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Jerry Fish & the Mudbug Club - be yourself (RMG)

Many moons ago, Ger Whelan was the hyperactive frontman with the Irish rock band An Emotional Fish. Just like far too many bands of the late 80s, early 90s, An Emotional Fish burned bright at home, with hit records and well-attended gigs, but when they aimed further afield, they drowned in the shadow of U2 and nothing came of it. By the mid-90s, the spark had gone and Ger packed the whole thing in.

Listening to "Be yourself", you could imagine Ger travelling across the US like a cross between Sal Paradise and Holden Caulfield, stopping off at dark and dingy bars, drinking whiskey and chain-smoking cigarettes, as Dr John or Tom Waits slump across a piano in the corner, maybe taking a trip across the border once or twice to the tune of a Mariachi band. As time goes by, money starts to run out and he takes to the stage once more, finding that the music he has heard has taken hold and he has become Jerry Fish.

Ok, it's probably bullshit, but that's what this sounds like. Gathering together a whole host of musicians and singers, including some fairly big names on the Irish scene, Ger has compiled an album of delicious taste of Americana, but it's the Americana of Coppola's "One from the Heart", not Disneyland. Bits of blues, gospel, jazz, Mariachi and rock n' roll come together to create a very enjoyable listening experience. Ger's voice is coarser, more mature, and, while he's not quite Tom Waits or Dr John, he pulls it off very well.

The music is truly infectious, you just can help swaying to the Mavericks sound of 'Upside down' or clicking your fingers to the summery sounds of 'Mr Clean'. At times, it does sound quite authentic, such as 'Anyway the wind blows' or the title track, which sound closer to the mock Americana of Alabama 3 than the real thing, but it's just as enjoyable. It is a bunch of Paddies, whatcha expect? It's all great stuff at the end of the day and they really seem to be enjoying themselves. I can imagine they put on a brilliant live show.

Donnacha DeLong

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