On The Further Adventures of the Saw Doctors

Okay, I admit it.  I love these guys because they make me laugh.  In the midst of everything.


The Saw Doctors

The Saw Doctors, a long-running Irish band, are criminally not-well-known around here.  They are also another band my friend Tommy Shea the sportswriter turned me on to–he and his lovely wife Suzanne seem to know all the fun musical groups from Ireland and Britain, and occasionally from Australia into the bargain.  This time Tommy started me off with a YouTube clip of “She Loves Me”:

What a fun song, but what an incredibly silly bunch of men!  So I started collecting, because I was in love.

And now, just in time to stave off the winter blues, here they come again with a new CD,


The new CD


The Further Adventures of the Saw Doctors, which features, on the cover, a boy reading an identically-named comic book.  Kind of makes you want to open it up and see what these guys are up to, doesn’t it?  I have to say that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the CD–and I was pleased to find the band playing true to form when I did.  The first song, “Takin’ the Train,” is a lively piece which any listener familiar with these guys will peg as being in their dancing mode; Leo Moran’s guitar starts it off, and Davy Carton’s steadily building, and sometimes raspy, vocals take it from there, singing, as he does so well, about the wistful nature of things lost:

So I’m taking the train

In the soft Galway rain

and I’m heading for the green hills far away.

This song, and the CD, had me from the get-go.  There are more danceable tunes here as well:  “Well Byes” is a brisk bit of social commentary featuring the guys who sell junk out of the trunks of their cars, while “Hazard” is a hard-driving song, with some rather frenzied guitar work and occasional distortions (though the self-referential lyrics–“But me, I’m back on the rock-n-roll”– could have been a bit stronger). [***See Judi’s comment below***]

The Saw Doctors have a history of including self-esteem-raising anthems among their recordings, and they continue on The Further Adventures of… Songs such as “Someone Loves You” and “Be Yourself” can claim their lyric bloodlines as obvious descendants of “Sing a Powerful Song” from If This is Rock and Roll, I Want My Old Job Back (1991) and “To Win Just Once” from Same Oul’ Town (1996).  These are songs which, if you’re feeling depressed, you can count on to raise your feelings of self-worth, at the very least.  It’s always nice to be reminded, for example, that

Someone loves you just the way you are

To someone somewhere you’re a shining star

Someone loves you just the way you are

And the way Davy Carton’s voice wavers when he jumps up a fifth on this refrain ought to convince you of his sincerity if nothing else does.  The songs are sweet, and sometimes cynical people like me just have to sit back and let them be sweet.

By far two of the most fun tracks on this CD come near the end, however; and they are fun for different reasons.  The one entitled “Last Call” has lyrics which play games:  listening to Davy Carton sing

I know you won’t forget me

Give me a shout

You never let me down

You know what I’m about

a listener might fall into the trap of thinking this is another love song–but if it is, it’s of the tongue-in-cheek kind.  The “Last Call” of the title is not of the telephone variety, but is instead about drinking in a bar, where the speaker is a regular, and the “love” is not a girlfriend, but a bartender.  Curiously, the next song, “As the Light Fades,” is also about a bar, but what makes this track so amusing is its stylistic and content-wise nod to Dire Straits’ “The Sultans of Swing.”  From the heady guitar riff which begins the song–and which recurs frequently throughout–and the lyrics which richly describe the denizens of a drinking establishment:

The early evening drinkers make their exits

There’s plenty of room down the back

As the light fades.

Carton and Moran are canny songwriters, and this is not the first time one of their pieces has hearkened back to their rock-n-roll forbears; for further discussion, listen to one of my favorite Saw Doctors songs, “Why Do I Always Want You” from If this is Rock and Roll, I Want My Old Job Back, and then let’s talk about Buddy Holly.

All in all, there are far more hits than misses on The Further Adventures of The Saw Doctors. Someone, I’d read on the band’s Facebook page, had accused them of going soft as they age, but I can’t agree with that.  Rather, I think, they are becoming more themselves.  And on many of these tracks, their wit’s as sharp as it ever was.


My favorite song of all on The Further Adventures of the Saw Doctors is the second track, “Friday Town,” peopled as it is with ghosts and haunts and fairies of the Irish variety.  I wish I understood Irish.

P. P. S.

Another example of silliness from these guys:  here’s a vid the Saw Doctors made during downtime on their brief U. S. tour this summer–

P. S. 3:

After Tommy introduced me to the Saw Doctors, I checked with my co-worker Dan, who has heard of every indie group in the universe.  “You know the Saw Doctors, don’t you?” I asked.  “Seen ’em four times,” he said.  Grrr.  But then he lent me his own Saw Doctors CD.  So I don’t entirely hate him.


  1. JamesO Hagan

    Seen em 8 or 9 times ….best group to come out of Ireland since early U2


    • Serious envy happening here. I WILL be seeing them live the next time they’re within, say, a ten hour drive of me. I’ve heard that they put on a great show.


      • Tina

        They never disappoint at their gigs. I can’t wait to see them again in November.


      • **Gig envy**


  2. Jenny D

    I have a CD of theirs called ‘Sing a Powerful Song’ – want to borrow it to copy?


  3. Judi

    I enjoyed your review. I love this new CD and this band! A couple of points…

    Regarding Hazard – Rock and roll in this case is rhyming slang for the dole…the singer has lost his job, and is back on the dole. Leo explained this the most recent time I saw them. A nod to the state of the Irish economy.

