1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 405

Karkelo, by Korpiklaani
Suggested by Owen Pauling

When I drummed for Badger, the brock and roll legends on the Aberystwyth Pub circuit in the early Nineties, we did an original song called Friday Beer.

It was a crowd pleaser, a fast-paced rocking blues number that extolled the virtues of, well, drinking beer on a Friday. I believe it was mostly written by guitarist Jim, although you can be damn sure everyone in the band would claim partial credit. Most of the lyrics are lost in time, although I do remember a few. There’s “I don’t care about no first impression / The weekend’s here, it’s time for a session,” which kicked off the song, and the still-funny-almost-thirty-years-later galloping break of “Monday Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday Friday Beer! / Saturday Sunday, and… other days… Beer!”

There have been some great hard rocking, roistering drinking songs through the years. We’ve even had one in this project, Raise Your Horns by Viking metallers Amon Amarth. Other stalwart drinking songs include Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping and its multiple whiskey / Vodka / Lager / Cider drinks, and my personal favourite Drink ‘Til I Die, from Bad News. “Give me another drink, Mr Bartender / If you don’t, I’m gonna stick your dick in a blender.” How can you not love that?

Karkelo, by Finnish Folk Metallers Korpiklaani, contains two explicit drinking songs: Vodka and Bring Us Pints of Beer. There may be more, as every other song is in Finnish and I’m a little rusty in my Uralic languages. Vodka has some fine lyrics: “Vodka, wipes away your tears / Vodka, removes your fears, / Vodka, everyone is gorgeous / Vodka, yeah Vodka.” Bring Us Pints of Beer also doesn’t fare so well: “Bring us pints of beer / If you don’t drink, you can leave / Bring us pints of beer / We gonna drink now and here.”

These songs are fun, I guess, but in truth I’ve not been a drinker for almost twenty years. My guideline is that I don’t drink in Leeds, so as I’m in Leeds ninety-nine percent of my time, I basically don’t drink at all. So songs about the edifying values of alcohol are pretty skippable to me. My vice is food, not booze, but oddly I don’t feel any affinity for songs about grub. Sorry, Fat Les, but you can keep your Vindaloo.

As for the music, I’m pretty sure you can imagine it from the lyrics. It’s a throwback metal sound, with fast yet basic drumming and chugging guitar riffs. Vocally, there’s the hint of a growl, but the pace of proceedings and the happy anger in the delivery stop it from descending into farce. While Vodka is my standout song, I think it’s the Finnish songs that have the most fun in them. That’s patently apparent in the vocals, which become almost gurning caricature in places, but also in the more overt folksy leanings. Isku Pitkasta Ilosta, for example, has a fine accordion break, and other songs include fiddle, viola, mandolin and tin whistle. If any of that excites you, then check it out.

Me? I quite liked this, I guess, but it was all rather bierkeller and elbows and down-in-one. I’ll stretch to 6/10, but only just. Maybe it’d hit eight or nine, if I were three sheets to the wind.

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