Part Four: 1985-87

1. The Stars Of Heaven – Clothes Of Pride (1985, A Side, Dublin)
2. Light A Big Fire – CIA (1985, A Side, Dublin)
3. The Blades – The Last Man In Europe (1985, A Side, Dublin)
4. Cactus World News – The Bridge (1985, A Side, Dublin)
5. That Petrol Emotion – Keen (1985, A Side, Derry)
6. Andy White – Religious Persuasion (1985, A Side, Belfast)
7. Microdisney – Birthday Girl (1985, A Side, Cork)
8. Five Go Down To The Sea – Singing In Braille (1985, EP Track, Cork)
9. Stump – Buffalo (1986, Mini-LP Track, Cork)
10. Tuesday Blue – Tunnel Vision (1986, A Side, Limerick)
11. The Atrix – Very Much in Love (1986, A Side, Dublin)
12. The Golden Horde – Adrienne (1986, Compilation, Dublin)
13. Paranoid Visions – Strange Girl (1986, EP Track, Dublin)
14. The Pleasure Cell – New Age (1986, A Side, Dublin)
15. Cuba Dares – Yellow And Red (1986, A Side, Dublin)
16. Dorian Mood – It’s A Funny Thing (1986, A Side, Drogheda)
17. That Petrol Emotion – It’s A Good Thing (1986, A Side, Derry)
18. The Fat Lady Sings – Fear And Favour (1986, A Side, Dublin)
19. The Stars Of Heaven – Sacred Heart Hotel (1986, Mini-LP Track, Dublin)
20. Something Happens – Burn Clear (1986, A Side, Dublin)
21. A House – Kick Me Again Jesus (1987, A Side, Dublin)
22. The Slowest Clock – Clarke And Jones (1987, A Side, Dublin)
23. My Bloody Valentine – Sunny Sundae Smile (1987, A Side, Dublin)
24. The Gorehounds – Cargo Cult (1987, A Side, Dublin)
25. Paul Cleary & The Partisans – Partisan (1987, Mini-LP Track, Dublin)
26. St Vitus Dance – Meet Mohammed (1987, Album Track, Belfast)
27. Carpenter Joe – No Ordinary Joe (1987, EP Track, Belfast)
28. Subterraneans – Slum (1987, A Side, Dublin)
29. Guernica – Orange And Red (1987, A Side, Dublin)
30. Cypress Mine – Justine (1987, A Side, Cork)
31. The Summerhouse – Everything I Ever Wanted (1987, Compilation EP, Dublin)
32. Cliff Edge Panic – Girl On The Bridge (1987, Compilation EP, Dublin)
33. Backwards Into Paradise – There’s A Mountain (1987, Compilation LP, Dublin)
34. The 3355409s – Barbarous (1987, Compilation LP, Cork)
35. Paranoid Visions – I Will Wallow (1987, EP Track, Dublin)

77-89 P4 copy


Often dismissed as an era dominated by U2 wannabes and soundalikes, the reality was a more varied tale. Although Bono and co did inspire their fair share of would-be successors, there was also an explosion of bands with more modest aspirations, as genuine Indie/Alternative scenes sprang up in Dublin, and other parts of the country. As ever, there was also the mavericks, the one-offs, and the old reliables who all helped make 1985-87 another memorable period in Irish Alternative Music.

The Stars Of Heaven formed in 1983 and featured two songwriters, Stephan Ryan and, former Peridot, Stan Erraught. The band emerged from a new venue, The Underground, on Dublin’s Dame Street, to release ‘Clothes Of Pride’ in 1985. The single was played by John Peel who invited the band to record a session for his BBC Radio 1 show. The ‘Sacred Heart Hotel’ mini-album released on Rough Trade in 1986 featured tracks from that session.

Light A Big Fire released two albums and several singles over their career. The band were popular in Ireland, but never broke outside the country. ‘CIA’ was their first single.

After more than one record label setback, The Blades finally released an album in 1985. The title track ‘The Last Man In Europe’ preceeded the album as a single. Sadly,  it was to be the last in their brilliant run of 45s, as Paul Cleary called time on the band the same year.

Cactus World News debut single ‘The Bridge’ was the second release on U2’s Mother Records, following In Tua Nua’s, Coming Thru. The label was set-up to assist emerging Irish artists. The band then signed to MCA and released the Urban Beaches album in 1986. Cactus World News also played at Self Aid, a controversial benefit concert that ambitiously aimed to help unemployed people through the creation of jobs.

Upon returning to Derry following The Undertones split, John O’Neill began working with former Bam Bam & The Calling guitarist Raymond Gorman. Moving to London the duo were joined by John’s brother and fellow Undertone Damian, another Derryman, Ciaran McLaughlin on drums, and American singer Steve Mack to form That Petrol Emotion. ‘Keen’ was the band’s first single in 1985. ‘It’s A Good Thing’ from debut album Manic Pop Thrill followed a year later.

Belfast man, Andy White’s Dylanesque ‘Religious Persuasion’, released on Stiff Records in 1985, offered a poetic dreamlike vision of religious bigotry in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the entire Cork post-punk scene seemed to have transplanted itself to London. Microdisney‘s ‘Birthday Girl’ was taken from their final Rough Trade album The Clock Comes Down The Stairs, which is generally regarded as the band’s creative peak. Microdisney subsequently signed to Virgin and released two further albums before calling it a day in 1989. A short TV profile of the band featuring interviews with Cathal Coughlan and Sean O’Hagan can be seen here.