    Friday Town – The Irish words of the chorus are place names, towns near Tuam, where the Docs are from. Caherlistrane is where the official video for the song was filmed. I LOVE this video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KEkE4ZGLQU


    • Judi–

      Thanks for the point on the rhyming slang. I feel so much better about the lyric now…and it’s always good to have one of my many ignorances taken care of.

      I love the CD, too!


  4. Tara

    Great review, welcome to the world of Docs fans!

    All their albums can be bought from their website sawdoctors.com and if you’re looking for fun and witty lyrics, you’ll have to buy, beg, borrow or steal “Play It Again Sham”.
    One of my favourite songs is “Howya Julia” where two women (presumably) are talking about Annie Murphy going on the Late Late to talk about, “how she loved the Bishop and he loved her just as well, only God knows will he go to heaven or to hell”
    The chorus goes;
    “Mighty, mighty Lord Almighty
    Off with the collar and off with the nightie
    Jesus, Mary and Holy Saint Joseph,
    The beads are rattlin now”

    Also on that album is a fast, pacey song about Michael D Higgins, one to bring back everyone’s college days, “Where’s the Party?” and, in a rare moment of seriousness, the uplifting, “Letter from Louise” which talks about times changing for the better in the North “since the calling of the ceasefire” where “everyone is trying and they’re hopeful for the future”.

    It is truely a crime that the Docs are not more well known, but they are definitely not unknown.
    Ask any Oxegen go-er what band can clear a few thousand hangovers on a Sunday afternoon with one rousing song.
    Ask my gran-aunt, a nun in South Africa, what “Uplifting Music” she wanted sent over to herself and the two elderly nuns she lives with. (The Live In Galway DVD is flying over to her as I type”
    Ask Irish exiles living across the States, Australia, Britain etc what band they’ll travel miles to see for a taste of home.

    They’ve been around a long time and with a bit of luck they’ll be rocking stages across the globe for many years to come.
    If ye’re still on top tomorrow,
    or if it all just ends,
    Never Mind the Strangers
    Coz I’ll always be your (fan),
    Until the end!


  5. seamusnh

    “criminally not well known”. Nice way to put it. Actually, they are “internationally criminally unknown…” Join the crazed Docs fans on the forum at sawdoctors.com….


  6. Debbie

    My favs are still “share the darkness” and “same oul town”,
    they are playing a few gigs this Xmas near where I live and my daughters school choir concerts are on the same nights grrrr


  7. I HAVE MY TICKET TO THE MARCH 4TH CONCERT IN BOSTON! Happy, happy, happy, happy…


  8. Nick

    Hello Anne. I’ve just stumbled upon your website as I am fan of The Saw Doctors and am currently paying their latest album non-stop! My current favourite track (it has changed a few times but that’s a mark of a great album) is, like you, Friday Town. I wanted to find out what it’s about and in my Internet search found your review. I’m still keen to find out more. I guess I’ll just have to do some more research. They are indeed a great people’s band. Have seen them many times in large and small venues, the latest being In December. They never disappoint.


    • Nick, isn’t it an awesome CD? I have no real idea what Friday Town is about, though there was a comment (above) about the names in the song. Still, it’s a haunted sort of lyric, isn’t it?

      I got a ticket to see them in Boston on March 4, and now they’ve added another show a week and a half later in Portland, ME, so I’ll be able to go to that one as well. I’m psyched!


  9. Nick

    If I find out more I’ll let you know! You’ll enjoy the concerts, that’s a given. Luckily for me The Saw Doctors will always play in a few places within an hour’s drive radius. And luckily for me my son bought me a ticket last month for my birthday to go and see them in Liverpool where he’s at university. Would love to see them in Ireland.I’m English but was so delighted to find out last year from some family history research that I have a great great great grandfather from Dublin! And thank you for the geography lesson. I’ve looked up Portland and Boston so have a better idea of your part of the world now!


  10. I’m really looking forward to the concerts. I’ve got the Irish in me, too…seeing the Saw Doctors in Ireland–visiting Ireland at all–would be fantastic.

    Geography tends to work against me here: nobody comes to central Maine. It was quite a shock to find out from the newsletter that the Saw Doctors were adding the show at the Port City Music Hall in Portland. That’s only two hours away! I’d already bought my ticket for the Boston show when I found out, but who cares? Two shows in two weeks: I’ll be quite the groupie then, won’t I?


  11. Nick

    This is interesting!

    Still don’t know why the title ‘Friday Town’ though…. I’m on it!


  12. Bob Angell

    Shocked that they’re booked into Portland? They’ve played Portland a dozen times at least, dating to 1996 at Raoul’s Roadside Attraction. They’ve also played the State Theater and a club I can’t recall the name of – it was down by the statue of John Ford, the director. March 15 will be their 2nd appearance ar Port City Music Hall.

    WCLZ used to play the Saw Doctors s lot and they still do occasionally. They added “Takin’ the Train” last fall. (Not sure if it’s still on.)


    • Not shocked that they’re in Portland per se, but shocked that when I want to see them, now that I’m thoroughly indoctrinated, they come!

      WCLZ doesn’t reach this far, sadly. Radio out of Bangor seems to be mostly pop and country. There used to be a fairly eclectic station out of a train car in Dover-Foxcroft that we could pick up in one end of the house…but then Stephen King bought it and turned it into talk radio. Albeit left-wing talk radio.



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