First of all, given that the proceeds go to the Dropkick Murphys’ Claddagh Fund to help victims from the Boston Marathon bombings, this EP would be worth buying if it was 12 minutes of amp feedback. But it just so happens it’s worth your time and money based on its merits — the three songs included here stand on their own as stirring Irish punk shout-outs, in addition to being a rowdy, roiling F.U. to anyone who thinks Murphys’ beloved Boston could be cowed by anyone.
Springsteen is in full “Mrs. McGrath” mode on the band’s reworking of “Rose Tattoo,” trading verses with Ken Casey in his trademark Kilkenny-by-way-of-Freehold drawl. The song is ostensibly about Casey’s tattoos — the titular one is a tribute to his late grandfather, who raised him — but it could just as easily be about Boston’s ever-present and lingering influence on those who come and go from there.
Springsteen always seems fiercer when buoyed by his younger, punkier acolytes, and this track is no exception: When he growls “I signed and sealed these words in blood,” there’s a fierce anguish that packs searing power, like an Irish “Adam Raised a Cain.” (Although New Jersey Devils fans may be chagrined to hear Springsteen extol the virtues of the “black and gold,” especially during playoffs.)
Springsteen’s vocals sound a little grafted-on to the chorus, but overall “Rose Tattoo” is a worthy addition to Springsteen’s recent spate of collaborations, and a fine tribute to one of his most faithful adopted cities.
The other songs on the EP, live acoustic versions of “Don’t Tear Us Apart” and “Jimmy Collins’ Wake,” round things off nicely, once you get used to Casey’s unadorned guttural shout — his voice has always been a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, and if you love it you’ll appreciate his conviction on these numbers. It’s most effective on “Wake,” a tribute to the first Red Sox manager — with its pints raised around a casket it’s a fitting close to a sad but heartfelt enterprise on the part of one of Boston’s most dedicated hometown bands.
You can buy the EP on iTunes.