Following the release of The Glee Club EP, drummer Keith ‘Smelly’ O’Connell departed Five Go Down To The Sea and returned to Cork. The band then had a difficult period where they used a drum machine, before recruiting a new drummer, signing to Creation Records and releasing third EP ‘Singing In Braille’. Though, according to guitarist Ricky Dineen, in a detailed interview for Irish Left Review,  Alan McGee lost all interest in the band following the release of the EP. Second guitarist Mick Stack left for the USA following a group brawl, and Five Go Down To The Sea ground to a halt soon after.

Mick Lynch and Rob McKahey were two more veterans of the Cork Arcadia scene to relocate to London. The duo made up one half of Stump, whose ‘Buffalo’ featured on the NME’s seminal C86 cassette. The song was re-recorded for the band’s mini-album ‘Quirk Out’, and a video for the track was made by Channel 4’s The Tube TV show. Sadly, Mick Lynch died in December 2015, less than a month before the broadcast of another excellent Paul McDermott radio documentary, Lights! Camel! Action! – The Story Of Stump.

Tuesday Blue from Limerick were another band to make their debut on Mother Records. ‘Tunnel Vision’ was undoubtedly the band’s stand out track. An album, Shibumi, was released on EMI in 1988.

As mentioned in previous post, when The Atrix split in 1983 John Borrowman and keyboard player Chris Green began working under the name ‘Very Much In Love’. Before releasing a song of the same title as a single they were persuaded to revive the old band name. The A and B Side of this single were reversed for release in Denmark, where Borrowman had settled, under the moniker, Afghan Trucks. One further Atrix single Your Halo Is Burning was released in 1986.

The Golden Horde led by frontman Simon Carmody had a number of releases during this period. ‘Adrienne’from the Guru Weirdbrain various artists compilation was an early career highpoint.

Punk band Paranoid Visions had been releasing material on cassette for a number of years before the vinyl EP The Robot Is Running Amok appeared in 1986. ‘Strange Girl’ from the EP referenced the Granard Tragedy. The following year the band released the ‘I Will Wallow’ EP, which took a humorous swipe at the by then massively successful U2.

The Pleasure Cell quickly built a reputation for their intense live performances. The band self-released ‘New Age’, and then departed for London. They returned a year later to make a video for RTE’s Visual Eyes TV programme.

After high profile Dublin support slots to New Order, Depeche Mode and ABC, Cuba Dares also made the move to London. ‘Yellow And Red’ was an NME Single Of The Week in 1986.

Drogheda band Dorian Mood’s ‘It’s A Funny Thing’ was released on One by One Records in 1986. The band also released a mini-album Can’t Stand Still in 1989.

The Fat Lady Sings released ‘Fear And Favour’ on a revived Good Vibrations imprint, although Terry Hooley’s only involvement was in allowing use of the name. Another Dublin band that quickly fled to London.

Several exciting new guitar bands soon followed The Stars Of Heaven from the emerging scene centred around Dublin’s Underground bar. Something Happens were an energetic four-piece initially influenced by R.E.M. ‘Burn Clear’ featured on the Two Chances EP, released in 1986. A House  combined an edgy live sound with the sharp lyrics of frontman Dave Couse. ‘Kick Me Again Jesus’ was their debut single. The Slowest Clock led a second wave of bands to emerge from The Underground, and released ‘Clarke & Jones’ on Comet Records in 1987.

My Bloody Valentine formed in Dublin in 1983 and relocated to London via Amsterdam and Berlin. The band had several releases before they began to find their sound with ‘Sunny Sundae Smile’. Original vocalist Dave Conway left the band soon after the single’s release.

The Gorehounds also emerged from an underground location. The BaseX record shop on Dublin’s quays was the go-to place for those seeking otherwise difficult to find independent records. Three members of the band worked at the store, and used the space to practice afterhours. Initially influenced by The Cramps, the band employed twin drummers, and featured former Revolver guitarist (and brother of drummer Brian) Colm O’Kelly. ‘Cargo Cult’ was the title track of the band’s second EP. It also featured on their only album Semtex, released in 1989.

After The Blades, Paul Cleary formed The Partisans and released the mini-album Impossible, which featured the track ‘Partisan’. Quality wise, it was business as usual.

Belfast band St Vitus Dance relocated to Liverpool where they released the album Love Me Love My Dogma, which included ‘Meet Mohammed’ on Probe Plus in 1987. Lead singer Noel Burke later joined Echo & The Bunnymen, as Ian McCullough’s replacement .

‘No Ordinary Joe’ is taken from Bangor band’ Carpenter Joe’s Maverick Genius EP released in 1987.

The Subterraneans ‘Slum’ was one side of a double A Side single on Mother Records. TV appearances for both sides of the single (two for Slum) can be seen below.

Guernica were another leading graduate of The Underground bar. ‘Orange And Red’ was the band’s second single, after Deep Sea Diving. A remix of the song has appeared on several Spanish compilations.

‘Justine’ was a 1987 single from Cork band Cypress Mine taken from their album Exit Trashtown.

After relocating his record shop to the Temple Bar area of Dublin, Gorehound Brian O’Kelly did his bit for up and coming bands by releasing a series of various artists compilations. Named after the new record shop, Comet Records released a six track EP and a 14 track LP in 1987. ‘Everything I Ever Wanted’ by The Summerhouse and ‘Girl On The Bridge’ by Cliff Edge Panic featured alongside tracks by The Slowest Clock, and Cypress Mine on EP1, while ‘There’s A Mountain’ by Backwards Into Paradise and ‘Barbarous’ by Cork band The 3355409s were highlights of LP2.

COmet 1&2


9 thoughts on “Part Four: 1985-87

  1. Great stuff but why no Commotion or Hallelujah Freedom? The Commotion were on Eamonn Carr’s Hotwire label and HF released a single ‘Gunfire’ on their own label


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