(PLEASE NOTE: The following review was written by Paul Tarpey before Christmas having watched the 'up da ra' video. The video was put together by a fan of the group and the band had no creative imput into the finished product. The band have clarified some of the thinking behind the track in this statement. In the last two days the video has been removed from youtube - Shane)
(UPDATE 06/09 Video is back on Dailymotion)
There is a shit start to the current Rubber Bandits video ‘Up da Ra’. It is the iconic image of two republican hunger strikers in a smeared cell presenting themselves via the famous footage taken in the Maze. Others have been struck by this image in different times with their own cultural focus. Art wise in the eighties the British media painter Richard Hamilton used it as the basis for a painting positioning the act of protest as a dramatic documentation. Recently another Artist Steve Mc Queen incorporated it in his film Hunger. In this video, it is now reimagined via YouTube as material for a Limerick Rap groups track and immediately the senses are reeling as the brutal use of it to date confronts the viewer.
Rub your eyes and listen. A voice overlaid with ‘oirishy’ music seem to force these bearded and blanketed protesters into a new scenario. The video starts with the sampled voice of a guttural Republican Godfather directing a man to round up two of his best men and take down a couple of Paratroopers with guns provided in the boot of the car. The phrase ‘two of your best men’ floats over the slow pan of the blanket men in the cell and as the director edits elements of song with the video presenting his warped representation of the documentary footage.
The hunger strikers are obviously not actors and the voice over is undeniably fiction. We focus then on the generic celtic strains of the music, uniting the sound and vision as we accept that only the music aspires to reality in the context of what we are to experience. It’s a music video and within its four minutes narrative the Irish National Struggle is presented by the Bandits for all of you who don’t know the Score. The familiar drawl of the lead Bandit announces the agenda.
"Fact one. The British have oppressed the Irish for 300 years beginning with the Potato famine of 1916. Fact Two. In our weakened state the oppressors then took the ‘7’ northern counties. Fact Three. Journeying to London by Horse, Devs doomed diplomatic mission and failure to ‘punch’ the Queen in the face, results in his incarceration and death after 100 years in a british shit polished cell"
We then reach the the chorus, tying a knot in all of this with the base chant detested by Irish liberals and beloved by roundabout Loungebar patrons of a certain age and Celtic fans. 'Oh – Ah – Up - The -‘Ra. This is new territory.