, or whatever category this innovative quartet inevitably gets labeled as.
BASS PLAYER MAGAZINE, CHRIS JISI
BP Recommends - Featured Review
Among other feats, the Prodigals' last album, Go On, established that the fast-breaking, New York-based Irish band is the source of some of the most original, inventive bass playing in rock, courtesy of Andrew Harkin. On the band's latest release, Harkin ups the ante, at times even multi-tracking his '64 Jazz Bass or '88 Sadowsky. The opener, "Happy Man," fades in on Harkin's dual overdubbed lines before he settles into Bakithi-like arpeggios. Similarly, the traditional cover "Lord Randall" begins with Andrew's looped 16th-note harmonics pattern. Downshifting groove gears with like-minded drummer Brian Tracey, Andrew sustains a nasty, neck crossing E minor ostinato through "Jackie Hall" and pins down "Paddy's Heaven" with a growling octave part reminiscent of Jaco's "River People".
Ah, but the lad is just warming up. "Baggot Street" boasts an Irish samba bass line with one of Harkin's trademark reels serving as the bridge, while the aptly named "Out of Mind" duplicates this with 16ths flying by at nearly 150 BPM. A breather comes in the form of Andrew's countermelody to Gregory Grene's button accordion jig on the trad instrumental "The Sailor's Return." From there, the frenetic pace resumes with the galloping harmonics of "One True Cause" and a furious groove-and-fill, call-and-answer part on the closing title track.
DOUG DICKSON of WCBE-FM's TOSS THE FEATHERS PROGRAM
The Prodigals return!
The NYC-based "jig-punk" band The Prodigals return triumphantly to the Dublin Irish Festival this year with a new CD to promote. "Dreaming in Hell's Kitchen" (GRAB Entertainment, GECD 1103), produced by legendary Scots musician Johnny Cunningham, is a startling leap forward for the edgy four-piece. More multi-textured and rhythmically complex than their previous work, "Dreaming" finds the band exploring new musical ground and evoking a variety of moods that make the CD enjoyable and engaging from start to finish.
Propelled by what may be Celtic rock's strongest rhythm section (Brian Tracey, drums, percussion, and Andrew Harkin, bass), the bubbling Afropop rhythms of "Happy Man" kick things off on a (guardedly) optimistic note with lead vocals from accordionist Gregory Grene, who is the more "melodic"-sounding of the group's two singers. Then it's over to guitarist Ray Kelly for the murder ballad "Lord Randall". Ray's raspy, gravelly vocals create an air of menace that suits the song to a T.
The rest of the CD offers much the same one-two Grene/Kelly vocal punch delivery, as Grene creates an atmosphere of boozy euphoria on "The Morning After", followed by Kelly's chilling (and timely) reading of the trad. "Jackie Hall", wherein a convicted criminal defiantly makes his way to the gallows.
"Dreaming in Hell's Kitchen" finds The Prodigals tackling a wide range of topics lyrically: the band address political extremism in "One True Cause" and homelessness in the title track, while "Baggott Street" finds a wistful Grene musing on lost love.
Oh, and did I mention - there's a killer instrumental set as well! A great release - one of the year's best, without a doubt.
THE PATRIOT LEDGER, MICK SKIDMORE
APRIL 29, 2001
The Prodigals are a multi-national band based in New York who have established themselves in recent years as premier purveyors of contemporary Irish music. Their latest disc continues the mix of Celtic and non-Irish influences with extremely pleasing results.
"Happy Man" has lively rhythmic elements that lend a world beat flair, and "Baggot Street" clearly has elements of African rhythms in the mix. There1s a delectable version of the traditional "Lord Randall," which the notes say is drawn from a Northern Irish version.
The album's appeal is enhanced by the finesse the band brings to its music and the wonderful descriptive lyrics of Gregory Grene. These qualities shine in the artful "The Morning After," a reflective song with a glib reference to "hangovers."
An updated version of "Jackie Hall" has a lively reel tagged onto it, and the album's title cut is a superb cut with intelligent, socially conscious lyrics and some wonderful musical twists.
THE BOSTON IRISH REPORTER, MAUREEN FORRY
Prodigals' Latest CD Nothing Short of Fantastic
The newest craze in Irish music is a genre known as "jig punk," and is well fueled by the latest Irish recording group, known as The Prodigals. Acclaimed by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel as "the Chieftains on caffeine," this band has a large fan base in cities across the nation, a following that is growing stronger by the day. By blending traditional Celtic sounds with rhythms borrowed from African music and played at a speed that sparks the adrenalin of any listener, the band's unique sound carries well on their newest album Dreaming in Hell's Kitchen, set for release on March 17, 2001.
