Dropkick Murphys 

Singles Collection Volume 2: 1998-2004 (Hellcat)

When the Dropkick Murphys blasted out of south Boston nearly ten years ago, few would've guessed that working-class punks with progressive politics and a bagpipe fetish would ever rise from underground infamy to (relatively) mainstream success. But that's just what this band has managed to pull off with a balls-to-the-wall ethos that's conspicuously evident on each of the 23 tracks on its second singles collection (subtitled B-Sides, Covers, Comps & Other Crap). Little-heard originals like the ferocious "On the Attack" and "Soundtrack to a Killing Spree" underscore the group's well-documented hardcore roots, just as Irish-themed anthems like "The Wild Rover," a traditional pennywhistle romp, affably meet expectations. But what's most revealing about this comp are the cover tunes -- which in addition to predictable homages to old-school punk heroes (Gang Green, Sham 69) and, of course, Pogues founder Shane MacGowan -- include solidly rendered versions of classics by rock gods AC/DC, Motörhead and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Clearly, it's the Murphys' willingness to go their own way that's earned them due respect.

More by Sam Prestianni

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