Brimful of Ashes


Today is Ash Wednesday, a day of fast for many Christians and a reminder that Easter will be upon us in six weeks. It’s been decades since I took part in the rituals associated with the day, but for the last few years I’ve been using it to remember the musical trio from Downpatrick in the county of Down in Northern Ireland. Ash formed there 21 years ago and have released half a dozen albums since. They haven’t released any original albums since 2007, though, as the band has decided to focus exclusively on singles instead of the lengthier format. So, today I’m going to look at a couple of songs that appeared on singles by the band and also a couple of singles from a time when singles ruled. Punk Boy is a song by a Welsh band that formed in the same year as Ash and are named after their lead singer. Ash’s version of the Helen Love song appeared on the filp side of their 1995 single, Petrol. Who You Drivin’ Now? was originally released in 1991 on Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, the second album from Seattle grunge band, Mudhoney. Ash’s version is taken from a 1999 EP that also saw the band performing songs by Ween and Nirvana

The day before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday in Ireland, but by the far more interesting title of Mardi Gras in more exotic places. The festival is mostly associated with New Orleans and has inspired numerous songs, particularly Mardi Gras in New Orleans by Professor Longhair. The Louisana musician recorded the song in 1949 and another native of New Orleans named Fats Domino put his version out four years later. Neither of them troubled the charts, though both would continue to sing about their city in the years to come. Despite its title, Mardi Gras Mambo was written and recorded as a country song in 1953. A year later, some teenagers from New Orleans called The Hawketts had a hit with the song in what appears to be a more appropriate musical stlye. Best of luck if you’re fasting today or giving up something for Lent. I’m going to try to stop being sarcastic for the next forty days. And forty nights

Punk Boy (Helen Love cover) – Ash

Who You Drivin’ Now? (Mudhoney cover) – Ash

Mardis Gras In New Orleans (Prof Longhair cover) – Fats Domino

Mardi Gras Mambo (Jodie Levens cover) – The Hawketts

Photo courtesy of Rugger Hugger Ireland