Appropriately enough, the band's St. Patrick's Day release is cause for celebration. The group's fearsomely fun live shows, many of which have spawned "mosh pits," as the kids call them, have resulted in increased security in cities such as Dublin, Ohio, where the group's fan base is already enormous. Swarms of feverishly happy young fans are simply responding to the over-activeness of their adrenal glands -- a condition that is likely to afflict most people who attend a live Prodigals' show.
Dreaming in Hell's Kitchen, the band's follow-up album to 1999's Go On, is likely to ignite the audience's behavior even more. An excellent fusion of traditional, modern, and futuristic sounds, the album is nothing short of fantastic. But keep in mind: this is not one of those albums one might listen to simply for relaxation. Toe tapping, at the very least, is a guaranteed side effect to The Prodigals' music. Led by singer/accordionist Gregory Grene's smooth and pleasantly accented voice, the band is made up of bassist Andrew Harkin, guitarist Ray Kelly and drummer Brian Tracey. Each member's knowledge of and creativity with their instruments blends into a pleasant, if sometimes frantic, energetic sound.
The major highlight of this album is "Baggot Street Hotel," a tune written about Ireland's capital city, Dublin. Grene's voice sets a deceiving tone for the song, beginning as a ballad but quickly transforming into a pumped-up jig with melodious verses, standing out as the definitive Prodigals' tune for this album. But that's not to discount the remaining eleven tracks, all of which have that special something that makes the muscles in the foot twitch with enjoyment and appreciation.
Fortunately for Boston's Prodigals fans, as well as those music lovers who are becoming intrigued by the band's blossoming reputation, the Original House of Blues, in Cambridge, will be host to The Prodigals on March 10. It is here that listeners will be introduced to the latest melodies and hooked on the energy of the music the band unleashes. Check it out, enjoy the show if you can get through the lines, and add Dreaming in Hell's Kitchen to your music library. Your adrenal glands will thank you for it.
THE BOSTON HERALD, MARCH 9, 2001
Under the steady hand of veteran rock-and-reeler and producer Johnny Cunningham, the Prodigals blossom on their third album. The New York band exhibits a musical and lyrical maturity at which it's only hinted.
But Cunningham hasn't planned the rough edges off the pub- pleasing Irish-American quartet's trademark blend of Celtic balladry, punk drive and drum-and-bass influences. He's merely polished them into higher relief.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the songcraft. Where before the band would rely on its pile-driving rhythm section and the hortatory singing of Ray Kelly to drive a song home, there's a new and welcome attention to the details of bridges, releases and hooks that really puts a song such as "Morning After" across.
THE IRISH VOICE, BY MIKE FARRAGHER
MARCH 7, 2001
Hot as Hell's Kitchen
The Prodigals are set to drop another delicious slab of their irresistible jig punk sound on their new platter, Dreaming in Hell's Kitchen.
Set to hit stores this week, no St. Patrick's Day party will be complete without this fine new album. The rabid fans that fell under their spell (including this reviewer) with their last disc, Go On, will be greeted by a more muscular sound on the new record.
Dreaming has a jam band feel to it; if the Clancy Brothers met the Dave Matthews band at the crossroads, it might sound like this.
The jubilant "Happy Man" is enhanced with a swinging rhythm as singer Greg Grene belts out the carefree lyrics that are destined to become the mantra of the weekend partygoer. "Now I don't have the answers/and I don't have all the questions/and the worries of the world won't be solved by my suggestions."
"Baggot Street" combines a rhythm drawn from West African music with an Irish melody, and it is indicative of the band's willingness to explore various rhythmic styles within the traditional genre.
Slash and burn meets trad
Clearly, the band has become a more seamless outfit as a result of the constant touring behind Go On.
The sweet melodic voice of Grene is right at home alongside the slash and burn punk riffs that ooze from Kelly's guitar. Kelly's whiskey-soaked vocal style is the right amount of tart to songs like the percolating "Lord Randall" and "Paddy's Heaven".
On their previous tour, there seemed to be a somewhat uneasy musical tug of war between Greg Grene's trad sensibilities and the remaining bandmates' need to modernize their sound.
The lads have concocted the perfect mix of both in each new song. "This was a great record to make," says drummer Brian Tracey, whose percussion is the shining star on the new album.
'We're not trying to screw the trad fans'
"We didn't try to make any changes to the songs that any one person came up with, yet we had an open environment where I felt free to add a new element to the traditional sound. We're not trying to appease the trad fans nor are we trying to screw them, we're just making our own music."